Essential Go Defer  Suggest an edit

Defer gotchas

When using defer keep the following in mind: deferred functions are called at the end of a function.

Deferred statements have a function scope, not a block scope.

In other words: deferred calls are executed when exiting a function not when executing block created with if or for statements.

func main() {
	fmt.Print("Before if\n")
	if true {
		defer fmt.Print("inside if\n")
	}

	fmt.Print("Ater if\n")
}
Before if
Ater if
inside if

You might expect that deferred statement to be executed when we exit if branch but it’s executed as the last thing in a function.

Using outside variables in defer functions

func main() {
	for i := 0; i < 2; i++ {
		defer func() {
			fmt.Printf("%d\n", i)
		}()
	}
}
2
2

A common mistake is to think that this code will print 0 and 1. Those are the values of i when we see defer.

However, defer creates a closure which only captures variable i by a reference. It doesn't capture the value of the variable.

It should be become clear when we look at what code executes:

var i int
for i = 0; i < 2; i++ {
	// create closure that references i by reference
}

fmt.Printf("%d\n", i) // from created by defer in second loop iteration (remember: reverse order)
fmt.Printf("%d\n", i) // from closure created by defer in first loop iteration

Now it’s clear that when we call deferred fmt.Printf, i is 2.

We can fix this by forcing a capture of the variable:

func main() {
	for i := 0; i < 2; i++ {
		defer func(i2 int) {
			fmt.Printf("%d\n", i2)
		}(i)
	}
}
1
0

A closure might be slightly more expensive as it requires allocating an object to collect all the variables captured by the closure.

  ↑ ↓ to navigate     ↵ to select     Esc to close