Rust's 2018 roadmap

Mar. 12, 2018 · The Rust Core Team

Each year the Rust community comes together to set out a roadmap. This year, in addition to the survey, we put out a call for blog posts in December, which resulted in 100 blog posts written over the span of a few weeks. The end result is the recently-merged 2018 roadmap RFC.

Rust: 2018 edition

This year, we will deliver Rust 2018, marking the first major new edition of Rust since 1.0 (aka Rust 2015).

We will continue to publish releases every six weeks as usual. But we will designate a release in the latter third of the year (Rust 1.29 - 1.31) as Rust 2018. This new "edition" of Rust will be the culmination of feature stabilization throughout the year, and will ship with polished documentation, tooling, and libraries that tie in to those features.

The idea of editions is to signify major steps in Rust’s evolution, where a collection of new features or idioms, taken as a whole, changes the experience of using Rust. They’re a chance, every few years, to take stock of the work we’ve delivered in six-week increments. To tell a bigger story about where Rust is going. And to ship the whole stack as a polished product.

We expect that each edition will have a core theme or focus. Thinking of 1.0 as "Rust 2015", we have:

  • Rust 2015: stability
  • Rust 2018: productivity

What will be in Rust 2018?

The roadmap doesn’t say for certain what will ship in Rust 2018, but we have a pretty good idea, and we’ll cover the major suspects below.

Documentation improvements

Part of the goal with the Rust 2018 release is to provide high quality documentation for the full set of new and improved features and the idioms they give rise to. The Rust Programming Language book has been completely re-written over the last 18 months, and will be updated throughout the year as features reach the stable compiler. Rust By Example will likewise undergo a revamp this year. And there are numerous third party books, like Programming Rust, reaching print as well.

Language improvements

The most prominent language work in the pipeline stems from 2017’s ergonomics initiative. Almost all of the accepted RFCs from the initiative are available on nightly today, and will be polished and stabilized over the next several months. Among these productivity improvements are a few “headliners” that will form the backbone of the release:

  • Ownership system improvements, including making borrowing more flexible via “non-lexical lifetimes”, improved pattern matching integration, and more.
  • Trait system improvements, including the long-awaited impl Trait syntax for dealing with types abstractly.
  • Module system improvements, focused on increasing clarity and reducing complexity.
  • Generators/async/await: work is rapidly progressing on first-class async programming support.

In addition, we anticipate a few more major features to stabilize prior to the Rust 2018 release, including SIMD, custom allocators, and macros 2.0.

Compiler improvements

As of Rust 1.24, incremental recompilation is available and enabled by default on the stable compiler. This feature already makes rebuilds significantly faster than fresh builds, but over the course of the year we expect continued improvements for both fresh and re-builds. Compiler performance should not be an obstacle to productivity in Rust 2018.

Tooling improvements

Rust 2018 will see high quality 1.0 releases of the Rust Language Server ("RLS", which underlies much of our IDE integration story) and rustfmt (a standard formatting tool for Rust code). We will continue to improve Cargo by stabilizing custom registries, public dependencies, and a revised profile system. We’re also expecting further work on Cargo build system integration, Xargo integration, and custom test frameworks, though it’s unclear as yet how many of these will be complete prior to Rust 2018.

Library improvements

Building on our work from last year, we will publish a 1.0 version of the Rust API guidelines book, continue pushing important libraries to 1.0 status, improve discoverability through a revamped cookbook effort, and make heavy investments in libraries in specific domains—as we’ll see below.

Web site improvements

As part of Rust 2018, we will completely overhaul the Rust web site, making it useful for CTOs and engineers alike. It should be far easier to find information to help evaluate Rust for your use case, and to stay up to date with the latest tooling and ecosystem improvements.

Four target domains

Part of our goal with Rust 2018 is to demonstrate Rust’s productivity in specific domains of use. We’ve selected four such domains to invest in and highlight this year:

  • Network services. Rust’s reliability and low footprint make it an excellent match for network services and infrastructure, especially at high scale.
  • Command-line apps (CLI). Rust’s portability, reliability, ergonomics, and ability to produce static binaries come together to great effect for writing CLI apps.
  • WebAssembly. The “wasm” web standard allows shipping native-like binaries to all major browsers, but GC support is still years away. Rust is extremely well positioned to target this domain, and provides a reasonable on-ramp for programmers coming from JS.
  • Embedded devices. Rust has the potential to make programming resource-constrained devices much more productive—and fun! We want embedded programming to reach first-class status this year.

Each of these domains has a dedicated working group for the year. These WGs will work in a cross-cutting fashion, interfacing with language, tooling, library, and documentation work.

Compatibility across editions

TL;DR: Rust will continue its stability guarantee of hassle-free updates to new versions.

Editions will have a meaning for the compiler. You will be able to write:

edition = "2018"

in your Cargo.toml to opt in to the new edition for your crate. Doing so may introduce new keywords or otherwise require adjustments to code. However:

  • You can use old editions indefinitely on new compilers; editions are opt-in.
  • Editions are set on a per-crate basis and can be mixed and matched; you can be on a different edition from your dependencies.
  • Warning-free code in one edition must compile, and have the same behavior, on the next.
  • Edition-related warnings, e.g. that an identifier will become a keyword in the next edition, must be easily fixable via an automated migration tool (rustfix). Only a small minority of crates should require any manual work to opt in to a new edition, and that manual work must be minimal.
  • Most new features are edition-independent, and will be usable on new compilers even when an older edition is selected.

In other words, the progression of new compiler versions is independent from editions; you can migrate at your leisure, and don’t have to worry about ecosystem compatibility; and edition migration is normally trivial.

Additional 2018 goals

While the Rust 2018 release is our major focus this year, there are some additional ongoing concerns that we want to give attention to.

Better serving intermediate Rustaceans

One of the strongest messages we’ve heard from production users, and the 2017 survey, is that people need more resources to take them from understanding Rust’s concepts to knowing how to use them effectively. The roadmap does not stipulate exactly what these resources should look like — probably there should be several kinds — but commits us as a community to putting significant work into this space, and ending the year with some solid new material.


Connect and empower Rust's global community. We will pursue internationalization as a first-class concern, and proactively work to build ties between Rust subcommunities currently separated by language, geography, or culture. We will spin up and support Rust events worldwide, including further growth of the RustBridge program.

Grow Rust's teams and new leaders within them. We will refactor the Rust team structure to support more scale, agility, and leadership growth. We will systematically invest in mentoring, both by creating more on-ramp resources and through direct mentorship relationships.

A call to action

As always in the Rust world, the goals laid out here will ultimately be the result of a community-wide effort—maybe one including you! Here are some of the teams where we could use the most help. Note that all IRC channels refer to the network.

  • WebAssembly WG. Compiling Rust to WebAssembly should be the best choice for fast code on the Web. Check out rust-lang-nursery/rust-wasm to learn more and get involved!
  • CLI WG. Writing CLI apps in Rust should be a frictionless experience--from finding the right libraries and writing concise integration tests up to cross-platform distribution. Join us at rust-lang-nursery/cli-wg and help us reach that goal!
  • Embedded Devices WG. Quality, productivity, accessibility: Rust can change the embedded industry for the better. Let's get this process started in 2018! Join us at
  • Ecosystem WG. We'll be providing guidance and support to important crates throughout the ecosystem. Drop into the WG-ecosystem room and we'll guide you to places that need help!
  • Dev Tools Team. There are always interesting things to tackle with developer tools (IDEs, Cargo, rustdoc, Clippy, Rustfmt, custom test frameworks, and more). Drop in to #rust-dev-tools and have a chat with the team!
  • Rustdoc Team. With your help, we can make documentation better for everyone. Come join us in #rustdoc on IRC, and we can help you get started!
  • Release Team. Drop by #rust-release on IRC to get involved with regression triage and release production!
  • Community Team. We've kicked off several new Teams within the Community Team and are eager to add new members: Events, Content, Switchboard, RustBridge, Survey, and Localization! Check out our team repo or stop by our IRC channel, #rust-community, to learn more and get involved!