Rust functions in Node.js

Calling any Rust function from Node.js JavaScript code

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With JSON support, JavaScript code can call Rust functions with any number of input parameters and return any number of return values of any type. That allows us to take advantage of a large number of Rust libraries and crates in the ecosystem.

The source code of the tutorial is here.

WebAssembly program in Rust

In the cargo project called json_io, edit the Cargo.toml file to add a [lib] section and a [dependencies] section. Besides the wasm-bindgen dependency, notice the serde and serde_json dependencies. They allow us to serialize and deserialize complex Rust types to and from JSON strings, so that the data can be passed to and from JavaScript.

name = "json_io_lib"
path = "src/"
crate-type =["cdylib"]

serde = { version = "1.0", features = ["derive"] }
serde_json = "1.0"
wasm-bindgen = "=0.2.61"

Below is the content of the Rust program src/ It shows four functions.

  • The circumference() function takes one floating point number parameter, and returns a floating number value. Notice that the floating number type is not natively supported in SSVM, but is supported here via JSON.

  • The area() function takes two floating point numbers (the width and length of a rectangle) and returns a floating point number (the area of the rectangle).

  • The solve() function takes three floating point numbers (parameters of a quadratic equation), and returns two floating point numbers and a boolean (the roots or solutions to the equation and whether the equation has real roots).

  • The draw() function takes two structs (Point) and a string, and returns a struct (Line).

Inside each Rust function, we first deserialize the input JSON string into a tuple, which contains the call arguments of various types. The return values are constructed into a tuple first and then serialized into a JSON string and then returned.

use wasm_bindgen::prelude::*;
use serde::{Serialize, Deserialize};

pub fn circumference(radius: &str) -> String {
  let r: f32 = serde_json::from_str(radius).unwrap();
  let c = 2. * 3.14159 * r;
  return serde_json::to_string(&c).unwrap();

pub fn area(sides: &str) -> String {
  let s: (f32, f32) = serde_json::from_str(&sides).unwrap();
  let a = s.0 * s.1;
  return serde_json::to_string(&a).unwrap();

pub fn solve(params: &str) -> String {
  let ps: (f32, f32, f32) = serde_json::from_str(&params).unwrap();
  let discriminant: f32 = (ps.1 * ps.1) - (4. * ps.0 * ps.2);
  let mut solution: (f32, f32, bool) = (0., 0., false);
  if discriminant >= 0. {
    solution.0 = (((-1.) * ps.1) + discriminant.sqrt()) / (2. * ps.0);
    solution.1 = (((-1.) * ps.1) - discriminant.sqrt()) / (2. * ps.0);
    solution.2 = true;
  return serde_json::to_string(&solution).unwrap();

The draw() example is the same as the draw_line() example from the last article, but the input argument is structured into a single JSON tuple.

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Debug)]
struct Point {
  x: f32,
  y: f32

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Debug)]
struct Line {
  points: Vec<Point>,
  valid: bool,
  length: f32,
  desc: String

pub fn draw(points: &str) -> String {
  let ps: (Point, Point, String) = serde_json::from_str(&points).unwrap();
  let length = ((ps.0.x - ps.1.x) * (ps.0.x - ps.1.x) + (ps.0.y - ps.1.y) * (ps.0.y - ps.1.y)).sqrt();

  let valid = if length == 0.0 { false } else { true };
  let line = Line { points: vec![ps.0, ps.1], valid: valid, length: length, desc: ps.2 };
  return serde_json::to_string(&line).unwrap();

Next, you can compile the Rust source code into WebAssembly bytecode and generate the accompanying JavaScript module for the Node.js host environment.

$ ssvmup build

The result are files in the pkg/ directory. the .wasm file is the WebAssembly bytecode program, and the .js files are for the JavaScript module.

The Node.js host application

Next, go to the node folder and examine the JavaScript program app.js. It shows how to call the Rust functions. You will first need to construct the call arguments into a JavaScript array (tuple), and then pass the serialized JSON string to the Rust function. The Rust return value is deserialized into a tuple of values as well.

const { circumference, area, solve, draw } = require('../pkg/json_io_lib.js');

var x = 10.;
console.log( circumference(JSON.stringify(x)) );

var x = [10., 5.];
console.log( area(JSON.stringify(x)) );

var x = [2., 5., -3.];
console.log( solve(JSON.stringify(x)) );

var x = [{x:1.5, y:3.8}, {x:2.5, y:5.8}, "A thin red line"];
console.log( draw(JSON.stringify(x)) );

Run app.js in Node.js environment as follows.

$ node app.js
{"points":[{"x":1.5,"y":3.8},{"x":2.5,"y":5.8}],"valid":true,"length":2.2360682,"desc":"A thin red line"}

What’s next?

With JSON support, we can call any Rust function from JavaScript. The Rust function, however, often requires access to system resources outside of the WebAssembly VM, such as random numbers, persistent data storage, and network services. We will show you how to accomplish this in the next several articles.

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