How to read a binary file in Go

For manipulating files, the os package is your friend:

f, err := os.Open("myfile")
if err != nil {
defer f.Close()

For more control over how the file is open, see os.OpenFile() instead (doc).

For reading files, there are many ways. The os.File type returned by os.Open (the f in the above example) implements the io.Reader interface (it has a Read() method with the right signature), it can be used directly to read some data in a buffer (a []byte) or it can also be wrapped in a buffered reader (type bufio.Reader).

Specifically for binary data, the encoding/binary package can be useful, to read a sequence of bytes into some typed structure of data. You can see an example in the Go doc here. The binary.Read() function can be used with the file read using the os.Open() function, since as I mentioned, it is a io.Reader.

And there’s also the simple to use io/ioutil package, that allows you to read the whole file at once in a byte slice (ioutil.ReadFile(), which takes a file name, so you don’t even have to open/close the file yourself), or ioutil.ReadAll() which takes a io.Reader and returns a slice of bytes containing the whole file. Here’s the doc on ioutil.

Finally, as others mentioned, you can google about the Go language using “golang” and you should find all you need. The golang-nuts mailing list is also a great place to look for answers (make sure to search first before posting, a lot of stuff has already been answered). To look for third-party packages, check the website.


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