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We are in The Third Age of JavaScript, the common trend right now is to author JavaScript tools in Rust or Go for their performance gains.

But authoring JavaScript tools are challenging, let alone writing them in Rust. I have struggled a lot when learning these technologies, and I wish fewer people to take the same struggling journey.

I want to make my own contribution to the community by writing this guide, so you don't have to take the same journey as I had.

There are only a handful of developers on the Rust side, and I would like to see you here and join us, so we can build better and faster tools for everyone to enjoy.


For this guide, the standard compiler frontend phases will be applied:

Source Text --> Lexer --> Token --> Parser --> AST

Writing a JavaScript parser is fairly easy, it is 10% architectural decisions and 90% hard work on the fine-grained details.

The architectural decisions will mostly affect two categories:

  • the performance of our parser
  • how nice it is to consume our AST

Knowing all the options and trade-offs before building a parser in Rust will make our whole journey much smoother.


The key to a performant Rust program is to allocate less memory and use fewer CPU cycles.

It is mostly transparent where memory allocations are made just by looking for heap-allocated objects such as a Vec, Box or String. Reasoning about their usage will give us a sense of how fast our program will be - the more we allocate, the slower our program will be.

Rust gives us the power of zero-cost abstractions, we don't need to worry too much about abstractions causing slower performance. Be careful with our algorithmic complexities and we will be all good to go.


You should also read The Rust Performance Book.

Rust Source Code

Whenever the performance of an function call cannot be deduced, do not be afraid to click the "source" button on the Rust documentation and read the source code, they are easy to understand most of the time.


When navigating the Rust source code, searching for a definition is simply looking for fn function_name, struct struct_name, enum enum_name etc. This is one advantage of having constant grammar in Rust (compared to JavaScript 😉).

Released under the MIT License.