mini-v8 0.3.0

A minimal embedded V8 JavaScript engine wrapper for Rust
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MiniV8

MiniV8 is a minimal embedded V8 JavaScript engine wrapper for Rust.

Quick tour

extern crate mini_v8;

use mini_v8::{MiniV8, Array, Object, Function};

fn main() {
    // A `MiniV8` is a V8 context that can execute JavaScript.
    let mv8 = MiniV8::new();

    // JavaScript can be evaluated and transformed into various Rust types.
    let value: usize = mv8.eval("2 + 2").unwrap();
    assert_eq!(value, 4);
    let value: String = mv8.eval("`Two plus two is ${2 + 2}`").unwrap();
    assert_eq!(value, "Two plus two is 4".to_string());

    // JavaScript objects can be directly manipulated, without eagerly converting into Rust.
    let array: Array = mv8.eval("[123, 'abc']").unwrap();
    let element: String = array.get(1).unwrap();
    assert_eq!(element, "abc".to_string());
    array.set(0, 456).unwrap();

    // JavaScript values can be created directly, without using `mv8.eval` as above.
    let object: Object = mv8.create_object();
    let js_string = mv8.create_string("This string is owned by JavaScript!");
    object.set("someString", js_string).unwrap();

    // Rust functions can be passed into JavaScript.
    let rust_add = mv8.create_function(|inv| {
        let (a, b): (f64, f64) = inv.args.into(inv.mv8)?;
        Ok(a + b)
    });
    // Like any other value, these functions can be bound as properties of an object.
    //
    // (Notice: Cloning values just creates a new reference to the value, similar to JavaScript's
    // own object referencing semantics.)
    object.set("add", rust_add.clone()).unwrap();

    // JavaScript functions can be passed into Rust.
    let js_add: Function = mv8.eval("(a, b) => a + b").unwrap();
    // Functions can be called from within Rust.
    let value: f64 = rust_add.call((1, 2)).unwrap();
    assert_eq!(value, 3.0);
    let value: f64 = js_add.call((1, 2)).unwrap();
    assert_eq!(value, 3.0);
}

Other features

  • Custom user data can be bound to a MiniV8 (see MiniV8::set_user_data). This is useful for storing state between embedded Rust function calls.
  • All kinds of standard Rust types can be passed in and out of the JavaScript environment (the number types, String, Vec, BTreeMap, HashSet, etc.). You can define a conversion interface for your own types, too. See ToValue/FromValue and src/conversion.rs for more information.
  • Execution timeout support.

Building

Building V8 is notoriously complicated. Currently, MiniV8 requires that consumers manually specify a path to a pre-built V8 using the V8_PATH environment variable. Follow the official build guide to get up and running. V8 8.6.57 is the currently required version. Other major versions likely have compatibility issues.

$ V8_PATH=/path/to/v8_repo cargo run --release --example repl

Prior art

MiniV8 is inspired by the MiniRacer Ruby gem, which implements a minimal bridge with V8. From its README: "This [minimal design] reduces the surface area making upgrading [V8] much simpler and exhaustive testing simpler." Contrast this with the ambitious v8-rs crate, which remains unmaintained because "the maintenance burden is too high." The rusty_v8 crate (itself part of the larger Deno project) provides inspiration for how the V8 build process should be integrated. In the future, I would like this crate to build off of rusty_v8. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, rusty_v8 is too unstable to use as a dependency (track issue #3).

This work is a companion to my own ducc crate, which provides a minimal wrapper around the Duktape JavaScript engine.

Purpose

When utilizing any FFI, it's significantly easier to select a subset of the entire source library than to attempt to map one-to-one all of its constructs. This of course means sacrificing features and perhaps performance, but allows for flexibility during API design leading to more idiomatic code in the target language.

It's clear that I chose the "minimal bridge" model for MiniV8. If you're looking to take advantage of all of V8's many internal constructs then MiniV8 is not for you. If you're looking to ergonomically execute scripts with one of the fastest JavaScript engines there is from within Rust then MiniV8 might be for you.

Shortcomings

  • MiniV8 only implements a minimal bridge for the full set of types that modern ECMAScript offers. Perhaps the current Value bridge should be expanded to support a few more special object types (Uint8Array seems useful).
  • The Error type is very limited.
    • There's no way to pass a script or function name into JavaScript for error reporting. This can be easily improved by modifying MiniV8::eval.
    • Once an Error is converted into a Value to be thrown as an exception in JavaScript land, there's no going back. It would be nice to be able to maintain the source Error across the Rust-JavaScript boundary. This should be implemented by adding a hidden property to the exception value that points back to the Error (we already do this sort of trick to bind Rust closures to V8 functions).
  • No support for limiting memory usage.