JavaScript vs Rust for Web Scraping

JavaScript vs Rust for web scraping guide. Learn about the pros/cons of using JavaScript and Rust for web scraping.
4 min read
Javascript vs Rust

In this JavaScript vs Rust comparison guide, you will learn:

Let’s dive in!

JavaScript vs Rust: Getting Started

Before jumping into the JavaScript vs Rust comparison for web scraping, you need to understand what the two languages offer and where and how they differ.

First, it is important to note the different levels of popularity these two programming languages have. According to Statista, JavaScript is the most widely used language in the world with over 63% of worldwide developers. In contrast, Rust barely exceeds 13%. This does not mean that JavaScript is inherently better than Rust, but the 50% gap does play a key role in this story.

The main difference between JavaScript and Rust lies in their use cases. JavaScript is the king of web technologies, with dozens of frameworks for both frontend and backend development. On the other hand, Rust is more commonly used for building performance-critical backend systems.

If you’re eager to cover which is best, take a look at the Rust vs JavaScript high-level comparison table below:

CategoryJavaScriptRust
⌨️ Syntax Intuitive and easy-to-readComplex and verbose
⌚ Performance Good performance but at the cost of high memory usageTop-notch performance and memory usage
🌐 EcosystemThe largest in the IT industry, with millions of libraries and developersGood, with more than 130K libraries available
🧰 FrameworksAngular, React, Next.js, Vue, Express, Nuxt, and many othersActix, Axum, Yew, and others
📈 Scalability Great with Node.js and thanks to external librariesScalable by design
🔀 FlexibilityExtreme flexibility through dynamic typing and support for many applicationsVery inflexible because of strict compilation rules
🛡️ SecurityOpen to vulnerabilities because of its high flexibilitySecure by design
🕸️ Web Scraping Supported by many great libraries and a lot of online resourcesPossible, but supported by only a handful of libraries

JavaScript: Definition, Usage, and Features

JavaScript, commonly abbreviated as “JS,” is a lightweight interpreted programming language that serves as the foundational technology of the World Wide Web. Since browsers can execute JavaScript natively, that makes it an optimal choice for frontend development. Thanks to Node.js, servers can run JavaScript too, enabling the same language to be used on both the frontend and backend. This duality, where a single technology operates on both the server and client of a web application is rather rare. That is why JavaScript is so special and therefore so widespread.

The npm package manager alone boasts over 1 million packages. As a result, you can now figure out why the top six most utilized web frameworks are all JavaScript-based.

The distinguishing characteristics of JavaScript as a programming language are:

  • Cross-platform browser compatibility: As an interpreted language, browsers running on different platforms can execute it seamlessly.
  • Extreme adaptability: JavaScript stands out for its versatility across various facets of web development, from frontend, backend, and scripting development.
  • Countless frameworks: Some of the most prominent web frameworks and libraries like React, Angular, Node.js, Express, Vue, and Next.js are all based on JavaScript. That is why the language serves as the cornerstone of contemporary web development.
  • Dynamic typing: As a dynamically typed language, variables can change types dynamically during runtime, offering you considerable flexibility. Conversely, this makes JavaScript prone to runtime errors and less robust than a statically typed language like Rust.
  • Complete standard library tailored for the Web: The standard JavaScript and Node.js libraries provide a complete API for web development, supporting features like DOM manipulation, event handling, and AJAX requests.
  • Asynchronous programming: JavaScript excels in managing asynchronous tasks via the async/await syntax, allowing you to create responsive and engaging web applications with no effort.
  • Thriving community: JavaScript enjoys a large and vibrant community of millions of developers around the globe. This vast network actively contributes to the evolution of the language and fosters a rich ecosystem of packages and resources.

Rust: Definition, Usage, and Features

Rust is a type-safe programming language that combines performance with safety and concurrency. Originally developed by Mozilla Research, Rust has earned widespread acclaim for its ability to produce high-performance and reliable software. In particular, it guarantees memory safety, type safety, and the absence of data races. crates.io, the Rust community’s package repository, hosts over 130,000 libraries with billions of global downloads.

Here are the main aspects and features you should know about the language:

  • System-level programming: Rust is designed for systems programming, offering low-level control over memory management and hardware resources. This enables you to build efficient and robust software for a wide range of applications, from operating systems to embedded systems.
  • Memory safety without garbage collection: By enforcing strict compile-time rules on ownership, borrowing, and lifetimes, the language manages to ensure memory safety without the need for garbage collection.
  • Concurrency without data races: Rust’s unique ownership model facilitates safe concurrency by preventing data races at compile time. Through its innovative approach to shared mutable state, you can write concurrent code that is both efficient and safe.
  • Pattern matching and algebraic data types: The standard library offers top-notch built-in pattern matching capabilities and support for algebraic data types, such as structs and enums.
  • Zero-cost abstractions: Rust provides the ability to define high-level programming constructs without having to allocate memory for them. This feature is called “zero-cost abstractions” and allows you to write code that is both expressive and efficient.
  • Cargo package manager: Cargo, the official Rust package manager, provides a seamless way to deal with dependencies, build projects, and share code with the community. In this ecosystem, a package is called “crate.”
  • Strong community and ecosystem: The community maintains a rich ecosystem of libraries, tools, and resources, making it easy for developers to get started and build great software.

Rust and JavaScript: Pros

Delve into the JavaScript vs Rust comparison by discovering the primary strengths of the two programming languages.

👍 JavaScript

  • Browsers can execute it natively.
  • Probably the fastest interpreted language in the world.
  • Easy and intuitive syntax.
  • Great for both frontend and backend development.
  • Vast number of libraries available.
  • Support for functional programming, object-oriented programming, and scripting.
  • Arguably the largest community in the world.

👍 Rust

  • High performance.
  • Low-level API with memory safety guarantees.
  • Strongly and statically typed.
  • Zero-cost abstractions for optimal memory usage.
  • Concurrency without race conditions.
  • Systems programming development made easier thanks to the borrow checker.
  • Support for iterators and closures.

JavaScript and Rust: Cons

This Rust vs JavaScript guide would not be complete without a look at the downsides associated with the two languages.

👎 JavaScript

  • High memory usage.
  • Subject to security vulnerabilities such as XSS (Cross-Site Scripting).
  • Different browsers may interpret it differently.
  • Difficult to debug, particularly on the frontend.
  • Dynamic types lead to annoying runtime errors.

👎 Rust

  • Difficult to read and understand because of its syntax inspired by C and C++.
  • Many unique concepts, such as the ownership model, make it unsuitable for beginners.
  • Not supported by the larger community.
  • Verbosity and inflexibility.
  • Too focused on backend and systems development.

JavaScript vs Rust: In-Depth Analysis

Before assessing how the two languages compare in terms of web scraping, it makes sense to evaluate them based on general aspects like performance and learning curve. Note that the goal is not to declare a winner in absolute terms. There is no such thing as a better language because the results depend on the specific use case.

Let’s embark on this Rust vs JavaScript head-to-head analysis!

Learning Curve

JavaScript and Rust present opposing learning curves, each suited to different developer audiences.

JavaScript offers a relatively gentle learning curve, thanks to its forgiving syntax and numerous available online resources. Novices usually find its dynamic typing and loosely enforced conventions accessible. Nevertheless, mastering the asynchronous programming model and more advanced concepts can become challenging.

Rust is instead designed with a focus on safety and performance in mind. Its strict compiler enforces ownership, borrowing, and lifetimes, requiring a paradigm shift for developers accustomed to languages with garbage collection. Its emphasis on memory management, concurrency, and low-level systems programming demands a deeper understanding of computer science concepts. Consequently, Rust’s learning curve is quite steep.

Performance and Memory Usage

JavaScript has undergone significant optimization with modern engines such as V8, improving its speed and efficiency. At the same time, this has not been enough to close the gap with low-level languages like Rust.

Most of benchmarks show that Rust is faster and more memory efficient than JavaScript, due to its precise control over memory usage and the absence of a garbage collector. The result is that Rust outperforms JavaScript, particularly in resource-intensive tasks and low-level systems programming.

Scalability

Scalability is often a bigger concern in backend development. So, it is better to focus on Rust vs Node.js this time.

Thanks to its event-driven, non-blocking I/O nature, Node.js scales well and fast. This design helps teh backend technology efficiently handle a large number of simultaneous requests effortlessly. When it comes to horizontal scalability, Node.js provides the cluster module to distribute tasks across multiple processes.

JavaScript may need some libraries and optimizations for optimal scalability. Instead, Rust’s focus on concurrency makes it naturally suitable for building scalable systems. That is particularly true in performance-critical areas.

Flexibility

The JavaScript vs Rust comparison shows that the two languages have quite different levels of flexibility. JavaScript features dynamic typing, supports different programming paradigms, and allows developers to rapidly prototype and adapt code to changing requirements.

On the contrary, Rust applies strict rules on memory management and ownership. This ensures reliability and code maintenance, but it also seems quite restrictive, especially for beginners.

Security

JavaScript is more susceptible to common security vulnerabilities like type coercion and injection attacks. Modern frameworks offer security features, but vulnerabilities can still arise due to the flexible nature of the language. Rust’s strong compile-time checks against memory safety issues, such as buffer overflows and data races, make it inherently more secure.

Which to Choose Between JavaScript and Rust for Web Scraping?

You are finally ready to see what Rust and JavaScript have to offer when it comes to extracting data from web pages.

As covered in our Rust web scraping guide, some crates you can use to collect online data are:

  • scraper: A flexible HTML parser that facilitates efficient extraction of data from HTML documents.
  • rust-headless-chrome: A headless Chrome browser automation tool that provides a robust solution for scraping dynamic pages.
  • reqwest: A powerful HTTP client enabling seamless web requests and interactions.
  • thirtyfour: Rust bindings for Selenium for automated user interaction within controlled browser instances.

Rust is a good choice for efficient and concurrent web scraping. On the other hand, its complex syntax and nature do not make it the best tool for simple scraping scripts. Also, there are not many resources you can find about online data extraction in Rust.

JavaScript may not be as efficient as Rust, but it does offer better web scraping libraries. Some of these are:

  • Cheerio: A fast, flexible, and jQuery-like library for HTML parsing. Learn how to use it in our guide on web scraping with JavaScript.
  • Puppeteer: A powerful browser automation library developed by Google. It allows you to control headless Chrome and is excellent for scraping dynamic websites that require JavaScript execution.
  • Playwright: A browser automation tool to write scripts for automating interactions with web applications. It supports multiple browsers and provides APIs for tasks like testing and scraping.
  • Axios: A popular HTTP client for making web requests and downloading the HTML documents associated with web pages. Find out how to use proxies in Axios.
  • node-fetch: A lightweight module that provides Fetch API implementation, enabling you to perform HTTP requests intuitively in Node.js. See how to integrate proxies into Node-fetch.

The above packages are popular, supported by extensive documentation, and well-suited for scraping tasks of all kinds. Aside from its focus on the Web, these aspects are what make JavaScript a better option than Rust for web scraping. For specific scenarios where performance is critical, you may still prefer Rust. However, in most common scenarios, going for JavaScript is a no-brainer.

Conclusion

In this JavaScript vs Rust article, you explored what the two languages are and found out what they have to offer. In particular, you saw how Rust and JavaScript differ in several aspects and how they perform when it comes to web scraping.

Thus, should you adopt Rust or JavaScript? It does not matter which language you choose, Bright Data has you covered! Our rotating proxies work with any programming language and are available in more than 195 countries. Want more? Web Unlocker or Scraping Browser will help you bypass anti-bot solutions like CAPTCHAs, IP bans, and rate limiting. Make sure your web scraper does not get blocked and achieves its goal!

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