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Rust: String vs str

Sivakumar
Learning rust
Updated on ・3 min read

In this blog post, let's explore key differences between String and str and when to use what.

String is a heap-allocated, growable data structure.
'str is an immutable, fixed-length sequence of characters stored in memory (heap/stack).

String

A String can be created either using String::from method or .to_string() method as below:

    // Creating new String variable s1 using String::from method
    let mut s1: String = String::from("Sivakumar");
    println!("{}", s1);

    // Creating new String variable s2 using to_string() method
    let s2: String = "Sivakumar".to_string();
    println!("{}", s2);

    // Calling len() and capacity() methods on string variable
    println!("s1 variable's Length: {}, Capacity: {}", s1.len(), s1.capacity());

    // Calling len() and capacity() methods on string variable
    println!("s2 variable's Length: {}, Capacity: {}", s2.len(), s2.capacity());

    // Adding more data to existing string variable
    s1.push_str(" is working in Singapore!!!");
    println!("{}", s1);
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When we run the above code, we'll get following output:

Sivakumar
Sivakumar
s1 variable's Length: 9, Capacity: 9
s2 variable's Length: 9, Capacity: 9
Sivakumar is working in Singapore!!!
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str

str variable can be created just by declaring a string literal as below and it will always be immutable.

    // str typed variable can be created as below
    let str1 = "Sivakumar";
    println!("{}", str1);

    // Calling len() method on str variable
    println!("str1 variable's Length: {}", str1.len());
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When we run the above code, we'll get following output:

Sivakumar
s1 variable's Length: 9
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If you notice above, rust won't allow you to declare str variable with its specific type. Instead, rust will infer the data type for you.

And also, there is no capacity() method available on str variable.

If you try to declare str as mutable, you'll end up getting warning as below

    // str typed variable can be created as below
    let mut str1 = "Sivakumar";
    println!("{}", str1);

    // Calling len() method on str variable
    println!("str1 variable's Length: {}", str1.len());

warning: variable does not need to be mutable
  --> src\main.rs:23:9
   |
23 |     let mut str1 = "Sivakumar";
   |         ----^^^^
   |         |
   |         help: remove this `mut`
   |
   = note: `#[warn(unused_mut)]` on by default

warning: 1 warning emitted

    Finished dev [unoptimized + debuginfo] target(s) in 0.88s
     Running `target\debug\example.exe`
Sivakumar
str1 variable's Length: 9
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When we have a function which accepts slice of characters, you can pass String referenced variable as an argument.

fn print_len(s: &str) {
    println!("Length of variable: {}", s.len());
}

    // str typed variable can be created as below
    let str1 = "Sivakumar";
    println!("{}", str1);

    // Creating new String variable s1 using String::from method
    let s1: String = String::from("Sivakumar");
    println!("{}", s1);

    print_len(str1);

    print_len(&s1);
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When you run the above code, you will get following output:

Sivakumar
Sivakumar
Length of variable: 9
Length of variable: 9
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But, when you have a method which accepts, String as argument, passing str variable will result in compiler error

fn print_len(s: String) {
    println!("Length of variable: {}", s.len());
}

    // str typed variable can be created as below
    let str1 = "Sivakumar";
    println!("{}", str1);

    // Creating new String variable s1 using String::from method
    let s1: String = String::from("Sivakumar");
    println!("{}", s1);

    print_len(str1);

    print_len(s1);
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Output:

error[E0308]: mismatched types
  --> src\main.rs:34:15
   |
34 |     print_len(str1);
   |               ^^^^
   |               |
   |               expected struct `std::string::String`, found `&str`
   |               help: try using a conversion method: `str1.to_string()`

error[E0308]: mismatched types
  --> src\main.rs:36:15
   |
36 |     print_len(&s1);
   |               ^^^
   |               |
   |               expected struct `std::string::String`, found `&std::string::String`
   |               help: consider removing the borrow: `s1`

error: aborting due to 2 previous errors

For more information about this error, try `rustc --explain E0308`.
error: could not compile `example`.

To learn more, run the command again with --verbose.

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Please feel free to share your comments.

Happy reading!!!

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