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Safely cast &T to &U where the struct U contains a single field of type T.
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derive Release 1.0.0 Nov 10, 2019
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tests Add ui test for a nontrivial field marked trivial Nov 10, 2019
.gitignore RefCast Oct 9, 2017
.travis.yml Raise minimum tested version to rustc 1.36 Oct 29, 2019
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LICENSE-APACHE RefCast Oct 9, 2017
LICENSE-MIT RefCast Oct 9, 2017 Improve the cast in TileMap example Nov 10, 2019


Build Status Latest Version Rust Documentation

Safely cast &T to &U where the struct U contains a single field of type T.

ref-cast = "0.2"

Basic example

use ref_cast::RefCast;

struct U(String);

fn main() {
    let s = String::new();

    // Safely cast from `&String` to `&U`.
    let u = U::ref_cast(&s);

Note that either of #[repr(C)] or #[repr(transparent)] is required in order for the conversion to be sound. The derive macro will refuse to compile if neither is present.

Realistic example

Suppose we have a multidimensional array represented in a flat buffer in row-major order for performance reasons, but we want to expose an indexing operation that works in column-major order because it is more intuitive in the context of our application.

const MAP_WIDTH: usize = 4;

struct Tile(u8);

struct TileMap {
    storage: Vec<Tile>,

// `tilemap[x][y]` should give us `[y * MAP_WIDTH + x]`.

The signature of the Index trait in Rust is such that the output is forced to be borrowed from the type being indexed. So something like the following is not going to work.

struct Column<'a> {
    tilemap: &'a TileMap,
    x: usize,

// Does not work! The output of Index must be a reference that is
// borrowed from self. Here the type Column is not a reference.
impl Index<usize> for TileMap {
    fn index(&self, x: usize) -> Column {
        assert!(x < MAP_WIDTH);
        Column { tilemap: self, x }

impl<'a> Index<usize> for Column<'a> {
    fn index(&self, y: usize) -> &Tile {
        &[y * MAP_WIDTH + self.x]

Here is a working approach using RefCast.

struct Strided([Tile]);

// Implement `tilemap[x][y]` as `tilemap[x..][y * MAP_WIDTH]`.
impl Index<usize> for TileMap {
    type Output = Strided;
    fn index(&self, x: usize) -> &Self::Output {
        assert!(x < MAP_WIDTH);

impl Index<usize> for Strided {
    type Output = Tile;
    fn index(&self, y: usize) -> &Self::Output {
        &self.0[y * MAP_WIDTH]


Licensed under either of Apache License, Version 2.0 or MIT license at your option.
Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in this crate by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.
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