Announcing Rust 1.31 and Rust 2018

Dec. 6, 2018 · The Rust Core Team

The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.31.0, and "Rust 2018" as well. Rust is a programming language that empowers everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

If you have a previous version of Rust installed via rustup, getting Rust 1.31.0 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 1.31.0 on GitHub.

What's in 1.31.0 stable

Rust 1.31 may be the most exciting release since Rust 1.0! Included in this release is the first iteration of "Rust 2018," but there's more than just that! This is going to be a long post, so here's a table of contents:

Rust 2018

We wrote about Rust 2018 first in March, and then in July. For some more background about the why of Rust 2018, please go read those posts; there's a lot to cover in the release announcement, and so we're going to focus on the what here. There's also a post on Mozilla Hacks as well!

Briefly, Rust 2018 is an opportunity to bring all of the work we've been doing over the past three years together, and create a cohesive package. This is more than just language features, it also includes

  • Tooling (IDE support, rustfmt, Clippy)
  • Documentation
  • Domain working groups work
  • A new web site

We'll be covering all of this and more in this post.

Let's create a new project with Cargo:

$ cargo new foo

Here's the contents of Cargo.toml:

name = "foo"
version = "0.1.0"
authors = ["Your Name <>"]
edition = "2018"


A new key has been added under [package]: edition. Note that it has been set to 2018. You can also set it to 2015, which is the default if the key does not exist.

By using Rust 2018, some new features are unlocked that are not allowed in Rust 2015.

It is important to note that each package can be in either 2015 or 2018 mode, and they work seamlessly together. Your 2018 project can use 2015 dependencies, and a 2015 project can use 2018 dependencies. This ensures that we don't split the ecosystem, and all of these new things are opt-in, preserving compatibility for existing code. Furthermore, when you do choose to migrate Rust 2015 code to Rust 2018, the changes can be made automatically, via cargo fix.

What kind of new features, you may ask? Well, first, features get added to Rust 2015 unless they require some sort of incompatibility with 2015's features. As such, most of the language is available everywhere. You can check out the edition guide to check each feature's minimum rustc version as well as edition requirements. However, there are a few big-ticket features we'd like to mention here: non-lexical lifetimes, and some module system improvements.

Non-lexical lifetimes

If you've been following Rust's development over the past few years, you may have heard the term "NLL" or "non-lexical lifetimes" thrown around. This is jargon, but it has a straightforward translation into simpler terms: the borrow checker has gotten smarter, and now accepts some valid code that it previously rejected. Consider this example:

fn main() {
    let mut x = 5;

    let y = &x;

    let z = &mut x;

In older Rust, this is a compile-time error:

error[E0502]: cannot borrow `x` as mutable because it is also borrowed as immutable
 --> src/
4 |     let y = &x;
  |              - immutable borrow occurs here
5 |     let z = &mut x;
  |                  ^ mutable borrow occurs here
6 | }
  | - immutable borrow ends here

This is because lifetimes follow "lexical scope"; that is, the borrow from y is considered to be held until y goes out of scope at the end of main, even though we never use y again. This code is fine, but the borrow checker could not handle it.

Today, this code will compile just fine.

What if we did use y, like this for example:

fn main() {
    let mut x = 5;
    let y = &x;
    let z = &mut x;

    println!("y: {}", y);

Older Rust will give you this error:

error[E0502]: cannot borrow `x` as mutable because it is also borrowed as immutable
 --> src/
4 |     let y = &x;
  |              - immutable borrow occurs here
5 |     let z = &mut x;
  |                  ^ mutable borrow occurs here
8 | }
  | - immutable borrow ends here

With Rust 2018, this error changes for the better:

error[E0502]: cannot borrow `x` as mutable because it is also borrowed as immutable
 --> src/
4 |     let y = &x;
  |             -- immutable borrow occurs here
5 |     let z = &mut x;
  |             ^^^^^^ mutable borrow occurs here
6 |
7 |     println!("y: {}", y);
  |                       - borrow later used here

Instead of pointing to where y goes out of scope, it shows you where the conflicting borrow occurs. This makes these sorts of errors far easier to debug.

In Rust 1.31, this feature is exclusive to Rust 2018. We plan to backport it to Rust 2015 at a later date.

Module system changes

The module system can be a struggle for people first learning Rust. Everyone has their own things that take time to master, of course, but there's a root cause for why it's so confusing to many: while there are simple and consistent rules defining the module system, their consequences can feel inconsistent, counterintuitive and mysterious.

As such, the 2018 edition of Rust introduces a few changes to how paths work, but they end up simplifying the module system, to make it more clear as to what is going on.

Here's a brief summary:

  • extern crate is no longer needed in almost all circumstances.
  • You can import macros with use, rather than a #[macro_use] attribute.
  • Absolute paths begin with a crate name, where the keyword crate refers to the current crate.
  • A and foo/ subdirectory may coexist; is no longer needed when placing submodules in a subdirectory.

These may seem like arbitrary new rules when put this way, but the mental model is now significantly simplified overall.

There's a lot of details here, so please read the edition guide for full details.

More lifetime elision rules

Let's talk about a feature that's available in both editions: we've added some additional elision rules for impl blocks and function definitions. Code like this:

impl<'a> Reader for BufReader<'a> {
    // methods go here

can now be written like this:

impl Reader for BufReader<'_> {
    // methods go here

The '_ lifetime still shows that BufReader takes a parameter, but we don't need to create a name for it anymore.

Lifetimes are still required to be defined in structs. However, we no longer require as much boilerplate as before:

// Rust 2015
struct Ref<'a, T: 'a> {
    field: &'a T

// Rust 2018
struct Ref<'a, T> {
    field: &'a T

The : 'a is inferred. You can still be explicit if you prefer. We're considering some more options for elision here in the future, but have no concrete plans yet.

const fn

There's several ways to define a function in Rust: a regular function with fn, an unsafe function with unsafe fn, an external function with extern fn. This release adds a new way to qualify a function: const fn. It looks like this:

const fn foo(x: i32) -> i32 {
    x + 1

A const fn can be called like a regular function, but it can also be used in any constant context. When it is, it is evaluated at compile time, rather than at run time. As an example:

const SIX: i32 = foo(5);

This will execute foo at compile time, and set SIX to 6.

const fns cannot do everything that normal fns can do; they must have deterministic output. This is important for soundness reasons. Currently, const fns can do a minimal subset of operations. Here's some examples of what you can do:

  • Arithmetic and comparison operators on integers
  • All boolean operators except for && and ||
  • Constructing arrays, structs, enums, and tuples
  • Calls to other const fns
  • Index expressions on arrays and slices
  • Field accesses on structs and tuples
  • Reading from constants (but not statics, not even taking a reference to a static)
  • & and * of references
  • Casts, except for raw pointer to integer casts

We'll be growing the abilities of const fn, but we've decided that this is enough useful stuff to start shipping the feature itself.

For full details, please see the reference.

New tools

The 2018 edition signals a new level of maturity for Rust's tools ecosystem. Cargo, Rustdoc, and Rustup have been crucial tools since 1.0; with the 2018 edition, there is a new generation of tools ready for all users: Clippy, Rustfmt, and IDE support.

Rust's linter, clippy, is now available on stable Rust. You can install it via rustup component add clippy and run it with cargo clippy. Clippy is now considered 1.0, which carries the same lint stability guarantees as rustc. New lints may be added, and lints may be modified to add more functionality, however lints may never be removed (only deprecated). This means that code that compiles under clippy will continue to compile under clippy (provided there are no lints set to error via deny), but may throw new warnings.

Rustfmt is a tool for formatting Rust code. Automatically formatting your code lets you save time and arguments by using the official Rust style. You can install with rustup component add rustfmt and use it with cargo fmt.

This release includes Rustfmt 1.0. From now on we guarantee backwards compatibility for Rustfmt: if you can format your code today, then the formatting will not change in the future (only with the default options). Backwards compatibility means that running Rustfmt on your CI is practical (use cargo fmt -- --check). Try that and 'format on save' in your editor to revolutionize your workflow.

IDE support is one of the most requested tooling features for Rust. There are now multiple, high quality options:

Work on IDE support is not finished, in particular code completion is not up to scratch in the RLS-based editors. However, if you mainly want support for types, documentation, and 'go to def', etc. then you should be happy.

If you have problems installing any of the tools with Rustup, try running rustup self update, and then try again.

Tool lints

In Rust 1.30, we stabilized "tool attributes", like #[rustfmt::skip]. In Rust 1.31, we're stabilizing something similar: "tool lints," like #[allow(clippy::bool_comparison)] These give a namespace to lints, so that it's more clear which tool they're coming from.

If you previously used Clippy's lints, you can migrate like this:

// old
#![cfg_attr(feature = "cargo-clippy", allow(bool_comparison))]

// new

You don't need cfg_attr anymore! You'll also get warnings that can help you update to the new style.


Rustdoc has seen a number of improvements this year, and we also shipped a complete re-write of the "The Rust Programming Language." Additionally, you can buy a dead-tree copy from No Starch Press!

We had previously called this the "second edition" of the book, but since it's the first edition in print, that was confusing. We also want to periodically update the print edition as well. In the end, after many discussions with No Starch, we're going to be updating the book on the website with each release, and No Starch will periodically pull in our changes and print them. The book has been selling quite well so far, raising money for Black Girls Code.

You can find the new TRPL here.

Domain working groups

We announced the formation of four working groups this year:

  • Network services
  • Command-line applications
  • WebAssembly
  • Embedded devices

Each of these groups has been working very hard on a number of things to make Rust awesome in each of these domains. Some highlights:

  • Network services has been shaking out the Futures interface, and async/await on top of it. This hasn't shipped yet, but we're close!
  • The CLI working group has been working on libraries and documentation for making awesome command-line applications
  • The WebAssembly group has been shipping a ton of world-class tooling for using Rust with wasm.
  • Embedded devices has gotten ARM development working on stable Rust!

You can find out more about this work on the new website!

New Website

Last week we announced a new iteration of the web site. It's now been promoted to itself!

There's still a ton of work to do, but we're proud of the year of work that it took by many people to get it shipped.

Library stabilizations

A bunch of From implementations have been added:

  • u8 now implements From<NonZeroU8>, and likewise for the other numeric types and their NonZero equivalents
  • Option<&T> implements From<&Option<T>>, and likewise for &mut

Additionally, these functions have been stabilized:

See the detailed release notes for more.

Cargo features

Cargo will now download packages in parallel using HTTP/2.

Additionally, now that extern crate is not usually required, it would be jarring to do extern crate foo as baz; to rename a crate. As such, you can do so in your Cargo.toml, like this:

baz = { version = "0.1", package = "foo" }

or, the equivalent

version = "0.1"
package = "foo"

Now, the foo package will be able to be used via baz in your code.

See the detailed release notes for more.

Contributors to 1.31.0

At the end of release posts, we normally thank the people who contributed to this release. But for this release, more so than others, this list does not truly capture the amount of work and the number of people who have contributed. Each release is only six weeks, but this release is the culmination of three years of effort, in countless repositories, by numerous people. It's been a pleasure to work with you all, and we look forward to continuing to grow in the next three years.