Editor’s note: This post was updated on 21 April 2023 to add Axum and warp to the list of frontend web frameworks and update our considerations about the maturity of some of the previously mentioned frameworks. This update also includes a comparison of the most popular Rust web frameworks.
Rust is one of the most popular languages for developers because of its open source, fast, reliable, and high-performance features. When building a new API in Rust, it is important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of web frameworks for both frontend and backend development.
In this article, we will discuss what a web framework is and provide recommendations for which frameworks to use for Rust in frontend and backend development. Let’s get started.
A web framework is a software tool that supports the development of web applications; a web framework can range from a small codebase for micro apps to a large codebase for enterprise apps and everything in between. The most extensive web frameworks provide libraries of support for databases, templating, sessions, migration, and other utilities to speed up the development process. More simplistic frameworks focus more acutely on frontend management for static content rendering.
Whatever your project needs, web frameworks can provide the web services, web resources, and web APIs that development teams need to help bring their ideas to life. When choosing the appropriate web framework for your project, your development team should consider the relative importance of the following:
Depending on your project’s priorities, different web frameworks will help you address your most pressing development requirements. In this article, we will specifically discuss frameworks built with Rust.
Web frameworks make web development and building desktop applications easier for developers. By standardizing the building process and automating common activities and tasks, web frameworks can save developers time and even promote reusing code to increase efficiency.
In the following sections, we will review web frameworks in Rust as they pertain to both frontend and backend development. We will then look into each framework’s phase in terms of stability, production readiness, and project size.
Rust uses a tool called
wasm-pack to assemble and package crates that target Wasm. To learn more about Wasm and Rust, check out our guide to getting started with WebAssembly and Rust.
Stdweb supports closures, arbitrary structure, and the standard components of web APIs, including DOM, events, and windows. Here’s a link to a few sample projects to get a grasp of how it works.
Percy is a toolkit developed for building single-page apps (SPAs) and managing UI, including optimization for specific browsers and screen sizes (desktop and mobile). Percy is still a work in progress; improvements are needed for better structure, optimal boilerplate, and general bug fixes.
Sauron is a micro frontend framework that was inspired by The Elm Architecture. It has support for events, state management, and components. Sauron uses a library called html2sauron to convert HTML into Sauron view code for rendering optimization.
Dioxus is a UI library elegantly designed to be React-like — it’s built around a virtual DOM to support building cross-platform apps for web, mobile, and desktop. It has support for component-based architecture, concurrency and async, props, an inbuilt error handler, state management, and more.
Iced is a GUI library for cross-platform development. It’s structured in Elm style and supports reactive programming, inbuilt widgets, and async while also having a modular/reusable component-based architecture with type safety and simplicity.
Backend development refers to the server-side operation of a web app. It also describes the core operations of an app that usually controls and handles its data and actions, such as submitting a form or logging into a web account. Backend development focuses primarily on data management and the database, scripting, automation, and architecture necessary to handle it. Some of the most common features of a typical backend development framework include:
Rust provides various web frameworks for backend development, including a combination of tools, helpers, and libraries from different vendors that are each designed to provide a way to build, test, and run apps with efficiency, security, and flexibility.
Rocket is a popular web framework that makes it easy for developers to write fast web apps without skimping on security, flexibility, or function. It has support for testing libraries, cookies, streams, routes, templates, databases, ORMs, boilerplates, and more. Rocket also has a large and active developer community.
Like Rocket, Actix is another powerful backend web framework. Actix features an architectural pattern based on Rust’s actor system and is well-equipped for building writing services and micro apps. It has support for routing, middleware, testing, WebSockets, databases, and automatic server reloading, and can be hosted on Nginx. Actix can be used to build a full-scale web app and API.
Axum is a web framework that focuses on providing a foundation for building asynchronous, scalable, and maintainable web applications. It was designed with the needs of modern web services in mind, including support for HTTP/2, WebSockets, and other modern protocols.
It was built on Tokio, Tower, and Hyper, which in hindsight, used the libraries for middleware, services, etc.
Gotham is a flexible web framework built for stable Rust that promotes “stability, safety, security, and speed.” It is statically typed, ensuring the application is always correctly expressed at compile time. Gotham provides async support with the help of Tokio and hyper.
Gotham supports routing, extractors (type-safe data requests), middleware, state sharing, and testing. Gotham does not have structure, boilerplate, or database support.
Rouille is a microweb framework that employs a linear request and response design via a listening socket that parses HTTP requests. It is built to be easy to learn for Rust users. Rouille has support for requests through CGI, input (request header and body), content-encoding, proxy, sessions, and WebSockets.
Thruster is a fast and reliable Rust web framework inspired by the layering and design of Koa and Express.js. It is SSL-ready, secure, intuitive, and testable. Thruster is built to accommodate async/await and provides support for middleware, error handling, databases, and testing.
Tide is a minimal framework similar to Express.js (Node.js), Sinatra (Ruby), and Flask (Python) for rapid development that promotes building web apps in asynchronous versions. Tide provides support for routing, auth, listener, log, template engines, middleware, testing, and other utilities.
For building advanced web apps, I recommend Rocket, Actix, Axum, warp, and Tide (for asynchronous support) to roll your backend. They each offer a sizable support library and have the largest communities in comparison to other frameworks. They are also well-liked in the Rust community.
Actix, Rocket, Axum, and warp are all popular web frameworks for Rust, each with their own unique features and strengths. Here’s a closer look at the commonalities found for each of them:
|Async/await support||Actix, Rocket, Axum, and warp all use Rust’s async/await syntax to provide non-blocking I/O operations for web applications. This allows for better performance and scalability, as the framework can handle multiple requests simultaneously without blocking or slowing down.||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Middleware||Middleware is a common feature in web frameworks that allows developers to add functionality to the request-response cycle, such as logging, authentication, and error handling. All of the most popular Rust web frameworks – Actix, Rocket, Tide, and warp – support middleware.||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|WebSockets support||They all support WebSocket but the specific syntax and features for working with WebSockets may vary across the frameworks, so the choice of framework will depend on the specific needs of the project.||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Concurrerncy & Performance||Actix and Axum may be better suited for applications that require high levels of concurrency and performance, while Rocket and warp may be better suited for applications that prioritize ease of use and flexibility.||✅||🚫||✅||🚫|
|Cookie and session||Cookies and sessions are important components of many web applications, allowing developers to store and retrieve data that is associated with a specific user or client||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Community growth size||All four web frameworks have active communities and are continuing to grow in popularity. Actix and Rocket are more established frameworks and have larger communities, while Axum and warp are newer but still have growing communities of users.||✅||✅||✅||✅|
The majority of Rust web frameworks all have minor releases but still are used largely in production by the community. Having said this, when choosing the correct web framework for your frontend or backend development project, it is important to consider what the framework’s community support and growth is like, the stability of the framework, if it is production-ready, and whether it is right for the size of your project. Depending on your answers, you will be on your way to using web frameworks to improve efficiency, speed, and productivity in Rust.
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