Default Cargo feature resolver


  • edition = "2021" implies resolver = "2" in Cargo.toml.


Since Rust 1.51.0, Cargo has opt-in support for a new feature resolver which can be activated with resolver = "2" in Cargo.toml.

Starting in Rust 2021, this will be the default. That is, writing edition = "2021" in Cargo.toml will imply resolver = "2".

The resolver is a global setting for a workspace, and the setting is ignored in dependencies. The setting is only honored for the top-level package of the workspace. If you are using a virtual workspace, you will still need to explicitly set the resolver field in the [workspace] definition if you want to opt-in to the new resolver.

The new feature resolver no longer merges all requested features for crates that are depended on in multiple ways. See the announcement of Rust 1.51 for details.


There are no automated migration tools for updating for the new resolver. For most projects, there are usually few or no changes as a result of updating.

When updating with cargo fix --edition, Cargo will display a report if the new resolver will build dependencies with different features. It may look something like this:

note: Switching to Edition 2021 will enable the use of the version 2 feature resolver in Cargo. This may cause some dependencies to be built with fewer features enabled than previously. More information about the resolver changes may be found at
When building the following dependencies, the given features will no longer be used:

  bstr v0.2.16: default, lazy_static, regex-automata, unicode
  libz-sys v1.1.3 (as host dependency): libc

This lets you know that certain dependencies will no longer be built with the given features.

Build failures

There may be some circumstances where your project may not build correctly after the change. If a dependency declaration in one package assumes that certain features are enabled in another, and those features are now disabled, it may fail to compile.

For example, let's say we have a dependency like this:

# Cargo.toml

bstr = { version = "0.2.16", default-features = false }
# ...

And somewhere in our dependency tree, another package has this:

# Another package's Cargo.toml

bstr = "0.2.16"

In our package, we've been using the words_with_breaks method from bstr, which requires bstr's "unicode" feature to be enabled. This has historically worked because Cargo unified the features of bstr between the two packages. However, after updating to Rust 2021, the new resolver will build bstr twice, once with the default features (as a build dependency), and once with no features (as our normal dependency). Since bstr is now being built without the "unicode" feature, the words_with_breaks method doesn't exist, and the build will fail with an error that the method is missing.

The solution here is to ensure that the dependency is declared with the features you are actually using. For example:

bstr = { version = "0.2.16", default-features = false, features = ["unicode"] }

In some cases, this may be a problem with a third-party dependency that you don't have direct control over. You can consider submitting a patch to that project to try to declare the correct set of features for the problematic dependency. Alternatively, you can add features to any dependency from within your own Cargo.toml file. For example, if the bstr example given above was declared in some third-party dependency, you can just copy the correct dependency declaration into your own project. The features will be unified, as long as they match the unification rules of the new resolver. Those are:

  • Features enabled on platform-specific dependencies for targets not currently being built are ignored.
  • Build-dependencies and proc-macros do not share features with normal dependencies.
  • Dev-dependencies do not activate features unless building a target that needs them (like tests or examples).

A real-world example is using diesel and diesel_migrations. These packages provide database support, and the database is selected using a feature, like this:

diesel = { version = "1.4.7", features = ["postgres"] }
diesel_migrations = "1.4.0"

The problem is that diesel_migrations has an internal proc-macro which itself depends on diesel, and the proc-macro assumes its own copy of diesel has the same features enabled as the rest of the dependency graph. After updating to the new resolver, it fails to build because now there are two copies of diesel, and the one built for the proc-macro is missing the "postgres" feature.

A solution here is to add diesel as a build-dependency with the required features, for example:

diesel = { version = "1.4.7", features = ["postgres"] }

This causes Cargo to add "postgres" as a feature for host dependencies (proc-macros and build-dependencies). Now, the diesel_migrations proc-macro will get the "postgres" feature enabled, and it will build correctly.

The 2.0 release of diesel (currently in development) does not have this problem as it has been restructured to not have this dependency requirement.

Exploring features

The cargo tree command has had substantial improvements to help with the migration to the new resolver. cargo tree can be used to explore the dependency graph, and to see which features are being enabled, and importantly why they are being enabled.

One option is to use the --duplicates flag (-d for short), which will tell you when a package is being built multiple times. Taking the bstr example from earlier, we might see:

> cargo tree -d
bstr v0.2.16
└── foo v0.1.0 (/MyProjects/foo)

bstr v0.2.16
└── bar v0.1.0
    └── foo v0.1.0 (/MyProjects/foo)

This output tells us that bstr is built twice, and shows the chain of dependencies that led to its inclusion in both cases.

You can print which features each package is using with the -f flag, like this:

cargo tree -f '{p} {f}'

This tells Cargo to change the "format" of the output, where it will print both the package and the enabled features.

You can also use the -e flag to tell it which "edges" to display. For example, cargo tree -e features will show in-between each dependency which features are being added by each dependency. This option becomes more useful with the -i flag which can be used to "invert" the tree. This allows you to see how features flow into a given dependency. For example, let's say the dependency graph is large, and we're not quite sure who is depending on bstr, the following command will show that:

> cargo tree -e features -i bstr
bstr v0.2.16
├── bstr feature "default"
│   [build-dependencies]
│   └── bar v0.1.0
│       └── bar feature "default"
│           └── foo v0.1.0 (/MyProjects/foo)
├── bstr feature "lazy_static"
│   └── bstr feature "unicode"
│       └── bstr feature "default" (*)
├── bstr feature "regex-automata"
│   └── bstr feature "unicode" (*)
├── bstr feature "std"
│   └── bstr feature "default" (*)
└── bstr feature "unicode" (*)

This snippet of output shows that the project foo depends on bar with the "default" feature. Then, bar depends on bstr as a build-dependency with the "default" feature. We can further see that bstr's "default" feature enables "unicode" (among other features).