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The fundamental benefits of programming in Rust

Why does Rust continue to rise in popularity? We examine the features of this composable, cross-platform language that make it a valid competitor to C-based coding.

With native capabilities that span macros, generics, pattern matching and composition, the Rust programming language offers key features that make it a systems language to watch.

Programming in Rust offers speed and safety for various tasks, such as developing web apps, building distributed services or creating cross-platform applications that employ powerful command-line tools. The Rust language's major traits include a rich-type system in addition to functional-style features like closures and iterators. Developers can also cross-compile Rust to integrate with preexisting code, and the language is well-suited for low-resource environments.

In this article, we examine the various features of Rust that continue to attract an increasing number of developers looking for a dependable and composable cross-platform language.

Memory safety, compiler and library features

Memory safety is essential for distributed systems to perform efficiently. Rust enforces strict safe memory allocations, secure coding and concurrency support.

Rust requires ownership-based resource management through resource acquisition is initialization -- a fundamental object-oriented and C++ programming concept -- and smart pointers that reinforce safe memory usage. The Rust compiler is also more stringent than C-based languages, ensuring that memory-related problems never make it into production.

In Rust programming, each value is assigned an owner. Once an owner goes out of scope, the value is dropped. This feature controls memory tracking and allocation, and the compiler governs ownership distribution between objects to mitigate any surprises at runtime. By providing type-level guarantees for value-sharing, threads can borrow values, assume ownership and transition the scope of a value to a new thread.

growing programming languages
Fastest growing programming languages, according to Github's 2019 'State of the Octoverse' report

In general, Rust's success rests upon its libraries, tooling and community support. However, that success also stems from its open compiler and language development process. Cargo, a community-built package manager for Rust libraries, provides numerous API bindings to common libraries and frameworks. Cargo's library is extensive, but keep in mind that third-party libraries -- known as crates -- require preliminary testing to determine a project's validity.

In addition, the Rust Standard Library provides well-known data structures that handle sequences, maps and other miscellaneous sets. The library also facilitates container deployments, string manipulations, thread management and I/O execution for networks and files.

Cross-platform development and support

Programming in Rust provides cross-platform capabilities across Linux, macOS, Windows and other supported platforms. Developers can access a range of command-line tools that compile to their platform of choice. As a result, Rust can help you perform high-level, front-end development as well as low-level, back-end development.

For example, Rust developers can write code that compiles to WebAssembly, the open standard that enables high-performance applications on webpages, and can access tooling to ship Rust code into JavaScript packages for web deployment via bindings. In addition to improved IDE support, Rust includes the Rust-specific formatting tool, aptly dubbed RustFmt, and users can take advantage of Clippy and Atom to detect bugs, specify lint levels and reinforce idiomatic code. The number of available Rust frameworks also continues to rise, with Rocket, Nickel and Actix recently appearing on the scene.

Rust language emphasizes composition over the inheritance-based traits found in C++ or Java. By using composable interfaces, developers can prioritize Rust type descriptions based on their particular capabilities, adding to its support for modular programming. This approach organizes code as packages that other programmers can reuse as public or private modules.

Modern software must be able to scale to multiple threads and processes while also communicating seamlessly with external traffic, and programming in Rust helps fill that need. Through its built-in concurrency support, developers can build distributed services in which different parts of a program execute simultaneously to deliver resources.

To get started, developers can simply download rustup, a Rust installer and version management tool, to set up their development environment.

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