Diagnostic Codes

We generally try to assign each error message a unique code like E0123. These codes are defined in the compiler in the diagnostics.rs files found in each crate, which basically consist of macros. The codes come in two varieties: those that have an extended write-up, and those that do not. Whenever possible, if you are making a new code, you should write an extended write-up.

Allocating a fresh code

Error codes are stored in compiler/rustc_error_codes.

To create a new error, you first need to find the next available code. You can find it with tidy:

./x.py test tidy

This will invoke the tidy script, which generally checks that your code obeys our coding conventions. One of those jobs is to check that diagnostic codes are indeed unique. Once it is finished with that, tidy will print out the lowest unused code:

...
tidy check (x86_64-apple-darwin)
* 470 error codes
* highest error code: E0591
...

Here we see the highest error code in use is E0591, so we probably want E0592. To be sure, run rg E0592 and check, you should see no references.

Ideally, you will write an extended description for your error, which will go in rustc_error_codes/src/error_codes/E0592.md. To register the error, open rustc_error_codes/src/error_codes.rs and add the code (in its proper numerical order) into register_diagnostics! macro, like this:


#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
register_diagnostics! {
    ...
    E0592: include_str!("./error_codes/E0592.md"),
}
}

But you can also add it without an extended description:


#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
register_diagnostics! {
    ...
    E0592, // put a description here
}
}

To actually issue the error, you can use the struct_span_err! macro:


#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
struct_span_err!(self.tcx.sess, // some path to the session here
                 span, // whatever span in the source you want
                 E0592, // your new error code
                 &format!("text of the error"))
    .emit() // actually issue the error
}

If you want to add notes or other snippets, you can invoke methods before you call .emit():


#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
struct_span_err!(...)
    .span_label(another_span, "something to label in the source")
    .span_note(another_span, "some separate note, probably avoid these")
    .emit_()
}

For an example of a PR adding an error code, see #76143.