Rust in WebAssembly

Rust is probably the best supported language of the WebAssembly ecosystem. Not only does Rust support several WebAssembly compile targets, but wasmtime, Spin, Wagi, and many other WebAssembly tools are written in Rust. Rust can be used to create Fermyon Platform apps.

Available Implementations

WebAssembly and WASI support are officially supported by the Rust project.

Usage

While the WebAssembly compiler does not ship with the default Rust distribution, it can be easily added. To add the wasm32-wasi compiler, simply use rustup:

$ rustup target add wasm32-wasi

Then to compile a program to rust, set the target when running cargo build:

$ cargo build --target wasm32-wasi --release

While --release is not required, doing so will drastically reduce the size of the output .wasm module. WebAssembly binaries will be written to your project’s target/wasm32-wasi/release directory.

Pros and Cons

Things we like:

  • The Rust ecosystem for Wasm and WASI is fabulous
  • Many of the Wasm tools are written in Rust, which means there is plenty of code to look at
  • Spin usually has Rust support for features before it has support for other languages
  • Wasmtime, written in Rust, often has cutting edge features before other runtimes
  • We have used many Rust libraries off the shelf with WebAssembly
  • Thanks to Cargo’s flexible build system, some crates even have special feature flags to enable Wasm features (e.g. Chrono)
  • Because of Rust’s memory management techniques, Rust binary sizes are small compared to similar languages

Things we’re not big fans of:

  • Many Rust libraries do not work with Wasm. Most notably, anything that uses Tokio or async does not yet work.

Example

All of our examples follow a documented pattern using common tools.

Rust can use Spin’s native executor as well as Spin’s Wagi executor. We strongly recommend the native one, as it has more features.

When writing Spin applications in Rust, use cargo init --lib or cargo new --lib. Spin loads the wasm files as libraries, not as executables with a main function.

Here is an example lib.rs that uses Spin’s native executor:

use anyhow::Result;
use spin_sdk::{
    http::{Request, Response},
    http_component,
};

/// A simple Spin HTTP component.
#[http_component]
fn hello_world(_req: Request) -> Result<Response> {
    Ok(http::Response::builder()
        .status(200)
        .body(Some("Writing a very simple Spin component in Rust".into()))?)
}

Note that your Cargo.toml will need to include at least the Spin SDK. We recommend starting with something like this:

[package]
name = "rust-hello"
version = "0.1.0"
edition = "2021"

[lib]
crate-type = [ "cdylib" ]

[dependencies]
# Useful crate to handle errors.
anyhow = "1"
# Crate to simplify working with bytes.
bytes = "1"
# General-purpose crate with common HTTP types.
http = "0.2"
# The Spin SDK.
spin-sdk = { git = "https://github.com/fermyon/spin" }
# Crate that generates Rust Wasm bindings from a WebAssembly interface.
wit-bindgen-rust = { git = "https://github.com/bytecodealliance/wit-bindgen", rev = "2f46ce4cc072107153da0cefe15bdc69aa5b84d0" }

To build a Spin app in rust, use cargo build:

$ cargo build --target wasm32-wasi --release

(Again, we suggest --release to keep binary sizes small.)

The resulting binary can be run in Spin with a spin.toml that looks something like this:

spin_version = "1"
authors = ["Fermyon Engineering <engineering@fermyon.com>"]
description = "Hello world app."
name = "spin-hello"
trigger = { type = "http", base = "/" }
version = "1.0.0"

[[component]]
id = "hello"
source = "target/wasm32-wasi/release/hello.wasm"
[component.trigger]
route = "/"

Note that we do not add an executor line at the bottom of this file as we do in many other examples.

From there, running the app is as easy as spin up!

Writing Wagi-based Rust Apps

It is also possible to write a Wagi application in Rust and run it in Spin or Wagi. Examples of this exist in the Wagi examples repository.

Learn More

Here are some great resources:

Interested in learning more?

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