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28 November 2023

Project Goals

Lately I’ve been iterating on an idea I call project goals. Project goals are a new kind of RFC that defines a specific goal that a specific group of people hope to achieve in a specific amount of time – for example, “Rusty Spoon Corp proposes to fund 2 engineers full time to stabilize collections that support custom memory allocations by the end of 2023”.

Project goals would also include asks from various teams that are needed to complete the goal. For example, “Achieving this goal requires a dedicated reviewer from the compiler team along with an agreement from the language design team to respond to RFCs or nominated issues within 2 weeks.” The decision of whether to accept a goal would be up to those teams who are being asked to support it. If those teams approve the RFC, it means they agree with the goal, and also that they agree to commit those resources.

My belief is that project goals become a kind of incremental, rolling roadmap, declaring our intent to fix specific problems and then tracking our follow-through (or lack thereof). As I’ll explain in the post, I believe that a mechanism like project goals will help our morale and help us to get shit done, but I also think it’ll help with a bunch of other ancillary problems, such as providing a clearer path to get involved in Rust as well as getting more paid maintainers and contributors.

At the moment, project goals are just an idea. My plan is to author some sample goals to iron out the process and then an RFC to make it official.

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20 October 2023

Idea: "Using Rust", a living document

A few years back, the Async Wg tried something new. We collaboratively authored an Async Vision Doc. The doc began by writing “status quo” stories, written as narratives from our cast of characters, that described how people were experiencing Async Rust at that time and then went on to plan a “shiny future”. This was a great experience. My impression was that authoring the “status quo” stories in particular was really helpful.

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14 October 2023

Eurorust reflections

I’m on the plane back to the US from Belgium now and feeling grateful for having had the chance to speak at the EuroRust conference1. EuroRust was the first Rust-focused conference that I’ve attended since COVID (though not the first conference overall). It was also the first Rust-focused conference that I’ve attended in Europe since…ever, from what I recall.2 Since many of us were going to be in attendance, the types team also organized an in-person meetup which took place for 3 days before the conference itself3.

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30 September 2023

Easing tradeoffs with profiles

Rust helps you to build reliable programs. One of the ways it does that is by surfacing things to your attention that you really ought to care about. Think of the way we handle errors with Result: if some operation can fail, you can’t, ahem, fail to recognize that, because you have to account for the error case. And yet often the kinds of things you care about depend on the kind of application you are building. A classic example is memory allocation, which for many Rust apps is No Big Deal, but for others is something to be done carefully, and for still others is completely verboten. But this pattern crops up a lot. I’ve heard and like the framing of designing for “what do you have to pay attention to” – Rust currently aims for a balance that errs on the side of paying attention to more things, but tries to make them easy to manage. But this post is about a speculative idea of how we could do better than that by allowing programs to declare a profile.

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29 September 2023

Polonius revisited, part 2

In the previous Polonius post, we formulated the original borrow checker in a Polonius-like style. In this post, we are going to explore how we can extend that formulation to be flow-sensitive. In so doing, we will enable the original Polonius goals, but also overcome some of its shortcomings. I believe this formulation is also more amenable to efficient implementation. As I’ll cover at the end, though, I do find myself wondering if there’s still more room for improvement.

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27 September 2023

Empathy in open source: be gentle with each other

Over the last few weeks I had been preparing a talk on “Inclusive Mentoring: Mentoring Across Differences” with one of my good friends at Amazon. Unfortunately, that talk got canceled because I came down with COVID when we were supposed to be presenting. But the themes we covered in the talk have been rattling in my brain ever since, and suddenly I’m seeing them everywhere. One of the big ones was about empathy — what it is, what it isn’t, and how you can practice it.

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