#formatter #verus #pretty-print

bin+lib verusfmt

An opinionated formatter for Verus

16 releases

new 0.3.0 Apr 11, 2024
0.2.11 Apr 2, 2024
0.2.10 Mar 27, 2024
0.2.7 Feb 29, 2024
0.1.5 Jan 31, 2024

#404 in Development tools

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MIT license


Rust 1.5K SLoC // 0.1% comments Pest 1.5K SLoC // 0.1% comments


An opinionated formatter for Verus code.


verusfmt is highly experimental code. Make backups of your files before trying verusfmt on them.

Installing and Using Verusfmt

We support multiple install methods:

  • Latest release using:

    • Pre-built binary on Linux/MacOS (click to expand)
      curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -LsSf https://github.com/verus-lang/verusfmt/releases/latest/download/verusfmt-installer.sh | sh
    • Pre-built binary on Windows (click to expand)
      irm https://github.com/verus-lang/verusfmt/releases/latest/download/verusfmt-installer.ps1 | iex
    • cargo install (click to expand)
      cargo install verusfmt --locked
  • Bleeding-edge latest git commit

    • cargo install (click to expand)
      cargo install --git https://github.com/verus-lang/verusfmt --locked

These will install the verusfmt binary. You can then run it on a file using:

verusfmt foo.rs

See verusfmt --help for more options and details.


  1. Make it easier to read and contribute to Verus code by automatically formatting it in a consistent style (added bonus: eliminating soul-crushing arguments about style).
  2. Produce acceptably "pretty" output.
  3. Run fast! verusfmt may be run in pre-submit scripts, CI, etc., so it can't be slow.
  4. Keep the code reasonably simple. Pretty printers are notoriously hard, so we try to take steps to reduce that difficulty, so that verusfmt can be updated and adapted with a reasonable amount of effort.


  1. Why not adapt rustfmt for Verus idioms?

    While Verus has Rust-like syntax, it necessarily also deviates from it to support its idioms naturally, and thus not only would the parser for rustfmt need updates, but also careful changes to the emitter would be needed to have code look natural. Additionally, since practically all Verus code is inside the verus!{} macro (and rustfmt does not easily support formatting even regular Rust inside macros), a non-trivial amount of effort would be required to perform the plumbing and maintenance required to support both formatting outside the verus!{} macro (as Rust code), while also formatting Verus code inside the macro.

  2. Does verusfmt match rustfmt on code outside the verus!{} macro?

    Yes, by default, verusfmt handles code inside the verus!{} macro, and also runs rustfmt to handle code outside the macro. Neither should clash with the other or override each other's formatting changes. Thus, this makes it easier to incrementally verify small amounts of code inside a larger unverified Rust crate. You can disable the invocation of rustfmt using --verus-only.

  3. Why not build this as a feature of Verus?

    By the time Verus receives an AST from rustc, we've already lost information about whitespace and comments, meaning that we couldn't preserve the comments in the reformatted code. Plus, firing up all of rustc just to format some code seems heavyweight.

Future Work

  • Special handling for commonly used macros, like println!, state_machine!, calc!
  • Enforce the Rust naming policy?

Non-Future Work

  • We currently have no plans to sort use declarations the way rustfmt does
  • We do not intend to parse code that Verus itself cannot parse. Sometimes verusfmt happens to parse such code, but that is unintentional and cannot be counted upon.
  • Perfectly match the formatting produced by rustfmt
  • Handle comments perfectly -- they're surprisingly hard!

Design Overview

Our design is heavily influenced by the Goals above. Rather than write everything from scratch (a notoriously hard undertaking), we use a parser-generator to read in Verus source code, and a pretty-printing library to format it on the way out. We try to keep each phase as performant as possible, and we largely try to keep the formatter stateless, for performance reasons but more importantly to try to keep the code reasonably simple and easy to reason about. Hence we sometimes deviate from Rust's style guidelines for the sake of simplicity.


We define the syntax of Verus source code using this grammar, which is processed by the Pest parser generator, which relies on Parsing Expression Grammars (PEGs). It conveniently allows us to define our notion of whitespace and comments, which the remaining rules can then ignore; Pest will handle them implicitly. We explicitly ignore the code outside the verus! macro, leaving it to rustfmt. We prefer using explicit rules for string constants, since it allows a more uniform style when formatting the code. In some places, we have multiple definitions for the same Verus construct, so that we can format it differently depending on the context (see, e.g., attr_core). Many of the rules are designed to follow the corresponding description in The Rust Reference.


Rather than try to format things ourselves, we rely on the pretty crate, based on Philip Wadler's design for a pretty printer. The core idea is that you create a set of possible code layouts, and the pretty printer then uses its internal heuristics to pick the prettiest version. Typically this means that we specify where, say, line breaks can occur if the code needs to be placed on multiple lines, but you can also use the group operator to say that for a particular code snippet, the pretty printer should also consider placing everying in the group on a single line.

As much as possible, we try to keep the formatter simple by arranging for the formatting of a node to be computed by simply formatting each of its children. Sometimes this requires splitting a node in the parser, so that we can format the same item in two different ways, depending on its context. Rust contexts can be tricky to track dynamically (since Rust allows expressions in statements, and statements in expression), so we try to keep the formatter stateless to reduce the scope for errors.


We welcome contributions! Please read on for details.

We consider it a bug in verusfmt if you provide verusfmt with code that Verus accepts and verusfmt produces code that Verus does not accept or code that has different semantics from the original. When this happens, please open a GitHub issue with a minimal example of the offending code before and after formatting.

If verusfmt produces valid code but you dislike the formatting, please open a GitHub pull request with your proposed changes and rationale for those changes. Please ensure that existing test cases still pass (see below for more details), unless your goal is to change how some of those test cases are handled. Please also include new/updated tests that exercise your proposed changes.

Tips for Developing a Fix or an Improvement

  1. Write out a small example .rs file focusing on the specific thing you want to improve. Test verusfmt on your reduced example to make sure the issue still manifests; running with --check is very helpful with this process. The smaller your example file, the easier subsequent steps will be.
  2. When running with --check, you can also add -dd to see 2nd level debug output, which includes the parse tree. Look through the parse tree and identify rules relevant to your particular example.
  3. Once you find the relevant rule names, if the issue seems to be a misparse, jump over to src/verus.pest to find the relevant rule(s) and see if the grammar needs to be fixed or improved.
  4. If the parsing is fine but the printing is an issue, then look for the relevant rule(s) in the to_doc function in src/lib.rs. This might be a bit difficult to understand immediately, so having the pretty docs handy is quite helpful. Also, it is helpful to look at the relevant debug print (using -d or -dd), which gives a serialized version of the recursively expanded doc, right before it has been optimized, so figuring out which particular bit of it is not behaving as you like is quite helpful.
  5. Attempt fixes until the small example succeeds.
  6. Add the example into the tests---see the Testing section below.
  7. If fixing the rule for your small example succeeds but breaks other tests, you may need to split the relevant rule in the parsing grammar into two separate cases, so that each case can be formatted independently. See comma_delimited_exprs_for_verus_clauses and groupable_comma_delimited_exprs_for_verus_clauses, for example.


Rust-like formatting

In general, we try to adhere to Rust's style guide. Tests for such adherence live in tests/rustfmt-matching.rs. These tests will compare the output of rustfmt to that of verusfmt. You can run them via cargo test.

Verus-like formatting

In various places, we deviate from Rust's style, either to simplify the formatter or to handle Verus-specific syntax. Tests for formatting such code live in tests/verus-consistency.rs. You can add a new test or modify an existing one by writing/changing the input code. The test's correct answer is maintained via the Insta testing framework.

Insta recommends installing the cargo-insta tool for an improved review experience:

cargo install cargo-insta

You can run the tests normally with cargo test, but it's often more convenient to run the tests and review the results via:

cargo insta test
cargo insta review

or more succinctly:

cargo insta test --review


~359K SLoC