Writing Database Middleware in Go

I’ve been writing two main types of Go programs recently. One routes http input through a series of transformations and calculations and one receives http input to transform or return data stores.

For the latter, I had a hard time figuring out the best way to maintain a persistent database connection while still taking advantage of Go’s concurrency. I settled on writing an entensible middleware to establish a connection and clone sessions for each incoming request.

The benefit of this approach is that I can offload the connection and session management to the database itself. It can pool and queue connections for me when things scale. I also don’t have to worry about latency issues in connecting to the database on every request, since I can establish one on application boot and clone from there.

Here is a brief scaffold of how I’m doing this. I’ll use mgo and a mongoDB here, but you could substitute most database drivers with the approriate syntax. In the simplest case, you can make your main.go and middleware.go separate files. This makes it easier to break functionality into the appropriate place.


package main

import (
        "" // our DB driver

type Controller struct {
        // This will be our extensible type that will
        // be used as a common context type for our routes
        session *mgo.Session // our cloneable session

func NewController() (*Controller, error) {
        // This function will return to us a 
        // Controller that has our common DB context.
        // We can then use it for multiple routes
        uri := os.Getenv("MONGO_URI")
        if uri == "" {
                return nil, fmt.Errorf("no DB connection string provided")
        session, err := mgo.Dial(uri)
        if err != nil {
                return nil, err
        return &Controller{
            session: session,
    }, nil


package main

import (

func main() {
        // Our main func, of course, will
        // Initialize our DB connection with 
        // a call to NewController and will
        // defer our session closing until we finish
        // running completely
        ctl, err := NewController()
        if err != nil {

        http.handleFunc("/", ctl.renderHello)
        http.ListenAndServe(":80", nil)

// Our response method will be called on our controller context
func (ctl *Controller) renderHello(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
        // First, we will clone a session and connect to our 
        // desired database
        // Remember, ctl holds our persistent DB connection
        // already.
        session := ctl.session.Clone()
        defer session.Close()
        db := session.DB(os.Getenv("MONGO_DB"))
        // Here, we'll simply retrieve one account from 
        // our Accounts collection, using the Account type
        // which I wrote out elsewhere.
        result := Account{}
        err := db.C("accounts").Find(bson.M{"name": r.URL.Query().Get("name")}).One(&result)
        if err != nil {
                http.Error(w, err.Error(), http.StatusNotFound)
        } else {
                fmt.Fprintf(w, "Hello, %s",

With the middleware and context separated out like this, you can easily set up a context or multiple contexts in which to handle your responses. Otherwise, you’re stuck connecting on every request. If you do that, you’re gonna have a bad time.