A quick review of some demo code



I’m going to give an Introduction to Rust talk for perl developers. My angle is to introduce them to Rust via FFI.

I’ve worked on the slides introducing Rust, but I’m now at stage where I’ll walking my audience through their first bit of Rust code.

Would any one mind review my comments (these will be my notes and won’t appear in the final slides and source code)?

The repo can be found here (if you prefer to PR): https://github.com/booyaa/iso8601_validator/blob/master/src/lib.rs



mod tests { // 1 - Always be testing
    fn should_fail_to_validate() {
        let expected = false;
        let actual = super::rust_validate("ppp");

        assert_eq!(expected, actual);

    fn should_validate() {
        let expected = true;
        let actual = super::rust_validate("20060831T16:44+00:00");

        assert_eq!(expected, actual);

    // URLO: Should I have also tested the actual FFI function?

// 2 - After we've added the dependency in our Cargo.toml we need to reference 
// the crate 
extern crate iso8601;

// 3 - We need this crate to allow us to FFI 
extern crate libc; 

// 4 - Ah finally something that looks familar to perl hackers! This does the 
// same thing, introduces the module namespace so we can use it.
use libc::*;

// 5 - Needed for handling a C pointer, which is how our string from perl will
// arrive as.
use std::ffi::CStr;
use std::str;

// 6 - The crate we wish to wrap in FFI
use iso8601::parsers::*;

// 7 - This is our FFI wrapped function, the types you see here are C 
// representations. 
// no_mangle is to stop the compiler from jumbling the name during compilation. 
// We'll need this to reference within perl.
pub extern fn validate(s: *const c_char) -> boolean_t {
    // 8 - Remember we spoke about the safety aspects of Rust at the beginning 
    // of the talk? 
    // Occassionally we need to do things that the compiler won't let us do, 
    // deferencing pointers are one of these things. The compiler can't make
    // the safety guarentees.
    // There's a risk that we could get a null pointer when deferencing it.
    // So when the compiler can't do the checking, we use unsafe to take over
    // and do the check manually.
    let c_str = unsafe {
        // 9 - And here's how we avoid harm... the assert will cause our library
        // to panic (exit with error).

        // 10 - having tested for a null pointer we can safely return C string

    // 11 - there's several things going on here (L-R)
    // a) The CStr::from_ptr(s) - casts a raw C string to a safe C string 
    // wrapper
    // b) to_str() - turns this into a Result type which may contain a string 
    // slice or an error
    // c) unwrap() - takes the Result and either returns a value or causes a 
    // a panic. 
    // A minor note: unwrapping in a library is considered bad form. It's better
    // to check for an error and handle accordingly.
    let r_str = c_str.to_str().unwrap();

    // 12 - pass the string slice to the rust function that will do the 
    // validation
    if rust_validate(r_str) { 1 } else { 0 }

pub fn rust_validate(input : &str) ->  bool {
    // 13 - the parse_datetime function expects a byte slice rather than string
    // slice, so we convert it accordingly.
    let result = parse_datetime(input.as_bytes());

    // 14  finally we check the outcome, because the iso8601 crate uses nom 
    // (which works with streams of data), we can either return some data, an 
    // error or incomplete (if the stream is truncated)
    ! (result.is_err() || result.is_incomplete())