Crates and source files

Although Rust, like any other language, can be implemented by an interpreter as well as a compiler, the only existing implementation is a compiler, and the language has always been designed to be compiled. For these reasons, this section assumes a compiler.

Rust's semantics obey a phase distinction between compile-time and run-time.1 Semantic rules that have a static interpretation govern the success or failure of compilation, while semantic rules that have a dynamic interpretation govern the behavior of the program at run-time.

The compilation model centers on artifacts called crates. Each compilation processes a single crate in source form, and if successful, produces a single crate in binary form: either an executable or some sort of library.2

A crate is a unit of compilation and linking, as well as versioning, distribution and runtime loading. A crate contains a tree of nested module scopes. The top level of this tree is a module that is anonymous (from the point of view of paths within the module) and any item within a crate has a canonical module path denoting its location within the crate's module tree.

The Rust compiler is always invoked with a single source file as input, and always produces a single output crate. The processing of that source file may result in other source files being loaded as modules. Source files have the extension .rs.

A Rust source file describes a module, the name and location of which — in the module tree of the current crate — are defined from outside the source file: either by an explicit mod_item in a referencing source file, or by the name of the crate itself. Every source file is a module, but not every module needs its own source file: module definitions can be nested within one file.

Each source file contains a sequence of zero or more item definitions, and may optionally begin with any number of attributes that apply to the containing module, most of which influence the behavior of the compiler. The anonymous crate module can have additional attributes that apply to the crate as a whole.

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
// Specify the crate name.
#![crate_name = "projx"]

// Specify the type of output artifact.
#![crate_type = "lib"]

// Turn on a warning.
// This can be done in any module, not just the anonymous crate module.


A crate that contains a main function can be compiled to an executable. If a main function is present, its return type must be () ("unit") and it must take no arguments.


This distinction would also exist in an interpreter. Static checks like syntactic analysis, type checking, and lints should happen before the program is executed regardless of when it is executed.


A crate is somewhat analogous to an assembly in the ECMA-335 CLI model, a library in the SML/NJ Compilation Manager, a unit in the Owens and Flatt module system, or a configuration in Mesa.

© 2010 The Rust Project Developers
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 or the MIT license, at your option.