The Reference in 2019

I was pleased to see that the 2019 roadmap said that the Reference was going to be a priority this year, for both the language and documentation teams.

Is there progress to report? Are those two teams broadly satisfied with the state of the reference manual?

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There is not significant progress to report. There have been a few folks who have been putting great work into the reference, but the joint team project that we hoped would happen ended up not happening.

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Is it too late to start that project? There is still some of 2019 left!

Similarly to a roadmap, it doesn't make sense to start a project if nobody is going to work on it.

People working on the reference are already working on it without any organizational framing, and they are not affiliated neither with the doc team nor with people responsible for making roadmaps and starting projects.

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Not just that, but there are other reasons that this project didn't happen, and they're also why it's too late to start. I'll be posting something this week that will explain.

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Why are you saying that it's too late? I thought there is no hard deadline.

I think Steve means that it's not likely to finish in 2019, so let's wait until we formulate a 2020 roadmap rather than start another initiative that doesn't get finished.

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It's worth noting that while the reference has seen minor, but consistent, improvements, there are on-going specification efforts in for example:

  • The rustc-guide
  • The unsafe-code-guidelines
  • The grammar working group (wg-grammar)
  • Research work in e.g. Oxide (e.g. @awe et. al's work) as well as in the Rust Belt research.
  • wg-polonius and chalk involve spec work as well.

My hypothesis is that one reason the reference isn't in a better state right now is that the foundational work of specifying e.g. the abstract machine, and other parts of the language have not been done. When that's the case, we don't have anything to build on and so some stabilizations are just filed as issues.

While the on-going spec efforts aforementioned might not bear immediate fruits, I think they will eventually improve things a lot.

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Did this eventually happen?

Not quite yet, there’s been some additional delays. I’ll be sure to post here when it does.

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