Collection types

Rust has a lot of types for making a collection. Collections are for when you need more than one value in one spot. For example, you could have information on all the cities in your country inside one variable. We will start with arrays, which are fastest but also have the least functionality. They are kind of like &str in that way.


An array is data inside square brackets: []. Arrays:

  • must not change their size,
  • must only contain the same type.

They are very fast, however.

The type of an array is: [type; number]. For example, the type of ["One", "Two"] is [&str; 2]. This means that even these two arrays have different types:

fn main() {
    let array1 = ["One", "Two"]; // This one is type [&str; 2]
    let array2 = ["One", "Two", "Five"]; // But this one is type [&str; 3]. Different type!

Here is a good tip: to know the type of a variable, you can "ask" the compiler by giving it bad instructions. For example:

fn main() {
    let seasons = ["Spring", "Summer", "Autumn", "Winter"];
    let seasons2 = ["Spring", "Summer", "Fall", "Autumn", "Winter"];
    seasons.ddd(); // ⚠️; // ⚠️ as well

The compiler says, "What? There's no .ddd() method for seasons and no .thd() method for seasons 2 either!!" as you can see:

error[E0599]: no method named `ddd` found for array `[&str; 4]` in the current scope
 --> src\
4 |     seasons.ddd(); // 
  |             ^^^ method not found in `[&str; 4]`

error[E0599]: no method named `thd` found for array `[&str; 5]` in the current scope
 --> src\
5 |; // 
  |              ^^^ method not found in `[&str; 5]`

So it tells you method not found in `[&str; 4]`, which is the type.

If you want an array with all the same value, you can declare it like this:

fn main() {
    let my_array = ["a"; 10];
    println!("{:?}", my_array);

This prints ["a", "a", "a", "a", "a", "a", "a", "a", "a", "a"].

This method is used a lot to create buffers. For example, let mut buffer = [0; 640] creates an array of 640 zeroes. Then we can change zero to other numbers in order to add data.

You can index (get) entries in an array with []. The first entry is [0], the second is [1], and so on.

fn main() {
    let my_numbers = [0, 10, -20];
    println!("{}", my_numbers[1]); // prints 10

You can get a slice (a piece) of an array. First you need a &, because the compiler doesn't know the size. Then you can use .. to show the range.

For example, let's use this array: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

fn main() {
    let array_of_ten = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10];

    let three_to_five = &array_of_ten[2..5];
    let start_at_two = &array_of_ten[1..];
    let end_at_five = &array_of_ten[..5];
    let everything = &array_of_ten[..];

    println!("Three to five: {:?}, start at two: {:?}, end at five: {:?}, everything: {:?}", three_to_five, start_at_two, end_at_five, everything);

Remember that:

  • Index numbers start at 0 (not 1)
  • Index ranges are exclusive (they do not include the last number)

So [0..2] means the first index and the second index (0 and 1). Or you can call it the "zeroth and first" index. It doesn't have the third item, which is index 2.

You can also have an inclusive range, which means it includes the last number too. To do this, add = to write ..= instead of ... So instead of [0..2] you can write [0..=2] if you want the first, second, and third item.