Crate coca

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The coca crate provides collection types and other facilities for managing memory without using the alloc crate.

Data Structures with Constant Capacity

Typical container implementations manage their own memory behind the scenes, calling the global allocator (or a user-provided one, using the as yet unstable Allocator API) as needed when they are modified.

This is convenient, but it does have some drawbacks to be aware of:

  • reallocation may be slow, especially if the data structure is large and a lot of data has to be moved around,
  • memory usage is essentially unbounded and must be carefully managed, should this pose a problem,
  • such implementations simply cannot be used when no allocator is available, as may be the case in embedded systems.

In contrast, the data structures provided by coca do not work this way. They operate on a given block of memory, and never reallocate. This means that operations that grow a data structure may fail if the available space is insufficient. For all such operations, two methods are provided: one, returning a Result, has its name prefixed with try_, the other, without the name prefix, being a wrapper that panics in the error case.

Client code, then, has to either guarantee that the given memory block’s capacity will never be exceeded, or handle the failure case gracefully.

The Storage Abstraction

In coca, there is no single way of supplying a data structure with working memory. Instead, most containers have a generic type parameter S bound by the Storage trait, which is the type of the memory block to be used. Storage, in turn, has a type parameter R, bound by the LayoutSpec trait, which is used to describe the memory Layout required by that container.

For instance, data structures built on an array (such as Vec or String) require S: Storage<ArrayLayout<T>>, which is implemented for standard arrays and slices, among others, while more complex data structures (such as DirectPool) have unique layout requirements (in this case S: Storage<DirectPoolLayout<T, H>>) which are only fulfilled by purpose-built types.

No matter the layout requirements, for each data structure, the following storage strategies are available:

  • InlineStorage, defined as a partially initialized array or as purpose-built structs for non-array-like data structures (e.g. collections::pool::direct::InlineStorage), requires the capacity to be truly const, i.e. statically known at compile time; this allows storing the contents inline with the top-level struct type, with no indirection, and thus entirely on the stack, for example.
  • ArenaStorage is a (pointer, capacity) pair referencing an arena-allocated block of memory, bounding the lifetime of the data structure to the lifetime of the Arena, but supports dynamically chosen capacities.
  • Likewise, AllocStorage references a block of memory from the global allocator, requiring the alloc crate.

Note that, depending on the choice of storage type, available functionality may differ slightly. For example, the Clone trait is only implemented on data structures using InlineStorage or AllocStorage, but not ArenaStorage.

Since concrete type names quickly become unwieldy in this scheme, coca provides type aliases such as InlineVec, ArenaVec, and AllocVec for all of its data structures.

The Capacity Trait

Compared to the standard implementations, most of coca’s data structures have one more additional type parameter, which is bound by the Capacity trait. This type used to index into the data structure and to represent its size at runtime. It generally defaults to usize, but Capacity is also implemented for u8, u16, u32 and u64.

This gives client code even more control over the exact size of the data structure, but it has one additional advantage: using the index_type macro, new types implementing the Capacity trait can be generated, which then allows using different index types with different collections, potentially preventing accidental use of the wrong index.

Cargo Features

  • alloc: Enables an optional dependency on the alloc crate and adds the AllocStorage type, as well as other trait implementations and convenience functions for using the global allocator.
  • unstable: Adds the object module providing a statically-sized container for dynamically-sized types. This relies on the unstable feature(unsize) and feature(set_ptr_value) and thus requires a nightly compiler.
  • profile: Adds memory profiling in arena allocators. See the module-level documentation for details.

None of these features are enabled by default.


pub use crate::object::InlineObject;


Arena-based memory management.

Collection types.


Statically-sized containers for dynamically-sized types.

Traits abstracting over storage strategies and index types.

UTF-8 encoded, growable string types with constant capacity.


Creates a Option<Box<'_, str>> using interpolation of run-time expressions.

Generates one or more new types implementing Handle.

Generates one or more new types wrapping an implementor of Capacity.


The error type for many operations on data structures with constant capacity.

Type Definitions

A string using a heap-allocated slice for storage.

A string using an arena-allocated byte slice for storage.

A string using an inline array for storage.

A specialized Result type for operations on data structures with constant capacity.

A string using any mutable byte slice for storage.