The second decade of the 21st century was illuminated by the appearance of two new programming languages - Go and Rust. Both languages are ambitious projects from leaders of web development, Google and Mozilla accordingly, called to fix the problems of the older existing languages. The competition in popularity of Go vs Rust is intense. In 2016, Go was introduced to the TIOBE Index Programming Language Hall of Fame as the language that has the highest rise in search request ratings in a year. Also, according to Go’s internal survey, throughout the years 2017-2020, around 90% of Go developers indicated that they are satisfied with coding experience and will use the language for future projects.
As for Rust, according to Stackoverflow’s 2020 Developer survey, the language kept the position of the most beloved for five years in a row! More than 86% of developers stated that they would like to continue working with Rust in the future.
The choice of the right web-developing technology is vital for a product’s success. Outdated technology may turn potential clients away. Quoting Emily Dunham (Dev Ops engineer at Mozilla): ‘Asking your programmers to write software within a language from 1960-s is like asking your dentist to go back to using the tools that they had at the turn of the last century.’ If you want to apply the most advanced technology available on the market we recommend choosing either Go or Rust. Read further to discover both languages’ unique features as well as Go vs Rust comparison.
What Is Rust?
The motivation for the creation of Rust came from an exhausting experience of developing the browser engine with C++. Mozilla development team got tired of constant errors and crashes and decided to develop their own language. The team sought a coding system that would be concurrent and safe at the same time.
The key features that distinguish Rust from other programming languages are:
- Low-level abstractions provide better memory usage in comparison to high-level languages. For example, engineers at Tilda successfully reduced memory usage from 5GiB to 50MiB by rewriting certain parts of Java HTTP code with Rust. Such a reduction is of great importance as it decreases the expenses on cloud computation.
- Avoidance of garbage collection allows skipping garbage collecting pause which improves the user experience of low-power devices like cheap phones.
- Ownership-oriented programming paradigm. The term first introduced by the Rust development team means a system of memory management rules the compiler checks while compiling the program.
- Presence of a borrow checker - part of the compiler responsible for ensuring that references do not outlive the data they refer to.
- Convenient identification and management of variable mutability.
- A unique package manager with a central library ecosystem called Cargo.
- Community governance of Rust’s development. Each major decision about the language begins with an open to everyone Request for Comments (RFC).
- Often version update - a new patch is released every 6 weeks. At the same time, the Rust development team guarantees that even the oldest code will compile without errors as they use a unique tool called Crator for testing new Rust versions.
Although Rust is a great language, it has several disadvantages:
- Rust is inconvenient for prototyping. Because of its statically-typed nature, Rust requires 100% covering of the conditions which may be unknown for the programmer at the early stages of project development. Edge case should also have applicable complete code.
- The abovementioned borrow checker is also a source of discomfort for programmers. Beginning engineers often complain about wasting time “fighting the borrow checker” due to constant error notification. For this reason, to deliver the product in time, it is essential to hire Rust developers with solid experience.
What Is Go?
Released in 2009 by engineers from tech-giant Google, Go (also referred to as Golang) is a compiled programming language with a static type checking. It was designed by and for engineers, who advance and maintain extremely large projects. The aim was to create a coding system that will execute equally steady either 100 or 100.000 lines of code.
- The main competitive feature of Go is its great scalability. The simplicity of parallelism is enabled by lightweight goroutines and clever orchestration mechanism. Goroutines are functions or methods that run concurrently with other functions or methods with a minimum stack size of only 2kb. The proof of Go’s capacity to maintain vast systems is the example of DropBox where engineers successfully manage a network of 500 million users.
- Safety. There is a known connection between the simplicity of syntax and the reliability of a product and Go is a modest one. While other languages tend to extend the number of supported features, Go maintains only the crucial ones. A good illustration of Go’s philosophy is the presentation at Fosdem 2019 with the intentional left blank slide entitled “New features”.
- Effective memory use. Go supports garbage collection which prevents memory waste. The procedure is executed automatically without manual guidance. Nevertheless, the price of implementation of garbage collection is the appearance of garbage collecting pause.
- The scope of tasks that can be solved with Go is narrow. The language was designed for the production of services and infrastructure elements while mobile applications, analytical or graphic design programs can’t be created with Go.
- Although Go has good performance, some developers find it not fast enough. According to the Go Developers Survey 2019, 9% of respondents marked a need for a higher execution speed as a reason why they don’t use Go in their project. In their opinion, Go’s performance isn’t sufficient for real-time computing.
- Go is inconvenient for analytics. According to the Go Developers Survey 2019, it is the fourth major reason why developers don’t use the language. 9% of respondents answered that they avoid coding in Go in their day to day routine as they work on Data science or Machine Learning projects.
- Go lack’s void safety. Without such a feature it is hard to guarantee that no object has a null value. In 2020, 44% of Go Developers Survey defined null safety as a critical feature they regret Go doesn’t support.
Go vs Rust
Now when we are familiar with Go and Rust, let’s compare Go vs Rust with such benchmarks as memory management, speed, the complexity of the code, concurrency, price, and time of development.
- Memory safety. Secure memory management is a serious issue. Even minor mistakes in memory management may lead to a great vulnerability. For example, the very first internet virus, - Morris worm, exploited the buffer overflow. Fortunately, Go and Rust were designed with the concern of memory safety in mind which contrasts them to such older languages as C and C++. Although Rust and Go propose different memory safety solutions, both languages can be considered the most reliable coding systems.
- Speed. Both languages have a reputation as the fastest languages on the market. At the same time, according to The Computer Language Benchmarks Game, the winner of the Rust vs Go speed competition is the product of Mozilla. Rust performs way better than Go. It completes the tasks faster and loads less memory. For example, execution of the binary-trees program with Rust takes 1.08 sec vs 12.80 sec with Go. Such an advantage of Rust vs Go in performance is achieved by the absence of garbage collection, and hence the avoidance of garbage collection pause.
- The complexity of the code. The price of the described above supremacy of Rust vs Go in performance is the sophistication of code. Writing the basic “Hello, world!” program with Rust will take 47 lines of code while completing the same exercise will require only 27 lines of Go’s code.
- Multi-threading. Go and Rust have strong support of parallelism. While construction of locks, channels, threads, and routines is simpler with Go, Rust provides more options and hence greater flexibility. A wide choice of possible solutions rises higher experience requirements for Rust programmers vs Go.
- Price. Development with either Go or Rust is expensive. According to Stackoverflow’s 2020 Developer survey, Go and Rust programmers have the biggest salary in the industry with the global salary median rising $75k, which means higher production costs for the developing company.
By being the most modern programming languages Go and Rust meet the strictest requirements for performance, scalability, and safety. At the same time, none of the mentioned languages is perfect or universal. The field of implementation is defined by language’s uniquely strong and weak sides. Check out the comparison table to grasp once more the essence of the Go vs Rust.
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