Summary

Make name and behavior of the #![no_std] and #![no_implicit_prelude] attributes consistent by renaming the latter to #![no_prelude] and having it only apply to the current module.

Motivation

Currently, Rust automatically inserts an implicit extern crate std; in the crate root that can be disabled with the #[no_std] attribute.

It also automatically inserts an implicit use std::prelude::*; in every module that can be disabled with the #[no_implicit_prelude] attribute.

Lastly, if #[no_std] is used, all module automatically don't import the prelude, so the #[no_implicit_prelude] attribute is unneeded in those cases.

However, the later attribute is inconsistent with the former in two regards:

  • Naming wise, it redundantly contains the word "implicit"
  • Semantic wise, it applies to the current module and all submodules.

That last one is surprising because normally, whether or not a module contains a certain import does not affect whether or not a sub module contains a certain import, so you'd expect a attribute that disables an implicit import to only apply to that module as well.

This behavior also gets in the way in some of the already rare cases where you want to disable the prelude while still linking to std.

As an example, the author had been made aware of this behavior of #[no_implicit_prelude] while attempting to prototype a variation of the Iterator traits, leading to code that looks like this:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
mod my_iter {
    #![no_implicit_prelude]

    trait Iterator<T> { /* ... */ }

    mod adapters {
        /* Tries to access the existing prelude, and fails to resolve */
    }
}
#}

While such use cases might be resolved by just requiring an explicit use std::prelude::*; in the submodules, it seems like just making the attribute behave as expected is the better outcome.

Of course, for the cases where you want the prelude disabled for a whole sub tree of modules, it would now become necessary to add a #[no_prelude] attribute in each of them - but that is consistent with imports in general.

Detailed design

libsyntax needs to be changed to accept both the name no_implicit_prelude and no_prelude for the attribute. Then the attributes effect on the AST needs to be changed to not deeply remove all imports, and all fallout of this change needs to be fixed in order for the new semantic to bootstrap.

Then a snapshot needs to be made, and all uses of #[no_implicit_prelude] can be changed to #[no_prelude] in both the main code base, and user code.

Finally, the old attribute name should emit a deprecated warning, and be removed in time.

Drawbacks

  • The attribute is a rare use case to begin with, so any effort put into this would distract from more important stabilization work.

Alternatives

  • Keep the current behavior
  • Remove the #[no_implicit_prelude] attribute all together, instead forcing users to use #[no_std] in combination with extern crate std; and use std::prelude::*.
  • Generalize preludes more to allow custom ones, which might superseed the attributes from this RFC.