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Tracking Rust's roadmap
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README.md

Rust 2017 Roadmap

As part of RFC 1728, each year the Rust community puts together a roadmap laying out a vision for improvements to Rust over the course of the year. The 2017 roadmap was decided in RFC 1774.

The issues in this repository track the progress on our 2017 roadmap.

Only Rust subteam members should create new issues in this repo. If you believe a project should be added within the tracker, please leave a comment on the appropriate "parent" issue, i.e. one of the issues linked below. And in general, feel free to use comments to ask questions, pitch ideas, or mention updates that need to be made!

There are issues for each of the vision statements:

and for our two areas of exploration:

Each of the above issues link to a number of other project issues, which give points of contact and other information about the status of specific projects working to achieve one of our goals. You can see the list of all projects here.

Finally, each subteam has a dedicated roadmap issue, spelling out areas of activity beyond those included in the formal Rust roadmap:

Roadmap rationale

The full rationale for the roadmap is spelled out in RFC 1774, but we'll recap the high-level framing here.

There's no end of possible improvements to Rust—so what do we use to guide our thinking?

The core team has tended to view our strategy not in terms of particular features or aesthetic goals, but instead in terms of making Rust successful while staying true to its core values. This basic sentiment underlies much of the proposed roadmap, so let's unpack it a bit.

Making Rust successful

The measure of success

What does it mean for Rust to be successful? There are a lot of good answers to this question, a lot of different things that draw people to use or contribute to Rust. But regardless of our personal values, there's at least one clear measure for Rust's broad success: people should be using Rust in production and reaping clear benefits from doing so.

  • Production use matters for the obvious reason: it grows the set of stakeholders with potential to invest in the language and ecosystem. To deliver on that potential, Rust needs to be part of the backbone of some major products.

  • Production use measures our design success; it's the ultimate reality check. Rust takes a unique stance on a number of tradeoffs, which we believe to position it well for writing fast and reliable software. The real test of those beliefs is people using Rust to build large, production systems, on which they're betting time and money.

  • The kind of production use matters. For Rust to truly be a success, there should be clear-cut reasons people are employing it rather than another language. Rust needs to provide crisp, standout benefits to the organizations using it.

The idea here is not about "taking over the world" with Rust; it's not about market share for the sake of market share. But if Rust is truly delivering a valuable new way of programming, we should be seeing that benefit in "the real world", in production uses that are significant enough to help sustain Rust's development.

That's not to say we should expect to see this usage immediately; there's a long pipeline for technology adoption, so the effects of our work can take a while to appear. The framing here is about our long-term aims. We should be making investments in Rust today that will position it well for this kind of success in the future.

The obstacles to success

At this point, we have a fair amount of data about how Rust is reaching its audience, through the 2016 survey, informal conversations, and explicit outreach to (pre-)production shops (writeup coming soon). The data from the survey is generally corroborated by these other venues, so let's focus on that.

We asked both current and potential users what most stands in the way of their using Rust, and got some pretty clear answers:

  • 1 in 4: learning curve
  • 1 in 7: lack of libraries
  • 1 in 9: general “maturity” concerns
  • 1 in 19: lack of IDEs (1 in 4 non-users)
  • 1 in 20: compiler performance

None of these obstacles is directly about the core language or std; people are generally happy with what the language offers today. Instead, the connecting theme is productivity—how quickly can I start writing real code? bring up a team? prototype and iterate? debug my code? And so on.

In other words, our primary challenge isn't making Rust "better" in the abstract; it's making people productive with Rust. The need is most pronounced in the early stages of Rust learning, where we risk losing a large pool of interested people if we can't get them over the hump. Evidence from the survey and elsewhere suggests that once people do get over the initial learning curve, they tend to stick around.

So how do we pull it off?

Core values

Part of what makes Rust so exciting is that it attempts to eliminate some seemingly fundamental tradeoffs. The central such tradeoff is between safety and speed. Rust strives for

  • uncompromising reliability
  • uncompromising performance

and delivers on this goal largely thanks to its fundamental concept of ownership.

But there's a problem: at first glance, "productivity" and "learnability" may seem at odds with Rust's core goals. It's common to hear the refrain that "fighting with the borrow checker" is a rite of passage for Rustaceans. Or that removing papercuts would mean glossing over safety holes or performance cliffs.

To be sure, there are tradeoffs here. But as above, if there's one thing the Rust community knows how to do, it's bending the curve around tradeoffs—memory safety without garbage collection, concurrency without data races, and all the rest. We have many examples in the language where we've managed to make a feature pleasant to use, while also providing maximum performance and safety—closures are a particularly good example, but there are others.

And of course, beyond the core language, "productivity" also depends a lot on tooling and the ecosystem. Cargo is one example where Rust's tooling provides a huge productivity boost, and we've been working hard on other aspects of tooling, like the compiler's error messages, that likewise have a big impact on productivity. There's so much more we can be doing in this space.

In short, productivity should be a core value of Rust. By the end of 2017, let's try to earn the slogan:

  • Rust: fast, reliable, productive—pick three.