Embedding API

The API with which the host language interacts with Gluon is very important part of the library. While the complete API can be found in the Rustdoc, this section will explain the most important parts. Please note that the API can change at any point and there are still some public functions which should actually be internal.

Creating a virtual machine

Before you are able to do anything with the library, you will need to create a virtual machine. The virtual machine is responsible for running Gluon programs and can be created with the new_vm function.

Compiling and running gluon code

Once in possession of a RootedThread, you can compile and execute code using the run_expr method on the ThreadExt extension trait.

let vm = new_vm();
let (result, _) = vm
    .run_expr::<i32>("example", "1 + 2")
assert_eq!(result, Some(3));

Notably, if we were to execute a script with side effects the code above will actually not run the side effects. To make gluon run side effects we need to set the run_io flag on ThreadExt.

let vm = new_vm();

let script = r#"
let io = import! std.io
io.print "123"
// Returns an action which prints `123` when evaluated
vm.run_expr::<IO<()>>("example", script)
// Prints `123` to stdout
vm.run_expr::<IO<()>>(&vm, "example", script)

Often, it is either inconvenient or inefficient to compile and run code directly from source code. To write the above example in a more efficient way, we could instead load the (+) function and call it directly.

let vm = new_vm();
// Ensure that the prelude module is loaded before trying to access something from it
vm.run_expr::<OpaqueValue<&Thread, Hole>>("example", r#" import! std.prelude "#)
let mut add: FunctionRef<fn (i32, i32) -> i32> = vm.get_global("std.prelude.num_Int.(+)")
let result = add.call(1, 2);
assert_eq!(result, Ok(3));

Calling Rust functions from gluon

Gluon also allows native functions to be called from gluon. To do this we first need to define the function so it is available when running Gluon code.

fn factorial(x: i32) -> i32 {
    if x <= 1 {
    } else {
        x * factorial(x - 1)

fn load_factorial(vm: &Thread) -> vm::Result<vm::ExternModule> {
    vm::ExternModule::new(vm, primitive!(1, factorial))

let vm = new_vm();

// Introduce a module that can be loaded with `import! factorial`
add_extern_module(&vm, "factorial", load_factorial);

let expr = r#"
    let factorial = import! factorial
    factorial 5

let (result, _) = vm.run_expr::<i32>("factorial", expr)

assert_eq!(result, 120);

add_extern_module can do more than just exposing simple functions. For instance, the primitives module export large parts of Rust's string and float modules directly as records in Gluon under the str and float modules respectively.

let vm = new_vm();
let (result, _) = vm.run_expr::<String>("example", " let string  = import! \"std/string.glu\" in string.trim \"  Hello world  \t\" ")
assert_eq!(result, "Hello world");