Discovering the Rust language

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Rust is one of the world’s most popular computer programming languages. Attracting major investment, it is widely adopted by tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. 

Ever since the language first appeared in 2010 – according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey –  Rust has been voted the “most loved programming language” every year since 2016. 

Designed by Gradon Hoare at Mozilla Research, and inspired by languages like C and C++, the Rust  programming language was created to offer high performance combined with code safety. 

From startups to software heavyweights like Dropbox and Firefox, the numerous benefits Rust offers establish the language as a top-choice for a wide range of software development projects.   

What is Rust and why is it so popular?
What is Rust and why is it so popular?

Welcome to a beginner’s guide on Rust. We’ll explore its main characteristics, how it is used by software developers, as well as why you should consider adopting it for your software projects.

What is Rust?

Rust can be defined as a multi-paradigm and general-purpose computer programming language. Statically typed, Rust provides a fast, reliable, highly productive and memory efficient software programming environment. It is ideal for powering performance-critical services, able to run on embedded devices and it is very easy to integrate with various other programming languages.  

Why is Rust a great programming language?

A list of features that make Rust a really special computer programming language include the following: 

  • Open-Source: While Rust is an open-source project with an abundance of learning resources, and originally developed at Mozilla Research as mentioned above, by 2021, the Rust Foundation is responsible for supporting the maintenance and driving the development of this language.  
  • Like C/C++ but Better: Software developers who use the C and C++ programming languages have been struggling with a variety of memory errors and concurrent programming issues for a very long time. One of the main benefits of Rust is that it effectively dissolves those problems.  
  • Borrow Checker: Another important feature is Rust’s borrow checker, a compiler part that ensures that data references do not outlive the data to which they refer. Eliminating memory violation bugs by detecting them at compiling time, garbage collection becomes unnecessary.  
  • Lifetime Reference: In Rust, each data reference has a lifetime. This means that a software developer can set the scope for which that data reference is valid, solving common bugs related to non-valid references and distinguishing the Rust language from the issues found in C and C++.
  • Safe Rust vs. Unsafe Rust: There are two modes for writing code in Rust: Safe Rust and Unsafe Rust. The first mode ensures code efficiency by imposing various restrictions on the programmer. The second mode offers programming autonomy without code safety measures. 
  • Concurrent Programming: Rust makes it easy to program concurrent software because it prevents data races during compiling time. Data races can cause problems when at least two different processes are trying to access the same computer memory location at the same time.

𝔻𝕠 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕒 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕛𝕖𝕔𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕔𝕠𝕦𝕝𝕕 𝕓𝕖𝕟𝕖𝕗𝕚𝕥 𝕗𝕣𝕠𝕞 ℝ𝕦𝕤𝕥 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕘𝕣𝕒𝕞𝕞𝕚𝕟𝕘? 𝔸𝕥 𝔹𝕠𝕔𝕒𝕤𝕒𝕪, 𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕕𝕖𝕕𝕚𝕔𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕕 𝕥𝕖𝕒𝕞𝕤 𝕠𝕗 𝕕𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕠𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕤 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕧𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕤𝕞𝕒𝕣𝕥 𝕤𝕠𝕗𝕥𝕨𝕒𝕣𝕖 𝕤𝕠𝕝𝕦𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤 𝕥𝕠 𝕝𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕡𝕒𝕟𝕚𝕖𝕤 𝕒𝕣𝕠𝕦𝕟𝕕 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕨𝕠𝕣𝕝𝕕. 𝔾𝕖𝕥 𝕚𝕟 𝕥𝕠𝕦𝕔𝕙 𝕥𝕠 𝕗𝕚𝕟𝕕 𝕠𝕦𝕥 𝕙𝕠𝕨 𝕨𝕖 𝕔𝕒𝕟 𝕙𝕖𝕝𝕡 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕟𝕖𝕩𝕥 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕛𝕖𝕔𝕥.

How is Rust used by software developers?

  • Safety: The memory safety offered by Rust actively reduces common software programming errors and application vulnerabilities. This is why it’s used for building large-scale systems where safety is crucial, as well as for enabling the fast identification and elimination of coding errors. 
  • Speed: Rust’s inherent speed is precisely why it is a popular choice for designing gaming engines, virtual reality applications that build simulations, as well as being used as a basis for operating systems, file systems and for programming a range of internet browser components. 
  • Simplicity: The reason it’s easy to build powerful web applications with Rust is because it can ultimately handle and support more code complexity than many other programming languages. Its simple integration with other languages enables workable interfaces between different code.
  • Cross-Platform: Coding flexibility is an advantage that is highly valued by software developers, and Rust can certainly deliver plenty of it. By enabling easy cross-platform development, Rust helps developers to establish robust and powerful performance across multiple applications.    
  • Community: Even if the number of Rust developers is small when compared to some other programming languages, the close-knit community centered around this open-source language can provide plenty of helpful tutorials and webinars that significantly reduce the learning curve.
Rust, the "Swiss army knife" software favored by web developers.
Rust, the “Swiss army knife” software favored by web developers

Why you should consider using Rust for your next project

  • Low Cost: If it’s an open-source language, then it’s free of charge. With limited resources being the norm for businesses of all sizes, Rust is a resource-efficient programming language that enables programming for complex embedded systems – found almost anywhere from household central heating, car engine management systems, dishwashers, as well as TVs and smartphones.  
  • Low Maintenance: Good programming means managing complexity. The more code you have, the more complexity is present. As Rust is a statically typed language, it also means that it’s easier  to write error-free programs by using it. Its high-level simplicity allows developers to constantly monitor the coding process and establish the long-term maintainability of software.  
  • High Performance: Without runtime checking or garbage collection, when it comes to high-performance, Rust can perform better than many other programming languages. As its compiler identifies and eliminates wrong code before it even becomes a problem, this can prevent useless coding from multiplying and causing bug disruptions in the system operation.   
  • Memory Management: Manually managing memory in languages like C can be tedious and time-consuming. With low-level memory control needed for system programming, Rust has access to both hardware and memory because it does not require a garbage collector to run continuously in the background. You are free to replace code without risking memory safety. 

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