Contain unsafety in small modules

Description

If you have unsafe code, create the smallest possible module that can uphold the needed invariants to build a minimal safe interface upon the unsafety. Embed this into a larger module that contains only safe code and presents an ergonomic interface. Note that the outer module can contain unsafe functions and methods that call directly into the unsafe code. Users may use this to gain speed benefits.

Advantages

  • This restricts the unsafe code that must be audited
  • Writing the outer module is much easier, since you can count on the guarantees of the inner module

Disadvantages

  • Sometimes, it may be hard to find a suitable interface.
  • The abstraction may introduce inefficiencies.

Examples

  • The toolshed crate contains its unsafe operations in submodules, presenting a safe interface to users. * stds String class is a wrapper over Vec<u8> with the added invariant that the contents must be valid UTF-8. The operations on String ensure this behavior. However, users have the option of using an unsafe method to create a String, in which case the onus is on them to guarantee the validity of the contents.

See also