Option & unwrap

In the last example, we showed that we can induce program failure at will. We told our program to panic if we drink a sugary lemonade. But what if we expect some drink but don't receive one? That case would be just as bad, so it needs to be handled!

We could test this against the null string ("") as we do with a lemonade. Since we're using Rust, let's instead have the compiler point out cases where there's no drink.

An enum called Option<T> in the std library is used when absence is a possibility. It manifests itself as one of two "options":

  • Some(T): An element of type T was found
  • None: No element was found

These cases can either be explicitly handled via match or implicitly with unwrap. Implicit handling will either return the inner element or panic.

Note that it's possible to manually customize panic with expect, but unwrap otherwise leaves us with a less meaningful output than explicit handling. In the following example, explicit handling yields a more controlled result while retaining the option to panic if desired.

// The adult has seen it all, and can handle any drink well.
// All drinks are handled explicitly using `match`.
fn give_adult(drink: Option<&str>) {
    // Specify a course of action for each case.
    match drink {
        Some("lemonade") => println!("Yuck! Too sugary."),
        Some(inner)   => println!("{}? How nice.", inner),
        None          => println!("No drink? Oh well."),

// Others will `panic` before drinking sugary drinks.
// All drinks are handled implicitly using `unwrap`.
fn drink(drink: Option<&str>) {
    // `unwrap` returns a `panic` when it receives a `None`.
    let inside = drink.unwrap();
    if inside == "lemonade" { panic!("AAAaaaaa!!!!"); }

    println!("I love {}s!!!!!", inside);

fn main() {
    let water  = Some("water");
    let lemonade = Some("lemonade");
    let void  = None;


    let coffee = Some("coffee");
    let nothing = None;