This file offers some tips on the coding conventions for rustc. This chapter covers formatting, coding for correctness, using crates from, and some tips on structuring your PR for easy review.

Formatting and the tidy script

rustc is moving towards the Rust standard coding style. This is enforced by the "tidy" script and can be mostly automated using ./ fmt.

As the output of rustfmt is not completely stable, formatting this repository using cargo fmt is not recommended.

The tidy script runs automatically when you do ./ test and can be run in isolation with ./ test tidy.

Copyright notice

In the past, files began with a copyright and license notice. Please omit this notice for new files licensed under the standard terms (dual MIT/Apache-2.0).

All of the copyright notices should be gone by now, but if you come across one in the rust-lang/rust repo, feel free to open a PR to remove it.

Line length

Lines should be at most 100 characters. It's even better if you can keep things to 80.

Ignoring the line length limit. Sometimes – in particular for tests – it can be necessary to exempt yourself from this limit. In that case, you can add a comment towards the top of the file (after the copyright notice) like so:

fn main() {
// ignore-tidy-linelength

Tabs vs spaces

Prefer 4-space indent.

Coding for correctness

Beyond formatting, there are a few other tips that are worth following.

Prefer exhaustive matches

Using _ in a match is convenient, but it means that when new variants are added to the enum, they may not get handled correctly. Ask yourself: if a new variant were added to this enum, what's the chance that it would want to use the _ code, versus having some other treatment? Unless the answer is "low", then prefer an exhaustive match. (The same advice applies to if let and while let, which are effectively tests for a single variant.)

Use "TODO" comments for things you don't want to forget

As a useful tool to yourself, you can insert a // TODO comment for something that you want to get back to before you land your PR:

fn do_something() {
    if something_else {
        unimplemented!(); // TODO write this

The tidy script will report an error for a // TODO comment, so this code would not be able to land until the TODO is fixed (or removed).

This can also be useful in a PR as a way to signal from one commit that you are leaving a bug that a later commit will fix:

if foo {
    return true; // TODO wrong, but will be fixed in a later commit

Using crates from

It is allowed to use crates from, though external dependencies should not be added gratuitously. All such crates must have a suitably permissive license. There is an automatic check which inspects the Cargo metadata to ensure this.

How to structure your PR

How you prepare the commits in your PR can make a big difference for the reviewer. Here are some tips.

Isolate "pure refactorings" into their own commit. For example, if you rename a method, then put that rename into its own commit, along with the renames of all the uses.

More commits is usually better. If you are doing a large change, it's almost always better to break it up into smaller steps that can be independently understood. The one thing to be aware of is that if you introduce some code following one strategy, then change it dramatically (versus adding to it) in a later commit, that 'back-and-forth' can be confusing.

Format liberally. While only the final commit of a PR must be correctly formatted, it is both easier to review and less noisy to format each commit individually using ./ fmt.

No merges. We do not allow merge commits into our history, other than those by bors. If you get a merge conflict, rebase instead via a command like git rebase -i rust-lang/master (presuming you use the name rust-lang for your remote).

Individual commits do not have to build (but it's nice). We do not require that every intermediate commit successfully builds – we only expect to be able to bisect at a PR level. However, if you can make individual commits build, that is always helpful.

Naming conventions

Apart from normal Rust style/naming conventions, there are also some specific to the compiler.

  • cx tends to be short for "context" and is often used as a suffix. For example, tcx is a common name for the Typing Context.

  • 'tcx is used as the lifetime name for the Typing Context.

  • Because crate is a keyword, if you need a variable to represent something crate-related, often the spelling is changed to krate.