This chapter covers the most central mechanism of the Rust bindings -- one that will accompany you from the Hello-World example to a sophisticated Rust game.

We're talking about objects and the way they integrate into the Godot engine.

Table of contents


To avoid confusion, whenever we talk about objects, we mean instances of Godot classes. This amounts to Object (the hierarchy's root) and all classes inheriting directly or indirectly from it: Node, Resource, RefCounted, etc.

In particular, the term "class" also includes user-provided types that are declared using #[derive(GodotClass)], even if Rust technically calls them structs. In the same vein, inheritance refers to the conceptual relation ("Player inherits Sprite2D"), not any technical language implementation.

Objects do not include built-in types such as Vector2, Color, Transform3D, Array, Dictionary, Variant etc. These types, although sometimes called "built-in classes", are not real classes, and we generally do not refer to their instances as objects.


Inheritance is a central concept in Godot. You likely know it already from the node hierarchy, where derived classes add specific functionality. This concept extends to Rust classes, with inheritance being emulated via composition.

Each Rust class has a Godot base class.

  • Typically, a base class is a node type, i.e. it (indirectly) inherits from the class Node. This makes it possible to attach instances of the class to the scene tree. Nodes are manually managed, so you need to either add them to the scene tree or free them manually.
  • If not explicitly specified, the base class is RefCounted. This is useful to move data around, without interacting with the scene tree. "Data bundles" (collection of multiple fields without much logic) should generally use RefCounted.
  • Object is the root of the inheritance tree. It is rarely used directly, but it is the base class of Node and RefCounted. Use it only when you really need it; it requires manual memory management and is harder to handle.

Inheriting custom base classes

You cannot inherit other Rust classes or user-defined classes declared in GDScript.

To create relations between Rust classes, use composition and traits. The library still undergoes some exploration in this area, so best practices for absracting over Rust classes might change in the future.

The Gd smart pointer

Gd<T> is the type you will encounter the most when working with gdext.

It is also the most powerful and versatile type that the library provides.

In particular, its responsibilities include:

  • Holding references to all Godot objects, whether they are engine types like Node2D or your own #[derive(GodotClass)] structs in Rust.
  • Tracking memory management of types that are reference-counted.
  • Safe access to user-defined Rust objects through interior mutability.
  • Detecting destroyed objects and preventing UB (double-free, dangling pointer, etc.).
  • Providing FFI conversions between Rust and engine representations, for engine-provided and user-exposed APIs.

A few practical examples (don't worry if you don't fully understand them yet, they will be explained later on):

  1. Retrieve a node relative to current -- type inferred as Gd<Node3D>:

    fn main() {
    // retrieve Gd<Node3D>.
    let child = self.base().get_node_as::<Node3D>("Child");
  2. Load a scene and instantiate it as a RigidBody2D:

    fn main() {
    // mob_scene is declared as a field of type Gd<PackedScene>.
    self.mob_scene = load("res://Mob.tscn");
    // instanced is of type Gd<RigidBody2D>.
    let mut instanced = self.mob_scene.instantiate_as::<RigidBody2D>();
  3. A signal handler for the body_entered signal of a Node3D in your custom class:

    fn main() {
    impl Player {
        fn on_body_entered(&mut self, body: Gd<Node3D>) {
            // Body holds the reference to the Node3D object that triggered the signal.

Object management and lifetime

When working with Godot objects, it is important to understand how long they live and how or when they are destroyed.


Not all classes in Godot are constructible; for example, singletons do not provide a constructor.

For all others, the constructor's name depends on the memory management of the class:

  • For reference-counted classes, the constructor is called new_gd (e.g. TcpServer::new_gd())
  • For manually managed classes, it is called new_alloc (e.g. Node2D::new_alloc()).

The new_gd() and new_alloc() functions are imported via extension traits NewGd and NewAlloc, respectively. Those always return the type Gd<Self>. If you type :: after a class name, your IDE should suggest the correct constructor for it.

Instance API

Once alive, Godot objects can be accessed to interact with the engine.

Functionality to query and manage the object's lifetime is directly available on the Gd<T> type. Examples include:

  • instance_id() to obtain Godot's object ID.
  • clone() to create a new reference to the same object.
  • free() to manually destroy objects.
  • == and != to compare objects for identity.


You can up- and downcast objects if they stand in an inheritance relation. gdext will statically ensure that the cast makes sense.

Downcasts are done via cast::<U>(). If the cast fails, the method will panic. You can also use try_cast::<U>() to get a Result.

fn main() {
let node: Gd<Node> = ...;

// "I know this downcast will succeed" -> use cast().
let node2d = node.cast::<Node2D>();
// Alternative syntax:
let node2d: Gd<Node2D> = node.cast();

// Fallible downcast -> use try_cast().
let sprite = node.try_cast::<Sprite2D>();
match sprite {
    Ok(sprite) => { /* access converted Gd<Sprite2D> */ },
    Err(node) => { /* access previous Gd<Node> */ },

Upcasts are always infallible. You can use upcast::<U>() to consume the value.

fn main() {
let node2d: Gd<Node2D> = ...;
let node = node2d.upcast::<Node>();
// or, equivalent:
let node: Gd<Node> = node2d.upcast();

If you just need a reference, use upcast_ref() or upcast_mut().

fn main() {
let node2d: Gd<Node2D> = ...;
let node: &Node = node2d.upcast_ref();

let mut refc: Gd<RefCounted> = ...;
let obj: &mut Object = refc.upcast_mut();


Reference-counted classes, instantiated via new_gd(), are automatically destroyed when the last reference goes out of scope. This includes references that have been shared with the Godot engine (e.g. held by GDScript code).

Classes instantiated via new_alloc() require manual memory management. This means that you either have to explicitly call Gd::free() or let a Godot method such as Node::queue_free() take care of it.

Safety around the dead

Accessing destroyed objects is a common source of bugs in Godot, and can occasionally cause undefined behavior (UB). Not so in godot-rust! We have designed the Gd<T> type to be safe even in the presence of mistakes.

If you try to access a destroyed object, the Rust code will panic. There are also APIs to query for validity, although we generally recommend to fix bugs rather than defensive programming.


Objects are a central concept in the Rust bindings. They represent instances of Godot classes, both engine- and user-defined. We have seen how to construct, manage and destroy them. The next chapter will go into calling Godot functions.