Introduction to Fn with Go

Fn is a lightweight Docker-based serverless functions platform you can run on your laptop, server, or cloud. In this introductory tutorial we’ll walk through developing a function using the Go programming language (without installing any Go tools!) and deploying that function to a local Fn server. We’ll also learn about the core Fn concepts like applications and triggers.

Before you Begin

  • Set aside about 15 minutes to complete this tutorial.
  • Make sure Fn server is up and running by completing the Install and Start Fn Tutorial.
    • Make sure you have set your Fn context registry value for local development. (for example, “fndemouser”. See here.)

As you make your way through this tutorial, look out for this icon. User Input
Icon Whenever you see it, it’s time for you to perform an action.

Your First Function

Now that Fn is up and running, let’s start with a very simple “hello world” function written in Go. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know Go! In fact you don’t even need to have Go installed on your development machine as Fn provides the necessary Go compiler and tools as a Docker container. Let’s walk through your first function to become familiar with the process and how Fn supports development.

Create your Function

In the terminal type the following:

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fn init --runtime go --trigger http gofn

The output will be

Creating function at: /gofn
Runtime: go
Function boilerplate generated.
func.yaml created.

The fn init command creates an simple function with a bit of boilerplate to get you started. The --runtime option is used to indicate that the function we’re going to develop will be written in Go. A number of other runtimes are also supported. Fn creates the simple function along with several supporting files in the /gofn directory.

Review your Function File

With your function created change into the /gofn directory.

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cd gofn

Now get a list of the directory contents.

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Gopkg.toml func.go func.yaml

The func.go file which contains your actual Go function is generated along with several supporting files. To view your Go function type:

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cat func.go
package main

import (

	fdk "github.com/fnproject/fdk-go"

func main() {

type Person struct {
	Name string `json:"name"`

func myHandler(ctx context.Context, in io.Reader, out io.Writer) {
	p := &Person{Name: "World"}
	msg := struct {
		Msg string `json:"message"`
		Msg: fmt.Sprintf("Hello %s", p.Name),

This function looks for JSON input in the form of {"name": "Bob"}. If this JSON example is passed to the function, the function returns {"message":"Hello Bob"}. If no JSON data is found, the function returns {"message":"Hello World"}.

Understanding func.yaml

The fn init command generated a func.yaml function configuration file. Let’s look at the contents:

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cat func.yaml
schema_version: 20180708
name: gofn
version: 0.0.1
runtime: go
entrypoint: ./func
format: http-stream
- name: gofn-trigger
  type: http
  source: /gofn-trigger

The generated func.yaml file contains metadata about your function and declares a number of properties including:

  • schema_version–identifies the version of the schema for this function file. Essentially, it determines which fields are present in func.yaml.
  • name–the name of the function. Matches the directory name.
  • version–automatically starting at 0.0.1
  • runtime–the name of the runtime/language which was set based on the value set in --runtime.
  • entrypoint–the name of the executable to invoke when your function is called, in this case ./func
  • format–the function uses http-stream as its input/output method (see: Open Function Format).
  • triggers–identifies the automatically generated trigger name and source. For example, this function would be executed from the URL

http://localhost:8080/t/appname/gofn-trigger. Where appname is the name of the app chosen for your function when it is deployed.

There are other user specifiable properties but these will suffice for this example. Note that the name of your function is taken from the containing folder name. We’ll see this come into play later on.

Other Function Files

The fn init command generated one other file.

  • Gopkg.toml – the Go dep tool dependency management tool file which specifies all the dependencies for your function.

Deploy Your First Function

With the gofn directory containing func.go and func.yaml you’ve got everything you need to deploy the function to Fn server. This server could be running in the cloud, in your datacenter, or on your local machine like we’re doing here.

Make sure your context is set to default and you are using a demo user. Use the fn list context command to check.

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fn list contexts
*       default	default		http://localhost:8080	fndemouser

If your context is not configured, please see the context installation instructions before proceeding. Your context determines where your function is deployed.

Deploying your function is how you publish your function and make it accessible to other users and systems. To see the details of what is happening during a function deploy, use the --verbose switch. The first time you build a function of a particular language it takes longer as Fn downloads the necessary Docker images. The --verbose option allows you to see this process.

In your terminal type the following:

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fn --verbose deploy --app goapp --local

You should see output similar to:

Deploying gofn to app: goapp
Bumped to version 0.0.2
Building image fndemouser/gofn:0.0.2 
FN_REGISTRY:  fndemouser
Current Context:  default
Sending build context to Docker daemon   5.12kB
Step 1/10 : FROM fnproject/go:dev as build-stage
dev: Pulling from fnproject/go
ff3a5c916c92: Already exists 
f32d2ea73378: Pull complete 
3bdfb30a4c89: Pull complete 
6487ee6212c5: Pull complete 
074903419fc0: Pull complete 
3db945ee2177: Pull complete 
Digest: sha256:6ebffaea00a2f53373c68dd52e0df209d7e464d691db0d52b31060d06df8e839
Status: Downloaded newer image for fnproject/go:dev
 ---> fac877f7d14d
Step 2/10 : WORKDIR /function
 ---> Running in ec4e59c12f13
Removing intermediate container ec4e59c12f13
 ---> 98fcbeba3fcc
Step 3/10 : RUN go get -u github.com/golang/dep/cmd/dep
 ---> Running in d04b9dfa8dc6
Removing intermediate container d04b9dfa8dc6
 ---> 3bae0bbe8a81
Step 4/10 : ADD . /go/src/func/
 ---> b33514c5876b
Step 5/10 : RUN cd /go/src/func/ && dep ensure
 ---> Running in 6147e9cf3ddf
Removing intermediate container 6147e9cf3ddf
 ---> 2f7f21a2eb15
Step 6/10 : RUN cd /go/src/func/ && go build -o func
 ---> Running in 81188a61a4d1
Removing intermediate container 81188a61a4d1
 ---> 1af60a363a46
Step 7/10 : FROM fnproject/go
latest: Pulling from fnproject/go
1eae7a7426b0: Pull complete 
7a855df78530: Pull complete 
Digest: sha256:8e03716b576e955c7606e4d8b8748c0f959a916ce16ba305ab262f042562340f
Status: Downloaded newer image for fnproject/go:latest
 ---> 76aed4489768
Step 8/10 : WORKDIR /function
 ---> Running in ce2fc52be3a7
Removing intermediate container ce2fc52be3a7
 ---> 9d2da540bf02
Step 9/10 : COPY --from=build-stage /go/src/func/func /function/
 ---> cf718c6f8fd8
Step 10/10 : ENTRYPOINT ["./func"]
 ---> Running in a60600bcb994
Removing intermediate container a60600bcb994
 ---> efa4793bf85f
Successfully built efa4793bf85f
Successfully tagged fndemouser/gofn:0.0.2

Updating function gofn using image fndemouser/gofn:0.0.2...

All the steps to load the current language Docker image are displayed.

Functions are grouped into applications so by specifying --app goapp we’re implicitly creating the application goapp and associating our function with it.

Specifying --local does the deployment to the local server but does not push the function image to a Docker registry–which would be necessary if we were deploying to a remote Fn server.

The output message Updating function gofn using image fndemouser/gofn:0.0.2... let’s us know that the function is packaged in the image fndemouser/gofn:0.0.2.

Note that the containing folder name gofn was used as the name of the generated Docker container and used as the name of the function that container was bound to. By convention it is also used to create the trigger name gofn-trigger.

Normally you deploy an application without the --verbose option. If you rerun the command a new image and version is created and loaded.

Invoke your Deployed Function

There are two ways to call your deployed function.

Invoke with the CLI

The first is using the Fn CLI which makes invoking your function relatively easy. Type the following:

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fn invoke goapp gofn

which results in:

{"message":"Hello World"}

When you invoked “goapp gofn” the fn server looked up the “goapp” application and then looked for the Docker container image bound to the “gofn” function and executed the code. Fn invoke invokes your function directly and independently of any associated triggers. You can always invoke a function even without it having any triggers bound to it.

You can also pass data to the invoke command. Note that you set the content type for the data passed. For example:

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echo -n '{"name":"Bob"}' | fn invoke goapp gofn --content-type application/json
{"message":"Hello Bob"}

The JSON data was parsed and since name was set to “Bob”, that value is passed in the output.

Understand fn deploy

If you have used Docker before the output of fn --verbose deploy should look familiar–it looks like the output you see when running docker build with a Dockerfile. Of course this is exactly what’s happening! When you deploy a function like this Fn is dynamically generating a Dockerfile for your function, building a container, and then loading it for execution.

NOTE: Fn is actually using two images. The first contains the language compiler and is used to generate a binary. The second image packages only the generated binary and any necessary language runtime components. Using this strategy, the final function image size can be kept as small as possible. Smaller Docker images are naturally faster to push and pull from a repository which improves overall performance. For more details on this technique see Multi-Stage Docker Builds for Creating Tiny Go Images.

When using fn deploy --local, fn server builds and packages your function into a container image which resides on your local machine.

As Fn is built on Docker you can use the docker command to see the local container image you just generated. You may have a number of Docker images so use the following command to see only those created by fndemouser:

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docker images | grep fndemouser

You should see something like:

fndemouser/gofn      0.0.2               cde014cefdad        7 minutes ago       15.1MB

Explore your Application

The fn CLI provides a couple of commands to let us see what we’ve deployed. fn list apps returns a list of all of the defined applications.

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fn list apps

Which, in our case, returns the name of the application we created when we deployed our gofn function:


We can also see the functions that are defined by an application. Since functions are exposed via triggers, the fn list triggers <appname> command is used. To list the functions included in “goapp” we can type:

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fn list triggers goapp
gofn        gofn-trigger    http    /gofn-trigger http://localhost:8080/t/goapp/gofn-trigger

The output confirms that goapp contains a gofn function which may be invoked via the specified URL. Now that we’ve confirmed deployment was successsful, let’s call our function.

Invoke with Curl

The other way to invoke your function is via HTTP. The Fn server exposes our deployed function at http://localhost:8080/t/goapp/gofn-trigger, a URL that incorporates our application and function trigger as path elements.

Use curl to invoke the function:

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curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" http://localhost:8080/t/goapp/gofn-trigger

The result is once again the same.

{"message":"Hello World"}

We can again pass JSON data to our function and get the value of name passed to the function back.

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curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"name":"Bob"}' http://localhost:8080/t/goapp/gofn-trigger

The result is once again the same.

{"message":"Hello Bob"}

Wrap Up

Congratulations! In this tutorial you’ve accomplished a lot. You’ve created your first function, deployed it to your local Fn server and invoked it over HTTP.

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