# Transactions

Transactions are objects created by end-users to trigger state changes in the application.

# Pre-requisite Readings

# Transactions

Transactions are comprised of metadata held in contexts and sdk.Msgs that trigger state changes within a module through the module's Protobuf Msg service.

When users want to interact with an application and make state changes (e.g. sending coins), they create transactions. Each of a transaction's sdk.Msg must be signed using the private key associated with the appropriate account(s), before the transaction is broadcasted to the network. A transaction must then be included in a block, validated, and approved by the network through the consensus process. To read more about the lifecycle of a transaction, click here.

# Type Definition

Transaction objects are Cosmos SDK types that implement the Tx interface

Copy // Tx defines the interface a transaction must fulfill. Tx interface { // Gets the all the transaction's messages. GetMsgs() []Msg // ValidateBasic does a simple and lightweight validation check that doesn't // require access to any other information. ValidateBasic() error }

It contains the following methods:

  • GetMsgs: unwraps the transaction and returns a list of contained sdk.Msgs - one transaction may have one or multiple messages, which are defined by module developers.
  • ValidateBasic: lightweight, stateless checks used by ABCI messages CheckTx and DeliverTx to make sure transactions are not invalid. For example, the auth (opens new window) module's ValidateBasic function checks that its transactions are signed by the correct number of signers and that the fees do not exceed what the user's maximum. Note that this function is to be distinct from sdk.Msg ValidateBasic methods, which perform basic validity checks on messages only. When runTx is checking a transaction created from the auth (opens new window) module, it first runs ValidateBasic on each message, then runs the auth module AnteHandler which calls ValidateBasic for the transaction itself.

As a developer, you should rarely manipulate Tx directly, as Tx is really an intermediate type used for transaction generation. Instead, developers should prefer the TxBuilder interface, which you can learn more about below.

# Signing Transactions

Every message in a transaction must be signed by the addresses specified by its GetSigners. The Cosmos SDK currently allows signing transactions in two different ways.

# SIGN_MODE_DIRECT (preferred)

The most used implementation of the Tx interface is the Protobuf Tx message, which is used in SIGN_MODE_DIRECT:

Copy // Tx is the standard type used for broadcasting transactions. message Tx { // body is the processable content of the transaction TxBody body = 1; // auth_info is the authorization related content of the transaction, // specifically signers, signer modes and fee AuthInfo auth_info = 2; // signatures is a list of signatures that matches the length and order of // AuthInfo's signer_infos to allow connecting signature meta information like // public key and signing mode by position. repeated bytes signatures = 3; }

Because Protobuf serialization is not deterministic, the Cosmos SDK uses an additional TxRaw type to denote the pinned bytes over which a transaction is signed. Any user can generate a valid body and auth_info for a transaction, and serialize these two messages using Protobuf. TxRaw then pins the user's exact binary representation of body and auth_info, called respectively body_bytes and auth_info_bytes. The document that is signed by all signers of the transaction is SignDoc (deterministically serialized using ADR-027):

Copy // SignDoc is the type used for generating sign bytes for SIGN_MODE_DIRECT. message SignDoc { // body_bytes is protobuf serialization of a TxBody that matches the // representation in TxRaw. bytes body_bytes = 1; // auth_info_bytes is a protobuf serialization of an AuthInfo that matches the // representation in TxRaw. bytes auth_info_bytes = 2; // chain_id is the unique identifier of the chain this transaction targets. // It prevents signed transactions from being used on another chain by an // attacker string chain_id = 3; // account_number is the account number of the account in state uint64 account_number = 4; }

Once signed by all signers, the body_bytes, auth_info_bytes and signatures are gathered into TxRaw, whose serialized bytes are broadcasted over the network.


The legacy implementation of the Tx interface is the StdTx struct from x/auth:

Copy // StdTx is the legacy transaction format for wrapping a Msg with Fee and Signatures. // It only works with Amino, please prefer the new protobuf Tx in types/tx. // NOTE: the first signature is the fee payer (Signatures must not be nil). // Deprecated type StdTx struct { Msgs []sdk.Msg `json:"msg" yaml:"msg"` Fee StdFee `json:"fee" yaml:"fee"` Signatures []StdSignature `json:"signatures" yaml:"signatures"` Memo string `json:"memo" yaml:"memo"` TimeoutHeight uint64 `json:"timeout_height" yaml:"timeout_height"` }

The document signed by all signers is StdSignDoc:

Copy // StdSignDoc is replay-prevention structure. // It includes the result of msg.GetSignBytes(), // as well as the ChainID (prevent cross chain replay) // and the Sequence numbers for each signature (prevent // inchain replay and enforce tx ordering per account). type StdSignDoc struct { AccountNumber uint64 `json:"account_number" yaml:"account_number"` Sequence uint64 `json:"sequence" yaml:"sequence"` TimeoutHeight uint64 `json:"timeout_height,omitempty" yaml:"timeout_height"` ChainID string `json:"chain_id" yaml:"chain_id"` Memo string `json:"memo" yaml:"memo"` Fee json.RawMessage `json:"fee" yaml:"fee"` Msgs []json.RawMessage `json:"msgs" yaml:"msgs"` Tip *StdTip `json:"tip,omitempty" yaml:"tip"` }

which is encoded into bytes using Amino JSON. Once all signatures are gathered into StdTx, StdTx is serialized using Amino JSON, and these bytes are broadcasted over the network.

# Other Sign Modes

The Cosmos SDK also provides a couple of other sign modes for particular use cases.


SIGN_MODE_DIRECT_AUX is a sign mode released in the Cosmos SDK v0.46 which targets transactions with multiple signers. Whereas SIGN_MODE_DIRECT expects each signer to sign over both TxBody and AuthInfo (which includes all other signers' signer infos, i.e. their account sequence, public key and mode info), SIGN_MODE_DIRECT_AUX allows N-1 signers to only sign over TxBody and their own signer info. Morever, each auxiliary signer (i.e. a signer using SIGN_MODE_DIRECT_AUX) doesn't need to sign over the fees:

Copy // SignDocDirectAux is the type used for generating sign bytes for // SIGN_MODE_DIRECT_AUX. // // Since: cosmos-sdk 0.46 message SignDocDirectAux { // body_bytes is protobuf serialization of a TxBody that matches the // representation in TxRaw. bytes body_bytes = 1; // public_key is the public key of the signing account. google.protobuf.Any public_key = 2; // chain_id is the identifier of the chain this transaction targets. // It prevents signed transactions from being used on another chain by an // attacker. string chain_id = 3; // account_number is the account number of the account in state. uint64 account_number = 4; // sequence is the sequence number of the signing account. uint64 sequence = 5; // Tip is the optional tip used for meta-transactions. It should be left // empty if the signer is not the tipper for this transaction. Tip tip = 6; }

The use case is a multi-signer transaction, where one of the signers is appointed to gather all signatures, broadcast the signature and pay for fees, and the others only care about the transaction body. This generally allows for a better multi-signing UX. If Alice, Bob and Charlie are part of a 3-signer transaction, then Alice and Bob can both use SIGN_MODE_DIRECT_AUX to sign over the TxBody and their own signer info (no need an additional step to gather other signers' ones, like in SIGN_MODE_DIRECT), without specifying a fee in their SignDoc. Charlie can then gather both signatures from Alice and Bob, and create the final transaction by appending a fee. Note that the fee payer of the transaction (in our case Charlie) must sign over the fees, so must use SIGN_MODE_DIRECT or SIGN_MODE_LEGACY_AMINO_JSON.

A concrete use case is implemented in transaction tips: the tipper may use SIGN_MODE_DIRECT_AUX to specify a tip in the transaction, without signing over the actual transaction fees. Then, the fee payer appends fees inside the tipper's desired TxBody, and as an exchange for paying the fees and broadcasting the transaction, receives the tipper's transaction tips as payment.


SIGN_MODE_TEXTUAL is a new sign mode for delivering a better signing experience on hardware wallets, it is currently still under implementation. If you wish to learn more, please refer to ADR-050 (opens new window).

# Transaction Process

The process of an end-user sending a transaction is:

  • decide on the messages to put into the transaction,
  • generate the transaction using the Cosmos SDK's TxBuilder,
  • broadcast the transaction using one of the available interfaces.

The next paragraphs will describe each of these components, in this order.

# Messages

Module sdk.Msgs are not to be confused with ABCI Messages (opens new window) which define interactions between the Tendermint and application layers.

Messages (or sdk.Msgs) are module-specific objects that trigger state transitions within the scope of the module they belong to. Module developers define the messages for their module by adding methods to the Protobuf Msg service, and also implement the corresponding MsgServer.

Each sdk.Msgs is related to exactly one Protobuf Msg service RPC, defined inside each module's tx.proto file. A SDK app router automatically maps every sdk.Msg to a corresponding RPC. Protobuf generates a MsgServer interface for each module Msg service, and the module developer needs to implement this interface. This design puts more responsibility on module developers, allowing application developers to reuse common functionalities without having to implement state transition logic repetitively.

To learn more about Protobuf Msg services and how to implement MsgServer, click here.

While messages contain the information for state transition logic, a transaction's other metadata and relevant information are stored in the TxBuilder and Context.

# Transaction Generation

The TxBuilder interface contains data closely related with the generation of transactions, which an end-user can freely set to generate the desired transaction:

Copy // TxBuilder defines an interface which an application-defined concrete transaction // type must implement. Namely, it must be able to set messages, generate // signatures, and provide canonical bytes to sign over. The transaction must // also know how to encode itself. TxBuilder interface { GetTx() signing.Tx SetMsgs(msgs ...sdk.Msg) error SetSignatures(signatures ...signingtypes.SignatureV2) error SetMemo(memo string) SetFeeAmount(amount sdk.Coins) SetFeePayer(feePayer sdk.AccAddress) SetGasLimit(limit uint64) SetTip(tip *tx.Tip) SetTimeoutHeight(height uint64) SetFeeGranter(feeGranter sdk.AccAddress) AddAuxSignerData(tx.AuxSignerData) error }

  • Msgs, the array of messages included in the transaction.
  • GasLimit, option chosen by the users for how to calculate how much gas they will need to pay.
  • Memo, a note or comment to send with the transaction.
  • FeeAmount, the maximum amount the user is willing to pay in fees.
  • TimeoutHeight, block height until which the transaction is valid.
  • Signatures, the array of signatures from all signers of the transaction.

As there are currently two sign modes for signing transactions, there are also two implementations of TxBuilder:

However, the two implementation of TxBuilder should be hidden away from end-users, as they should prefer using the overarching TxConfig interface:

Copy // TxConfig defines an interface a client can utilize to generate an // application-defined concrete transaction type. The type returned must // implement TxBuilder. TxConfig interface { TxEncodingConfig NewTxBuilder() TxBuilder WrapTxBuilder(sdk.Tx) (TxBuilder, error) SignModeHandler() signing.SignModeHandler }

TxConfig is an app-wide configuration for managing transactions. Most importantly, it holds the information about whether to sign each transaction with SIGN_MODE_DIRECT or SIGN_MODE_LEGACY_AMINO_JSON. By calling txBuilder := txConfig.NewTxBuilder(), a new TxBuilder will be created with the appropriate sign mode.

Once TxBuilder is correctly populated with the setters exposed above, TxConfig will also take care of correctly encoding the bytes (again, either using SIGN_MODE_DIRECT or SIGN_MODE_LEGACY_AMINO_JSON). Here's a pseudo-code snippet of how to generate and encode a transaction, using the TxEncoder() method:

Copy txBuilder := txConfig.NewTxBuilder() txBuilder.SetMsgs(...) // and other setters on txBuilder bz, err := txConfig.TxEncoder()(txBuilder.GetTx()) // bz are bytes to be broadcasted over the network

# Broadcasting the Transaction

Once the transaction bytes are generated, there are currently three ways of broadcasting it.


Application developers create entry points to the application by creating a command-line interface, gRPC and/or REST interface, typically found in the application's ./cmd folder. These interfaces allow users to interact with the application through command-line.

For the command-line interface, module developers create subcommands to add as children to the application top-level transaction command TxCmd. CLI commands actually bundle all the steps of transaction processing into one simple command: creating messages, generating transactions and broadcasting. For concrete examples, see the Interacting with a Node section. An example transaction made using CLI looks like:

Copy simd tx send $MY_VALIDATOR_ADDRESS $RECIPIENT 1000stake

# gRPC

gRPC (opens new window) is the main component for the Cosmos SDK's RPC layer. Its principal usage is in the context of modules' Query services. However, the Cosmos SDK also exposes a few other module-agnostic gRPC services, one of them being the Tx service:

Copy syntax = "proto3"; package cosmos.tx.v1beta1; import "google/api/annotations.proto"; import "cosmos/base/abci/v1beta1/abci.proto"; import "cosmos/tx/v1beta1/tx.proto"; import "cosmos/base/query/v1beta1/pagination.proto"; import "tendermint/types/block.proto"; import "tendermint/types/types.proto"; option go_package = "github.com/cosmos/cosmos-sdk/types/tx"; // Service defines a gRPC service for interacting with transactions. service Service { // Simulate simulates executing a transaction for estimating gas usage. rpc Simulate(SimulateRequest) returns (SimulateResponse) { option (google.api.http) = { post: "/cosmos/tx/v1beta1/simulate" body: "*" }; } // GetTx fetches a tx by hash. rpc GetTx(GetTxRequest) returns (GetTxResponse) { option (google.api.http).get = "/cosmos/tx/v1beta1/txs/{hash}"; } // BroadcastTx broadcast transaction. rpc BroadcastTx(BroadcastTxRequest) returns (BroadcastTxResponse) { option (google.api.http) = { post: "/cosmos/tx/v1beta1/txs" body: "*" }; } // GetTxsEvent fetches txs by event. rpc GetTxsEvent(GetTxsEventRequest) returns (GetTxsEventResponse) { option (google.api.http).get = "/cosmos/tx/v1beta1/txs"; } // GetBlockWithTxs fetches a block with decoded txs. // // Since: cosmos-sdk 0.45.2 rpc GetBlockWithTxs(GetBlockWithTxsRequest) returns (GetBlockWithTxsResponse) { option (google.api.http).get = "/cosmos/tx/v1beta1/txs/block/{height}"; } } // GetTxsEventRequest is the request type for the Service.TxsByEvents // RPC method. message GetTxsEventRequest { // events is the list of transaction event type. repeated string events = 1; // pagination defines a pagination for the request. cosmos.base.query.v1beta1.PageRequest pagination = 2; OrderBy order_by = 3; } // OrderBy defines the sorting order enum OrderBy { // ORDER_BY_UNSPECIFIED specifies an unknown sorting order. OrderBy defaults to ASC in this case. ORDER_BY_UNSPECIFIED = 0; // ORDER_BY_ASC defines ascending order ORDER_BY_ASC = 1; // ORDER_BY_DESC defines descending order ORDER_BY_DESC = 2; } // GetTxsEventResponse is the response type for the Service.TxsByEvents // RPC method. message GetTxsEventResponse { // txs is the list of queried transactions. repeated cosmos.tx.v1beta1.Tx txs = 1; // tx_responses is the list of queried TxResponses. repeated cosmos.base.abci.v1beta1.TxResponse tx_responses = 2; // pagination defines a pagination for the response. cosmos.base.query.v1beta1.PageResponse pagination = 3; } // BroadcastTxRequest is the request type for the Service.BroadcastTxRequest // RPC method. message BroadcastTxRequest { // tx_bytes is the raw transaction. bytes tx_bytes = 1; BroadcastMode mode = 2; } // BroadcastMode specifies the broadcast mode for the TxService.Broadcast RPC method. enum BroadcastMode { // zero-value for mode ordering BROADCAST_MODE_UNSPECIFIED = 0; // BROADCAST_MODE_BLOCK defines a tx broadcasting mode where the client waits for // the tx to be committed in a block. BROADCAST_MODE_BLOCK = 1; // BROADCAST_MODE_SYNC defines a tx broadcasting mode where the client waits for // a CheckTx execution response only. BROADCAST_MODE_SYNC = 2; // BROADCAST_MODE_ASYNC defines a tx broadcasting mode where the client returns // immediately. BROADCAST_MODE_ASYNC = 3; } // BroadcastTxResponse is the response type for the // Service.BroadcastTx method. message BroadcastTxResponse { // tx_response is the queried TxResponses. cosmos.base.abci.v1beta1.TxResponse tx_response = 1; } // SimulateRequest is the request type for the Service.Simulate // RPC method. message SimulateRequest { // tx is the transaction to simulate. // Deprecated. Send raw tx bytes instead. cosmos.tx.v1beta1.Tx tx = 1 [deprecated = true]; // tx_bytes is the raw transaction. // // Since: cosmos-sdk 0.43 bytes tx_bytes = 2; } // SimulateResponse is the response type for the // Service.SimulateRPC method. message SimulateResponse { // gas_info is the information about gas used in the simulation. cosmos.base.abci.v1beta1.GasInfo gas_info = 1; // result is the result of the simulation. cosmos.base.abci.v1beta1.Result result = 2; } // GetTxRequest is the request type for the Service.GetTx // RPC method. message GetTxRequest { // hash is the tx hash to query, encoded as a hex string. string hash = 1; } // GetTxResponse is the response type for the Service.GetTx method. message GetTxResponse { // tx is the queried transaction. cosmos.tx.v1beta1.Tx tx = 1; // tx_response is the queried TxResponses. cosmos.base.abci.v1beta1.TxResponse tx_response = 2; } // GetBlockWithTxsRequest is the request type for the Service.GetBlockWithTxs // RPC method. // // Since: cosmos-sdk 0.45.2 message GetBlockWithTxsRequest { // height is the height of the block to query. int64 height = 1; // pagination defines a pagination for the request. cosmos.base.query.v1beta1.PageRequest pagination = 2; } // GetBlockWithTxsResponse is the response type for the Service.GetBlockWithTxs method. // // Since: cosmos-sdk 0.45.2 message GetBlockWithTxsResponse { // txs are the transactions in the block. repeated cosmos.tx.v1beta1.Tx txs = 1; .tendermint.types.BlockID block_id = 2; .tendermint.types.Block block = 3; // pagination defines a pagination for the response. cosmos.base.query.v1beta1.PageResponse pagination = 4; }

The Tx service exposes a handful of utility functions, such as simulating a transaction or querying a transaction, and also one method to broadcast transactions.

Examples of broadcasting and simulating a transaction are shown here.


Each gRPC method has its corresponding REST endpoint, generated using gRPC-gateway (opens new window). Therefore, instead of using gRPC, you can also use HTTP to broadcast the same transaction, on the POST /cosmos/tx/v1beta1/txs endpoint.

An example can be seen here

# Tendermint RPC

The three methods presented above are actually higher abstractions over the Tendermint RPC /broadcast_tx_{async,sync,commit} endpoints, documented here (opens new window). This means that you can use the Tendermint RPC endpoints directly to broadcast the transaction, if you wish so.

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