First run with Rust, the echo server

time to read 3 min | 440 words

I have an idea for a relatively large Rust project, but I want to get up to speed on the language first. So I decided to write a simple Echo server. In other words, listen to the network, and just echo back what the user is sending us.

Simple and relatively trivial, but also involve enough moving pieces that it isn’t hello world.

Here is what I came up with:

I have no idea if this is actually idiomatic Rust, but I tried to keep it as close as possible to the spirit of the Rust book as I could.

One thing to note, the Windows telnet takes several seconds to connect, which made me think that my code is somehow slow, using telnet on Linux gives instant response.

There are a couple of things to note here.

On lines 7 and 9-10 you can see me using expect. This is effectively a way to say “if this returns an error, kill the program with this message”. This is an interestingly named method (read, I think it is backward), which I think is suitable for the high level portions of your code, but you shouldn’t probably use it in anything that doesn’t have full control over the environment.

On line 14, we start to listen to the network, accepting connections. On each accepted connection, we spin a new thread and then pass it the new connection. I actually expected that passing the connection to the thread would be harder (or at least require a move), I’m not sure why it worked. I’m guessing that this is because the stream we got is the result of the iteration, and we already took ownership on that value?

The rest happens on line 26, in the handle_client method (incidentally, the Rust compiler will complain if you don’t match the expected naming conventions, which is a good way to ensure that you have consistent experience).

You might note that I have an issue with error handling here. Rust’s methods return a Result struct, and that requires unpacking it. In the first case, line 28, we just assume that it isn’t even a valid connection, but in the second, we actually handle it via nested ifs. As I understand it, it might be done with composing this, but I tried using and_then, or_else, map and map_error and wasn’t really able to come up with something that would actually work.

My next challenge, let us avoid taking a thread per connection and do async I/O. It looks like we can do something similar to TPL as well as an event loop.