JetBrains introduces RustRover IDE, abandons open source Rust plugin

JetBrains introduces RustRover IDE, abandons open source Rust plugin

JetBrains has released an early access preview of RustRover, a fresh IDE for Rust.

Rust support is not new for JetBrains, since there is already a plugin for IntelliJ IDEA and CLi, however, according to RustRover team lead Kirill Smelov there was demand for “an IDE specifically dedicated to Rust and its ecosystem.”

The downside is that the existing plugin, which was open source and worked with community (free) editions of JetBrains IDEs, will no longer be developed. “For the existing open-source plugin, we’ll do our best to maintain compatibility with newer versions of our IDEs, but we won’t be fixing bugs or adding new features,” said Smelov. RustRover will not have a community edition, one of the reasons given being “to ensure our continued sustainability as a team and as a company.” Nevertheless, the existing plugin has been “the building block for RustRover,” Smelov said.

Features of RustRover, which like other JetBrains IDEs is built on the IntelliJ platform running on the JVM (Java Virtual Machine), include syntax highlighting, type information and hints, code search and navigation, debugging, test running, support for run targets including Docker and remote hosts, a built in HTTP client for analysing requests and responses for web applications, and “code with me” remote pair programming. There is also built-in support for wasm-pack, for building WebAssembly packages. 

No date is set for general availability, but JetBrains does state that “our intention is to keep the product in public preview until no later than September 2024.” 

The developer community is glad to see a full IDE, something which was requested back in 2021. There are reasonable concerns though that with JetBrains back-pedalling on the open source plugin, and RustRover being in preview, there will be a gap. “Until it’s completed, we’ll have the choice between two unstable solutions,” one developer remarked.

The new RustRover IDE from JetBrains

There is also a new plugin, for developers working in multiple languages that want to add Rust to another IntelliJ-based IDE. This is also commercial, a fact that has gone down badly with some early reviewers.

Early users have been quick to report issues with the new IDE, including one intriguing problem that the Install Rust action in RustRover requires Microsoft Visual Studio to work, when on Windows. Currently a message appears, “the msvc targets depend on the msvc linker but link.exe was not found. Please ensure that Visual Studio 2017 or later, or Build Tools for Visual Studio, were installed with the Visual C++ option.” This is a known issue with the underlying rustup installer, which will normally offer to install Visual Studio Community Edition though JetBrains configures it not to do so – perhaps understandable as Microsoft is a key competitor. Visual Studio Code (not Visual Studio) is an obvious alternative to RustRover.

The Rust community has long wished for improved developer tools and RustRover will be welcomed as an investment in that space. Is abandoning the open source plugin acceptable? “The Rust plugin has so far been somewhat weak, relative to what I’ve seen from them elsewhere, so if this is what they need to spend more time and effort on Rust then I guess I’m fine with it?” said one uncertain community member.