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Mandala is a framework for writing Android native applications in Go using the Goandroid toolchain. You can develop, test and run your application on your desktop and then deploy it to an Android device. It encourages the use of idiomatic Go for writing Android applications: communication happens through channels and not callbacks. The framework should not be considered a high-level game engine but as a basic layer onto which game engines can be built or existing ones can be used. In my opinion, this opens interesting scenarios in the developing of native Android applications/games in Go. Goandroid's native_activity example was the initial source of inspiration for this project.

Please consider that Mandala is in a very early stage of development: API will change, test coverage is not so good for now. Last but not least, Go doesn't officially support native Android development. Regarding this point, I hope that the present work could act as a sort of incentive in the direction of an official Android support by the Go Team.

Have a nice Mandala!

Key features

  • Code/test/run on your desktop and deploy on the device.
  • Build/deploy/run your application using simple shell commands.
  • On-device black-box testing.
  • Communicate through channels, no callbacks.
  • Quick bootstrap using a predefined template.

Supported desktop platforms

  • Linux (xorg)
  • OSX (see the wiki page)

Techonologies involved

How does it work?

Mandala uses the Goandroid toolchain to compile Go applications for Android. The graphics abstraction between desktop and device is obtained using a bunch of technologies. In particular

  • EGL
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • GLFW 3

The EGL layer is necessary to use an OpenGL ES 2 context on a desktop environment. The GLFW library is responsible of managing the rendering context and the handling of events in a window.

The framework itself provides an event channel from which client code listen for events happening during program execution. Examples of events are the interaction with the screen, the creation of the native rendering context, pausing/resuming/destroying of the application, etc.

The framework abstracts the Android native events providing a way to build, run and test the application on the desktop with the promise that it will behave the same on the device once deployed. Oh well, this is the long-term aim, at least!

A typical Mandala application has two loops: one continuously listens for events, the other is responsible for rendering the scene. In order to dealing with application resources (images, sounds, configuration files, etc.), the framework provides a ResourceManager object. Client code sends requests to it in order to obtain resources as slices of bytes. In the desktop application this simply means opening the file at the given path. In the Android application the framework will unpack the apk archive on the fly getting the requested resources from it. However, it is the framework's responsibility to deal with the right native method for opening a file. From the client-code point of view the request will be the same.

The bothersome steps needed to build, package and deploy the application on the device are simplified using a set of predefined gotask tasks.


Please visit mandala-examples.


  • Android NDK
  • Goandroid
  • EGL
  • OpenGL ES 2
  • GLFW3
  • gotask (to run the tests)
  • xdotool (to run the tests on xorg)

Android NDK

See here.


See here.

After installing Goandroid you have to export a new environment variable GOANDROID. It should point to the Go bin folder of the Goandroid distribution. For example,

export GOANDROID=$HOME/src/goandroid/go/bin

Also note that on a 32 bit host machine, it would be necessary to generate the toolchain with:

$NDK/build/tools/ --platform=android-9 --toolchain=arm-linux-androideabi-4.8 --install-dir=ndk-toolchain

See here for further info about the issue.


On a debian-like system:

sudo apt-get install libgles2-mesa-dev libegl1-mesa-dev

Then you should install the Go bindings for EGL and OpenGL ES 2. This is as simple as:

go get
go get


Install from source following the instructions here. Please note that you have to configure GLFW in order to use EGL and OpenGL ES 2. For further information, see here and here. Be sure to build GLFW as a shared object!

After installing GLFW3, in order to install the Go binding, see here.


go get


On a debian-like system:

sudo apt-get install xdotool

This is needed for black-box testing only.


Once you have satisfied all the prerequisites:

go get

This will install all the remaining dependencies.

Quick start

To create a basic application install mandala-template:

go get

Then, in a folder inside $GOPATH/src run the following commands:

mandala-template myapp
cd myapp
gotask init
gotask run android # deploy and run on a connected device
gotask run xorg    # run on a desktop window

This will generate a simple Android application showing a red screen. See mandala-template for furher info.


Setup a testing environment on Android was not straightforward. The main issue is related to the flag package. To avoid dependency from it I had to hack PrettyTest in order to remove the dependency from testing (which in turn depends on flag). So basically, testing a native Android application is now possible using PrettyTest but we have to renounce the benefits of testing (at least for now). See test for further info about testing. To run the tests on your desktop window you need the xdotool (see the Prerequisites section)

To do

  • Write a complete game using the framework
  • Sound support
  • More tests


  • @jingweno for his cool build tool gotask

  • @eliasnaur for his Goandroid, the necessary condition for this work

  • @aded for patiently testing the pre-announcement release on his 32bit broken machine.




A Go framework for writing native Android applications




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