DEV Community

Jacob Kim
Jacob Kim

Posted on

How to use gorilla/mux

Welcome back to my guide, A Gentle Intro to Golang Web Development. Last time, we looked at how to write handlers for our web app. Now that we know how muxes and handlers work, it is time to use a more sophisticated tool. While Go does have an amazing net/http package, there are certain features that gorilla/mux provides that make our lives easier. Without further ado, let's get into part 3.

Why should I even use this package?

If the standard library is so good, why should we even bother to use gorilla/mux? There are a couple of reasons.

  • It can extract variables from the URL path.

  • It supports subrouters, which you can use to group similar routes.

  • You can match routes via domains, prefixes, methods, and more.

  • The learning curve isn't steep, thanks to the package implementing the http.Handler interface, making it compatible with the standard library.

There are more features that I haven't listed here, but these are the most used features. gorilla/mux is a mature package with extensive documentation and a wide userbase, so it will be easier to get help online when you are stuck.

Importing the package

To use gorilla/mux, we need to import it.

package main

import (
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

After importing it into your main.go file, we need to install it.

go mod init

go mod tidy
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

We first initialize our go.mod file with the first command. The URL isn't important yet. We aren't hosting this in a remote repository. If we were developing a library for other people to use, this URL would be a path to your remote repo, such as

Once a go.mod file has been created, we use the second line to check and update the dependencies. go mod tidy is usually used to prune unnecessary dependencies, but it is also useful for adding missing ones.

Now that it's installed, we can start using the package!

Let's walk through an example with me

We will build a library (as in books) management application where users can search for books and authors throughout this series. It is similar to Kindle or Barnes & Noble shops, albeit MUCH simpler.

Our web app is going to support these operations:

  • Users can get data for all books.

  • Users can get data for each book by their ISBNs.

  • Users can add new books.

  • Users can update existing book data.

  • Users can delete books.

Of course, some of these operations would be devastating if your average customers could use them freely. Imagine me going to the Kindle ebook store and wiping half of their library. However, since authentication and authorization are out of scope for this guide, we will assume that the users of this web app are managers and admins.

package main

import (


func main() {
    r := mux.NewRouter()

    r.HandleFunc("/", homeHandler)

    booksSubR := r.PathPrefix("/books").Subrouter()

    booksSubR.HandleFunc("/all", AllHandler).Methods(http.MethodGet)
    booksSubR.HandleFunc("/{isbn}", IspnHandler).Methods(http.MethodGet)
    booksSubR.HandleFunc("/new", NewHandler).Methods(http.MethodPost)
    booksSubR.HandleFunc("/update", UpdateHandler).Methods(http.MethodPut)
    booksSubR.HandleFunc("/delete/{isbn}", DeleteIspnHandler).Methods(http.MethodDelete)

    log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(":8090", r))
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

This code will look familiar if you already read my previous guides.

// using gorilla/mux
r := mux.NewRouter()
r.HandleFunc("/", homeHandler)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

We first create our mux and register an endpoint. In vanilla Go, we would accomplish by doing this:

// using net/http
mux := http.NewServeMux()
mux.HandleFunc("/", homeHandler)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Notice how similar the code is? This is all thanks to gorilla/mux implementing the http.Handler interface, making it compatible with the net/http standard library.

This is the part where it gets interesting.

booksSubR := r.PathPrefix("/books").Subrouter()
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The concept of matching routes and subrouters comes into play here. The first method is PathPrefix(), which matches routes that start with /books, such as /books/all or /books/new. Now, this by itself is usable, but it would be better if we group these routes. We do the grouping by calling the Subrouter() method. The above code will create a subrouter that matches routes that only start with /books. It will not handle any other routes, such as /home or /welcome.

booksSubR.HandleFunc("/all", booksAllHandler).Methods(http.MethodGet)
booksSubR.HandleFunc("/{isbn}", booksIspnHandler).Methods(http.MethodGet)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

This is by in large the same thing as a normal HandleFunc, but with extra features.

The Methods() method at the back limits the route to only accept certain HTTP request types. In this case, we only accept GET requests.

Now, take a look at the second line. isbn is what we will call a URL parameter. These are variables inside a path, which is extractable later in our handler functions. So if I send a request to /books/000-00-00000-00-0, I will be able to extract 000-00-00000-00-0 as a variable, then use it to do something.

But hold on, how does the subrouter tell if all is an ISBN if we send a request to /books/all? These situations arise when we have conflicting routes like the above. Our subrouter will just match the request in order from top to bottom, so /all will be matched first, then the rest will be matched by /{isbn}.

Having lots of conflicting routes isn't a good practice, and you should try to avoid having these. However, we can add a pattern to the URL parameter if necessary.

booksSubR.HandleFunc("/{isbn:^[0-9]{3}[-]{1}[0-9]{2}[-]{1}[0-9]{5}[-]{1}[0-9]{2}[-]{1}[0-9]{1}$}", booksIspnHandler).Methods(http.MethodGet)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

This may look a little crazy, but all it does is allow variables that match the format of ISBN-13 (anything that looks like 000-00-00000-00-0). If you know how to write regular expressions, you can use it to implement a pattern.


We learned how to use gorilla/mux, and how to use some of its defining features such as pattern matching, URL parameters and subrouters. There are other router packages out there, like httprouter and go-chi. I have never tried using these, but I've heard many good things. Feel free to try them out!

I hope you had fun reading this post. In the next one, I will walk through connecting our web app to a database, and executing some queries. The pacing of this guide might seem too slow for some of you, but I am intentionally making this slower so that the guide is easy to follow. Please understand!

You can also read this on Medium and my personal site.

Top comments (0)