Package ID Specifications

Package ID specifications

Subcommands of Cargo frequently need to refer to a particular package within a dependency graph for various operations like updating, cleaning, building, etc. To solve this problem, Cargo supports Package ID Specifications. A specification is a string which is used to uniquely refer to one package within a graph of packages.

Specification grammar

The formal grammar for a Package Id Specification is:

pkgid := pkgname
       | [ proto "://" ] hostname-and-path [ "#" ( pkgname | semver ) ]
pkgname := name [ ":" semver ]

proto := "http" | "git" | ...

Here, brackets indicate that the contents are optional.

Example specifications

These could all be references to a package foo version 1.2.3 from the registry at

pkgid name version url
foo foo * *
foo:1.2.3 foo 1.2.3 * foo * *:// foo 1.2.3 *:// foo 1.2.3 *:// foo 1.2.3

Brevity of specifications

The goal of this is to enable both succinct and exhaustive syntaxes for referring to packages in a dependency graph. Ambiguous references may refer to one or more packages. Most commands generate an error if more than one package could be referred to with the same specification.