Module syn::parse

source ·
Available on crate feature parsing only.
Expand description

Parsing interface for parsing a token stream into a syntax tree node.

Parsing in Syn is built on parser functions that take in a ParseStream and produce a Result<T> where T is some syntax tree node. Underlying these parser functions is a lower level mechanism built around the Cursor type. Cursor is a cheaply copyable cursor over a range of tokens in a token stream.


Here is a snippet of parsing code to get a feel for the style of the library. We define data structures for a subset of Rust syntax including enums (not shown) and structs, then provide implementations of the Parse trait to parse these syntax tree data structures from a token stream.

Once Parse impls have been defined, they can be called conveniently from a procedural macro through parse_macro_input! as shown at the bottom of the snippet. If the caller provides syntactically invalid input to the procedural macro, they will receive a helpful compiler error message pointing out the exact token that triggered the failure to parse.

use proc_macro::TokenStream;
use syn::{braced, parse_macro_input, token, Field, Ident, Result, Token};
use syn::parse::{Parse, ParseStream};
use syn::punctuated::Punctuated;

enum Item {

struct ItemStruct {
    struct_token: Token![struct],
    ident: Ident,
    brace_token: token::Brace,
    fields: Punctuated<Field, Token![,]>,

impl Parse for Item {
    fn parse(input: ParseStream) -> Result<Self> {
        let lookahead = input.lookahead1();
        if lookahead.peek(Token![struct]) {
        } else if lookahead.peek(Token![enum]) {
        } else {

impl Parse for ItemStruct {
    fn parse(input: ParseStream) -> Result<Self> {
        let content;
        Ok(ItemStruct {
            struct_token: input.parse()?,
            ident: input.parse()?,
            brace_token: braced!(content in input),
            fields: content.parse_terminated(Field::parse_named, Token![,])?,

pub fn my_macro(tokens: TokenStream) -> TokenStream {
    let input = parse_macro_input!(tokens as Item);

    /* ... */

§The syn::parse* functions

The syn::parse, syn::parse2, and syn::parse_str functions serve as an entry point for parsing syntax tree nodes that can be parsed in an obvious default way. These functions can return any syntax tree node that implements the Parse trait, which includes most types in Syn.

use syn::Type;

let t: Type = syn::parse_str("std::collections::HashMap<String, Value>")?;

The parse_quote! macro also uses this approach.

§The Parser trait

Some types can be parsed in several ways depending on context. For example an Attribute can be either “outer” like #[...] or “inner” like #![...] and parsing the wrong one would be a bug. Similarly Punctuated may or may not allow trailing punctuation, and parsing it the wrong way would either reject valid input or accept invalid input.

The Parse trait is not implemented in these cases because there is no good behavior to consider the default.

// Can't parse `Punctuated` without knowing whether trailing punctuation
// should be allowed in this context.
let path: Punctuated<PathSegment, Token![::]> = syn::parse(tokens)?;

In these cases the types provide a choice of parser functions rather than a single Parse implementation, and those parser functions can be invoked through the Parser trait.

use proc_macro::TokenStream;
use syn::parse::Parser;
use syn::punctuated::Punctuated;
use syn::{Attribute, Expr, PathSegment, Result, Token};

fn call_some_parser_methods(input: TokenStream) -> Result<()> {
    // Parse a nonempty sequence of path segments separated by `::` punctuation
    // with no trailing punctuation.
    let tokens = input.clone();
    let parser = Punctuated::<PathSegment, Token![::]>::parse_separated_nonempty;
    let _path = parser.parse(tokens)?;

    // Parse a possibly empty sequence of expressions terminated by commas with
    // an optional trailing punctuation.
    let tokens = input.clone();
    let parser = Punctuated::<Expr, Token![,]>::parse_terminated;
    let _args = parser.parse(tokens)?;

    // Parse zero or more outer attributes but not inner attributes.
    let tokens = input.clone();
    let parser = Attribute::parse_outer;
    let _attrs = parser.parse(tokens)?;



  • Extensions to the parsing API with niche applicability.


  • Error returned when a Syn parser cannot parse the input tokens.
  • Support for checking the next token in a stream to decide how to parse.
  • An empty syntax tree node that consumes no tokens when parsed.
  • Cursor position within a buffered token stream.
  • Cursor state associated with speculative parsing.


  • Parsing interface implemented by all types that can be parsed in a default way from a token stream.
  • Parser that can parse Rust tokens into a particular syntax tree node.
  • Types that can be parsed by looking at just one token.

Type Aliases§