Overriding Dependencies

The desire to override a dependency can arise through a number of scenarios. Most of them, however, boil down to the ability to work with a crate before it’s been published to crates.io. For example:

  • A crate you’re working on is also used in a much larger application you’re working on, and you’d like to test a bug fix to the library inside of the larger application.
  • An upstream crate you don’t work on has a new feature or a bug fix on the master branch of its git repository which you’d like to test out.
  • You’re about to publish a new major version of your crate, but you’d like to do integration testing across an entire package to ensure the new major version works.
  • You’ve submitted a fix to an upstream crate for a bug you found, but you’d like to immediately have your application start depending on the fixed version of the crate to avoid blocking on the bug fix getting merged.

These scenarios can be solved with the [patch] manifest section.

This chapter walks through a few different use cases, and includes details on the different ways to override a dependency.

Note: See also specifying a dependency with multiple locations, which can be used to override the source for a single dependency declaration in a local package.

Testing a bugfix

Let’s say you’re working with the uuid crate but while you’re working on it you discover a bug. You are, however, quite enterprising so you decide to also try to fix the bug! Originally your manifest will look like:

name = "my-library"
version = "0.1.0"

uuid = "1.0"

First thing we’ll do is to clone the uuid repository locally via:

$ git clone https://github.com/uuid-rs/uuid.git

Next we’ll edit the manifest of my-library to contain:

uuid = { path = "../path/to/uuid" }

Here we declare that we’re patching the source crates-io with a new dependency. This will effectively add the local checked out version of uuid to the crates.io registry for our local package.

Next up we need to ensure that our lock file is updated to use this new version of uuid so our package uses the locally checked out copy instead of one from crates.io. The way [patch] works is that it’ll load the dependency at ../path/to/uuid and then whenever crates.io is queried for versions of uuid it’ll also return the local version.

This means that the version number of the local checkout is significant and will affect whether the patch is used. Our manifest declared uuid = "1.0" which means we’ll only resolve to >= 1.0.0, < 2.0.0, and Cargo’s greedy resolution algorithm also means that we’ll resolve to the maximum version within that range. Typically this doesn’t matter as the version of the git repository will already be greater or match the maximum version published on crates.io, but it’s important to keep this in mind!

In any case, typically all you need to do now is:

$ cargo build
   Compiling uuid v1.0.0 (.../uuid)
   Compiling my-library v0.1.0 (.../my-library)
    Finished dev [unoptimized + debuginfo] target(s) in 0.32 secs

And that’s it! You’re now building with the local version of uuid (note the path in parentheses in the build output). If you don’t see the local path version getting built then you may need to run cargo update uuid --precise $version where $version is the version of the locally checked out copy of uuid.

Once you’ve fixed the bug you originally found the next thing you’ll want to do is to likely submit that as a pull request to the uuid crate itself. Once you’ve done this then you can also update the [patch] section. The listing inside of [patch] is just like the [dependencies] section, so once your pull request is merged you could change your path dependency to:

uuid = { git = 'https://github.com/uuid-rs/uuid.git' }

Working with an unpublished minor version

Let’s now shift gears a bit from bug fixes to adding features. While working on my-library you discover that a whole new feature is needed in the uuid crate. You’ve implemented this feature, tested it locally above with [patch], and submitted a pull request. Let’s go over how you continue to use and test it before it’s actually published.

Let’s also say that the current version of uuid on crates.io is 1.0.0, but since then the master branch of the git repository has updated to 1.0.1. This branch includes your new feature you submitted previously. To use this repository we’ll edit our Cargo.toml to look like

name = "my-library"
version = "0.1.0"

uuid = "1.0.1"

uuid = { git = 'https://github.com/uuid-rs/uuid.git' }

Note that our local dependency on uuid has been updated to 1.0.1 as it’s what we’ll actually require once the crate is published. This version doesn’t exist on crates.io, though, so we provide it with the [patch] section of the manifest.

Now when our library is built it’ll fetch uuid from the git repository and resolve to 1.0.1 inside the repository instead of trying to download a version from crates.io. Once 1.0.1 is published on crates.io the [patch] section can be deleted.

It’s also worth noting that [patch] applies transitively. Let’s say you use my-library in a larger package, such as:

name = "my-binary"
version = "0.1.0"

my-library = { git = 'https://example.com/git/my-library' }
uuid = "1.0"

uuid = { git = 'https://github.com/uuid-rs/uuid.git' }

Remember that [patch] is applicable transitively but can only be defined at the top level so we consumers of my-library have to repeat the [patch] section if necessary. Here, though, the new uuid crate applies to both our dependency on uuid and the my-library -> uuid dependency. The uuid crate will be resolved to one version for this entire crate graph, 1.0.1, and it’ll be pulled from the git repository.

Overriding repository URL

In case the dependency you want to override isn’t loaded from crates.io, you’ll have to change a bit how you use [patch]. For example, if the dependency is a git dependency, you can override it to a local path with:

my-library = { path = "../my-library/path" }

And that’s it!

Prepublishing a breaking change

Let’s take a look at working with a new major version of a crate, typically accompanied with breaking changes. Sticking with our previous crates, this means that we’re going to be creating version 2.0.0 of the uuid crate. After we’ve submitted all changes upstream we can update our manifest for my-library to look like:

uuid = "2.0"

uuid = { git = "https://github.com/uuid-rs/uuid.git", branch = "2.0.0" }

And that’s it! Like with the previous example the 2.0.0 version doesn’t actually exist on crates.io but we can still put it in through a git dependency through the usage of the [patch] section. As a thought exercise let’s take another look at the my-binary manifest from above again as well:

name = "my-binary"
version = "0.1.0"

my-library = { git = 'https://example.com/git/my-library' }
uuid = "1.0"

uuid = { git = 'https://github.com/uuid-rs/uuid.git', branch = '2.0.0' }

Note that this will actually resolve to two versions of the uuid crate. The my-binary crate will continue to use the 1.x.y series of the uuid crate but the my-library crate will use the 2.0.0 version of uuid. This will allow you to gradually roll out breaking changes to a crate through a dependency graph without being forced to update everything all at once.

Using [patch] with multiple versions

You can patch in multiple versions of the same crate with the package key used to rename dependencies. For example let’s say that the serde crate has a bugfix that we’d like to use to its 1.* series but we’d also like to prototype using a 2.0.0 version of serde we have in our git repository. To configure this we’d do:

serde = { git = 'https://github.com/serde-rs/serde.git' }
serde2 = { git = 'https://github.com/example/serde.git', package = 'serde', branch = 'v2' }

The first serde = ... directive indicates that serde 1.* should be used from the git repository (pulling in the bugfix we need) and the second serde2 = ... directive indicates that the serde package should also be pulled from the v2 branch of https://github.com/example/serde. We’re assuming here that Cargo.toml on that branch mentions version 2.0.0.

Note that when using the package key the serde2 identifier here is actually ignored. We simply need a unique name which doesn’t conflict with other patched crates.

The [patch] section

The [patch] section of Cargo.toml can be used to override dependencies with other copies. The syntax is similar to the [dependencies] section:

foo = { git = 'https://github.com/example/foo.git' }
bar = { path = 'my/local/bar' }

git = 'https://github.com/example/baz.git'

baz = { git = 'https://github.com/example/patched-baz.git', branch = 'my-branch' }

Note: The [patch] table can also be specified as a configuration option, such as in a .cargo/config.toml file or a CLI option like --config 'patch.crates-io.rand.path="rand"'. This can be useful for local-only changes that you don’t want to commit, or temporarily testing a patch.

The [patch] table is made of dependency-like sub-tables. Each key after [patch] is a URL of the source that is being patched, or the name of a registry. The name crates-io may be used to override the default registry crates.io. The first [patch] in the example above demonstrates overriding crates.io, and the second [patch] demonstrates overriding a git source.

Each entry in these tables is a normal dependency specification, the same as found in the [dependencies] section of the manifest. The dependencies listed in the [patch] section are resolved and used to patch the source at the URL specified. The above manifest snippet patches the crates-io source (e.g. crates.io itself) with the foo crate and bar crate. It also patches the https://github.com/example/baz source with a my-branch that comes from elsewhere.

Sources can be patched with versions of crates that do not exist, and they can also be patched with versions of crates that already exist. If a source is patched with a crate version that already exists in the source, then the source’s original crate is replaced.

Cargo only looks at the patch settings in the Cargo.toml manifest at the root of the workspace. Patch settings defined in dependencies will be ignored.

The [replace] section

Note: [replace] is deprecated. You should use the [patch] table instead.

This section of Cargo.toml can be used to override dependencies with other copies. The syntax is similar to the [dependencies] section:

"foo:0.1.0" = { git = 'https://github.com/example/foo.git' }
"bar:1.0.2" = { path = 'my/local/bar' }

Each key in the [replace] table is a package ID specification, which allows arbitrarily choosing a node in the dependency graph to override (the 3-part version number is required). The value of each key is the same as the [dependencies] syntax for specifying dependencies, except that you can’t specify features. Note that when a crate is overridden the copy it’s overridden with must have both the same name and version, but it can come from a different source (e.g., git or a local path).

Cargo only looks at the replace settings in the Cargo.toml manifest at the root of the workspace. Replace settings defined in dependencies will be ignored.

paths overrides

Sometimes you’re only temporarily working on a crate and you don’t want to have to modify Cargo.toml like with the [patch] section above. For this use case Cargo offers a much more limited version of overrides called path overrides.

Path overrides are specified through .cargo/config.toml instead of Cargo.toml. Inside of .cargo/config.toml you’ll specify a key called paths:

paths = ["/path/to/uuid"]

This array should be filled with directories that contain a Cargo.toml. In this instance, we’re just adding uuid, so it will be the only one that’s overridden. This path can be either absolute or relative to the directory that contains the .cargo folder.

Path overrides are more restricted than the [patch] section, however, in that they cannot change the structure of the dependency graph. When a path replacement is used then the previous set of dependencies must all match exactly to the new Cargo.toml specification. For example this means that path overrides cannot be used to test out adding a dependency to a crate, instead [patch] must be used in that situation. As a result usage of a path override is typically isolated to quick bug fixes rather than larger changes.

Note: using a local configuration to override paths will only work for crates that have been published to crates.io. You cannot use this feature to tell Cargo how to find local unpublished crates.