Last week, the Rust language team reached their latest scheduled release, which occurs on a regular six week cadence, with Rust 1.6. Now in seventh year of development, over the past 12 months, this little Mozilla project has begun to make waves of the sort not seen by the company since the nascent days of the Firefox browser. But what’s getting developers so excited about this superficially low-level language? And is it any match for Google’s Go? Here are five reasons why, amidst a heaving buffet disruptor-wannabes, people are tipping Rust as a language to watch:
- It speaks to developers from a diverse array of specialisms. Mozilla envision Rust as being something capable of scaling everything from web browsers to entire operating systems, and to this end, there’s the potential for interest from a huge number of developers. As it gains traction, this should be greatly instrumental in pushing this openly developed language forward – perhaps even outpacing Go in the next few years.
- It has a really nice open community around it. Nobody should have to feel as edgy as a plump Hobbit on a picnic in Mordor when they’re trying to get involved in an open source effort. To pick up Rust, you will need to grapple with some pretty high-flight concepts, skirting the arc from low to high-level. Luckily, as Matt Asay comments, “perhaps the most impressive aspect of Rust is the welcoming community that supports it.” As you’d expect, with the wide swathe of concepts that the language cuts through, it’s not a simple thing to just pick up and run with, but, with the newbie friendly attitude fostered by this growing group of developers, all the pieces are in place for newcomers to enjoy their ride up the learning curve – and maybe even adoption.
- It’s got big corporate backing. OK, so Mozilla may no longer be the pinnacle of cool it was back in the days when Limewire and I can haz cheezburger had teh internets in their thrall, but even with a 12% (and shrinking) cut of the desktop browser market, there’s money for it to put behind accelerating Rust. For any open source development project, having a consistent flow of funding to keep it in development and push it forward is half the battle. Case in point: the recent crowd funding efforts for JUnit Lambda, which, by providing a team of paid and dedicated developers, will haul JUnit bang up to standard for the modern dev.
- It’s gaining ground rapidly. First conceived around the same time as Google Go, Rust is often pitted against its contemporary. But this does the language a disservice. Unburdened by Go’s extensive garbage collection, Rust can reach down far further than Go – right down to the depths where C++ operates – with none of the clanking debris outdated C++ is hauling around. Admittedly, Rust has still got a good deal of maturing to do. And in terms of employment opportunities, for now, it’s simply not used widely enough in production to warrant jumping on the bus. Moreover, as noted, the language’s inherent complexity means it’s a steep learning curve. With all that said, that hasn’t stopped both the RedMonk language ranking and TIOBE Index compilers touting it as a potentially exciting language in 2016 – expect the climb to continue in the year ahead.