24 days of Rust - zip and lzma compression

The zip crate is the most commonly used Rust library for manipulating ZIP archives. It supports reading and writing .zip files with different compression methods (store, deflate, bzip2).

There are at least three crates for LZMA (de)compression on crates.io. lzma is pure Rust, but currently allows only reading from archives. rust-lzma supports both reading and writing compressed data, but it's a wrapper for liblzma. Similarly the xz2 crate is a binding for liblzma.

Creating archives

We're going to compress a text file, namely the Cargo.lock file which exists in every cargo project and keeps track of precise versions of dependencies. This is for illustration only, the lock file doesn't grow so much it would require compression.

static FILE_CONTENTS: &'static [u8] = include_bytes!("../Cargo.lock");

The include_bytes! macro comes from the standard library and allows for embedding literal arrays of bytes in the source code.

extern crate zip;

use std::io::{Seek, Write};
use zip::result::ZipResult;
use zip::write::{FileOptions, ZipWriter};

fn create_zip_archive<T: Seek + Write>(buf: &mut T) -> ZipResult<()> {
    let mut writer = ZipWriter::new(buf);
    writer.start_file("example.txt", FileOptions::default())?;

The zip crate exposes a ZipWriter struct which wraps anything that's Seek + Write (a file, stdout, an in-memory buffer etc).

fn main() {
    let mut file = File::create("example.zip").expect("Couldn't create file");
    create_zip_archive(&mut file).expect("Couldn't create archive");

After running this, we should now have an example.zip file in the current directory. You can verify with unzip or a GUI archive reader like 7-Zip that it contains correct data.

Reading ZIP archives

In the same vein as ZipWriter wraps a writable object, the ZipArchive is a wrapper around Read + Seek. We can use it to read archive contents like in the example below:

fn browse_zip_archive<T, F, U>(buf: &mut T, browse_func: F) -> ZipResult<Vec<U>>
    where T: Read + Seek,
          F: Fn(&ZipFile) -> ZipResult<U>
    let mut archive = ZipArchive::new(buf)?;
        .map(|i| archive.by_index(i).and_then(|file| browse_func(&file)))

The browse_zip_archive function goes through all files in the archive and applies a callback function to each one. This flexibility allows the caller to decide what to do with each file in turn. The values returned by the callback are collected into a Vec and returned if all goes well. We're using a clever trick here: Result implements FromIterator. This means we can turn an iterator of Results into a Result wrapping a container (Vec here) with a single call to collect(). And if any element is an Err, the Err is returned from the entire function.

let mut file = File::open("example.zip").expect("Couldn't open file");
let files = browse_zip_archive(&mut file, |f| {
    Ok(format!("{}: {} -> {}", f.name(), f.size(), f.compressed_size()))
println!("{:?}", files);
$ cargo run
Ok(["example.txt: 66386 -> 10570"])

Other archive formats

fn create_bz2_archive<T: Seek + Write>(buf: &mut T) -> ZipResult<()> {
    let mut writer = ZipWriter::new(buf);

We can use zip to create a BZIP2 archive. The only change is in the compression method used by ZipWriter.

And now let's use the rust-lzma crate to compress our file to an .xz archive.

use lzma::{LzmaWriter, LzmaError};

fn create_xz_archive<T: Write>(buf: &mut T) -> Result<(), LzmaError> {
    let mut writer = LzmaWriter::new_compressor(buf, 6)?;

LZMA compression doesn't require the buffer to be seekable, it just emits a stream of compressed bytes as it goes over the input. The other difference is that LzmaWriter supports different compression levels (6 is typically the default).


We may be interested in space efficiency of various compression methods. Let's use the metadata function to retrieve size of each file:

if let Ok(meta) = metadata("example.zip") {
    println!("ZIP file size: {} bytes", meta.len());
if let Ok(meta) = metadata("example.bz2") {
    println!("BZ2 file size: {} bytes", meta.len());
if let Ok(meta) = metadata("example.xz") {
    println!("XZ file size: {} bytes", meta.len());
$ cargo run
ZIP file size: 10696 bytes
BZ2 file size: 8524 bytes
XZ file size: 9154 bytes

Further reading

Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões and shared under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. See https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosimoes7/10334117365/