I was talking with a colleague about Rust and we were wondering (since we are both learning the language) how error handling compares to Go.

Chaining error in Go

Go’s best practice when you want to chain multiple errors is to “wrap” them.

For example let’s say you have this function returning an error:

func do_something() err {
 value := "value"
  if value != "expected" {
    return fmt.Errorf("this was not expected")

when we call the function do_something() from another function, we want to add context to it and to do so we will wrap it around it with the “%w” directive:

fn start_doing_something() err {
 err := do_something()
 if err != nil {
  return fmt.Errorf("I got an error while trying to do something: %w", err)

Error chaining in Rust

So now how do we do this in Rust?

It does not seems there is any built-in way to do this but you can use the vastly popular crates called anyhow for it.

In this case it’s not called wrapping but context (which is a confusing overused term imho) and here is an example :

use anyhow::Context;

#[derive(thiserror::Error, Debug)]
pub enum MyErr {
    #[error("This is the first error")]

    #[error("This is the middle error")]

    #[error("This is the final error")]
fn first() -> anyhow::Result<(), MyErr> {

fn second() -> anyhow::Result<(), anyhow::Error> {

fn finally() -> anyhow::Result<(), anyhow::Error> {

fn main() -> anyhow::Result<()> {
  • We first make our own enum of custom errors. The enum has a derive on another crates called thiserror. This crates allows you to have human friendly error message without having to do too much work for it.

  • starting from the bottom on the main function we return and “Box” all our errors with anyhow::Results this will get all error to it.

  • We call the finally function with the “?” operator at the end. It’s a shorthand to say :

    • if it’s Ok, then yeah please go on and continue do your work.
    • if it’s not then return the error.
    • from the finally function we call another function called second, they are both adding a context to the error to let the user know where this comes from. This only happen if we are erroring. If we were Ok() we would not get any error.

The final output will looks like this:

% cargo run -q
Error: This is the final error

Caused by:
    0: This is the middle error
    1: This is the first error

with the help of anyhow and thiserror we are nicely showing the chain of errors and what caused it.

My humble comparaison between Go and Rust error chaining

The go way is definitely more idiomatic and much easier to write and understand than the the rust way. However the Rust way is more elegant and I feel in the long term will be more robust if we have to do some refactoring.