The Go Blog

Gopls on by default in the VS Code Go extension

Go tools team
1 February 2021

We’re happy to announce that the VS Code Go extension now enables the gopls language server by default, to deliver more robust IDE features and better support for Go modules.

(gopls provides IDE features, such as intelligent autocompletion, signature help, refactoring, and workspace symbol search.)

When Go modules were released two years ago, they completely changed the landscape of Go developer tooling. Tools like goimports and godef previously depended on the fact that code was stored in your $GOPATH. When the Go team began rewriting these tools to work with modules, we immediately realized that we needed a more systematic approach to bridge the gap.

As a result, we began working on a single Go language server, gopls, which provides IDE features, such as autocompletion, formatting, and diagnostics to any compatible editor frontend. This persistent and unified server is a fundamental shift from the earlier collections of command-line tools.

In addition to working on gopls, we sought other ways of creating a stable ecosystem of editor tooling. Last year, the Go team took responsibility for the Go extension for VS Code. As part of this work, we smoothed the extension’s integration with the language server—automating gopls updates, rearranging and clarifying gopls settings, improving the troubleshooting workflow, and soliciting feedback through a survey. We’ve also continued to foster a community of active users and contributors who have helped us improve the stability, performance, and user experience of the Go extension.


January 28 marked a major milestone in both the gopls and VS Code Go journeys, as gopls is now enabled by default in the Go extension for VS Code.

In advance of this switch we spent a long time iterating on the design, feature set, and user experience of gopls, focusing on improving performance and stability. For more than a year, gopls has been the default in most plugins for Vim, Emacs, and other editors. We’ve had 24 gopls releases, and we’re incredibly grateful to our users for consistently providing feedback and reporting issues on each and every one.

We’ve also dedicated time to smoothing the new user experience. We hope that VS Code Go with gopls will be intuitive with clear error messages, but if you have a question or need to adjust some configuration, you’ll be able to find answers in our updated documentation. We have also recorded a screencast to help you get started, as well as animations to show off some hard-to-find features.

Gopls is the best way of working with Go code, especially with Go modules. With the upcoming arrival of Go 1.16, in which modules are enabled by default, VS Code Go users will have the best possible experience out-of-the-box.

Still, this switch does not mean that gopls is complete. We will continue working on bug fixes, new features, and general stability. Our next area of focus will be improving the user experience when working with multiple modules. Feedback from our larger user base will help inform our next steps.

So, what should you do?

If you use VS Code, you don’t need to do anything. When you get the next VS Code Go update, gopls will be enabled automatically.

If you use another editor, you are likely using gopls already. If not, see the gopls user guide to learn how to enable gopls in your preferred editor. The Language Server Protocol ensures that gopls will continue to offer the same features to every editor.

If gopls is not working for you, please see our detailed troubleshooting guide and file an issue. If you need to, you can always disable gopls in VS Code.

Thank you

To our existing users, thank you for bearing with us as we rewrote our caching layer for the third time. To our new users, we look forward to hearing your experience reports and feedback.

Finally, no discussion of Go tooling is complete without mentioning the valuable contributions of the Go tools community. Thank you for the lengthy discussions, detailed bug reports, integration tests, and most importantly, thank you for the fantastic contributions. The most exciting gopls features come from our passionate open-source contributors, and we are appreciative of your hard work and dedication.

Learn more

Watch the screencast for a walk-through of how to get started with gopls and VS Code Go, and see the VS Code Go README for additional information.

If you’d like to read about gopls in more detail, see the gopls README.

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