Structs

structs are a way of creating more complex data types. For example, if we were doing calculations involving coordinates in 2D space, we would need both an x and a y value:

fn main() { let origin_x = 0; let origin_y = 0; }
let origin_x = 0;
let origin_y = 0;

A struct lets us combine these two into a single, unified datatype:

struct Point { x: i32, y: i32, } fn main() { let origin = Point { x: 0, y: 0 }; // origin: Point println!("The origin is at ({}, {})", origin.x, origin.y); }
struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

fn main() {
    let origin = Point { x: 0, y: 0 }; // origin: Point

    println!("The origin is at ({}, {})", origin.x, origin.y);
}

There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break it down. We declare a struct with the struct keyword, and then with a name. By convention, structs begin with a capital letter and are camel cased: PointInSpace, not Point_In_Space.

We can create an instance of our struct via let, as usual, but we use a key: value style syntax to set each field. The order doesn’t need to be the same as in the original declaration.

Finally, because fields have names, we can access the field through dot notation: origin.x.

The values in structs are immutable by default, like other bindings in Rust. Use mut to make them mutable:

struct Point { x: i32, y: i32, } fn main() { let mut point = Point { x: 0, y: 0 }; point.x = 5; println!("The point is at ({}, {})", point.x, point.y); }
struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

fn main() {
    let mut point = Point { x: 0, y: 0 };

    point.x = 5;

    println!("The point is at ({}, {})", point.x, point.y);
}

This will print The point is at (5, 0).

Rust does not support field mutability at the language level, so you cannot write something like this:

fn main() { struct Point { mut x: i32, y: i32, } }
struct Point {
    mut x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

Mutability is a property of the binding, not of the structure itself. If you’re used to field-level mutability, this may seem strange at first, but it significantly simplifies things. It even lets you make things mutable for a short time only:

struct Point { x: i32, y: i32, } fn main() { let mut point = Point { x: 0, y: 0 }; point.x = 5; let point = point; // this new binding can’t change now point.y = 6; // this causes an error }
struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

fn main() {
    let mut point = Point { x: 0, y: 0 };

    point.x = 5;

    let point = point; // this new binding can’t change now

    point.y = 6; // this causes an error
}

Update syntax

A struct can include .. to indicate that you want to use a copy of some other struct for some of the values. For example:

fn main() { struct Point3d { x: i32, y: i32, z: i32, } let mut point = Point3d { x: 0, y: 0, z: 0 }; point = Point3d { y: 1, .. point }; }
struct Point3d {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
    z: i32,
}

let mut point = Point3d { x: 0, y: 0, z: 0 };
point = Point3d { y: 1, .. point };

This gives point a new y, but keeps the old x and z values. It doesn’t have to be the same struct either, you can use this syntax when making new ones, and it will copy the values you don’t specify:

fn main() { struct Point3d { x: i32, y: i32, z: i32, } let origin = Point3d { x: 0, y: 0, z: 0 }; let point = Point3d { z: 1, x: 2, .. origin }; }
let origin = Point3d { x: 0, y: 0, z: 0 };
let point = Point3d { z: 1, x: 2, .. origin };

Tuple structs

Rust has another data type that’s like a hybrid between a tuple and a struct, called a ‘tuple struct’. Tuple structs have a name, but their fields don’t:

fn main() { struct Color(i32, i32, i32); struct Point(i32, i32, i32); }
struct Color(i32, i32, i32);
struct Point(i32, i32, i32);

These two will not be equal, even if they have the same values:

fn main() { struct Color(i32, i32, i32); struct Point(i32, i32, i32); let black = Color(0, 0, 0); let origin = Point(0, 0, 0); }
let black = Color(0, 0, 0);
let origin = Point(0, 0, 0);

It is almost always better to use a struct than a tuple struct. We would write Color and Point like this instead:

fn main() { struct Color { red: i32, blue: i32, green: i32, } struct Point { x: i32, y: i32, z: i32, } }
struct Color {
    red: i32,
    blue: i32,
    green: i32,
}

struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
    z: i32,
}

Now, we have actual names, rather than positions. Good names are important, and with a struct, we have actual names.

There is one case when a tuple struct is very useful, though, and that’s a tuple struct with only one element. We call this the ‘newtype’ pattern, because it allows you to create a new type, distinct from that of its contained value and expressing its own semantic meaning:

fn main() { struct Inches(i32); let length = Inches(10); let Inches(integer_length) = length; println!("length is {} inches", integer_length); }
struct Inches(i32);

let length = Inches(10);

let Inches(integer_length) = length;
println!("length is {} inches", integer_length);

As you can see here, you can extract the inner integer type through a destructuring let, just as with regular tuples. In this case, the let Inches(integer_length) assigns 10 to integer_length.

Unit-like structs

You can define a struct with no members at all:

fn main() { struct Electron; let x = Electron; }
struct Electron;

let x = Electron;

Such a struct is called ‘unit-like’ because it resembles the empty tuple, (), sometimes called ‘unit’. Like a tuple struct, it defines a new type.

This is rarely useful on its own (although sometimes it can serve as a marker type), but in combination with other features, it can become useful. For instance, a library may ask you to create a structure that implements a certain trait to handle events. If you don’t have any data you need to store in the structure, you can just create a unit-like struct.