An I/O Project: Building a Command Line Program
This chapter is a recap of the many skills you’ve learned so far and an exploration of a few more standard library features. We’ll build a command line tool that interacts with file and command line input/output to practice some of the Rust concepts you now have under your belt.
Rust’s speed, safety, single binary output, and cross-platform support make
it an ideal language for creating command line tools, so for our project, we’ll
make our own version of the classic command line tool
search a regular expression and print). In the simplest use case,
grep searches a specified file for a specified string. To do so,
as its arguments a filename and a string, and then reads the file and finds
lines in that file that contain the string argument. It then prints those lines.
Along the way, we’ll show how to make our command line tool use features of the
terminal that many command line tools use. We’ll read the value of an
environment variable to allow the user to configure the behavior of our tool.
We’ll also print to the standard error console stream (
stderr) instead of
standard output (
stdout), so, for example, the user can redirect successful
output to a file while still seeing error messages onscreen.
One Rust community member, Andrew Gallant, has already created a fully
featured, very fast version of
ripgrep. By comparison, our
grep will be fairly simple, but this chapter will give you some of
the background knowledge you need to understand a real-world project like
grep project will combine a number of concepts you’ve learned so far:
- Organizing code (using what you learned in modules, Chapter 7)
- Using vectors and strings (collections, Chapter 8)
- Handling errors (Chapter 9)
- Using traits and lifetimes where appropriate (Chapter 10)
- Writing tests (Chapter 11)
We’ll also briefly introduce closures, iterators, and trait objects, which Chapters 13 and 17 will cover in detail.