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Welcome to the introduction for the sled embedded database! We’ll keep this short and sweet.

Sled can be thought of as a BTreeMap<[u8], [u8]> that stores its data on disk.

Embedded databases are useful in several cases:

Let’s get going!

Open your rust project, or create one with cargo new sled-intro.

In Cargo.toml, add sled to the dependencies section:

sled = "0.34"

Now, in your Rust code:

fn main() -> sled::Result<()> {
    // this directory will be created if it does not exist
    let path = "my_storage_directory";

    // works like std::fs::open
    let db = sled::open(path)?;

    // key and value types can be `Vec<u8>`, `[u8]`, or `str`.
    let key = "my key";

    // `generate_id`
    let value = db.generate_id()?.to_be_bytes();

        db.insert(key, &value)?, // as in BTreeMap::insert
        db.get(key)?,            // as in BTreeMap::get
        db.remove(key)?,         // as in BTreeMap::remove


This will create a new directory, my_storage_directory, write a new item into the database inside, retrieve the item, and then remove it. If remove were not used, the data would be stored safely on disk for future access.

Key and Value Types

The key and value types can be a Vec<u8>, a [u8], or a str. These will be converted to the sled IVec type automatically. IVec is an Arc<[u8]> that will not allocate if the value is small. It has implemented the Deref<Target=[u8]> trait, which means it may use all of the &[u8] slice methods.

Error Handling

All sled operations return a sled::Result that should never be ignored. If this is an Err, it means a serious unexpected issue has happened. Operations that may fail in expected ways, like compare_and_swap, have a nested return type of sled::Result<CompareAndSwapResult> where the expected failure is nested inside the unexpected failure. This allows users to use the try operator on every sled operation, and locally reason about errors that are likely to be encountered. This allows your local error handling logic to take full advantage of Rust’s exhaustive pattern matching. I’ve written more extensively about this in a post on error handling.

Thread Safety

All operations in sled are thread-safe. The Db may be cloned and shared across threads without needing to use Arc or Mutex etc… Internally, sled relies on atomic operations to guarantee correctness when being used by multiple threads. Sled has been designed from the beginning to perform well with highly concurrent workloads.

Advanced Features

Many more advanced features are supported, which might be useful for creators of higher performance stateful systems.