The tracking issue for this feature is: #29597

This feature is part of "compiler plugins." It will often be used with the plugin_registrar and rustc_private features.

rustc can load compiler plugins, which are user-provided libraries that extend the compiler's behavior with new lint checks, etc.

A plugin is a dynamic library crate with a designated registrar function that registers extensions with rustc. Other crates can load these extensions using the crate attribute #![plugin(...)]. See the rustc_driver::plugin documentation for more about the mechanics of defining and loading a plugin.

In the vast majority of cases, a plugin should only be used through #![plugin] and not through an extern crate item. Linking a plugin would pull in all of librustc_ast and librustc as dependencies of your crate. This is generally unwanted unless you are building another plugin.

The usual practice is to put compiler plugins in their own crate, separate from any macro_rules! macros or ordinary Rust code meant to be used by consumers of a library.

Lint plugins

Plugins can extend Rust's lint infrastructure with additional checks for code style, safety, etc. Now let's write a plugin that warns about any item named lintme.

#![feature(box_syntax, rustc_private)]

extern crate rustc_ast;

// Load rustc as a plugin to get macros
extern crate rustc_driver;
extern crate rustc_lint;
extern crate rustc_session;

use rustc_driver::plugin::Registry;
use rustc_lint::{EarlyContext, EarlyLintPass, LintArray, LintContext, LintPass};
use rustc_ast::ast;
declare_lint!(TEST_LINT, Warn, "Warn about items named 'lintme'");

declare_lint_pass!(Pass => [TEST_LINT]);

impl EarlyLintPass for Pass {
    fn check_item(&mut self, cx: &EarlyContext, it: &ast::Item) {
        if == "lintme" {
            cx.lint(TEST_LINT, |lint| {
      "item is named 'lintme'").set_span(it.span).emit()

pub fn plugin_registrar(reg: &mut Registry) {
    reg.lint_store.register_early_pass(|| box Pass);

Then code like


fn lintme() { }

will produce a compiler warning: 4:16 warning: item is named 'lintme', #[warn(test_lint)] on by default fn lintme() { }

The components of a lint plugin are:

  • one or more declare_lint! invocations, which define static Lint structs;

  • a struct holding any state needed by the lint pass (here, none);

  • a LintPass implementation defining how to check each syntax element. A single LintPass may call span_lint for several different Lints, but should register them all through the get_lints method.

Lint passes are syntax traversals, but they run at a late stage of compilation where type information is available. rustc's built-in lints mostly use the same infrastructure as lint plugins, and provide examples of how to access type information.

Lints defined by plugins are controlled by the usual attributes and compiler flags, e.g. #[allow(test_lint)] or -A test-lint. These identifiers are derived from the first argument to declare_lint!, with appropriate case and punctuation conversion.

You can run rustc -W help to see a list of lints known to rustc, including those provided by plugins loaded by