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tildeio / helix


Ruby and Rust, sitting in a tree


Read the Introducting Helix for a quick introduction to the project!

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WARNING: This repository is still in active development. The vast majority of important Ruby APIs are not yet supported, because we are still in the process of formulating the rules for binding Ruby APIs (so that we can make things ergonomic and provide safety guarantees).

Short-term TODOs:

  • Rust return types coerce into Ruby values
  • Defined coercions for all of the main Ruby types
  • Calling Ruby methods on Ruby objects
  • Propagating Ruby exceptions through Rust
  • Converting type check errors into exceptions (currently they're just logged)
  • struct { } fields inside of wrapped classes (not-reopened), using Data_Wrap_Struct under the hood
  • Dynamically enforced ownership for wrapped classes
  • self types in reopened classes to simple coercsions into Rust types (Ruby String -> &str)
  • Locking against re-entering Ruby when coercing String/Array into &str / &[T]

What follows is an aspirational README 😉


Helix allows you to write Ruby classes in Rust without having to write the glue code yourself.

declare_types! {
    class Console {
        def log(self, string: &str) {
            println!("LOG: {}", string);
$ irb
>> require "console/native"
>>"I'm in your Rust")
LOG: I'm in your Rust

STATUS: The main thing missing from the current implementation is coercing Rust return types in Ruby. Today, you would need to add Qnil to the bottom of def log, which we hope to eliminate soon.


When you define a method in Helix using def, you can specify any Rust type in its type signature.

Under the hood, Helix will automatically coerce the Ruby type to the specified Rust type, doing appropriate type checks before passing the values into Rust.

declare_types! {
    class Console {
        def log(string: &str) {
            println!("LOG: {}", string);
$ irb
>> require "console/native"
TypeError: no implicit coercion of Hash into Rust &str
	from (irb):2:in `log'
	from (irb):2
	from /Users/ykatz/.rvm/rubies/ruby-2.3.0/bin/irb:11:in `<main>'

STATUS: This protocol already works now and is implemented for String and &[u8]

The Helix Coercion Protocol

Under the hood, Helix does not hardcode all possible coercions from Ruby into Rust. Instead, it defines a two-part protocol that any crate can implement to define coercions from Ruby values into their types.

pub trait UncheckedValue<T> {
    fn to_checked(self) -> CheckResult<T>;

pub trait ToRust<U, T: CheckedValue<U>> {
    fn to_rust(self) -> T;

Implementations of these traits use these concrete types:

pub type CheckResult<T> = Result<CheckedValue<T>, CString /* error */>;

pub struct CheckedValue<T> {
    pub inner: VALUE;
    // other private fields

impl<T> CheckedValue<T> {
    // instantiating a CheckedValue<T> is an assertion that the follow-up
    // call to `to_rust` is safe.
    pub unsafe fn new(inner: VALUE) -> CheckedValue<T>;

For reference, here is the implementation of the coercion from a Ruby String to Rust String.

impl UncheckedValue<String> for VALUE {
    fn to_checked(self) -> CheckResult<String> {
        // check whether the VALUE is actually a String
        if unsafe { sys::RB_TYPE_P(self, sys::T_STRING) } {
            // assert that we can guarantee that to_rust() can return a Rust String safely
            Ok(unsafe { CheckedValue::<String>::new(self) })
        } else {
            Err(CString::new(format!("No implicit conversion of {} into Rust String", "?")).unwrap())

impl ToRust<String> for CheckedValue<String> {
    fn to_rust(self) -> String {
        // we're sure that these calls are safe, because we already went through the type
        // checking protocol in VALUE.to_checked().
        let size = unsafe { sys::RSTRING_LEN(self.inner) };
        let ptr = unsafe { sys::RSTRING_PTR(self.inner) };
        let slice = unsafe { std::slice::from_raw_parts(ptr as *const u8, size as usize) };
        unsafe { std::str::from_utf8_unchecked(slice) }.to_string()

This protocol allows us to fully type check a method's arguments before starting any of the coercions. It happens automatically based on the type signature you use in your Rust method def.