I'm learning Rust by learning the Rust programming language book. I'm now implementing the solution for the third challenge.

Using a hash map and vectors, create a text interface to allow a user to add employee names to a department in a company. For example, "Add Sally to Engineering" or "Add Amir to Sales." Then let the user retrieve a list of all people in a department or all people in the company by department, sorted alphabetically.

I decided to do a simple UI to enter commands, but the implementation is very naive overall.

Rust is my first systems language. My background is in Ruby and Javascript.

use std::collections::HashMap;
use std::io::{self, Write};
use std::str::SplitWhitespace;

fn main() {
    println!("Welcome to the department interface. Please run a command:");

    let mut departments: HashMap<String, Vec<String>> = HashMap::new();

    loop {
        let command = get_command();
        let mut command_iter = command.split_whitespace();

        match command_iter.next() {
            Some("add") => match process_add(&mut command_iter) {
                Ok((employee, department)) => {
                    let mut employees = departments.entry(department).or_insert(Vec::new());
                Err(err) => println!("Error: {}", err),
            Some("help") => help(),
            Some("list") => println!("{:#?}", &departments),
            Some("exit") => break,
            Some(_) => println!("{}: Command unknown. Try `help`", command),
            None => panic!("We shouldn't be here"),

fn help() {
    println!("help: show this help.");
    println!("exit: exits this program.");
    println!("show: shows the deparment structure.");
    println!("add: adds an employee to a department");
    println!("     - usage: `add <employee name> to <department_name>`");

fn print_promt() {
    print!("> ");
    io::stdout().flush().ok().expect("Couldn't flush stdout!");

// I think this can be made better returning an Enum/Struct with a parsed command.
fn get_command() -> String {
    let mut command = String::new();
        .read_line(&mut command)
        .expect("Couldn't read command!");

// The compiler told me to add the lifetime, but I don't understand why (I haven't reached that
// part of the book yet.)
// FIXME `SplitWhitespace` is too specific.
fn process_add<'a>(command: &mut SplitWhitespace) -> Result<(String, String), &'a str> {
    let mut employee = String::new();
    let mut department = String::new();

    // For a command "add Ronald Reagan to Old Presidents"
    // - Consume the iterator onto `employee` until you find "to""
    // - Consume the rest of the iterator onto `department`
    // Using two loops feels naive though. I don't like the duplication inside them.
    // Maybe `String` can be extended and I could add a `push_str_with_separator` method that does
    // the extra check.
    //      employee.push_str_with_separator(word);
    while let Some(word) = command.next() {
        if word == "to" {

        if employee.len() > 0 {
            employee.push_str(" ");

    for word in command {
        if department.len() > 0 {
            department.push_str(" ");

    if employee.len() > 0 && department.len() > 0 {
        Ok((employee, department))
    } else {
        Err("Could not parse command. Try `add <employee name> to <department name>")


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