For this guide, we’re going to walk through some simple examples for each of the pieces of CRUD, which stands for “Create Read Update Delete”. Each step in this guide will build on the previous, and is meant to be followed along.

This guide assumes that you’re using PostgreSQL. Before we start, make sure you have PostgreSQL installed and running.

Initializing a new project

The first thing we need to do is generate our project.

First, let’s add Diesel to our dependencies. We’re also going to use a tool called .env to manage our environment variables for us. We’ll add it to our dependencies as well.

Installing Diesel CLI

Diesel provides a separate CLI tool to help manage your project. Since it’s a standalone binary, and doesn’t affect your project’s code directly, we don’t add it to Cargo.toml. Instead, we just install it on our system.

Install the CLI tool

Setup Diesel for your project

We need to tell Diesel where to find our database. We do this by setting the DATABASE_URL environment variable. On our development machines, we’ll likely have multiple projects going, and we don’t want to pollute our environment. We can put the url in a .env file instead.

Now Diesel CLI can set everything up for us.

diesel setup

This will create our database (if it didn’t already exist), and create an empty migrations directory that we can use to manage our schema (more on that later).

Now we’re going to write a small CLI that lets us manage a blog (ignoring the fact that we can only access the database from this CLI…). The first thing we’re going to need is a table to store our posts. Let’s create a migration for that:

Diesel CLI will create two empty files for us in the required structure. You’ll see output that looks something like this:

Creating migrations/20160815133237_create_posts/up.sql
Creating migrations/20160815133237_create_posts/down.sql

Migrations allow us to evolve the database schema over time. Each migration can be applied (up.sql) or reverted (down.sql). Applying and immediately reverting a migration should leave your database schema unchanged.

Next, we’ll write the SQL for migrations:

We can apply our new migration:

It’s a good idea to make sure that down.sql is correct. You can quickly confirm that your down.sql rolls back your migration correctly by redoing the migration:

diesel migration redo

Write Rust

OK enough SQL, let’s write some Rust. We’ll start by writing some code to show the last five published posts. The first thing we need to do is establish a database connection.

We’ll also want to create a Post struct into which we can read our data, and have diesel generate the names we’ll use to reference tables and columns in our queries.

We’ll add the following lines to the top of src/lib.rs:

Next we need to create the two modules that we just declared.

#[derive(Queryable)] will generate all of the code needed to load a Post struct from a SQL query.

Typically the schema module isn’t created by hand, it gets generated by Diesel. When we ran diesel setup, a file called diesel.toml was created which tells Diesel to maintain a file at src/schema.rs for us. The file should look like this:

The exact output might vary slightly depending on your database, but it should be equivalent.

The table! macro creates a bunch of code based on the database schema to represent all of the tables and columns. We’ll see how exactly to use that in the next example.

Any time we run or revert a migration, this file will get automatically updated.

Let’s write the code to actually show us our posts.

The use diesel_demo::schema::posts::dsl::* line imports a bunch of aliases so that we can say posts instead of posts::table, and published instead of posts::published. It’s useful when we’re only dealing with a single table, but that’s not always what we want.

We can run our script with cargo run --bin show_posts. Unfortunately, the results won’t be terribly interesting, as we don’t actually have any posts in the database. Still, we’ve written a decent amount of code, so let’s commit.

The full code for the demo at this point can be found here.

Next, let’s write some code to create a new post.We’ll want a struct to use for inserting a new record.

Now let’s add a function to save a new post.

When we call .get_result on an insert or update statement, it automatically adds RETURNING * to the end of the query, and lets us load it into any struct that implements Queryable for the right types. Neat!

Diesel can insert more than one record in a single query. Just pass a Vec or slice to insert, and then call get_results instead of get_result. If you don’t actually want to do anything with the row that was just inserted, call .execute instead. The compiler won’t complain at you, that way. :)

Now that we’ve got everything set up, we can create a little script to write a new post.

We can run our new script with cargo run --bin write_post. Go ahead and write a blog post. Get creative! Here was mine:

   Compiling diesel_demo v0.1.0 (file:///Users/sean/Documents/Projects/open-source/diesel_demo)
     Running `target/debug/write_post`

What would you like your title to be?
Diesel demo

Ok! Let's write Diesel demo (Press CTRL+D when finished)

You know, a CLI application probably isn't the best interface for a blog demo.
But really I just wanted a semi-simple example, where I could focus on Diesel.
I didn't want to get bogged down in some web framework here.
Plus I don't really like the Rust web frameworks out there. We might make a
new one, soon.

Saved draft Diesel demo with id 1

Unfortunately, running show_posts still won’t display our new post, because we saved it as a draft. If we look back to the code in show_posts, we added .filter(published.eq(true)), and we had published default to false in our migration. We need to publish it! But in order to do that, we’ll need to look at how to update an existing record. First, let’s commit. The code for this demo at this point can be found here.

Now that we’ve got create and read out of the way, update is actually relatively simple. Let’s jump right into the script:

That’s it! Let’s try it out with cargo run --bin publish_post 1.

 Compiling diesel_demo v0.1.0 (file:///Users/sean/Documents/Projects/open-source/diesel_demo)
   Running `target/debug/publish_post 1`
Published post Diesel demo

And now, finally, we can see our post with cargo run --bin show_posts.

     Running `target/debug/show_posts`
Displaying 1 posts
Diesel demo
----------

You know, a CLI application probably isn't the best interface for a blog demo.
But really I just wanted a semi-simple example, where I could focus on Diesel.
I didn't want to get bogged down in some web framework here.
Plus I don't really like the Rust web frameworks out there. We might make a
new one, soon.

We’ve still only covered three of the four letters of CRUD though. Let’s show how to delete things. Sometimes we write something we really hate, and we don’t have time to look up the ID. So let’s delete based on the title, or even just some words in the title.

We can run the script with cargo run --bin delete_post demo (at least with the title I chose). Your output should look something like:

   Compiling diesel_demo v0.1.0 (file:///Users/sean/Documents/Projects/open-source/diesel_demo)
     Running `target/debug/delete_post demo`
Deleted 1 posts

When we try to run cargo run --bin show_posts again, we can see that the post was in fact deleted. This barely scratches the surface of what you can do with Diesel, but hopefully this tutorial has given you a good foundation to build off of. We recommend exploring the API docs to see more. The final code for this tutorial can be found here.