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doc: add section on resolving packages to module reference doc

Updates #33637

Change-Id: I3b4303479b44894442a04226cbf1f1e27dbb2fb7
Reviewed-by: Tyler Bui-Palsulich <>
Reviewed-by: Bryan C. Mills <>
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jayconrod committed Nov 25, 2019
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@@ -141,6 +141,72 @@ repositories](#compatibility-with-non-module-repositories) for more information.
<a id="resolve-pkg-mod"></a>
### Resolving a package to a module

When the `go` command loads a package using a [package
path](#glos-package-path), it needs to determine which module provides the

The `go` command starts by searching the [build list](#glos-build-list) for
modules with paths that are prefixes of the package path. For example, if the
package `` is imported, and the module `` is in the
build list, the `go` command will check whether `` contains the
package, in the directory `b`. At least one file with the `.go` extension must
be present in a directory for it to be considered a package. [Build
constraints](/pkg/go/build/#hdr-Build_Constraints) are not applied for this
purpose. If exactly one module in the build list provides the package, that
module is used. If two or more modules provide the package, an error is
reported. If no modules provide the package, the `go` command will attempt to
find a new module (unless the flags `-mod=readonly` or `-mod=vendor` are used,
in which case, an error is reported).

<!-- NOTE( the go command reports an error when two
or more modules provide a package with the same path as above. In the future,
we may try to upgrade one (or all) of the colliding modules.

When the `go` command looks up a new module for a package path, it checks the
`GOPROXY` environment variable, which is a comma-separated list of proxy URLs or
the keywords `direct` or `off`. A proxy URL indicates the `go` command should
contact a [module proxy](#glos-module-proxy) using the [`GOPROXY`
protocol](#goproxy-protocol). `direct` indicates that the `go` command should
[communicate with a version control system](#communicating-with-vcs). `off`
indicates that no communication should be attempted. The `GOPRIVATE` and
`GONOPROXY` [environment variables](#environment-variables) can also be used to
control this behavior.

For each entry in the `GOPROXY` list, the `go` command requests the latest
version of each module path that might provide the package (that is, each prefix
of the package path). For each successfully requested module path, the `go`
command will download the module at the latest version and check whether the
module contains the requested package. If one or more modules contain the
requested package, the module with the longest path is used. If one or more
modules are found but none contain the requested package, an error is
reported. If no modules are found, the `go` command tries the next entry in the
`GOPROXY` list. If no entries are left, an error is reported.

For example, suppose the `go` command is looking for a module that provides the
package ``, and `GOPROXY` is set to
`,`. The `go` command may make
the following requests:

* To `` (in parallel):
* Request for latest version of ``
* Request for latest version of ``
* Request for latest version of ``
* Request for latest version of ``
* To ``, if all requests to ``
have failed with 404 or 410:
* Request for latest version of ``
* Request for latest version of ``
* Request for latest version of ``
* Request for latest version of ``

After a suitable module has been found, the `go` command will add a new
requirement with the new module's path and version to the main module's `go.mod`
file. This ensures that when the same package is loaded in the future, the same
module will be used at the same version. If the resolved package is not imported
by a package in the main module, the new requirement will have an `// indirect`

<a id="go.mod-files"></a>
## `go.mod` files

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