CodeNewbie Community 🌱

Cover image for Golang Web: URL Parsing
Meet Rajesh Gor
Meet Rajesh Gor

Posted on • Originally published at meetgor.com

Golang Web: URL Parsing

#go

Introduction

We have done around 32 posts on the fundamental concepts in golang, With that basic foundation, I'd like to start with the new section of this series which will be a major one as web-development. This section will have nearly 40-50 posts, this will cover the fundamental concepts for web development like APIs, Database integrations, Authentication and Authorizations, Web applications, static sites, etc.

What is a URL?

A URL is a Uniform Resource Locator. It is a string of characters that identifies a resource on the Internet. URLs are the building blocks of the web, allowing us to access websites, documents, and data with just a click. URLs are all over the place, if we want to build a strong foundation in web development, it's quite important to understand what URLs actually mean and what can they store.

A URL looks something like this:

[scheme:][//[userinfo@]host][/]path[?query][#fragment]
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Not all the URLs are like this, majority of the URLs that the common user sees are simply the ones with the scheme, host, and paths. However other components are equally important and are vital in the exchanging of information over the network.

  • The scheme is the protocol used for accessing the resource like http, https, ftp, etc.
  • The userinfo is the username and password used to access the resource.
  • The host is the domain name of the resource.
  • The path is the path or folder to the resource.
  • The query is the query string of the resource. It is usually a key-value pair as a paramter to access resources.
  • The fragment is used as a reference within the resource.

We will see the use cases of most of them throughout this series for example, the userinfo is commonly used in accessing databases over the internet/cloud. The query parameters will be used in making dynamic API calls, etc.

Basic URL Parsing

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net/url"
)

func main() {
    // simple url
    urlString := "http://www.google.com"
    parsedUrl, err := url.Parse(urlString)
    if err != nil {
        panic(err)
    }
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl)
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

http://www.google.com
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

So, what is getting parsed here, we gave the URL as a string we get the URL back, the only difference is that instead of the URL being a string, it is now a structure of components. For instance, we want the protocol the host name, the port, etc. from the URL.

fmt.Printf("%T\n", parsedUrl)
// *url.URL
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The parsedUrl is a pointer to a url.URL structure. The structure url.URL has a lot of components to it like Scheme, Host, User, Path, RawQuery, etc. We will dive into each of these soon.

We could get those specific components ourselves, but that would be a bit tedious and might be even prone to bugs.

Let's try to get those components from the URL without any functions, just string manipulation.

package main

import (
    "fmt"
)

func main() {
    urlString := "http://www.google.com"
    protocol := urlString.split(":")[0]
    hostName := urlString.split("//")[1]
    fmt.Println(protocol)
    fmt.Println(hostName)
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

This might work for a simple URL, but what if we have more complex URLs which have paths, query parameters, fragments, username, port, etc? This could mess up quickly if we tried to get the parts of the URL ourselves. So, golang has a package called net/url explicitly for parsing URLs.

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "strings"
)

func main() {
    urlString := []string{"http://www.google.com",
        "http://www.google.com/about/",
        "http://www.google.com/about?q=hello",
        "http://www.google.com:8080/about?q=hello",
        "http://user:password@example.com:8080/path/to/resource?query=value#fragment",
    }
    for _, url := range urlString {
        hostStr := strings.Split(url, "//")[1]
        hostName := strings.Split(hostStr, "/")[0]
        fmt.Println(hostName)
    }
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

www.google.com
www.google.com
www.google.com
www.google.com:8080
user:password@example.com:8080
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The above code might work for most of the URLs, but what if we have a more complex URL like the one with port or user, it doesn't give the thing we want exactly. In the above example, we have created a list of URLs as strings and simply iterated over each of the url in the urlString. Thereafter, we split the url on // so we get https: and www.google.com, if we want the host/domain name, we could simply get the 1 index in the slice since the strings.Split method returns a slice after splitting the string with the provided separator. The hostName could be fetched from the 1 index. However, this time for the 2nd element in the list, we have https://www.google.com/about, which would return www.google.com/about as the hostname which is not ideal, so we will again have to split this string with / and grab the first part i.e. 0th index.

The above code would work for paths and query parameters but if we had ports, and username, and password, it would not work as expected as evident from the last 2 examples in the list.

So, now we know the downsides of manually parsing the URLs, we can use the net/url package to do it for us.

Parsing DB URLs

Databases have a connection URL or connection string which provides a standard way to connect to a database/database server. The format of the URL is just the URL with all the components from the scheme to the path. The common examples of some database connection URLs might include:

# PostgreSQL DB Connection URL/string
postgresql://username:password@hostname:port/database_name

# MongoDB Connection URL/string
mongodb://username:password@hostname:port/database_name
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The above are examples of the Postgres and MongoDB connection URLs, they have a protocol which usually for databases is their short name, the user credentials i.e. username and password, the hostname i.e. the server IP address, the port on which the database is running, and finally the path as the database name.

We can construct a simple snippet in golang to grab all the details from the simple connection URL string with the net/url package.

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net/url"
)

func main() {
    //postgres db url
    dbUrl, err := url.Parse("postgres://admin:pass1234@localhost:5432/mydb")
    if err != nil {
        panic(err)
    }
    fmt.Println(dbUrl)
    fmt.Println("Scheme/Protocol = ", dbUrl.Scheme)
    fmt.Println("User = ", dbUrl.User)
    //fmt.Println("User = ", dbUrl.User.String())
    fmt.Println("Username = ", dbUrl.User.Username())
    password, _ := dbUrl.User.Password()
    fmt.Println("Password = ", password)
    fmt.Println("Host = ", dbUrl.Host)
    fmt.Println("HostName = ", dbUrl.Hostname())
    fmt.Println("Port = ", dbUrl.Port())
    fmt.Println("DB Name = ", dbUrl.Path)
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

postgres://postgres:pass1234@localhost:5432/mydb
Scheme/Protocol =  postgres
User = admin:pass1234
Username =  admin
Password =  pass1234
Host =  localhost:5432
HostName =  localhost
Port =  5432
DB Name =  mydb
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

In the above code, we have given the string postgres://admin:pass1234@localhost:5432/mydb, and we have parsed the URL using the net/url package. The result is we have a parsedUrl object which has all the components that can be accessed as either fields or methods. Let's break down each field/method we used in the above example:

  • The Scheme is simply a string representing the protocol of the resource(URL).
  • The User is the UserInfo object having immutable username and password fields.
  • The Username is the method on UserInfo that returns the string representing the username of the URL.
  • The Password is the method on UserInfo that returns the string representing the password of the URL.
  • The Host is the field on URL as a string representing the host:port of the URL.
  • The Hostname is the method on URL that returns the string representing the hostname of the URL.
  • The Port is the method on URL that returns the string representing the port of the URL.
  • The Path is the field as the string representing the path of the URL.

So, this is how we can get almost every detail like db protocol, username, password, hostname, port, and the database name from the database connection string URL.

Parsing Query Parameters

We can even get the query parameters of a URL using the Query method on the URL object. The Query method returns a map[string][]string which is to say a map with the key as string and the value as a []string slice of string. For example, if the URL is something like https://google.com/?q=hello, the Query method will return map[q:[hello]] which means the key is q and the value is a list of strings of which the only element is hello.

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net/url"
)

func main() {
    // a complex url with query params
    urlStr := "http://www.google.com/?q=hello&q=world&lang=en"
    parsedUrl, err := url.Parse(urlStr)
    if err != nil {
        panic(err)
    }
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl)
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl.Query())
    for k, v := range parsedUrl.Query() {
        fmt.Println("KEY:", k)
        for _, vv := range v {
            fmt.Println(vv)
        }
    }
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

http://www.google.com/?q=hello+world&lang=en&q=gopher
map[lang:[en] q:[hello world gopher]]
KEY: q
hello world
gopher
KEY: lang
en
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

We have taken a bit of a complex example that might cover many use cases of the Query method. We have a URL as http://www.google.com/?q=hello&q=world&lang=en, and the Query method returns map[lang:[en] q:[hello world]] which means the q key has a slice of a string with elements hello world and gopher and the lang key has a value of en. Here, the first paramter, q=hello+world is basically hello world or hello%20world, which is to say escaping the space in the URL. We can have multiple values for the same key, which is evident as we have added q=gopher at the end of the URL, the key q has two elements in the slice as hello world and gopher. The lang=en is simply a key as lang with the only element as en in the slice. We use & to separate different query parameters in the URL.

Checking Values in Query Parameters

We can even check the values in the query parameters without requiring the construction of for loops to find a particular value in a key. The Values is a type that stores the map as a return value from the Query method. It has a few handy methods like:

  • Has to check if the key exists in the map (paramter as key string and returns a bool).
  • Get to fetch the first value of the given key as a string or if not present then returns an empty string (paramter as key string and returns string).
  • Add method is used to append the value for a given key (paramter as key string and value to be added as string).
  • Set method is used to replace the value for a given key if already exists (paramter as key string and value as string).
  • Del method is used to delete the value for a given key (paramter as key string).
package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net/url"
)

func main() {
    // a complex url with query params
    urlStr := "http://www.google.com/?q=hello+world&lang=en&q=gopher"
    parsedUrl, err := url.Parse(urlStr)
    if err != nil {
        panic(err)
    }
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl)
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl.Query())

    queryParams := parsedUrl.Query()

    fmt.Println(queryParams.Get("q"))

    fmt.Println(queryParams.Has("q"))

    if queryParams.Has("lang") {
        fmt.Println(queryParams.Get("lang"))
    }

    queryParams.Add("q", "ferris")
    fmt.Println(queryParams)

    queryParams.Set("q", "books")
    fmt.Println(queryParams)

    queryParams.Del("q")
    fmt.Println(queryParams)
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

http://www.google.com/?q=hello+world&lang=en&q=gopher
hello world
true
en
map[lang:[en] q:[hello world gopher ferris]]
map[lang:[en] q:[books]]
map[lang:[en]]
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The above code example demonstrates almost all the methods available on the Values type. The Get method is used to fetch the first value for a given key, so we parse the key as a string to the method and it would return a string. We checked for the q as the key and it returned the first element in the queryParams for key q as hello world from the list [hello world, gopher]. The Has method takes in the paramter as key as string and returns if the key exists in the queryParams or not as a bool. The Add method, we have used to Add a key with a particular value, we added the value ferris to the key q hence it appended to the list and the list of queryParams[q] became [hello world, gopher, ferris]. The Set method is used to override the existing key with a particular value, here we have set the value books to the key q and hence the list of queryParams[q] becomes [books]. We can use the Del method to remove the key from the queryParams, so we delete q from queryParams, then the queryParams simply has no key as q in it.

Parsing Query Parameters to String

Now, that you have manipulated the query parameters, let's say you want to construct back that string representation of the query particular or the URL for it. The Encode method is used to grab the queryParams i.e. Values object and convert it into the string representation of the encoded URL.

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net/url"
)

func main() {
    // a complex url with query params
    urlStr := "http://www.google.com/?q=hello+world&lang=en&q=gopher"
    parsedUrl, err := url.Parse(urlStr)
    if err != nil {
        panic(err)
    }
    queryParams := parsedUrl.Query()
    queryParams.Add("name", "ferris")

    q := queryParams.Encode()
    fmt.Println(q)
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

lang=en&name=ferris&q=hello+world&q=gopher
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

So, we can see the Encode method has given a query parameter in the form of a URL encoded string. We first grab the query parameters from the parsedUrl which is a URL object via the Query method, we then Add the key name with a value of ferris to the queryParams. This is then used to Encode the object back to a string representation. This could be useful to construct a query paramter for requesting other websites/APIs.

Parsing URL object back to String

We can even get the URL object back to a string representation using the String method on the URL object. The String method returns a string representation of the URL object.

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net/url"
)

func main() {
    urlStr := "http://www.google.com/?q=hello+world&lang=en&q=gopher"
    fmt.Println("URL:", urlStr)
    parsedUrl, err := url.Parse(urlStr)
    if err != nil {
        panic(err)
    }
    queryParams := parsedUrl.Query()
    queryParams.Add("name", "ferris")

    q := queryParams.Encode()
    fmt.Println(q)
    parsedUrl.RawQuery = q
    newUrl := parsedUrl.String()
    fmt.Println("New URL:", newUrl)
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

URL: http://www.google.com/?q=hello+world&lang=en&q=gopher
lang=en&name=ferris&q=hello+world&q=gopher
New URL: http://www.google.com/?lang=en&name=ferris&q=hello+world&q=gopher
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

In the example above, we parse a URL string into a URL object as parsedUrl, then we Add the key name with a value of ferris to the queryParams. We then Encode the URL object back to a string representation. But this won't change the parsedUrl object we want to change the entire URL object. For that, we have overwritten the RawQuery field of the URL object with the query parameter encoded string as q. The String method returns a string representation of the URL object.

Parsing Fragments

The fragment in a URL is usually present in a static website like #about, #contact, #blog, etc. The Fragment is a string that is usually a reference to a specific section or anchor point within a web page or resource. When a URL with a fragment is accessed, the web browser or user agent will scroll the page to display the section identified by the fragment.

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net/url"
)

func main() {
    // url with fragments
    urlStr := "https://pkg.go.dev/math/rand#Norm Float64"
    parsedUrl, err := url.Parse(urlStr)
    if err != nil {
        panic(err)
    }
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl)
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl.Fragment)
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl.RawFragment)
    fmt.Println(parsedUrl.EscapedFragment())
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
$ go run main.go

https://pkg.go.dev/math/rand#Norm Float64

Norm Float64
Norm Float64
Norm%20Float64
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The above code is used to fetch the #Norm Float64 fragment from the URL https://pkg.go.dev/math/rand#NormFloat64. We can use the Fragment field in the URL object to get the fragment text. There is RawFragment field that is used to parse the fragment text as it is, without trying to escape any special characters in the URL. The EscapedFragment is used to parse the fragment text by escaping the characters in the URL.

That's it from the 32nd part of the series, all the source code for the examples are linked in the GitHub on the 100 days of Golang repository.

100-days-of-golang

GitHub logo Mr-Destructive / 100-days-of-golang

Scripts and Resources for the 100 days of golang series

100 Days of Go lang

Go lang is a programming language which is easier to write and even provides type and memory safety, garbage collection and structural typing. It is developed by the Google Team in 2009 and open sourced in 2012. It is a programming language made for Cloud native technologies and web applications. It is a general purpose programming lanugage and hence there are no restrictions on the type of programs you wish to make in it.

Resources to learn Golang

Some famous applications made with GO!

Web apps DevOps tools CLI tools
SoundCloud - Music System Prometheus - Monitoring system and time series database gh-cli - Official Github CLI
Uber - Ride Sharing/Cab booking Webapp

Conclusion

From the first post of the web development section, we covered the fundamentals of URL parsing and got a bit introduced to the net package, which will be heavily used for most of the core language's features for working with the web. We covered the concepts for parsing URLs, getting components of URLs from the parsed object, Database connection URL resolving, parsing query parameters, and some other URL-related concepts.

Hopefully, you found this section helpful, if you have any comments or feedback, please let me know in the comments section or on my social handles. Thank you for reading. Happy Coding :)

Top comments (1)

Collapse
 
kinley46564 profile image
Oaklyn Kinley

Embrace eco-friendly practices by using water-saving techniques, biodegradable cleaning products, and energy-efficient equipment. Highlight your commitment to environmental advancedcardetailing.com/ sustainability in your marketing to attract environmentally conscious customers.