Get Started with Rust, WebAssembly, and Webpack
Update: The Rust compiler now has native support for compilation to WebAssembly without Emscripten! This simplifies the process significantly. I may write an updated guide soon. For now, see this page for a minimal example of Rust and WebAssembly (without Webpack).
I’ve been seeing a lot of really cool #wasm (WebAssembly) stuff on Twitter and Hacker News lately, but I didn’t know much about what it is exactly, or how to start using it. Because it is so new — only being enabled in Chrome last March — up-to-date guides are few and far between. After struggling through getting something to run, here’s what I’ve learned:
WebAssembly is a cool new binary format and compile target for the web. That means you can compile languages like C, C++, and Rust to
Note: These technologies are constantly changing. This guide is using:
Install the Emscripten Rust compiler
Install the WebAssembly Emscripten compile target for Rust:
rustup target add wasm32-unknown-emscripten
brew install cmake # MacOS, brew
sudo port install cmake # MacOS, MacPorts
sudo apt-get install cmake # Debian Linux
Install the Emscripten SDK. This is going to take a while (~2 hours for me).
./emsdk installgive you errors, it may be that Python3 is your default Python. Try installing Python 2.7 and replacing
python2.7 emsdk ...
tar -xvf emsdk-portable.tar.gz
./emsdk install sdk-incoming-64bit
Next, we’ll need to add the following directories to our
PATH environment variable:
Reload the terminal, then run
emcc -v to check that the Emscripten compiler is installed.
Compile and load Rust with Webpack
cargo new tutorial --bin --vcs none
npm init # You can just hit enter for every option
npm install --save-dev webpack http-server rust-wasm-loader
Add a few helpful scripts to our
Let’s add a function to our
Finally, we’ll write some code in
src/index.js to load and use the WebAssembly module:
Run these commands to compile and serve the project:
npm run compile
npm run serve
Navigate the browser to
We did it! Here is the finished project. I hope this tutorial helps you explore the exciting new world of WebAssembly. Below are some resources that I’ve found useful. Contact me on Twitter if you have any questions/comments/feedback/hate-mail.
- Compiling Rust to your Browser
- Emscripten Docs
- The Path to Rust on the Web — This post has more in-depth usage examples.
- webplatform — A Rust crate for interacting with the DOM.
- WebAssembly — MDN
- Compiling to the web with Rust and emscripten
- mrdziuban/rust-emscripten-loader —
rust-wasm-loaderis a fork of this awesome project with small changes to the way modules are initialized. Check this loader out if you want the flexibility of choosing between asm.js and WebAssembly targets.