High performance, good error checking: that’s why Rust is so popular

Rust has been at the top of the lists of the fastest growing programming languages ​​on GitHub and Stackoverflow for several years. There are good reasons for this popularity.

Rust has been around since 2006. The programming language comes from the keys of a Mozilla developer. Since its launch, the language’s user base has grown – it is now used in building web applications, command-line tools or distributed services.

Low-level language with abstractions from higher-level languages

The low-level language Rust is so efficient that it can do without automatic garbage collection. Nevertheless, it offers the performance of C and C ++, but without the pitfalls that developers know and have to be aware of at outsourcing work.

The developers behind Rust wanted to create a language that would make system programming more secure and concurrency, i.e. the simultaneous execution of several calculations, instructions or commands, easier. Both memory security and concurrency errors occur when code accesses data that it shouldn’t be accessing at any given point in time.

The central concept: ownership

Rust achieves this through its central feature, the so-called ownership. If you work with Rust, you don’t have to worry about it yourself, the Rust compiler checks it statically for you. This is also the reason why Rust works without a garbage collector (automatic memory cleaning) and you don’t have to worry about memory access errors – unlike in C, for example. In relation to the concept of concurrency, this means that you can work according to a wide variety of paradigms. Message passing, shared state, lock-free or completely functional programming are possible in Rust. The design of the programming language helps you avoid common sources of error.

If messages are sent along a channel, their ownership is also transferred. This makes it possible to send a pointer from one thread to the other without having to worry that the threads will later attempt to access the memory using this pointer. The channels in Rust force isolated threads. A lock knows what data it is protecting. The data types in Rust know whether they can be sent between multiple threads and whether multiple threads can securely access them – Rust’s design enforces this safe use. You can even share stack frames between threads – Rust ensures that the frames stay active while other threads are accessing them. All of these benefits are based on Rust’s ownership model. Locks, channels and data structures without lock are, by the way, defined outside of the core language in libraries.

The Rust compiler is more stringent and provides safe memory management with no runtime overhead. In general, Rust’s lifetime management has a strong focus on security: For the reasons mentioned, the thread safety in Rust is significantly higher than in other languages. Features such as sum types and the general immutability of the language also take account of the security concept.

Interesting features and useful libraries

The language offers such interesting features as cross-compilation, web assembly targets for front-end development, support for developing mobile applications and now some useful libraries. Rust code is relatively easy to read compared to code in C ++. The language has functional features such as map(), find() or filter(). Rust is a programming language with imperative syntax. You can still define higher order functions.

TL; DR: If you work with Rust, you have to worry about memory usage. Smart pointers and references are basically the basis of Rust’s storage management. Anyone who comes from C ++ should be able to get used to this relatively quickly. If you come from Python or JavaScript, it will likely take a little longer to become familiar with the concepts. The resulting code is quasi “clean by default”. As far as the memory is concerned, with Rust you have very precise control options – with more security compared to languages ​​such as C.

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