Rust at work seems on the up, but less complexity and more speed could do it wonders

Rust at work seems on the up, but less complexity and more speed could do it wonders

After a tumultuous year in which core members left, an entire moderation team quit the project, the language got its own foundation and made its way into the Linux kernel, the Rust team took its time to come out with its annual Rust survey analysis for 2021. The result is out now, but interestingly enough doesn’t concern itself with anything that made onlookers take note in the last 12 months.

The survey team decided to go with a pretty upbeat tenor of all-around growth and health in community and project, as they could convince more people than ever to complete the survey (9,354 compared to last year’s 8,323) and only one per cent saying Rust wasn’t fun to use.

The proportion of users utilising Rust on at least a weekly basis has gone up from 72 to 81 per cent in 2021, with around three fourths of all respondents indicating to have a solid handle on the language. This doesn’t mean it has completely made its way into professional settings yet, as 22.51 per cent said they do the majority of their coding in Rust, coming in almost ten per cent higher than last year, while almost double that (41.42%) apparently don’t use it for work purposes at all.

The number of those making the transition to Rust at work mostly seem to have found the change worthwhile (79%), though, with correctness being the major reason for switching things up (92%), followed by performance (92%), and security (89%).

While core members leaving, and unclear processes resulting in friction between groups within the Rust project might be a cause of concern for those still checking out the language, it doesn’t seem to have come up with those already convinced by Rust’s prowess (it is still considered a most-loved amongst devs after all). Major points of worry amongst the survey respondents were rather about the adoption of Rust in industry (33%), growing language complexity (33%), and a lack of support (30%). 

The latter could well be related to the feared lack of use, but that is promised to improve with the foundation in place. Meanwhile the number of people fearing a growth in complexity is pretty close to the number of people finding writing useful, production-ready code a struggle at times (27%) – which might be something the language authors should take into consideration moving forward.

However, it isn’t only general things where users see room for improvement. When asked about Rust problems, 61 per cent still found that compile times weren’t up to snuff, despite this being a focus of improvement in 2021. More than half of respondents also asked for better options for GUI developments (56%), while 45 per cent would love to see a decrease in disk space needed. 

Other notable shortcomings were pointed out when it comes to debugging (40%), though a whopping 90 per cent seem to have “praised” compile error messages, and support for those not native to English, as a rough 30 per cent mentioned a preference for at least having options.