One year of Rust

May 16, 2016 · Aaron Turon

Rust is a language that gives you:

It's a language for writing highly reliable, screamingly fast software—and having fun doing it.

And yesterday, Rust turned one year old.

Rust in numbers

A lot has happened in the last 365 days:

  • 11,894 commits by 702 contributors added to the core repository;
  • 88 RFCs merged;
  • 18 compiler targets introduced;
  • 9 releases shipped;
  • 1 year of stability delivered.

On an average week this year, the Rust community merged two RFCs and published 53 brand new crates. Not a single day went by without at least one new Rust library hitting the central package manager. And Rust topped the "most loved language" in this year's StackOverflow survey.

Speaking of numbers: we recently launched a survey of our own, and want to hear from you whether you are an old hat at Rust, or have never used it.

One place where our numbers are not where we want them to be: community diversity. We've had ongoing local outreach efforts, but the Rust community team will soon be launching a coordinated, global effort following the Bridge model (e.g. RailsBridge). If you want to get involved, or have other ideas for outreach, please let the community team know.

Rust in production

This year saw more companies betting on Rust. Each one has a story, but two particularly resonated.

First, there's Dropbox. For the last several years, the company has been secretively working on a move away from AWS and onto its own infrastructure. The move, which is now complete, included developing custom-build hardware and the software to drive it. While much of Dropbox's back-end infrastructure is historically written in Go, for some key components the memory footprint and lack of control stood in the way of achieving the server utilization they were striving for. They rewrote those components in Rust. In the words of Jamie Turner, a lead engineer for the project, "the advantages of Rust are many: really powerful abstractions, no null, no segfaults, no leaks, yet C-like performance and control over memory."

Second, there's Mozilla. They've long been developing Servo as a research browser engine in Rust, but their first production Rust code shipped through a different vehicle: Firefox. In Firefox 45, without any fanfare, Rust code for mp4 metadata parsing went out to OSX and 64-bit Linux users; it will hit Windows in version 48. The code is currently running in test mode, with its results compared against the legacy C++ library: 100% correctness on 1 billion reported executions. But this code is just the tip of the iceberg: after laying a lot of groundwork for Rust integration, Firefox is poised to bring in significant amounts of new Rust code, including components from Servo—and not just in test mode.

We're hearing similar stories from a range of other shops that are putting Rust into production: Rust helps a team punch above its weight. It gives many of the same benefits as traditional systems languages while being more approachable, safer and often more productive.

These are just a few stories of Rust in production, but we'd love to hear yours!

Rust, improved

Of course, Rust itself hasn't been standing still. The focus in its first year has been growing and polishing its ecosystem and tooling:

  • Platforms and targets. Rust's memory footprint is not much bigger than C's, which makes it ideal for using in all kinds of places. Over the last year, Rust gained the ability to work directly with the native MSVC toolchain on Windows, to target musl (thereby creating a binary that can be used with zero dependencies on any variety of Linux), to target Android and ARM devices, and many more platforms. The new rustup tool makes it a breeze to manage and compile to these various targets. As of Rust 1.6, you can use Rust without its full standard library, limiting to a core library that does not require any OS services (and hence is suitable for writing OSes in Rust). Finally, there are an increasing number of libraries for embedding Rust code into other contexts, like node.js, Ruby and Go.
  • Tools. Because Rust looks just like C on the outside, it's instantly usable with a wide range of existing tools; it works out of the box with lldb, gdb, perf, valgrind, callgrind, and many, many more. Our focus has been to enrich the experience for these tools by adding Rust-specific hooks and workflows. Another major priority is providing full IDE support, in part by providing daemonized services from the compiler; we made good progress on that front this year, and thanks to the Racer project, numerous IDE plugins are already providing some semantic support for Rust. At the same time, the rustfmt code formatting tool has matured to the point that the Rust community is ready to produce an official style. And the beating heart of Rust's workflow, Cargo, gained numerous abilities this year, most notably the install subcommand.

There's a lot more to say about what's happened and what's coming up in the Rust world—over the coming months, we'll be using this blog to say it.

Rust in community

It turns out that people like to get together and talk Rust. We had a sold out RustCamp last August, and several upcoming events in 2016:

  • September 9-10, 2016: the first RustConf in Portland, OR, USA;
  • September 17, 2016: RustFest, the European community conference, in Berlin, Germany;
  • October 27-18, 2016: Rust Belt Rust, a Rust conference in Pittsburgh, PA, USA;
  • 71 Rust-related meetup groups worldwide.

And that's no surprise. From a personal perspective, the best part about working with Rust is its community. It's hard to explain quite what it's like to be part of this group, but two things stand out. First, its sheer energy: so much happens in any given week that This Week in Rust is a vital resource for anyone hoping to keep up. Second, its welcoming spirit. Rust's core message is one of empowerment—you can fearlessly write safe, low-level systems code—and that's reflected in the community. We're all here to learn how to be better programmers, and support each other in doing so.

There's never been a better time to get started with Rust, whether through attending a local meetup, saying hello in the users forum, watching a talk, or reading the book. No matter how you find your way in, we'll be glad to have you.

Happy birthday, Rust!