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The Elegant Parser

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pest. The Elegant Parser

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pest Continuous Integration codecov Rustc Version 1.56.1+

pest is a general purpose parser written in Rust with a focus on accessibility, correctness, and performance. It uses parsing expression grammars (or PEG) as input, which are similar in spirit to regular expressions, but which offer the enhanced expressivity needed to parse complex languages.

Getting started

The recommended way to start parsing with pest is to read the official book.

Other helpful resources:


The following is an example of a grammar for a list of alphanumeric identifiers where all identifiers don't start with a digit:

alpha = { 'a'..'z' | 'A'..'Z' }
digit = { '0'..'9' }

ident = { !digit ~ (alpha | digit)+ }

ident_list = _{ ident ~ (" " ~ ident)* }
          // ^
          // ident_list rule is silent which means it produces no tokens

Grammars are saved in separate .pest files which are never mixed with procedural code. This results in an always up-to-date formalization of a language that is easy to read and maintain.

Meaningful error reporting

Based on the grammar definition, the parser also includes automatic error reporting. For the example above, the input "123" will result in:

thread 'main' panicked at ' --> 1:1
1 | 123
  | ^---
  = unexpected digit', src/

while "ab *" will result in:

thread 'main' panicked at ' --> 1:1
1 | ab *
  |    ^---
  = expected ident', src/

These error messages can be obtained from their default Display implementation, e.g. panic!("{}", parser_result.unwrap_err()) or println!("{}", e).

Pairs API

The grammar can be used to derive a Parser implementation automatically. Parsing returns an iterator of nested token pairs:

extern crate pest;
extern crate pest_derive;

use pest::Parser;

#[grammar = "ident.pest"]
struct IdentParser;

fn main() {
    let pairs = IdentParser::parse(Rule::ident_list, "a1 b2").unwrap_or_else(|e| panic!("{}", e));

    // Because ident_list is silent, the iterator will contain idents
    for pair in pairs {
        // A pair is a combination of the rule which matched and a span of input
        println!("Rule:    {:?}", pair.as_rule());
        println!("Span:    {:?}", pair.as_span());
        println!("Text:    {}", pair.as_str());

        // A pair can be converted to an iterator of the tokens which make it up:
        for inner_pair in pair.into_inner() {
            match inner_pair.as_rule() {
                Rule::alpha => println!("Letter:  {}", inner_pair.as_str()),
                Rule::digit => println!("Digit:   {}", inner_pair.as_str()),
                _ => unreachable!()

This produces the following output:

Rule:    ident
Span:    Span { start: 0, end: 2 }
Text:    a1
Letter:  a
Digit:   1
Rule:    ident
Span:    Span { start: 3, end: 5 }
Text:    b2
Letter:  b
Digit:   2

Defining multiple parsers in a single file

The current automatic Parser derivation will produce the Rule enum which would have name conflicts if one tried to define multiple such structs that automatically derive Parser. One possible way around it is to put each parser struct in a separate namespace:

mod a {
    #[grammar = "a.pest"]
    pub struct ParserA;
mod b {
    #[grammar = "b.pest"]
    pub struct ParserB;

Other features

  • Precedence climbing
  • Input handling
  • Custom errors
  • Runs on stable Rust

Projects using pest

Minimum Supported Rust Version (MSRV)

This library should always compile with default features on Rust 1.56.1 or Rust 1.61 with const_prec_climber.

Special thanks

A special round of applause goes to prof. Marius Minea for his guidance and all pest contributors, some of which being none other than my friends.

Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Pest Parser Pest" Project. README Source: pest-parser/pest
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