Getting started with Loco, the one-person web framework for Rust


Loco is called the one-person framework for Rust for side-projects and startups. I saw it mentioned in on of the local Rust groups, so I thought I would give it a try. I am using loco-cli 0.1.3. By the time you are reading this, there might be newer versions with other features.

The tour on the web site shows applications using Postgres, but I don't have it installed, so I will try the simpler version that does not need a database.

Before we get started let me mention also that in the GitHub repository of the project there is a folder called examples where you can find two examples.

Install Loco

cargo install loco-cli

Set up first project

If you don't have one yet, create a folder to hold all of your projects. (I have a folder called ~/work)

mkdir myprojects
cd myprojects

Create a new application by running:

loco new

This will ask for the name of the project (defaulting to myapp) and then it will create a folder using that name.

This will also ask for the type of the project offering you two choices:

  • SaaS app (with DB and user auth)
  • Stateless service (minimal, no DB)

For simplicity I went with the default name and picked the second choice that does not need a database.

It created a folder called myapp that was an initialized git repository of a Rust Crate with many extra files.

$ tree
├── Cargo.toml
├── config
│   ├── development.yaml
│   ├── production.yaml
│   └── test.yaml
├── src
│   ├──
│   ├── bin
│   │   └──
│   ├── controllers
│   │   ├──
│   │   └──
│   ├──
│   ├── mailers
│   │   ├── auth
│   │   │   ├── forgot
│   │   │   │   ├── html.ejs
│   │   │   │   ├── subject.ejs
│   │   │   │   └── text.ejs
│   │   │   └── welcome
│   │   │       ├── html.t
│   │   │       ├── subject.t
│   │   │       └── text.t
│   │   ├──
│   │   └──
│   ├── tasks
│   │   ├──
│   │   └──
│   ├── views
│   │   └──
│   └── workers
│       ├──
│       └──
├── tests
│   ├──
│   └── requests
│       ├──
│       ├──
│       └── snapshots
│           └── can_print_echo.snap

15 directories, 28 files

Starting the development server

cargo loco start

This will install a bunch of crates and start the web application on port 3000

Visiting http://localhost:3000 all I could see was the text "Loco".

Searching for that string revealed it appears in 4 places:

$ ack Loco

12:    format::text("Loco")

22:        assert_eq!(response.text(), "Loco");
36:            .json(&serde_json::json!({"site": "Loco"}))

7:    "{\"site\":\"Loco\"}",

I guess the one in the controllers folder is the one that is being served and the two copies in the tests folder are tests.


We can run the tests with the following command:

cargo test

Main route

In the src/controllers/ file there are 2 functions that are mapped to 2 routes.

This is the index function that just returns the text "Loco".

async fn index(State(_ctx): State<AppContext>) -> Result<String> {

This is the echo function that returns the content of the requests.

pub async fn echo(req_body: String) -> String {

This is how we map two paths (two routes) to the functions that were defined earlier.

pub fn routes() -> Routes {
    Routes::new().add("/", get(index)).add("/echo", post(echo))

The following maps the / path using the GET HTTP method to the index function

add("/", get(index)).

This one maps the /echo path using the POST HTTP method to the echo function.

add("/echo", post(echo))

Using Curl we can try both:

curl -i http://localhost:3000/


curl -i -X POST -d "Hello Rust" http://localhost:3000/echo

The -i flag was used to also print the header. It reveals that both responses send with content-type text/plain and not text/html.

Change the echo function to reverse the string

Given that we have the string req_body we can apply transformations to that string, for example we can reverse the string:

pub async fn echo(req_body: String) -> String {

In order for these changes to take effect we have to stop the development server using Ctrl-C and then start it again with

cargo loco start

Create an API, return JSON

If you'd like to create a web application that has an API, you need to be able to return JSON strings. Here is a simple examples:

In Cargo.toml, change the dependency on serde to include the derive feature as well:

serde = { version = "1.0", features = ["derive"] }

At the top of the src/controllers/ file include

use axum::Json;

Create a struct that will hold the data we will want to return. In this case I just continued the echo example and created a struct that will hold the original text and the reversed text. We also set the derive attribute to Serialize the struct.

pub struct Echo {
    text: String,
    reversed: String,

We need to implement a function that will create the struct and call format::json to serialize it and return it. The name of the function is not very original, I just called it api. The return value of the function is a Result including the Json version of the Echo struct.

pub async fn api(req_body: String) -> Result<Json<Echo>>  {
    let data = Echo {
        text: req_body.clone(),
        reversed: req_body.chars().rev().collect(),

Finally I had to update the route, adding a mapping of /api path to the api function:

add("/api", post(api))

Running cargo fmt on the code made it much more readable:

pub fn routes() -> Routes {
        .add("/", get(index))
        .add("/echo", post(echo))
        .add("/api", post(api))

At this point I could stop and restart the development server and then I could use curl to try the new code.

We got back the json string and the content-type was set to application/json as I expected.


HTTP/1.1 200 OK
content-type: application/json
content-length: 47
date: Sun, 03 Dec 2023 12:31:17 GMT

{"text":"Hello World","reversed":"dlroW olleH"}

Change the main route to return HTML

Finally, let's see how can we return an HTML page and how can we set the Content-Type to be text/html?

At the top of the controller file include the following:

use axum::{

Change the return value of the function to be Result, and use the Html::from(html).into_response() call to return the HTML setting the content type.

async fn index(State(_ctx): State<AppContext>) -> Response {
    let html = r#"Hello <b>Loco</b>"#;

We can use Curl again to verify the content type:

$ curl -i http://localhost:3000/

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
content-type: text/html; charset=utf-8
content-length: 17
date: Sun, 03 Dec 2023 13:10:57 GMT

Hello <b>Loco</b>


When developing a web application it is quite annoying if you have to keep stopping the application with Ctrl-C and restarting it manually. Luckily, as pointed out by Elad Kaplan the lead developer of Loco, one can use cargo-watch:

Install it:

cargo install cargo-watch

Run the development server this way:

cargo-watch -x check  -s 'cargo loco start'

Due to the compilation time of Rust each restart still takes a few second, but at least I don't have to do it manually.


This is a promising web framework, we'll see if it catches on.

Oh, and it took a while and a picture shared by the authors, to realize that the name "Loco" refers to locomotive (as in train, rails...) and not crazy in Spanish...

Related Pages

Loco web development framework for Rust


Gabor Szabo (szabgab)

Gabor Szabo, the author of the Rust Maven web site maintains several Open source projects in Rust and while he still feels he has tons of new things to learn about Rust he already offers training courses in Rust and still teaches Python, Perl, git, GitHub, GitLab, CI, and testing.

Gabor Szabo