CorDapp Contracts

This article explains:

  • How Corda nodes run contracts in CorDapps.
  • What the contract class is and how to use it.
  • What the verify function is and how to validate transactions with it.
  • What the LedgerTransaction object is and what it does.
  • How to write effective verification logic.

Glossary

Contract A file that defines the rules for verifying transaction inputs and outputs. Verify function A function containing all the requirements a Corda node needs to verify a transaction. LedgerTransaction object An object that contains information describing the transaction being evaluated.

In the context of a CorDapp, contracts define rules for verifying transaction inputs and outputs. A CorDapp can have more than one contract, and each contract defines the rules for one or more states. The goal of a contract is to ensure that input and output states in transactions are valid and to prevent invalid transactions.

Contract files implement the Contract interface, containing the verify method. The verify method takes transactions as input and evaluates them against rules defined as a requireThat element.

Here is an example contract. This contract accepts transactions and verifies them based on verification logic defined for each type of command.

class XContract : Contract {
    interface Commands : CommandData {
        class Issue : TypeOnlyCommandData(), Commands
        class Transfer : TypeOnlyCommandData(), Commands
    }

    override fun verify(tx: LedgerTransaction) {
        val command = tx.findCommand<Commands> { true }

        when (command.value) {
            is Commands.Issue -> {
                // Issuance verification logic.
            }
            is Commands.Transfer -> {
                // Transfer verification logic.
            }
        }
    }
}

The Contract class

Contracts are contained in CorDapps. All parties wishing to transact in a network must have a copy of the CorDapp running on their Corda node. All parties run the contract for any transaction they’re a party to, verifying the transaction.

The contract interface is:

@KeepForDJVM
@CordaSerializable
interface Contract {
    @Throws(IllegalArgumentException::class)
    fun verify(tx: LedgerTransaction)

When a node needs to verify a transaction using a contract, it uses the verify function. This function contains all of the rules and requirements that are applied to the transaction to test whether the proposal is valid.

The Contract interface has a single method, verify, which takes a LedgerTransaction as input and returns nothing.

The function:

  1. Gathers all contracts relevant to the transaction. Many contracts may pertain to a single transaction.
  2. Runs the verify function of each contract, using the transaction as the LedgerTransaction input.
  3. Deems the transaction valid if no exceptions are thrown.

The verify function

The verify function can only access:

  • The properties defined in the specific transaction being evaluated.
  • Limited libraries.

These restrictions prevent the function from accessing information outside the transaction, including any sources of randomness, such as the current time or a random number generation.

The two simplest verify functions:

  • Accept all possible transactions:
override fun verify(tx: LedgerTransaction) {
    // Always accepts!
}
  • Reject all possible transactions:
override fun verify(tx: LedgerTransaction) {
    throw IllegalArgumentException("Always rejects!")
}

The LedgerTransaction object

The LedgerTransaction object contains information describing the transaction being evaluated. This information is expressed as properties. You can access it using utility methods. The information contained in the LedgerTransaction object is the only information that can be used within the verify function.

The LedgerTransaction object passed into verify has these properties:

  • inputs: The transaction’s input states as List<StateAndRef<ContractState>>.
  • outputs: The transaction’s output states as List<TransactionState<ContractState>>.
  • commands: The transaction’s commands and associated signers, as List<CommandWithParties<CommandData>>.
  • attachments: The transaction’s attachments as List<Attachment>.
  • id: The hash of the original serialized WireTransaction as SecureHash.
  • notary: The transaction’s notary. All inputs must also use this notary.
  • timeWindow: Defines when the transaction can be notarized.
  • privacySalt: Random data used for salting the transaction ID hash.
  • networkParameters: The network parameters that were in force when the transaction was constructed. This is nullable for backwards compatibility for serialized transactions. In reality this will always be set in expected use.
  • references: Referenced states required by the transaction, but not consumed by it, as List<StateAndRed<ContractState>>.

The LedgerTransaction object also exposes a large number of utility methods to access the transaction’s contents:

  • inputStates: Extracts the input ContractState objects from the list of StateAndRef.
  • getInput/getOutput/getCommand/getAttachment: Extracts a component by index.
  • getAttachment: Extracts an attachment by ID.
  • inputsOfType/inRefsOfType/outputsOfType/outRefsOfType/commandsOfType: Extracts components based on their generic type.
  • filterInputs/filterInRefs/filterOutputs/filterOutRefs/filterCommands: Extracts components based on a predicate.
  • findInput/findInRef/findOutput/findOutRef/findCommand: Extracts the single component that matches a predicate, or throws an exception if there are multiple matches.

Writing verification logic

To be deemed valid, most transactions have many requirements or verification statements that must be true. For example, in a state issuance transaction, the following verification might apply:

  • There should be no input states.
  • There should only be one output state.

You could write verification logic that throws an error for each of these requirements. However, it would be more efficient to use a requireThat function to list a series of requirements as string/boolean pairs:

requireThat {
    "No inputs should be consumed when issuing an X." using (tx.inputs.isEmpty())
    "Only one output state should be created." using (tx.outputs.size == 1)
    val out = tx.outputs.single() as XState
    "The sender and the recipient cannot be the same entity." using (out.sender != out.recipient)
    "All of the participants must be signers." using (command.signers.containsAll(out.participants))
    "The X's value must be non-negative." using (out.x.value > 0)
}

The function checks each string and boolean pair within the requireThat function. If the boolean condition is false, the function throws an IllegalArgumentException with the corresponding string as the exception message. This exception causes the transaction to be rejected.

Customising verification by command

The LedgerTransaction object contains the commands as a list of CommandWithParties instances. CommandWithParties pairs a CommandData with a list of required signers for the transaction:

@KeepForDJVM
@CordaSerializable
data class CommandWithParties<out T : CommandData>(
        val signers: List<PublicKey>,
        val signingParties: List<Party>,
        val value: T
)


* `signers`: The list of each signers `PublicKey`.
* `signingParties` (deprecated): The list of the signers identities, if known.
* `value`: The object being signed.

Usually, different commands require different verification requirements. An issue command may require
very different verification than a transfer command.

You can tailor verification to the command by specifying the command type:

```kotlin
class XContract : Contract {
    interface Commands : CommandData {
        class Issue : TypeOnlyCommandData(), Commands
        class Transfer : TypeOnlyCommandData(), Commands
    }

    override fun verify(tx: LedgerTransaction) {
        val command = tx.findCommand<Commands> { true }

        when (command.value) {
            is Commands.Issue -> {
                // Issuance verification logic.
            }
            is Commands.Transfer -> {
                // Transfer verification logic.
            }
        }
    }
}

Further reading

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