Adding rust and wasm to

Donnie Hyxos

First off, just to clarify: is a design tool we've been working on to create art assets for the gaming products in development at

Right now it's mostly javascript and typescript (don't forget JSX and TSX) and built with the help of the solidjs library.

There is no documentation other than the code itself. We are currently the primary user, and so the interface is in a quick and dirty "get the job done" state. It works just well enough to do a few things that we need it to do. As time goes on we plan to add more polish. In the interests of "learning in public", we've made it an open repo on github and considering what license to use.

As we started building, the need to do some extremely expensive computations that just aren't that fast in javascript surfaced quickly. (Unoptimized computations can generate 13k+ dom nodes). We started down the route of doing some algorithmic optimizations in javascript, which led to some noticable performance improvements, and eventually realized that if we really wanted speed there are other options.

After listening to a podcast with Tim McNamara on the other day, we decided to look into what it would be like add rust to the project. The thing is that it can't be done directly. It has to be compiled to wasm in order to use it within our javascript code (there are a few ways to do this we will explore in this post).

This project is already deployed on netlify. We like netlify, we like vercel as well. This project has been on both providers and ended up with it's main deployment on netlify for organizational purposes (we get to stay on the free tier and deploy it from our github organization hyxos).

So, let's hack the netlify build process to install the necessary tools for getting this to work there!

Adding the cargo file to the root of the project

$ cargo init --lib

This adds the Cargo.toml file to the root of the project as well as a file into the /src/lib/ path of our project.

We have to manually add a few more settings to the file to get the compile to work.

name = "golden_triangle_graph"
version = "0.1.0"
edition = "2021"

# See more keys and their definitions at

crate-type = ["cdylib"]
path = "src/" 


This file will grow as we add dependencies to the project.

Adding rust-toolchain.toml to the root of the project.

According to the netlify docs, rustup and cargo come preinstalled, but we have to specify which toolchain they are to use.

$ touch rust-toolchain.toml

We'll just use a default configuration and worry about optiimization later.

# The default profile includes rustc, rust-std, cargo, rust-docs, rustfmt and clippy.
profile = "default"
channel = "1.67.1"

Adding a netlify.toml file to the root of the project

publish = "dist"
command = "./"

Building a file and adding it to the root of the project

Add the file to the root of our directory:


We have to make the file executable, in order to be able to run it ourselves and for git, so it will run on the deploy.

chmod u+x

Looking through a few different options, it looks like we can use cargo to directly create the wasm

cargo build --target wasm32-unknown-unknown --release

This creates a bunch of files in the target directory, the one we are most concerned with is


The only issue here is that the file is big!

1.7M Feb 27 20:23 golden_triangle_graph.wasm*

So if we are going this route we will have to compress it:

wasm-gc target/wasm32-unknown-unknown/release/golden_triangle_graph.wasm

Ooh, that brings it down to 184B.

We will have add wasm-gc to our build script.

Take another road

Well, turns out that pursuing that solution worked in my dev environment, but not when it was deployed.

The issue had to do with the way we were referencing the file in javascript. Using fetch to get it from the local file system ran into permissions issues when trying access it from the deploy.

A possible workaround would be to add it as a dependency in the package.json but there is an much easier way to do it.

wasm-pack to the rescue!

This solution worked quite well, and simplified the javascript portion of the code a ton. Bonus: no need for a separate optimization step. Just add cargo add wasm-pack to the file and we are good to go.

Here's our final build file:


cargo install wasm-pack
wasm-pack build --target web
npm run build

One more snag

This seemed to do it on our dev setup when we ran the build file and used the npm run serve command to simulate the deployment.

After trying to deploy with netlify we got a new error this time.


This was new one, the system complaining about a pnpm-lock.yaml file. We don't use pnpm, but netlify does. So we tried clearing the cache in the netlify panel and redeploying a few times but that didn't fix it.

After looking at this post on stack overflow about a similar issue, we decided to try removing the node_modules and running pnpm in our project to generate our own lockfile to see if it would overwrite the one of the deploy server:

rm -rf node_modules pnpm install --no-frozen-lockfile

This generated our own pnpm-lock.yaml file which I added to our project.

git add pnpm-lock.yaml git push -u origin main

This is quite the build:

1:13:57 PM: build-image version: ... (focal)
1:13:57 PM: buildbot version: ...
1:13:57 PM: Fetching cached dependencies
1:13:57 PM: Starting to download cache of 471.5MB
1:14:02 PM: Finished downloading cache in 4.656s
1:14:02 PM: Starting to extract cache
1:14:05 PM: Finished extracting cache in 2.76s
1:14:05 PM: Finished fetching cache in 7.483s
1:14:05 PM: Starting to prepare the repo for build
1:14:05 PM: Preparing Git Reference refs/heads/main
1:14:05 PM: Parsing package.json dependencies
1:14:06 PM: Different build command detected, going to use the one specified in the Netlify configuration file: './' versus 'npm run build' in the Netlify UI
1:14:07 PM: Starting build script
1:14:07 PM: Installing dependencies
1:14:07 PM: Python version set to 2.7
1:14:07 PM: Started restoring cached Node.js version
1:14:07 PM: Finished restoring cached Node.js version
1:14:08 PM: v16.19.1 is already installed.
1:14:08 PM: Now using node v16.19.1 (npm v8.19.3)
1:14:08 PM: Enabling Node.js Corepack
1:14:08 PM: Started restoring cached build plugins
1:14:08 PM: Finished restoring cached build plugins
1:14:08 PM: Attempting Ruby version 2.7.2, read from environment
1:14:09 PM: Using Ruby version 2.7.2
1:14:09 PM: Using PHP version 8.0
1:14:09 PM: Started restoring cached corepack dependencies
1:14:09 PM: Finished restoring cached corepack dependencies
1:14:09 PM: No pnpm workspaces detected
1:14:09 PM: Started restoring cached node modules
1:14:09 PM: Finished restoring cached node modules
1:14:09 PM: Installing npm packages using pnpm version 7.13.4
1:14:10 PM: Lockfile is up to date, resolution step is skipped
1:14:10 PM: Progress: resolved 1, reused 0, downloaded 0, added 0
1:14:10 PM: Packages: +10
1:14:10 PM: ++++++++++
1:14:11 PM: Progress: resolved 10, reused 0, downloaded 8, added 8
1:14:11 PM: .../node_modules/@swc/core postinstall$ node postinstall.js
1:14:11 PM: .../[email protected]/node_modules/esbuild postinstall$ node install.js
1:14:11 PM: .../node_modules/@swc/core postinstall: Done
1:14:11 PM: .../[email protected]/node_modules/esbuild postinstall: Done
1:14:11 PM: devDependencies:
1:14:11 PM: + vite-plugin-top-level-await 1.3.0
1:14:11 PM: + vite-plugin-wasm 3.2.1
1:14:11 PM: Done in 1.7s
1:14:12 PM: Progress: resolved 10, reused 0, downloaded 10, added 10, done
1:14:12 PM: npm packages installed using pnpm
1:14:12 PM: Started restoring cached go cache
1:14:12 PM: Finished restoring cached go cache
1:14:12 PM: go version go1.19.6 linux/amd64
1:14:12 PM: Started restoring cached rust rustup cache
1:14:14 PM: Finished restoring cached rust rustup cache
1:14:14 PM: Started restoring cached rust cargo registry cache
1:14:14 PM: Finished restoring cached rust cargo registry cache
1:14:14 PM: Started restoring cached rust cargo bin cache
1:14:15 PM: Finished restoring cached rust cargo bin cache
1:14:15 PM: Started restoring cached rust compile output
1:14:15 PM: Finished restoring cached rust compile output
1:14:15 PM: Detected 1 framework(s)
1:14:15 PM: "solid-js" at version "1.6.6"
1:14:15 PM: Section completed: initializing
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM:   Netlify Build                                                 
1:14:16 PM: ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM: ❯ Version
1:14:16 PM:   @netlify/build 29.5.8
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM: ❯ Flags
1:14:16 PM:   baseRelDir: true
1:14:16 PM:   buildId: ...
1:14:16 PM:   deployId: ...
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM: ❯ Current directory
1:14:16 PM:   /opt/build/repo
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM: ❯ Config file
1:14:16 PM:   /opt/build/repo/netlify.toml
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM: ❯ Context
1:14:16 PM:   production
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM:   1. build.command from netlify.toml                            
1:14:16 PM: ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
1:14:16 PM: ​
1:14:16 PM: $ ./
1:14:16 PM:     Updating index
1:14:25 PM:  Downloading crates ...
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1:16:08 PM:   Netlify Build Complete                                        
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That did it! We can see in the console log the number 64 which is the result of javascript calling the wasm file from the src/App.jsx file.

Here's the rust:

pub extern "C" fn add_one(x: i32) -> i32 {
    x + 1

Here's the javascript:

import * as wasm from '../pkg/golden_triangle_graph_bg.wasm'

This is so beautiful... gotta love wasm-pack, we don't have to worry about importing asynchronous code into our project as we did when we were generating the wasm file directly from the rust compiler.

Where do we go from here?

So, the output is quite trivial, but now we are able to add rust to this project and never have to worry about the deployment details again.

Next steps are to go through some of the javascript utilities used to generate the graph and see if we can move the functions over to rust. There are so many excellent tools out there in the rust world that we can use to accomplish this. As a webdev, we are particularly interested in web-sys for generating dom nodes outside of the javascript runtime. So many possibilities!