How to Build an App in the Rust Programming Language
TechsPlace | Rust is a rapidly-changing programming language, developed by Mozilla and backed by a large and vibrant open-source community. While it’s not yet considered suitable for beginners, Rust has quickly gained popularity due to its unique combination of learning approaches, as well as its status as a systems programming language.
In this post, we shed light on the Rust popularity, tools, and technologies that simplify development in this language. To find out more about Rust web development, check out a detailed guide on Rust web frameworks. Finally, we give you some advice on how to begin Rust application development right.
Why is Rust so popular right now?
Rust has been around since 2010, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the language had its first stable release. Since then, it has quickly become one of the fastest-growing programming languages in history as the Rust team is releasing new versions of the language, practically every year.
It’s free and open source, with a wide community of users and developers. If you’re new to Rust, you should read the official documentation. If you want something more in-depth, check out The Rust Programming Language.
Rust is a powerful language that provides safety and speed without compromising performance or developer productivity. It is used by companies such as Dropbox, Netflix, and Uber to build their services and applications.
Dropbox uses Rust for its sync engine, file compression, and crash reporting. And seeing lots of Rust benefits, they decided to build a custom library in Rust for their product Capture. This decision resulted in better error handling, making lots of features equally available for Windows and macOS, and reduced the size of the application and the amount of memory needed.
In the next section, we discuss the benefits of the Rust programming language and how these benefits facilitate and improve the software development process.
How Rust can facilitate software development
The problem with traditional programming languages is that they don’t protect against memory leaks or buffer overruns — two common bugs that can cause programs to crash or behave unpredictably. For example, when using C++ or C#, developers often need to manually allocate memory from the operating system in order to store data on their computers. If there isn’t enough memory available and developers don’t free up their allocations properly, then programs may crash or behave unexpectedly.
Rust is a safe and concurrent language that solves many common issues of other programming languages. It accomplishes this by utilizing modern programming techniques and concepts from the functional programming world, such as algebraic data types (ADTs), pattern matching, type inference, and traits.
Plus, Rust doesn’t require garbage collection, which makes it an ideal language for writing low-level code that needs to be as fast as possible.
More benefits of the Rust programming language include:
- Fast compilation speed with LLVM backend
- No runtime or other dependencies on the standard library
- Excellent tooling support from integrated development environment (IDE) integration to static analysis integration
- Strong focus on zero-cost abstractions
All of Rust’s benefits contribute to creating a safe and relatively bug-free development environment, allowing developers to focus more on functionality rather than manual code management. Let’s find out which applications you can develop in Rust.
What apps you can develop with Rust
The most common type of application that we can build with Rust is web applications, but there are other possibilities. For example, we can build command-line tools, desktop applications, and Rust-distributed systems.
Rust can also be used for backend services or microservices because it has good support for JSON and XML serialization.
Rust is a suitable language for a number of use cases:
- embedding in other languages and programs with high latency requirements, like firmware
- building highly concurrent server applications that run on bare metal
- writing low-level code, like an HTTP stack or a game engine
Rust applications include much more than what we’ve discussed but we want to prove that this language is a promising solution for many issues associated with other, longer present in the market languages.
Tools and technologies to use for Rust development
The Rust ecosystem includes many tools that make it easy to develop applications in Rust. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of those tools: Cargo, the package manager; Clippy, the linter; Rust Language Server (RLS); the compiler plugin, and rustfmt.
Cargo makes it easy to manage dependencies for your project as well as build and test them. It provides support for building both libraries and executables using the same package manager.
Clippy is a utility that helps you write Rust code in a more consistent and idiomatic manner. It’s a lint tool, but it also checks for some common mistakes. It’s particularly useful when you’re just starting out with Rust and you’re still learning idioms, so Clippy can help by pointing out common mistakes that can be avoided by following the style guide.
RLS enables code completion, syntax highlighting, and other features in your favourite editor. The RLS works with both Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio.
Rust compiler plugin is a tool that allows you to compile Rust code into C or C++ code. This allows you to use the RLS with your existing projects, as well as build entirely new projects using only Rust.
Rustfmt is an open-source tool that formats Rust code. It’s also a tool that enables IDE support, and in particular, provides information to the IDE about how to navigate through the codebase.
The Rust ecosystem also contains a number of libraries that simplify development and provide useful functionality. However, Rust is still perceived as a relatively new programming language and there isn’t as much tooling available for Rust as say for the Go language. But as the Rust community is one of the fastest growing in history, it’s only a matter of time before it reaches its full potential.
Things to consider before developing an application in Rust
Below are a few questions you should ask yourself before developing an application in Rust.
Is it critical for the application to be highly performant?
If so, then Rust might be right for you. It’s possible to write fast code in other languages, but Rust makes it easy to write fast code without sacrificing safety or reliability. This means less time spent debugging and fewer bugs slipping through into production environments — which can save lots of money over time.
Do you want your application to be able to run on multiple platforms such as Windows, Linux, or macOS?
If so, then you should consider using Rust’s cross-compilation support which allows you to compile Rust applications for different operating systems without having them installed locally on your computer.
Does your application need to handle a high load?
If yes, then it’s also one of the reasons in favour of Rust application development. This language doesn’t use a virtual machine or a garbage collector, meaning that nothing limits its potential and makes Rust perfect for handling lots of simultaneous application users at the same time.
Is quick time to market your priority?
If you’re planning to release an application fast, then with Rust it might be not that easy. Even though the language is actively evolving, your development team still will need to build lots of components from scratch, as the Rust ecosystem can’t yet meet every individual need.
These four questions can help you justify for yourself the choice of Rust. When diving into the development process in this language, you should know that there is no way back and you should have convincing reasons to choose Rust. Our final advice would be to focus on Rust’s strengths and use the language only if these strengths outweigh your possible sacrifices in time and money.
And to minimize the latter, find a reliable development team with mid- to senior-level Rust developers who have proven expertise in your industry and know how to deliver results as quickly as possible.