Learning Rust

Learning Rust
  • Created: 14/12/2015
  • Last updated: 14/12/2015

I first looked at Rust a while back (pre version 1), learning a language that was changing faster than I could pick it up didn’t sound fun to me so I left it alone. Rust is now on version 1.5. I re-visited it this week for some learning fun.

Having read the first few chapters of the online book I made a command line tool. It takes one argument, a path to an image file, and returns a data URI of the image provided like so;

64yo ./1.gif | xclip -sel clip (or pbcopy on osx).

This will be very useful when putting websites together.

Here is my code; I left in my notes for future reference.

  extern crate rustc_serialize;

  use rustc_serialize::base64::{ToBase64, MIME};
  use rustc_serialize::hex::{ToHex};
  use std::env;
  use std::fs;
  use std::fs::File;
  use std::io::Read;
  use std::thread;

  fn main() {

    // Could also be this
    // match env::args().nth(1) {
    //   Some(path) => encode_image(&path),
    //   None => explain_usage()
    // }
    if let Some(path) = env::args().nth(1) {
    } else {
      // None


  /// Explains how to use from commandline
  fn explain_usage() {
    println!("Usage: `64yo <PATH TO IMAGE>`");
    println!("Image at path can be jpeg, png, or gif.");

  /// Returns image at path as data uri
  fn encode_image(path: &str) {
    // Check that file exists
    if fs::metadata(&path).is_err() {
      println!("File at path does not exist.");

    let mut file = File::open(&path).unwrap();
    let mut buffer = Vec::new();

    // _ suppresses un-used variable warning
    let _out = file.read_to_end(&mut buffer).unwrap();

    // Now for some concurrency. Because learning.

    // get file type of image from hex signature
    let handle1 = {
      let buffer = buffer.clone();

      thread::spawn(move || {
        let hex = buffer.to_hex();

        // first 8 bytes of string
        let slice = &hex[..8];

        // compare slice to each key on left.
        // if matches key, return value on right.
        // _ is anything not specified above
        // exhaustiveness checking... it is possible that slice could not match any
        // so _ branch is required
        match slice {
          "ffd8ffe0" => Some("jpg"),
          "89504e47" => Some("png"),
          "47494638" => Some("gif"),
          _ => None


    // get base64 string of image
    let handle2 = {
      // make clone of buffer so that thread can own it.
      let buffer = buffer.clone();

      // move means following closure takes ownership of any
      // variable bindings it uses
      thread::spawn(move || {

    // Block while threads finish
    let extension = handle1.join().unwrap();
    let b64 = handle2.join().unwrap();

    // output data uri or handle invalid file type nicely
    match extension {
      Some(ext) => println!("data:image/{};base64,{}", ext, b64),
      None => explain_usage()


This compiled with rustc 1.5.0.

I could not find a nicer way of working out the image file type, but I’m sure that there must be one. I will update this when I find it. However I was looking for any excuse to try out some concurrency in Rust, and took this as one. I have one thread working out the file type, whilst a second base64’s the image file. When they are both finished the result of these operations is used to construct my data URI.

I have a long way to go here, and am looking forward to finding a bigger project to learn more Rust.

tldr: My first program in Rust