Structs

structs are a way of creating more complex data types. For example, if we were doing calculations involving coordinates in 2D space, we would need both an x and a y value:

let origin_x = 0;
let origin_y = 0;

A struct lets us combine these two into a single, unified datatype with x and y as field labels:

struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

fn main() {
    let origin = Point { x: 0, y: 0 }; // origin: Point

    println!("The origin is at ({}, {})", origin.x, origin.y);
}

There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break it down. We declare a struct with the struct keyword, and then with a name. By convention, structs begin with a capital letter and are camel cased: PointInSpace, not Point_In_Space.

We can create an instance of our struct via let, as usual, but we use a key: value style syntax to set each field. The order doesn’t need to be the same as in the original declaration.

Finally, because fields have names, we can access them through dot notation: origin.x.

The values in structs are immutable by default, like other bindings in Rust. Use mut to make them mutable:

struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

fn main() {
    let mut point = Point { x: 0, y: 0 };

    point.x = 5;

    println!("The point is at ({}, {})", point.x, point.y);
}

This will print The point is at (5, 0).

Rust does not support field mutability at the language level, so you cannot write something like this:

struct Point {
    mut x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

Mutability is a property of the binding, not of the structure itself. If you’re used to field-level mutability, this may seem strange at first, but it significantly simplifies things. It even lets you make things mutable on a temporary basis:

struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

fn main() {
    let mut point = Point { x: 0, y: 0 };

    point.x = 5;

    let point = point; // now immutable

    point.y = 6; // this causes an error
}

Your structure can still contain &mut pointers, which will let you do some kinds of mutation:

struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
}

struct PointRef<'a> {
    x: &'a mut i32,
    y: &'a mut i32,
}

fn main() {
    let mut point = Point { x: 0, y: 0 };

    {
        let r = PointRef { x: &mut point.x, y: &mut point.y };

        *r.x = 5;
        *r.y = 6;
    }

    assert_eq!(5, point.x);
    assert_eq!(6, point.y);
}

Update syntax

A struct can include .. to indicate that you want to use a copy of some other struct for some of the values. For example:

struct Point3d {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
    z: i32,
}

let mut point = Point3d { x: 0, y: 0, z: 0 };
point = Point3d { y: 1, .. point };

This gives point a new y, but keeps the old x and z values. It doesn’t have to be the same struct either, you can use this syntax when making new ones, and it will copy the values you don’t specify:

# struct Point3d {
#     x: i32,
#     y: i32,
#     z: i32,
# }
let origin = Point3d { x: 0, y: 0, z: 0 };
let point = Point3d { z: 1, x: 2, .. origin };

Tuple structs

Rust has another data type that’s like a hybrid between a tuple and a struct, called a ‘tuple struct’. Tuple structs have a name, but their fields don't. They are declared with the struct keyword, and then with a name followed by a tuple:

struct Color(i32, i32, i32);
struct Point(i32, i32, i32);

let black = Color(0, 0, 0);
let origin = Point(0, 0, 0);

Here, black and origin are not equal, even though they contain the same values.

It is almost always better to use a struct than a tuple struct. We would write Color and Point like this instead:

struct Color {
    red: i32,
    blue: i32,
    green: i32,
}

struct Point {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,
    z: i32,
}

Good names are important, and while values in a tuple struct can be referenced with dot notation as well, a struct gives us actual names, rather than positions.

There is one case when a tuple struct is very useful, though, and that is when it has only one element. We call this the ‘newtype’ pattern, because it allows you to create a new type that is distinct from its contained value and also expresses its own semantic meaning:

struct Inches(i32);

let length = Inches(10);

let Inches(integer_length) = length;
println!("length is {} inches", integer_length);

As you can see here, you can extract the inner integer type through a destructuring let, as with regular tuples. In this case, the let Inches(integer_length) assigns 10 to integer_length.

Unit-like structs

You can define a struct with no members at all:

struct Electron;

let x = Electron;

Such a struct is called ‘unit-like’ because it resembles the empty tuple, (), sometimes called ‘unit’. Like a tuple struct, it defines a new type.

This is rarely useful on its own (although sometimes it can serve as a marker type), but in combination with other features, it can become useful. For instance, a library may ask you to create a structure that implements a certain trait to handle events. If you don’t have any data you need to store in the structure, you can create a unit-like struct.