PHP to Rust

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How to convert from PHP to Rust

The process of converting a PHP application to Rust can be intricate but rewarding. Rust offers safety, concurrency, and performance benefits that PHP, being a dynamic language, cannot match. This guide assumes you are already proficient in PHP but are relatively new to Rust and will provide a structured approach to transition your codebase.

Basic Syntax Differences

Variables and Data Types

In PHP, variables are loosely typed and do not require explicit declarations:

$variable = "Hello, World!";

In Rust, variables are statically typed and need explicit type declarations:

let variable: &str = "Hello, World!";

Keep in mind that Rust's type system is stricter, so understanding Rust's basic types (i32, f32, bool, str, etc.) is crucial.

Mutable vs Immutable Variables

In PHP, all variables are inherently mutable:

$counter = 0;

In Rust, variables are immutable by default and need a mut keyword to be mutable:

let mut counter: i32 = 0;
counter += 1;

Function Definitions

In PHP, defining a function is straightforward:

function greet($name) {
    return "Hello, " . $name;

In Rust, function definitions include a return type:

fn greet(name: &str) -> String {
    return format!("Hello, {}", name);

Control Structures

Conditional Statements

PHP's conditional statements use a syntax familiar to most procedural programmers:

if ($age > 18) {
    echo "Adult";
} else {
    echo "Minor";

In Rust, the structure is similar, though more strict with type matching:

if age > 18 {
} else {

Looping Constructs

PHP supports several looping constructs:

for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    echo $i;

Rust employs a for loop which is more optimized and offers a range-based looping:

for i in 0..10 {
    println!("{}", i);

Working with Arrays and Vectors

PHP Arrays

PHP arrays are versatile and can hold mixed types:

$array = [1, "two", 3.0];

Rust Vectors

Rust vectors hold elements of a single type and are defined with a type:

let array: Vec<&str> = vec!["one", "two", "three"];

Dealing with Error Handling

PHP uses exceptions for handling errors:

try {
    throw new Exception("An error occurred");
} catch (Exception $e) {
    echo $e->getMessage();

Rust employs the Result and Option enums for error handling:

fn might_fail() -> Result<(), String> {
    Err(String::from("An error occurred"))

match might_fail() {
    Ok(_) => println!("Success"),
    Err(e) => println!("{}", e),

Database Interactions

PHP often uses PDO for database interactions:

$pdo = new PDO('mysql:host=localhost;dbname=test', 'user', 'password');
$query = $pdo->query('SELECT * FROM users');
while ($row = $query->fetch()) {
    echo $row['name'];

Rust utilizes libraries such as Diesel for ORM or direct SQL queries:

extern crate diesel;

use diesel::prelude::*;
use diesel::mysql::MysqlConnection;

fn establish_connection() -> MysqlConnection {
        .unwrap_or_else(|_| panic!("Error connecting to the database"))

fn query_users(conn: &MysqlConnection) {
    use schema::users::dsl::*;
    let results = users.load::<User>(conn)
        .expect("Error loading users");

    for user in results {

Practical Steps for Conversion

Code Structuring

  1. Identify Core Components: Break down your PHP code into core components: APIs, database interactions, business logic, etc.
  2. Rewrite Core Logic: Start by rewriting the core logic of your application into Rust. Focus on business logic first since it's the core of your application.

Library Matching

  1. Dependencies & Libraries: For each PHP library or dependency, find its Rust equivalent. The Rust ecosystem has matured, but not all PHP libraries have direct counterparts.
  2. Testing: Implement unit tests in Rust as you translate each component. Rust’s cargo test makes it easy to write and run tests.

Performance Benchmarking

  1. Initial Benchmarks: Before you start converting, benchmark your PHP application’s performance.
  2. Rust Benchmarking: After converting significant components, benchmark your Rust application to compare performance and memory usage. Use tools like critcmp to measure performance gains.


Converting a PHP application to Rust involves understanding and translating basic syntax differences, data handling, error management, and database operations. Use this guide as a foundational resource to methodically convert and optimize your PHP code into a performant and safe Rust application.

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