# Context

The context is a data structure intended to be passed from function to function that carries information about the current state of the application. It provides access to a branched storage (a safe branch of the entire state) as well as useful objects and information like gasMeter, block height, consensus parameters and more.

# Pre-requisites Readings

# Context Definition

The Cosmos SDK Context is a custom data structure that contains Go's stdlib context (opens new window) as its base, and has many additional types within its definition that are specific to the Cosmos SDK. The Context is integral to transaction processing in that it allows modules to easily access their respective store in the multistore and retrieve transactional context such as the block header and gas meter.

Copy /* Context is an immutable object contains all information needed to process a request. It contains a context.Context object inside if you want to use that, but please do not over-use it. We try to keep all data structured and standard additions here would be better just to add to the Context struct */ type Context struct { baseCtx context.Context ms MultiStore header tmproto.Header headerHash tmbytes.HexBytes chainID string txBytes []byte logger log.Logger voteInfo []abci.VoteInfo gasMeter GasMeter blockGasMeter GasMeter checkTx bool recheckTx bool // if recheckTx == true, then checkTx must also be true minGasPrice DecCoins consParams *tmproto.ConsensusParams eventManager *EventManager priority int64 // The tx priority, only relevant in CheckTx }

  • Base Context: The base type is a Go Context (opens new window), which is explained further in the Go Context Package section below.
  • Multistore: Every application's BaseApp contains a CommitMultiStore which is provided when a Context is created. Calling the KVStore() and TransientStore() methods allows modules to fetch their respective KVStore using their unique StoreKey.
  • Header: The header (opens new window) is a Blockchain type. It carries important information about the state of the blockchain, such as block height and proposer of the current block.
  • Header Hash: The current block header hash, obtained during abci.RequestBeginBlock.
  • Chain ID: The unique identification number of the blockchain a block pertains to.
  • Transaction Bytes: The []byte representation of a transaction being processed using the context. Every transaction is processed by various parts of the Cosmos SDK and consensus engine (e.g. Tendermint) throughout its lifecycle, some of which do not have any understanding of transaction types. Thus, transactions are marshaled into the generic []byte type using some kind of encoding format such as Amino.
  • Logger: A logger from the Tendermint libraries. Learn more about logs here (opens new window). Modules call this method to create their own unique module-specific logger.
  • VoteInfo: A list of the ABCI type VoteInfo (opens new window), which includes the name of a validator and a boolean indicating whether they have signed the block.
  • Gas Meters: Specifically, a gasMeter for the transaction currently being processed using the context and a blockGasMeter for the entire block it belongs to. Users specify how much in fees they wish to pay for the execution of their transaction; these gas meters keep track of how much gas has been used in the transaction or block so far. If the gas meter runs out, execution halts.
  • CheckTx Mode: A boolean value indicating whether a transaction should be processed in CheckTx or DeliverTx mode.
  • Min Gas Price: The minimum gas price a node is willing to take in order to include a transaction in its block. This price is a local value configured by each node individually, and should therefore not be used in any functions used in sequences leading to state-transitions.
  • Consensus Params: The ABCI type Consensus Parameters (opens new window), which specify certain limits for the blockchain, such as maximum gas for a block.
  • Event Manager: The event manager allows any caller with access to a Context to emit Events. Modules may define module specific Events by defining various Types and Attributes or use the common definitions found in types/. Clients can subscribe or query for these Events. These Events are collected throughout DeliverTx, BeginBlock, and EndBlock and are returned to Tendermint for indexing. For example:
  • Priority: The transaction priority, only relevant in CheckTx.
Copy ctx.EventManager().EmitEvent(sdk.NewEvent( sdk.EventTypeMessage, sdk.NewAttribute(sdk.AttributeKeyModule, types.AttributeValueCategory)), )

# Go Context Package

A basic Context is defined in the Golang Context Package (opens new window). A Context is an immutable data structure that carries request-scoped data across APIs and processes. Contexts are also designed to enable concurrency and to be used in goroutines.

Contexts are intended to be immutable; they should never be edited. Instead, the convention is to create a child context from its parent using a With function. For example:

Copy childCtx = parentCtx.WithBlockHeader(header)

The Golang Context Package (opens new window) documentation instructs developers to explicitly pass a context ctx as the first argument of a process.

# Store branching

The Context contains a MultiStore, which allows for branchinig and caching functionality using CacheMultiStore (queries in CacheMultiStore are cached to avoid future round trips). Each KVStore is branched in a safe and isolated ephemeral storage. Processes are free to write changes to the CacheMultiStore. If a state-transition sequence is performed without issue, the store branch can be committed to the underlying store at the end of the sequence or disregard them if something goes wrong. The pattern of usage for a Context is as follows:

  1. A process receives a Context ctx from its parent process, which provides information needed to perform the process.
  2. The ctx.ms is a branched store, i.e. a branch of the multistore is made so that the process can make changes to the state as it executes, without changing the originalctx.ms. This is useful to protect the underlying multistore in case the changes need to be reverted at some point in the execution.
  3. The process may read and write from ctx as it is executing. It may call a subprocess and pass ctx to it as needed.
  4. When a subprocess returns, it checks if the result is a success or failure. If a failure, nothing needs to be done - the branch ctx is simply discarded. If successful, the changes made to the CacheMultiStore can be committed to the original ctx.ms via Write().

For example, here is a snippet from the runTx function in baseapp:

Copy runMsgCtx, msCache := app.cacheTxContext(ctx, txBytes) result = app.runMsgs(runMsgCtx, msgs, mode) result.GasWanted = gasWanted if mode != runTxModeDeliver { return result } if result.IsOK() { msCache.Write() }

Here is the process:

  1. Prior to calling runMsgs on the message(s) in the transaction, it uses app.cacheTxContext() to branch and cache the context and multistore.
  2. runMsgCtx - the context with branched store, is used in runMsgs to return a result.
  3. If the process is running in checkTxMode, there is no need to write the changes - the result is returned immediately.
  4. If the process is running in deliverTxMode and the result indicates a successful run over all the messages, the branched multistore is written back to the original.

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