The Rust team is happy to announce the latest version of Rust, 1.21.0. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

If you have a previous version of Rust installed, getting Rust 1.21 is as easy as:

$ rustup update stable

If you don’t have it already, you can get rustup from the appropriate page on our website, and check out the detailed release notes for 1.21.0 on GitHub.

What’s in 1.21.0 stable

This release contains some very minor, but nice-to-have features, as well as some new documentation.

First up, a small change to literals. Consider code like this:

let x = &5;

In Rust, this code is synonymous with:

let _x = 5;
let x = &_x;

That is, the 5 here will be stored on the stack, or possibly in registers. x will be a reference to it.

However, given that it’s a literal integer, there’s no reason that it has to be local like this. Imagine we had a function that took a 'static argument, like std::thread::spawn. You might use x like this:

use std::thread;

fn main() {
    let x = &5;
    
    thread::spawn(move || {
        println!("{}", x);
    }); 
    
}

In previous versions of Rust, this would fail to compile:

error[E0597]: borrowed value does not live long enough
  --> src/main.rs:4:14
   |
4  |     let x = &5;
   |              ^ does not live long enough
...
10 | }
   | - temporary value only lives until here
   |
   = note: borrowed value must be valid for the static lifetime...

Because the 5 is local, so is its borrow, which doesn’t satisfy the requirements for spawn.

However, if you compile this on Rust 1.21, it will work. Why? Well, if the thing being referred to is okay to put into a static, we could instead de-sugar let x = &5; like this:

static FIVE: i32 = 5;

let x = &FIVE;

Here, since the FIVE is static, x is a &'static i32. And so this is what Rust will now do in this kind of case. For full details, see RFC 1414, which was accepted in January, but started in December of 2015!

We now run LLVM in parallel while generating code, which should reduce peak memory usage.

The RLS can now be installed through rustup by invoking rustup component add rls-preview. In general, many useful Rust developer tools such as the RLS, Clippy, and rustfmt need nightly Rust; this is the first steps toward having them work on stable Rust. Please check out the preview, and you’ll hear more about these plans in the future.

Finally, a few documentation improvements. First up, if you visit the docs for std::os, which contains operating system specific functionality, you’ll now see more than just linux, the platform we build the documentation on. We’ve long regretted that the hosted version of the documentation has been Linux-specific; this is a first step towards rectifying that. This is specific to the standard library and not for general use; we hope to improve this further in the future.

Next, Cargo’s docs are moving! Historically, Cargo’s docs were hosted on doc.crates.io, which doesn’t follow the release train model, even though Cargo itself does. This led to situations where a feature would land in Cargo nightly, the docs would be updated, and then for up to twelve weeks, users would think that it should work, but it wouldn’t yet. https://doc.rust-lang.org/cargo will be the new home of Cargo’s docs, though for now, that URL is a redirect to doc.crates.io. Future releases will move Cargo’s docs over, and at that point, doc.crates.io will redirect to doc.rust-lang.org/cargo. Cargo’s docs have long needed a refreshing, so expect to hear more news about Cargo’s docs generally in the future!

Finally, until now, rustdoc did not have any documentation. This is now fixed, with a new “rustdoc Book,” located at https://doc.rust-lang.org/rustdoc. These docs are fairly bare-bones at the moment, but we’ll be improving them over time.

See the detailed release notes for more.

Library stabilizations

Not too many stabilizations this release, but there’s one really great quality of life change: due to the lack of type-level integers, arrays only supported various traits up to size 32. This has now been fixed for the Clone trait, which also caused a lot of ICEs at times, when a type would be Copy but not Clone. For other traits, an RFC for type-level integers was accepted recently, which may help with this situation. That change has yet to be implemented, however, though pre-requisite work is ongoing at the moment.

Next, Iterator::for_each has been stabilized, letting you consume an iterator for side effects without needing a for loop:

// old
for i in 0..10 {
    println!("{}", i);
}

// new
(0..10).for_each(|i| println!("{}", i));

The correct one to use depends on your situation; in the sample above, the for loop is pretty straightforward. But when you’re chaining a number of iterators together, the for_each version is sometimes clearer. Consider this:

// old
for i in (0..100).map(|x| x + 1).filter(|x| x % 2 == 0) {
    println!("{}", i);
}

// new
(0..100)
    .map(|x| x + 1)
    .filter(|x| x % 2 == 0)
    .for_each(|i| println!("{}", i));

Rc<T> and Arc<T> now implement From<&[T]> where T: Clone, From<str>, From<String>, From<Box<T>> where T: ?Sized, and From<Vec<T>>.

The max and min functions on the Ord trait are now stable.

The needs_drop intrinsic is now stable.

Finally, std::mem::discriminant has been stabilized, allowing you to see what variant an enum instance is without a match statement.

See the detailed release notes for more.

Cargo features

Beyond the documentation features listed above, Cargo is gaining one major feature in this release: [patch]. Designed in RFC 1969, the [patch] section of your Cargo.toml can be used when you want to override certain parts of your dependency graph. We also have a feature, [replace] that has similar functionality. In many ways, [patch] is the new [replace], and while we have no plans to deprecate or remove [replace], at this point, you should use [patch] instead of [replace].

So what’s it look like? Let’s say we have a Cargo.toml that looks like this:

[dependencies]
foo = "1.2.3"

In addition, our foo crate depends on a bar crate, and we find a bug in bar. To test this out, we’d download the source code for bar, and then update our Cargo.toml:

[dependencies]
foo = "1.2.3"

[patch.crates-io]
bar = { path = '/path/to/bar' }

Now, when you cargo build, it will use the local version of bar, rather than the one from crates.io that foo depends on.

For more details, see the documentation.

Additionally:

See the detailed release notes for more.

Contributors to 1.21.0

Many people came together to create Rust 1.21. We couldn’t have done it without all of you. Thanks!