Introduction To Blockchain Programming Languages: Rust

Rust is the default crypto programming language for Solana and a handful of other blockchain platforms.

Rust: What is it good for?

Solidity remains the leading programming language for Ethereum and Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chains, having gained significant network effect across the blockchain space.

Introduction To Blockchain Programming Languages: Solidity
Solidity was the first smart contract language, and remains the most widely-used, despite some downsides.

However, for non-EVM chains, Rust has gained popularity, notably for platforms including Solana and Polkadot (although Solana supports other languages like C, C++, and Solidity).

Rust: Secure, Efficient Blockchain Programming

Rust has been around for the better part of 20 years, and is an example of a coding language that made the transition into the blockchain space having already gained significant traction.

Launched in 2006, Rust has widespread adoption thanks to its use by major software platforms, including Amazon, Discord, Meta, and Google. It's quite similar to C and C++, which many blockchain developer might already be familiar with, since Bitcoin and various other protocols were written in C++. Rust is known as an efficient and compact language that's great for producing optimized code, which is critical for blockchain and crypto programming, where block space has to be paid for and optimization is essential.

Rust also has a strong emphasis on security, with measures to mitigate common programming errors (especially in the area of memory safety). This adds a layer of protection against potential smart contract exploits.

Another one of the things that Rust is well known for is safe concurrency: That is, it allows different elements of a program to execute at the same time, potentially out of order. This support for parallel processing is vital for Solana, which is built with this in mind. Rust enables developers to write such code without needing to worry about "race conditions" or making sure operations are carried out in the correct order.

Because Rust has been around for 18 years and is employed in such widely-used applications, it has a large and active community, and lots of libraries and tools. The code is clear and readable, which makes maintaining software easier.

Downsides To Rust

Where Rust doesn't compare so well to languages like Solidity and Vyper is its accessibility. There's a learning curve that is much tougher than for these languages, which are based on the popular JavaScript and Python respectively. It will take longer to write code than it would with a more accessible language, as well as taking longer to learn and become familiar with its approach. Transitioning from another, more popular programming language may require time and effort.

Finally, as a blockchain language, there are relatively few platforms that support Rust. If you're developing dApps on Solana, you'll need to use it, but as a Rust developer there won't be many blockchains that are suitable (including Ethereum and all EVM platforms).

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