Module B - Application programming

Slides (or pdf)

Code written in this exercise has to adhere to the Rust API Guidelines. A checklist can be found here.

B.1 Serializing and deserializing of Strings with serde

This exercise is adapted from the serde_lifetimes exercise by Ferrous Systems

Open exercises/B/1-my-serde-app/src/ In there, you'll find some Rust code we will do this exercise with.

We used todo!() macros to mark places where you should put code to make the program run. Look at the serde_json api for help.

Hint Serde comes with two traits: `Serializable` and `Deserializable`. These traits can be `derive` d for your `struct` or `enum` types. Other `serde-*` crates use these traits to convert our data type from and to corresponding representation (`serde-json` to JSON, `serde-yaml` to YAML, etc.).

How come main returns an anyhow::Result<()>? By having main return a result, we can bubble errors up all the way to runtime. You can find more information about it in Rust By Example. The anyhow::Result is a more flexible type of Result, which allows for easy conversion of error types.

What is that r#"... thing?
r in front of a string literal means it's a "raw" string. Escape sequences (\n, \", etc.) don't work, and thus they are very convenient for things like regular expressions, JSON literals, etc.

Optionally r can be followed by one or more symbols (like # in our case), and then your string ends when there's a closing double quote followed by the same number of the same symbols. This is great for cases when you want to have double quotes inside your string literal. For our example r#" ... "# works great for JSON. In rare cases you'd want to put two or more pound signs. Like, when you store CSS color values in your JSON strings:

fn main() {
// here `"#` would not terminate the string
        "color": "#ff00ff"

B.2 Your first Rust project

In this exercise, you will create a Rust crate that adheres to the guidelines that were pointed out during the lecture. Additionally, you will add and use dependencies, create unit tests, and create some documentation. You can view this exercise as a stepping stone to the final project.

This exercise should be done in groups of 2 people

B.2.A Setting up ⭐

Create a new project using cargo new --name quizzer. Make sure it acts as both a binary and a library. That means there will be both a src/ and a src/bin/quizzer/ file in your crate, where quizzer is the name of the binary:

$ tree
├── Cargo.toml
├── quiz.json
└── src
    ├── bin
    │   └── quizzer
    │       └──

Add the following dependencies to your Cargo.toml file. Below items contain links to their page on Make sure you get a general idea of what these crates are for and how they can be used. Don't dive too deep just yet.

Your Cargo.toml should look like this:

name = "quizzer"
version = "0.1.0"
edition = "2021"

# See more keys and their definitions at

anyhow = "1.0.66"
clap = { version = "4.0.18", features = ["derive"] }
serde = { version = "1.0", features = ["derive"] }
serde_json = "1.0.87"

For clap and serde, the non-standard derive feature of each these crates is enabled. For clap, it allows us to derive the Parser trait, which greatly simplifies creating a CLI. The derive feaure from serde allows us to derive the Serialize and Deserialize traits on any struct we wish to serialize or deserialize using serde and its backends, in our case serde_json.

B.2.B Quizzer ⭐⭐⭐

This exercise is about both design and finding information. You'll have to figure out a model to represent your quiz questions, as well as a means to store them into a JSON file, and load them yourself. Also, you will have to find out how to parse the program arguments.

We will use the project we just set up to write a quiz game creator and player. You may add other dependencies as needed. It has the following functional requirements:

  • It runs as a command-line tool in your terminal.
  • It has two modes: question-entering mode and quiz mode. The mode is selected with a subcommand, passed as the first argument to the program.
    • Question-entering mode: Allows for entering multiple-choice quiz questions, with 4 possible answers each, exactly 1 of them being correct. The questions are stored on disk as a JSON file.
    • Quiz mode: Loads stored questions from the JSON file, presents the questions one-by-one to the player, reads and verifies the player input, and presents the score at the end of the game.
  • Errors are correctly handled, i.e. your application does not panic if it encounters any unexpected situation. Use anywhow and the question-mark (?) operator to make error-bubbling concise. You can read about the ?-operator here:
  • Logic concerning creating, storing, and loading quiz questions is defined in the library part of your crate.
  • Functionality regarding user input (arg parsing, reading from stdin) is defined in the application code, not in your library.
  • Logical units of your crate are divided up into modules.

Before you start coding, make sure you've listed all open questions and found answers to them. You're also encouraged to draw a simple diagram of the module structure of your application, annotating each module with its responsibilities.

B.3 FizzBuzz

In this exercise, you will practise writing a unit test, and use Rusts benchmarking functionality to help you optimize a FizzBuzz app. You will need cargo-criterion, a tool that runs benchmarks and creates nice reports. You can install it by running

cargo install cargo-criterion --version=1.1.0

B.3.A Testing Fizz Buzz ⭐

Open exercises/B3-fizzbuzz/src/ Create a unit test that verifies the correctness of the fizz_buzz function. You can use the include_str macro to include exercises/B/3-fizzbuzz/fizzbuzz.out as a &str into your binary. Each line of fizzbuzz.out contains the expected output of the fizz_buzz function given the line number as input. You can run the test with

cargo test

By default, Rusts test harness captures all output and discards it, If you like to debug your test code using print statements, you can run

cargo test -- --nocapture

to prevent the harness from capturing output.

B.3.B Benchmarking Fizz Buzz ⭐⭐

You'll probably have noticed the fizz_buzz implementation is not very optimized. We will use criterion to help us benchmark fizz_buzz. To run a benchmark, run the following command when in the exercises/B/3-fizzbuzz/ directory:

cargo criterion

This command will run the benchmarks, and report some statistics to your terminal. It also generates HTML reports including graphs that you can find under target/criterion/reports. For instance, target/criterion/reports/index.html is a summary of all benchmark. Open it with your browser and have a look.

Your job is to do some optimization of the fizz_buzz function, and use cargo-criterion to measure the impact of your changes. Don't be afraid to change the signature of fizz_buzz, if, for instance, you want to minimize the number of allocations done by this function. However, make sure that the function is able to correctly produce the output. How fast can you FizzBuzz?