Implement .drain(range) and .drain() respectively as appropriate on collections.


The drain methods and their draining iterators serve to mass remove elements from a collection, receiving them by value in an iterator, while the collection keeps its allocation intact (if applicable).

The range parameterized variants of drain are a generalization of drain, to affect just a subrange of the collection, for example removing just an index range from a vector.

drain thus serves both to consume all or some elements from a collection without consuming the collection itself. The ranged drain allows bulk removal of elements, more efficiently than any other safe API.

Detailed design

  • Implement .drain(a..b) where a and b are indices, for all collections that are sequences.
  • Implement .drain() for other collections. This is just like .drain(..) would be (drain the whole collection).
  • Ranged drain accepts all range types, currently .., a.., ..b, a..b, and drain will accept inclusive end ranges (“closed ranges”) when they are implemented.
  • Drain removes every element in the range.
  • Drain returns an iterator that produces the removed items by value.
  • Drain removes the whole range, regardless if you iterate the draining iterator or not.
  • Drain preserves the collection’s capacity where it is possible.


Vec and String already have ranged drain, so they are complete.

HashMap and HashSet already have .drain(), so they are complete; their elements have no meaningful order.

BinaryHeap already has .drain(), and just like its other iterators, it promises no particular order. So this collection is already complete.

The following collections need updated implementations:

VecDeque should implement .drain(range) for index ranges, just like Vec does.

LinkedList should implement .drain(range) for index ranges. Just like the other sequences, this is a O(n) operation, and LinkedList already has other indexed methods (.split_off()).

BTreeMap and BTreeSet

BTreeMap already has a ranged iterator, .range(a, b), and drain for BTreeMap and BTreeSet should have arguments completely consistent the range method. This will be addressed separately.


The following can be stabilized as they are:

  • HashMap::drain
  • HashSet::drain
  • BinaryHeap::drain

The following can be stabilized, but their argument’s trait is not stable:

  • Vec::drain
  • String::drain

The following will be heading towards stabilization after changes:

  • VecDeque::drain


  • Collections disagree on if they are drained with a range (Vec) or not (HashMap)
  • No trait for the drain method.


  • Use a trait for the drain method and let all collections implement it. This will force all collections to use a single parameter (a range) for the drain method.

  • Provide .splice(range, iterator) for Vec instead of .drain(range):

    fn splice<R, I>(&mut self, range: R, iter: I) -> Splice<T>
        where R: RangeArgument, I: IntoIterator<T>

    if the method .splice() would both return an iterator of the replaced elements, and consume an iterator (of arbitrary length) to replace the removed range, then it includes drain’s tasks.

  • RFC #574 proposed accepting either a single index (single key for maps) or a range for ranged drain, so an alternative would be to do that. The single index case is however out of place, and writing a range that spans a single index is easy.

  • Use the name .remove_range(a..b) instead of .drain(a..b). Since the method has two simultaneous roles, removing a range and yielding a range as an iterator, either role could guide the name. This alternative name was not very popular with the rust developers I asked (but they are already used to what drain means in rust context).

  • Provide .drain() without arguments and separate range drain into a separate method name, implemented in addition to drain where applicable.

  • Do not support closed ranges in drain.

  • BinaryHeap::drain could drain the heap in sorted order. The primary proposal is arbitrary order, to match preexisting BinaryHeap iterators.

Unresolved questions

  • Concrete shape of the BTreeMap API is not resolved here
  • Will closed ranges be used for the drain API?