A recent Stack Overflow survey has confirmed that Rust is the most loved programming language (preferred by a whopping 83.5% of programmers) for over four years now. This means that those who have taken the plunge and actually used Rust programming are in awe of it.
However, Rust still isn’t among the top five most used programming languages. This indicates that Rust programming remains a largely unexplored territory full of unused potential. Given its popularity, more and more users are flocking to Rust, meaning it will soon reach that top five status and establish itself as a staple for programmers everywhere.
To keep you from falling behind the times, here’s a quick guide to what the Rust programming language is, as well as seven reasons why you should use Rust programming for your next project.
What Is the Rust Programming Language?
Like the fungus (yes, there is a fungus called rust!) after which it is named, Rust is a programming language that is spreading quickly in the programming world.
In essence, Rust is a programming language that is built to overcome the drawbacks of the C++ language. While C++ is a powerful object-oriented language with unlimited capabilities, it is quite difficult for programmers to manage memory manually in C++. Rust allows you to write fast code with an insanely low memory footprint, giving you an immensely powerful programming tool.
Rust was launched by Mozilla in 2012, but the idea originated in the mind of a passionate language engineer, Graydon Hoare. Hoare began working on the language in 2006 and, soon enough, Rust’s potential caught the attention of folks at Mozilla. They joined with Hoare to set up a dedicated development team to experiment with the language and build it in the best possible way.
In Hoare’s words, “The language is targeted at frustrated C++ developers.” Let’s understand what makes Rust better than languages like C or C++.
Is Rust a good language?
Rust is a popular programming language, but is it good? For starters, it offers excellent performance, similar to C and C++, and solves the memory safety problem.
In addition, you can use Rust to handle large amounts of data without any performance loss.
And, if you’re not yet convinced. Then, you can look at the industry use of Rust, where companies such as Dropbox, Firefox and Cloudflare use Rust in production.
At its core, Rust is a statically-typed programming language. This means it offers safety and performance out of the box. It provides memory management and safe concurrency better than C++. Also, Rust is easy to learn if you have C++ knowledge, considering Rust syntax is similar to C++.
According to Nature.com, scientists also lean towards using Rust due to its superior memory-management features and usability. These points only mean that Rust is an excellent programming language.
All these points hint that Rust is an excellent language.
5 Reasons Why Rust is so Popular
Rust has been the most “loved” programming language in the StackOverflow Developer Survey for the last three years. More than 86% of developers are using Rust or expressed interest in using it, making it the most loved programming language.
The interest is now making Rust more popular as the number of developers using Rust increased to 7.03% in 2021 from 5.1% in 2020. It is currently 9.32% in 2022.
So, what makes it so popular? Let’s list six reasons.
- Rust is popular because of Rust Foundation backing, which includes members like Microsoft, Meta, Dropbox, Arm, Google, Amazon and others. It came into effect during the economic meltdown when COVID started.
- Rust is popular because it is a modern alternative to C++. Rust bypasses C++ bugs due to the use the non-use of nulls. Additionally, Rust almost matches C++ compiling speeds, with developers across the globe focusing on improving its compiling speed further with LLVM (low-level virtual machine) improvements.
- Rust is popular because of its official package manager Cargo. It solves a major C++ drawback of recompiling code every time you make a change. Cargo bypasses recompilation by checking dependencies.
- Rust is popular because of its superior memory management. With Rust, you’re in command of how memory allocation and de-allocation work. A smart pointer is allocated when you create a variable to simplify memory management. If the smart pointer goes out of scope, de-allocation takes place. This approach gives you complete control and lets you use multiple smart pointers sharing the same data.
- Rust is popular because it masters concurrency by providing a bug-free approach to writing code that is also easy to refactor.
- Rust is popular because it offers WebAssembly support. This means developers can create audio, video, 3D environments, games, and more on the web.
Rust is growing with each passing day. Even Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, aims to use Rust in Linux Kernal in 2023 to program Kernel’s performance-based aspects.
Why Rust Is the Best Language For Your Next Project
Rust is packed with many features that web developers absolutely love to use. The following are the top reasons I choose to use Rust:
1. Rust Solves Memory Management Problems
System programming usually demands a low-level memory control, and with C’s manual memory management, this task can prove to be a real nightmare.
Rust has an incredible ability to offer convenience on low-level details. It has direct access to hardware and memory because it doesn’t require a garbage collector to run continuously in the background.
This means coding in Rust feels like using a microcontroller application for low-level codes. You have full freedom to replace pieces of code without taking memory safety risks.
2. Rust’s Low Overhead Makes It Ideal for Embedded Programming
Constrained resources are the norm, with embedded systems normally found on machines and home appliances. This is the reason that the embedded systems need a modern programming language like Rust, which has a very low overhead.
Rust is a resource-efficient and in-demand feature in an embedded system. It allows programmers to identify bugs early, preventing any future mishaps with the device.
The cherry on the cake is Rust’s power of zero-cost abstractions. Whatever abstraction of code you use, Rust is generous enough to accept it all. You could use loops, closure, or whatever flavor of code that you are in the mood for that day, and they all will compile down to the same assembly without affecting the performance of your code.
3. Rust Facilitates Powerful Web Application Development
An important consideration when choosing the right technology stack for web app development is the choice of programming language. There are good reasons to include Rust programming in your web application tech stack.
If you are accustomed to developing web applications in high-level languages like Java or Python, then you will love working with Rust. With Rust, you can be fairly more confident that the code will be error-free.
Rust is easy to learn for anyone already well-versed in C. Moreover, you can start tinkering with Rust immediately without spending years learning the ropes.
Major highlights of web development with Rust are:
- You can compile Rust to WebAssembly so it’s easier to get near-native performance on the web.
- Rust allows any language to compile into WebAssembly, thus allowing for portable, executable running code online.
In short, for web development, Rust is the language that has taken all the right vitamins!
4. Rust’s Static Typing Ensures Easy Maintainability
Rust is a statically typed language. While programming in Rust, all types are known at compile-time. Rust is also a strongly typed language, meaning that it is harder to write incorrect programs with Rust.
Managing complexity is the core of successful programming. As the code grows, so does the complexity. Statically typed languages allow a high-level of simplicity by allowing you to keep tabs on what's going on in the code.
Rust also does not require you to repeat the type of variable multiple times, encouraging long-term maintainability.
In a nutshell, Rust allows nesting and closures, which in turn improve the maintainability of the code.
5. Rust Has Fast and High Performance
Rust’s performance is on par with C++ and beats languages like Python hands down.
The absence of garbage collection contributes to Rust’s high speeds. Unlike many other languages, Rust does not have runtime checking and the compiler nips the wrong code right in the bud. This prevents erroneous code from proliferating and wreaking havoc on the system.
Lastly, as mentioned previously, Rust performs blazingly fast with the embedded systems, too.
6. Cross-Platform Development and Support
With Rust, you can easily build cross-platform solutions that work on a wide range of operating systems like Linux, macOS, Windows, and other platforms.
Notably, Rust allows you to code both the front-end as well as the back-end of the application. The availability of Rust web frameworks like Rocket, Nickel, and Actix make development easier with Rust.
It’s extremely easy to start developing with Rust—just open Rustup, a quick toolchain installer and version management tool, and follow the instructions. You have the option to format the code as you like. Rustfmt allows automation of the code formatting based on the default formatting styles. Clippy, a tool that helps in maintaining an idiomatic code style, takes care of the rest.
7. Rust Has an Expansive Ecosystem
With Rust’s rising popularity, the Rust ecosystem is expanding quickly. A major factor in the vast ecosystem is that it’s more than just a language or a compiler. Software production quality requires many more aspects, and the Rust ecosystem considers all of them to be very significant.
First of all, Cargo is a command-line tool used by Rust programmers that helps in managing dependencies, running tests, and generating documentation.
Secondly, Rust has a community site, crates.io, that takes care of your Rust library needs. You can find the documentation of any library published on crates.io on docs.rs.
Property-based testing, benchmarking, and fuzzing are easily accessible to budding Rust developers as well.
What makes Rust special?
Rust's speciality arrives from its ability to give programmers the tools to write bug-free code without compromising performance. Its memory safety feature overcomes the drawbacks of popular programming languages such as C and C++.
You also get zero-cost abstractions that add performance to your code as it generates the same assembly despite the approach you take to code the solution. The excellent concurrency support also means you write code that is easy to refactor.
Rust vs Go
Go by Google borrows heavily from C to overcome C++ drawbacks. It adds structural typing, garbage collection and memory safety with a focus on multi-core development for better concurrency and parallelism.
Rust, on the other hand, is a multi-paradigm general-purpose programming language which solves C++ memory safety issues while providing similar performance.
Go is an excellent pick to program microservices, CLIs and streaming processing. Its small footprint means you can use it with cloud-native applications. Rust is much more versatile as it can be used to develop programs for the embedded system while also viable for web development thanks to WebAssembly support.
Both are great programming languages with many similarities, even when created for different purposes. As both are compiled rather than interpreted, they offer performance out of the box.
So, if you’re looking for a general-purpose language which offers simplicity and ease of use, choose Go. It provides a good concurrency model with a focus on performance. Rust is a great pick if you’re developing a performance-focused solution. It lets you do low-level coding without worrying about memory management.
Rust vs C++
C++ is one of the oldest programming languages, released four decades ago in 1985 by Bjarne Stroustrup, a Danish computer scientist. It is a general-purpose programming language which aims to extend C programming language functionality. Rust borrows heavily from C++, and that’s why you’ll find a lot of similarities between them.
The very first difference between Rust and C++ is how they handle memory. With better memory management, you can use Rust to write bug-free code that performs well at the machine level. Both of them are compiled language and requires no runtime or garbage collector.
Performance-wise, C++ wins marginally. Rust is fast but requires more polishing to become as fast as C++. However, the Rust community is working hard to optimize Rust at the LLVM level to gain more performance.
As for learnability, if you’re new to programming, it’ll take a significant amount of time to learn C++. This is also true for Rust which requires more effort and time. However, if you already know C++, you can quickly start with Rust.
The Top 6 Rust Use Cases – When to Use it
With all that said and done, it’s easy to see how great Rust is to use on all future projects.
But exactly where and when do you use Rust programming?
We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to coding. That’s why it’s important to know the cases where Rust would be a better solution.
Here are a few examples where it is beneficial to use Rust for programming:
- Rust can prove to be a great choice when you are developing an application where performance is crucial.
- Go for Rust when your solution needs to process humongous amounts of data in a short time.
- Use Rust when you want better control over resource allocation in threads.
- Rust provides memory safety but comes with complexity, so choose it when memory safety is of prime importance.
- Use Rust to rewrite sensitive parts of applications where the speed of the program is of the essence.
The above-mentioned factors make Rust an ideal candidate for developing applications like game engines, operating systems, file systems, browser components, and VR simulation engines.
1. Rust Is a Great Language for Writing Code for IoT
Rust is the top language for programmers writing code for IoT applications.
The maker movement is in full vogue with the advent of devices like Raspberry Pi and Arduino. If you are one of the programmers who see IoT as the next billion-dollar opportunity, then you can’t neglect learning Rust programming.
Rust is a close-to-the-metal language, meaning you can use it where the memory reserves are limited.
Because of this, Rust proves to be an excellent language to write code for microcontroller hardware like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or Tessel.
2. Rust Programming Can Be Used for HPC (High-Performance Computing)
The problem with using Rust for HPC is that most of your code will be written in C. The beauty of it is that using its FFI (foreign function interface), you can execute Rust code without any overhead. In other words, Rust allows you to rewrite your application module after module.
The developer experience is also much better with Rust because it doesn’t affect the performance of the application. Rust will also enable your application to scale better on a high number of cores, which is critical in HPC.
3. Writing Web Apps With WebAssembly (WASM)
Rust supports WebAssembly, a fast, modern and safe way to create web applications. Using Rust with WebAssembly gives you predictable performance, small code size and access to an excellent library set.
4. Science Projects
Rust's speed and safety have also caught Scientists' attention. They are moving from Python to Rust, even when it takes time to master and use. According to the Nature.com article, scientist Köster created Varlociraptor that identifies genomic variants by comparing sequences against genetic bases. Rust makes it possible to do millions of these calculations with optimal speed.
The Rust memory model also prevents scientists from worrying about memory leaks or security bugs. Scientists iron out errors during compile time with higher learning and implementation time. And all of these also work with parallelized code.
5. Game Development
Game development is another excellent Rust use case. There're plenty of Rust game engines that can help you get started. These include Amethyst – a data-oriented game engine; bevy – another data-driven game engine; Fyrox – a production-ready engine and Nonnou – an open-source game framework.
6. Blockchain Development
You can also do blockchain development with Rust. The idea behind blockchain is to offer an immutable decentralized digital ledger with no way to tamper with data once it is written. Rust's excellent memory safety means developers can create memory-safe blockchain apps. Other Rust features, such as speed and reliability, make it a good pick for blockchain. Here, you can try OpenEthereum and Lighthouse frameworks based on Rust.
Who uses Rust?
Rust is not only popular among developers(as seen in the StackOverFlow developers survey) but also among companies. The top companies using Rust in production are:
|Company||What for||Other technologies used||Reason for using Rust|
|Coursera – a popular online learning platform||They use Rust to power students' programming assignments. Over the web, students can write and run computer programs with native-like performance.||They run it under Docker containers.||To provide a secure environment for students to run code. C is also a good choice but lacks the flexibility of Rust. Rust provides a powerful system and is immune to certain security vulnerabilities.|
|Dropbox – a popular file storage platform||Dropbox's file synchronization engine uses Rust.||SSL, Nginx, Python, S3, EC2||Rust makes it easy to write concurrent code, which is easy to test and debug. Also, Rust's heavy compile-time and static types aid in managing concurrent code and complex databases.|
|Figma – a collaborative design tool for web||Figma’s multiplayer syncing engine is rewritten in Rust from TypeScript||LiveGraph, AWS||Figma chooses Rust due to the performance benefits.|
|Microsoft||They're experimenting with integrating Rust in the C/C++||Many||Rust's excellent memory safety solves Microsoft's 70% of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures(CVE) related to memory safety.|
|Facebook wanted to remove bugs and improve the compiler feedback loop, so they rewrote the source control backend in Rust.||Python, Web technologies||The benefits include bug-free code and catching errors during compile time. The source code also becomes easy to maintain.|
Why Rust is bad? Some disadvantages of the language
Rust is new and exciting and offers many benefits, including memory safety, zero-abstraction, web-assembly support and performance. But, it is not free from disadvantages which include:
- Compile-time errors and slow compilation time: Rust achieves memory safety because of the rules it enforces during compile time. This means you’ll see tons of errors which can frustrate many programmers.
- Lack of desired libraries: Rust is new and hence lacks the desired libraries you can easily get with other programming languages.
- Not prototype friendly: As it takes a lot of time to compile and needs 100% conditions coverage, Rust is not good for prototyping solutions.
- Not beginners friendly: Rust is not beginner-friendly as it contains advanced concepts that can take time to master.
- Small market: Rust market is still growing, and there are fewer opportunities than in other established programming languages.
- It’s never finalized: Rust is an ongoing project to offer backward compatibility and stability. This means Rust features take time to get stable support.
- Smaller target platforms: Due to the use of LLVM in the Rust compiler, the target platforms' numbers are smaller than C/C++.
Should you learn Rust?
Rust is growing rapidly (as suggested by StackOverFlow developer’s survey for the past three years). So, it is not a bad idea to learn Rust as it will increase your employability.
From a technical perspective, Rust provides a robust tooling solution for creating safe, fast, and portable applications. It offers concurrency, memory safety and high performance, focusing on developers who want to develop reliable products. And that’s why developers love it. You can also access a growing Rust community and Rust packages.
So, if you’re a developer who wants to develop a robust and memory-safe application, Rust is your choice. It offers long-term stability as you write dependable code from the start — you don’t get null pointers or runtime problems after a few months of deployment.
The compiler throws errors at you as if it is your code assistant. It offers detailed errors and helps messages so you can debug them. The other features that make Rust enticing include
- handling branches with pattern matching.
- Crater tool that checks if new Rust versions will break your Rust project before you update through a detailed report.
- WebAssembly support allows you to create applications that live on the web.
Should you learn Rust or Python?
It’s recommended that you learn both. Rust is a fairly new programming language and has a limited market opportunity. As for learning difficulties, it is always better to get started with Python. Python is beginner-friendly. It’ll help you master abstractions, object-oriented paradigms, functional programming, and other programming concepts. Once you master it, you can then shift to Rust.
When learning Rust, you’ll explore more advanced concepts. Here, you’ll learn how to write bug-free code with the help of detailed compiler errors. Rust’s support of WebAssembly means you can also code diverse applications on the web.
However, choosing between Python and Rust depends on your goals. For example:
- Choose Python for scientific research
- Choose Python for data science
- Choose Python for web development with Django and other web development frameworks
- Choose Rust for software and operating system development
- Choose Rust for blockchain technology development
- Choose Rust for WebAssembly-focused development
- Choose Rust for neural networks development
How to learn Rust programming
The best way to start learning Rust is to visit Learn Rust site. Here, you can find detailed core Rust documentation with access to different types of books. The Rust Programming Language (nicknamed “the book”) covers Rust in excellent detail. In the book, you can learn Rust by creating a few projects. Apart from that, you can also take the Rustlings course, which contains small exercises.
Additionally, you can also read other guides on the Learn Rust site, including:
- Cargo book to learn about Rust’s package manager.
- Edition guide to learn about Rust editions.
- Rustc book to get you familiar with Rust compiler’s knobs.
- Compiler error index to get an in-depth explanation of Rust compiler errors.
- Command line book to learn how to use an effective command line in Rust
- WebAssembly book to learn how to use Rust to create browser-native libraries.
- Embedded book to learn how to use Rust for embedded systems.
You’ll also find multiple resources on the web teaching Rust. If you’d like an alternative to written content, you can find detailed Youtube videos.
Discover Rust’s Potential
The major benefit of using Rust programming is its efficient memory management abilities.
However, on top of that, it offers great speed and safety for various kinds of applications, especially web applications. Because it has a powerful command line interface tool, it’s a great tool for developing cross-platform applications, too. Highly suitable for low-resource environments, Rust also saves development time by enabling programmers to cross-compile new code with existing code.
In addition to being an ideal tool for developing game engines and operating systems, Rust programming has immense potential for IoT development.
A vibrant community welcomes you when you choose Rust, so trust the Rust programming language and take a plunge into this exciting world of possibilities!