Wrapping errors

An alternative to boxing errors is to wrap them in your own error type.

use std::error;
use std::num::ParseIntError;
use std::fmt;

type Result<T> = std::result::Result<T, DoubleError>;

#[derive(Debug)]
enum DoubleError {
    EmptyVec,
    // We will defer to the parse error implementation for their error.
    // Supplying extra info requires adding more data to the type.
    Parse(ParseIntError),
}

impl fmt::Display for DoubleError {
    fn fmt(&self, f: &mut fmt::Formatter) -> fmt::Result {
        match *self {
            DoubleError::EmptyVec =>
                write!(f, "please use a vector with at least one element"),
            // This is a wrapper, so defer to the underlying types' implementation of `fmt`.
            DoubleError::Parse(ref e) => e.fmt(f),
        }
    }
}

impl error::Error for DoubleError {
    fn description(&self) -> &str {
        match *self {
            DoubleError::EmptyVec => "empty vectors not allowed",
            // This already impls `Error`, so defer to its own implementation.
            DoubleError::Parse(ref e) => e.description(),
        }
    }

    fn cause(&self) -> Option<&error::Error> {
        match *self {
            DoubleError::EmptyVec => None,
            // The cause is the underlying implementation error type. Is implicitly
            // cast to the trait object `&error::Error`. This works because the
            // underlying type already implements the `Error` trait.
            DoubleError::Parse(ref e) => Some(e),
        }
    }
}

// Implement the conversion from `ParseIntError` to `DoubleError`.
// This will be automatically called by `?` if a `ParseIntError`
// needs to be converted into a `DoubleError`.
impl From<ParseIntError> for DoubleError {
    fn from(err: ParseIntError) -> DoubleError {
        DoubleError::Parse(err)
    }
}

fn double_first(vec: Vec<&str>) -> Result<i32> {
    let first = vec.first().ok_or(DoubleError::EmptyVec)?;
    let parsed = first.parse::<i32>()?;

    Ok(2 * parsed)
}

fn print(result: Result<i32>) {
    match result {
        Ok(n)  => println!("The first doubled is {}", n),
        Err(e) => println!("Error: {}", e),
    }
}

fn main() {
    let numbers = vec!["42", "93", "18"];
    let empty = vec![];
    let strings = vec!["tofu", "93", "18"];

    print(double_first(numbers));
    print(double_first(empty));
    print(double_first(strings));
}

This adds a bit more boilerplate for handling errors and might not be needed in all applications. There are some libraries that can take care of the boiler plate for you.

See also:

From::from and Enums