This (short) chapter will explain the concept of resources, data which is shared between systems.

First of all, when would you need resources? There's actually a great example in chapter 3, where we just faked the delta time when applying the velocity. Let's see how we can do this the right way.

struct DeltaTime(f32);

Note: In practice you may want to use std::time::Duration instead, because you shouldn't use f32s for durations in an actual game, because they're not precise enough.

Adding this resource to our world is pretty easy:

world.insert(DeltaTime(0.05)); // Let's use some start value

To update the delta time, just use

use specs::WorldExt;

let mut delta = world.write_resource::<DeltaTime>();
*delta = DeltaTime(0.04);

Accessing resources from a system

As you might have guessed, there's a type implementing system data specifically for resources. It's called Read (or Write for write access).

So we can now rewrite our system:

use specs::{Read, ReadStorage, System, WriteStorage};

struct UpdatePos;

impl<'a> System<'a> for UpdatePos {
    type SystemData = (Read<'a, DeltaTime>,
                       ReadStorage<'a, Velocity>,
                       WriteStorage<'a, Position>);

    fn run(&mut self, data: Self::SystemData) {
        let (delta, vel, mut pos) = data;

        // `Read` implements `Deref`, so it
        // coerces to `&DeltaTime`.
        let delta = delta.0;

        for (vel, pos) in (&vel, &mut pos).join() {
            pos.x += vel.x * delta;
            pos.y += vel.y * delta;

Note that all resources that a system accesses must be registered with world.insert(resource) before that system is run, or you will get a panic. If the resource has a Default implementation, this step is usually done during setup, but again we will come back to this in a later chapter.

For more information on SystemData, see the system data chapter.

Default for resources

As we have learned in previous chapters, to fetch a Resource in our SystemData, we use Read or Write. However, there is one issue we have not mentioned yet, and that is the fact that Read and Write require Default to be implemented on the resource. This is because Specs will automatically try to add a Default version of a resource to the World during setup (we will come back to the setup stage in the next chapter). But how do we handle the case when we can't implement Default for our resource?

There are actually three ways of doing this:

  • Using a custom SetupHandler implementation, you can provide this in SystemData with Read<'a, Resource, TheSetupHandlerType>.
  • By replacing Read and Write with ReadExpect and WriteExpect, which will cause the first dispatch of the System to panic unless the resource has been added manually to World first.
  • By using Option<Read<'a, Resource>>, if the resource really is optional. Note that the order here is important, using Read<'a, Option<Resource>> will not result in the same behavior (it will try to fetch Option<Resource> from World, instead of doing an optional check if Resource exists).

In the next chapter, you will learn about the different storages and when to use which one.