## Method Syntax

Methods are similar to functions: they’re declared with the fn keyword and their name, they can have parameters and a return value, and they contain some code that is run when they’re called from somewhere else. However, methods are different from functions in that they’re defined within the context of a struct (or an enum or a trait object, which we cover in Chapters 6 and 17, respectively), and their first parameter is always self, which represents the instance of the struct the method is being called on.

### Defining Methods

Let’s change the area function that has a Rectangle instance as a parameter and instead make an area method defined on the Rectangle struct, as shown in Listing 5-13:

Filename: src/main.rs

#[derive(Debug)]
struct Rectangle {
width: u32,
height: u32,
}

impl Rectangle {
fn area(&self) -> u32 {
self.width * self.height
}
}

fn main() {
let rect1 = Rectangle { width: 30, height: 50 };

println!(
"The area of the rectangle is {} square pixels.",
rect1.area()
);
}

Listing 5-13: Defining an area method on the Rectangle struct

To define the function within the context of Rectangle, we start an impl (implementation) block. Then we move the area function within the impl curly brackets and change the first (and in this case, only) parameter to be self in the signature and everywhere within the body. In main where we called the area function and passed rect1 as an argument, we can instead use method syntax to call the area method on our Rectangle instance. The method syntax goes after an instance: we add a dot followed by the method name, parentheses, and any arguments.

In the signature for area, we use &self instead of rectangle: &Rectangle because Rust knows the type of self is Rectangle due to this method being inside the impl Rectangle context. Note that we still need to use the & before self, just like we did in &Rectangle. Methods can take ownership of self, borrow self immutably as we’ve done here, or borrow self mutably, just like any other parameter.

We’ve chosen &self here for the same reason we used &Rectangle in the function version: we don’t want to take ownership, and we just want to read the data in the struct, not write to it. If we wanted to change the instance that we’ve called the method on as part of what the method does, we’d use &mut self as the first parameter. Having a method that takes ownership of the instance by using just self as the first parameter is rare; this technique is usually used when the method transforms self into something else and we want to prevent the caller from using the original instance after the transformation.

The main benefit of using methods instead of functions, in addition to using method syntax and not having to repeat the type of self in every method’s signature, is for organization. We’ve put all the things we can do with an instance of a type in one impl block rather than making future users of our code search for capabilities of Rectangle in various places in the library we provide.

### Where’s the -> Operator?

In languages like C++, two different operators are used for calling methods: you use . if you’re calling a method on the object directly and -> if you’re calling the method on a pointer to the object and need to dereference the pointer first. In other words, if object is a pointer, object->something() is similar to (*object).something().

Rust doesn’t have an equivalent to the -> operator; instead, Rust has a feature called automatic referencing and dereferencing. Calling methods is one of the few places in Rust that has this behavior.

Here’s how it works: when you call a method with object.something(), Rust automatically adds in &, &mut, or * so object matches the signature of the method. In other words, the following are the same:

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
# #[derive(Debug,Copy,Clone)]
# struct Point {
#     x: f64,
#     y: f64,
# }
#
# impl Point {
#    fn distance(&self, other: &Point) -> f64 {
#        let x_squared = f64::powi(other.x - self.x, 2);
#        let y_squared = f64::powi(other.y - self.y, 2);
#
#        f64::sqrt(x_squared + y_squared)
#    }
# }
# let p1 = Point { x: 0.0, y: 0.0 };
# let p2 = Point { x: 5.0, y: 6.5 };
p1.distance(&p2);
(&p1).distance(&p2);
#}

The first one looks much cleaner. This automatic referencing behavior works because methods have a clear receiver—the type of self. Given the receiver and name of a method, Rust can figure out definitively whether the method is reading (&self), mutating (&mut self), or consuming (self). The fact that Rust makes borrowing implicit for method receivers is a big part of making ownership ergonomic in practice.

### Methods with More Parameters

Let’s practice using methods by implementing a second method on the Rectangle struct. This time, we want an instance of Rectangle to take another instance of Rectangle and return true if the second Rectangle can fit completely within self; otherwise it should return false. That is, we want to be able to write the program shown in Listing 5-14, once we’ve defined the can_hold method:

Filename: src/main.rs

fn main() {
let rect1 = Rectangle { width: 30, height: 50 };
let rect2 = Rectangle { width: 10, height: 40 };
let rect3 = Rectangle { width: 60, height: 45 };

println!("Can rect1 hold rect2? {}", rect1.can_hold(&rect2));
println!("Can rect1 hold rect3? {}", rect1.can_hold(&rect3));
}

Listing 5-14: Demonstration of using the as-yet-unwritten can_hold method

And the expected output would look like the following, because both dimensions of rect2 are smaller than the dimensions of rect1, but rect3 is wider than rect1:

Can rect1 hold rect2? true
Can rect1 hold rect3? false

We know we want to define a method, so it will be within the impl Rectangle block. The method name will be can_hold, and it will take an immutable borrow of another Rectangle as a parameter. We can tell what the type of the parameter will be by looking at the code that calls the method: rect1.can_hold(&rect2) passes in &rect2, which is an immutable borrow to rect2, an instance of Rectangle. This makes sense because we only need to read rect2 (rather than write, which would mean we’d need a mutable borrow), and we want main to retain ownership of rect2 so we can use it again after calling the can_hold method. The return value of can_hold will be a Boolean, and the implementation will check whether the width and height of self are both greater than the width and height of the other Rectangle, respectively. Let’s add the new can_hold method to the impl block from Listing 5-13, shown in Listing 5-15:

Filename: src/main.rs

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
# #[derive(Debug)]
# struct Rectangle {
#     width: u32,
#     height: u32,
# }
#
impl Rectangle {
fn area(&self) -> u32 {
self.width * self.height
}

fn can_hold(&self, other: &Rectangle) -> bool {
self.width > other.width && self.height > other.height
}
}
#}

Listing 5-15: Implementing the can_hold method on Rectangle that takes another Rectangle instance as a parameter

When we run this code with the main function in Listing 5-14, we’ll get our desired output. Methods can take multiple parameters that we add to the signature after the self parameter, and those parameters work just like parameters in functions.

### Associated Functions

Another useful feature of impl blocks is that we’re allowed to define functions within impl blocks that don’t take self as a parameter. These are called associated functions because they’re associated with the struct. They’re still functions, not methods, because they don’t have an instance of the struct to work with. You’ve already used the String::from associated function.

Associated functions are often used for constructors that will return a new instance of the struct. For example, we could provide an associated function that would have one dimension parameter and use that as both width and height, thus making it easier to create a square Rectangle rather than having to specify the same value twice:

Filename: src/main.rs

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
# #[derive(Debug)]
# struct Rectangle {
#     width: u32,
#     height: u32,
# }
#
impl Rectangle {
fn square(size: u32) -> Rectangle {
Rectangle { width: size, height: size }
}
}
#}

To call this associated function, we use the :: syntax with the struct name, like let sq = Rectangle::square(3);, for example. This function is namespaced by the struct: the :: syntax is used for both associated functions and namespaces created by modules, which we’ll discuss in Chapter 7.

### Multiple impl Blocks

Each struct is allowed to have multiple impl blocks. For example, Listing 5-15 is equivalent to the code shown in Listing 5-16, which has each method in its own impl block:

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
# #[derive(Debug)]
# struct Rectangle {
#     width: u32,
#     height: u32,
# }
#
impl Rectangle {
fn area(&self) -> u32 {
self.width * self.height
}
}

impl Rectangle {
fn can_hold(&self, other: &Rectangle) -> bool {
self.width > other.width && self.height > other.height
}
}
#}

Listing 5-16: Rewriting Listing 5-15 using multiple impl blocks

There’s no reason to separate these methods into multiple impl blocks here, but it’s valid syntax. We will see a case when multiple impl blocks are useful in Chapter 10 when we discuss generic types and traits.

## Summary

Structs let us create custom types that are meaningful for our domain. By using structs, we can keep associated pieces of data connected to each other and name each piece to make our code clear. Methods let us specify the behavior that instances of our structs have, and associated functions let us namespace functionality that is particular to our struct without having an instance available.

But structs aren’t the only way we can create custom types: let’s turn to Rust’s enum feature to add another tool to our toolbox.