A simple, yaml-based go dependency manager

go get



  /* \     _~
  `;'\\__-' \_     A simple go dependency manager and project isolator
     | )  _ \ \
    / / ``   w w
   w w

Goat handles recursive, versioned, dependency management for go projects in an unobtrusive way. Goat also allows projects to be located anywhere on the file system, unattached to a Go workspace. Best of all, to switch to using goat you won't have to change a single line of code.

The problem

There are two problems that goat aims to solve:

  • go get does not allow for specifying versions of a library.

  • go get does not have an easy of way of sandboxing your project's development environment. You can either muck up your global environment with dependencies or mess with your GOPATH everytime you want to develop for that project. Others that want to work on your project will have to do the same.

  • Other dependency managers are strange and have weird command line arguments that I don't feel like learning.

The solution

  • The root of a goat project has a .go.yaml file which specifies a dependency's location, name, and version control reference if applicable. It is formatted using super-simple yaml objects, each having at most four fields.

  • All dependencies are placed in a .goat/deps directory at the root of your project. goat will automatically look for a .go.yaml in your current working directory or one of its parents, and call that the project root. For the rest of the command's duration your GOPATH will have <projroot>/.goat/deps prepended to it. This has many useful properties, most notably that your dependencies are sandboxed inside your code, but are still usable exactly as they would have been if they were global.

  • Goat is a wrapper around the go command line utility. It adds one new command, all other commands are passed straight through to the normal go binary. This command is goat deps, and it retrieves all dependencies listed in your .go.yaml and puts them into a folder called .goat/deps in your project. If any of those dependencies have .go.yaml files then those are processed and put in your project's .goat/deps folder as well (this is done recursively).


To use goat you can either get a pre-compiled binary or build it yourself. Once you get the binary I recommend renaming aliasing it as go (alias go=goat), so that goat gets used whenever you use the go utility. Don't worry, unless you are in a directory tree with a .go.yaml file or use one of goat's special commands nothing will be different.


Check the releases tab on github, the latest release will have pre-compiled binaries for various systems, choose the one that applies to you.

Build it yourself

To build goat yourself make sure you have go installed (go figure).

git clone
cd goat

The binaries will be found in the bin directory.


See the tutorial for a basic use case for goat. After that check out the .go.yaml file for more details on what kind of features goat has for dependency management. There are also some special features that don't really fit in anywhere else that might be useful to know about.


Goat ASCII Art (c) 1997 ejm, Creative Commons