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Version: v0.50

ADR 64: ABCI 2.0 Integration (Phase II)


  • 2023-01-17: Initial Draft (@alexanderbez)
  • 2023-04-06: Add upgrading section (@alexanderbez)
  • 2023-04-10: Simplify vote extension state persistence (@alexanderbez)
  • 2023-07-07: Revise vote extension state persistence (@alexanderbez)
  • 2023-08-24: Revise vote extension power calculations and staking interface (@davidterpay)




This ADR outlines the continuation of the efforts to implement ABCI++ in the Cosmos SDK outlined in ADR 060: ABCI 1.0 (Phase I).

Specifically, this ADR outlines the design and implementation of ABCI 2.0, which includes ExtendVote, VerifyVoteExtension and FinalizeBlock.


ABCI 2.0 continues the promised updates from ABCI++, specifically three additional ABCI methods that the application can implement in order to gain further control, insight and customization of the consensus process, unlocking many novel use-cases that previously not possible. We describe these three new methods below:


This method allows each validator process to extend the pre-commit phase of the CometBFT consensus process. Specifically, it allows the application to perform custom business logic that extends the pre-commit vote and supply additional data as part of the vote, although they are signed separately by the same key.

The data, called vote extension, will be broadcast and received together with the vote it is extending, and will be made available to the application in the next height. Specifically, the proposer of the next block will receive the vote extensions in RequestPrepareProposal.local_last_commit.votes.

If the application does not have vote extension information to provide, it returns a 0-length byte array as its vote extension.


  • Although each validator process submits its own vote extension, ONLY the proposer of the next block will receive all the vote extensions included as part of the pre-commit phase of the previous block. This means only the proposer will implicitly have access to all the vote extensions, via RequestPrepareProposal, and that not all vote extensions may be included, since a validator does not have to wait for all pre-commits, only 2/3.
  • The pre-commit vote is signed independently from the vote extension.


This method allows validators to validate the vote extension data attached to each pre-commit message it receives. If the validation fails, the whole pre-commit message will be deemed invalid and ignored by CometBFT.

CometBFT uses VerifyVoteExtension when validating a pre-commit vote. Specifically, for a pre-commit, CometBFT will:

  • Reject the message if it doesn't contain a signed vote AND a signed vote extension
  • Reject the message if the vote's signature OR the vote extension's signature fails to verify
  • Reject the message if VerifyVoteExtension was rejected by the app

Otherwise, CometBFT will accept the pre-commit message.

Note, this has important consequences on liveness, i.e., if vote extensions repeatedly cannot be verified by correct validators, CometBFT may not be able to finalize a block even if sufficiently many (+2/3) validators send pre-commit votes for that block. Thus, VerifyVoteExtension should be used with special care.

CometBFT recommends that an application that detects an invalid vote extension SHOULD accept it in ResponseVerifyVoteExtension and ignore it in its own logic.


This method delivers a decided block to the application. The application must execute the transactions in the block deterministically and update its state accordingly. Cryptographic commitments to the block and transaction results, returned via the corresponding parameters in ResponseFinalizeBlock, are included in the header of the next block. CometBFT calls it when a new block is decided.

In other words, FinalizeBlock encapsulates the current ABCI execution flow of BeginBlock, one or more DeliverTx, and EndBlock into a single ABCI method. CometBFT will no longer execute requests for these legacy methods and instead will just simply call FinalizeBlock.


We will discuss changes to the Cosmos SDK to implement ABCI 2.0 in two distinct phases, VoteExtensions and FinalizeBlock.


Similarly for PrepareProposal and ProcessProposal, we propose to introduce two new handlers that an application can implement in order to provide and verify vote extensions.

We propose the following new handlers for applications to implement:

type ExtendVoteHandler func(sdk.Context, abci.RequestExtendVote) abci.ResponseExtendVote
type VerifyVoteExtensionHandler func(sdk.Context, abci.RequestVerifyVoteExtension) abci.ResponseVerifyVoteExtension

An ephemeral context and state will be supplied to both handlers. The context will contain relevant metadata such as the block height and block hash. The state will be a cached version of the committed state of the application and will be discarded after the execution of the handler, this means that both handlers get a fresh state view and no changes made to it will be written.

If an application decides to implement ExtendVoteHandler, it must return a non-nil ResponseExtendVote.VoteExtension.

Recall, an implementation of ExtendVoteHandler does NOT need to be deterministic, however, given a set of vote extensions, VerifyVoteExtensionHandler must be deterministic, otherwise the chain may suffer from liveness faults. In addition, recall CometBFT proceeds in rounds for each height, so if a decision cannot be made about about a block proposal at a given height, CometBFT will proceed to the next round and thus will execute ExtendVote and VerifyVoteExtension again for the new round for each validator until 2/3 valid pre-commits can be obtained.

Given the broad scope of potential implementations and use-cases of vote extensions, and how to verify them, most applications should choose to implement the handlers through a single handler type, which can have any number of dependencies injected such as keepers. In addition, this handler type could contain some notion of volatile vote extension state management which would assist in vote extension verification. This state management could be ephemeral or could be some form of on-disk persistence.


// VoteExtensionHandler implements an Oracle vote extension handler.
type VoteExtensionHandler struct {
cdc Codec
mk MyKeeper
state VoteExtState // This could be a map or a DB connection object

// ExtendVoteHandler can do something with and possibly h.state to create
// a vote extension, such as fetching a series of prices for supported assets.
func (h VoteExtensionHandler) ExtendVoteHandler(ctx sdk.Context, req abci.RequestExtendVote) abci.ResponseExtendVote {
prices := GetPrices(ctx,
bz, err := EncodePrices(h.cdc, prices)
if err != nil {
panic(fmt.Errorf("failed to encode prices for vote extension: %w", err))

// store our vote extension at the given height
// NOTE: Vote extensions can be overridden since we can timeout in a round.
SetPrices(h.state, req, bz)

return abci.ResponseExtendVote{VoteExtension: bz}

// VerifyVoteExtensionHandler can do something with h.state and req to verify
// the req.VoteExtension field, such as ensuring the provided oracle prices are
// within some valid range of our prices.
func (h VoteExtensionHandler) VerifyVoteExtensionHandler(ctx sdk.Context, req abci.RequestVerifyVoteExtension) abci.ResponseVerifyVoteExtension {
prices, err := DecodePrices(h.cdc, req.VoteExtension)
if err != nil {
log("failed to decode vote extension", "err", err)
return abci.ResponseVerifyVoteExtension{Status: REJECT}

if err := ValidatePrices(h.state, req, prices); err != nil {
log("failed to validate vote extension", "prices", prices, "err", err)
return abci.ResponseVerifyVoteExtension{Status: REJECT}

// store updated vote extensions at the given height
// NOTE: Vote extensions can be overridden since we can timeout in a round.
SetPrices(h.state, req, req.VoteExtension)

return abci.ResponseVerifyVoteExtension{Status: ACCEPT}

Vote Extension Propagation & Verification

As mentioned previously, vote extensions for height H are only made available to the proposer at height H+1 during PrepareProposal. However, in order to make vote extensions useful, all validators should have access to the agreed upon vote extensions at height H during H+1.

Since CometBFT includes all the vote extension signatures in RequestPrepareProposal, we propose that the proposing validator manually "inject" the vote extensions along with their respective signatures via a special transaction, VoteExtsTx, into the block proposal during PrepareProposal. The VoteExtsTx will be populated with a single ExtendedCommitInfo object which is received directly from RequestPrepareProposal.

For convention, the VoteExtsTx transaction should be the first transaction in the block proposal, although chains can implement their own preferences. For safety purposes, we also propose that the proposer itself verify all the vote extension signatures it receives in RequestPrepareProposal.

A validator, upon a RequestProcessProposal, will receive the injected VoteExtsTx which includes the vote extensions along with their signatures. If no such transaction exists, the validator MUST REJECT the proposal.

When a validator inspects a VoteExtsTx, it will evaluate each SignedVoteExtension. For each signed vote extension, the validator will generate the signed bytes and verify the signature. At least 2/3 valid signatures, based on voting power, must be received in order for the block proposal to be valid, otherwise the validator MUST REJECT the proposal.

In order to have the ability to validate signatures, BaseApp must have access to the x/staking module, since this module stores an index from consensus address to public key. However, we will avoid a direct dependency on x/staking and instead rely on an interface instead. In addition, the Cosmos SDK will expose a default signature verification method which applications can use:

type ValidatorStore interface {
GetPubKeyByConsAddr(context.Context, sdk.ConsAddress) (cmtprotocrypto.PublicKey, error)

// ValidateVoteExtensions is a function that an application can execute in
// ProcessProposal to verify vote extension signatures.
func (app *BaseApp) ValidateVoteExtensions(ctx sdk.Context, currentHeight int64, extCommit abci.ExtendedCommitInfo) error {
votingPower := 0
totalVotingPower := 0

for _, vote := range extCommit.Votes {
totalVotingPower += vote.Validator.Power

if !vote.SignedLastBlock || len(vote.VoteExtension) == 0 {

valConsAddr := sdk.ConsAddress(vote.Validator.Address)
pubKeyProto, err := valStore.GetPubKeyByConsAddr(ctx, valConsAddr)
if err != nil {
return fmt.Errorf("failed to get public key for validator %s: %w", valConsAddr, err)

if len(vote.ExtensionSignature) == 0 {
return fmt.Errorf("received a non-empty vote extension with empty signature for validator %s", valConsAddr)

cmtPubKey, err := cryptoenc.PubKeyFromProto(pubKeyProto)
if err != nil {
return fmt.Errorf("failed to convert validator %X public key: %w", valConsAddr, err)

cve := cmtproto.CanonicalVoteExtension{
Extension: vote.VoteExtension,
Height: currentHeight - 1, // the vote extension was signed in the previous height
Round: int64(extCommit.Round),
ChainId: app.GetChainID(),

extSignBytes, err := cosmosio.MarshalDelimited(&cve)
if err != nil {
return fmt.Errorf("failed to encode CanonicalVoteExtension: %w", err)

if !cmtPubKey.VerifySignature(extSignBytes, vote.ExtensionSignature) {
return errors.New("received vote with invalid signature")

votingPower += vote.Validator.Power

if (votingPower / totalVotingPower) < threshold {
return errors.New("not enough voting power for the vote extensions")

return nil

Once at least 2/3 signatures, by voting power, are received and verified, the validator can use the vote extensions to derive additional data or come to some decision based on the vote extensions.

NOTE: It is very important to state, that neither the vote propagation technique nor the vote extension verification mechanism described above is required for applications to implement. In other words, a proposer is not required to verify and propagate vote extensions along with their signatures nor are proposers required to verify those signatures. An application can implement it's own PKI mechanism and use that to sign and verify vote extensions.

Vote Extension Persistence

In certain contexts, it may be useful or necessary for applications to persist data derived from vote extensions. In order to facilitate this use case, we propose to allow app developers to define a pre-Blocker hook which will be called at the very beginning of FinalizeBlock, i.e. before BeginBlock (see below).

Note, we cannot allow applications to directly write to the application state during ProcessProposal because during replay, CometBFT will NOT call ProcessProposal, which would result in an incomplete state view.

func (a MyApp) PreBlocker(ctx sdk.Context, req *abci.RequestFinalizeBlock) error {
voteExts := GetVoteExtensions(ctx, req.Txs)

// Process and perform some compute on vote extensions, storing any resulting
// state.
if err a.processVoteExtensions(ctx, voteExts); if err != nil {
return err


The existing ABCI methods BeginBlock, DeliverTx, and EndBlock have existed since the dawn of ABCI-based applications. Thus, applications, tooling, and developers have grown used to these methods and their use-cases. Specifically, BeginBlock and EndBlock have grown to be pretty integral and powerful within ABCI-based applications. E.g. an application might want to run distribution and inflation related operations prior to executing transactions and then have staking related changes to happen after executing all transactions.

We propose to keep BeginBlock and EndBlock within the SDK's core module interfaces only so application developers can continue to build against existing execution flows. However, we will remove BeginBlock, DeliverTx and EndBlock from the SDK's BaseApp implementation and thus the ABCI surface area.

What will then exist is a single FinalizeBlock execution flow. Specifically, in FinalizeBlock we will execute the application's BeginBlock, followed by execution of all the transactions, finally followed by execution of the application's EndBlock.

Note, we will still keep the existing transaction execution mechanics within BaseApp, but all notions of DeliverTx will be removed, i.e. deliverState will be replace with finalizeState, which will be committed on Commit.

However, there are current parameters and fields that exist in the existing BeginBlock and EndBlock ABCI types, such as votes that are used in distribution and byzantine validators used in evidence handling. These parameters exist in the FinalizeBlock request type, and will need to be passed to the application's implementations of BeginBlock and EndBlock.

This means the Cosmos SDK's core module interfaces will need to be updated to reflect these parameters. The easiest and most straightforward way to achieve this is to just pass RequestFinalizeBlock to BeginBlock and EndBlock. Alternatively, we can create dedicated proxy types in the SDK that reflect these legacy ABCI types, e.g. LegacyBeginBlockRequest and LegacyEndBlockRequest. Or, we can come up with new types and names altogether.

func (app *BaseApp) FinalizeBlock(req abci.RequestFinalizeBlock) (*abci.ResponseFinalizeBlock, error) {
ctx := ...

if app.preBlocker != nil {
ctx := app.finalizeBlockState.ctx
rsp, err := app.preBlocker(ctx, req)
if err != nil {
return nil, err
if rsp.ConsensusParamsChanged {
app.finalizeBlockState.ctx = ctx.WithConsensusParams(app.GetConsensusParams(ctx))
beginBlockResp, err := app.beginBlock(req)
appendBlockEventAttr(beginBlockResp.Events, "begin_block")

txExecResults := make([]abci.ExecTxResult, 0, len(req.Txs))
for _, tx := range req.Txs {
result := app.runTx(runTxModeFinalize, tx)
txExecResults = append(txExecResults, result)

endBlockResp, err := app.endBlock(app.finalizeBlockState.ctx)
appendBlockEventAttr(beginBlockResp.Events, "end_block")

return abci.ResponseFinalizeBlock{
TxResults: txExecResults,
Events: joinEvents(beginBlockResp.Events, endBlockResp.Events),
ValidatorUpdates: endBlockResp.ValidatorUpdates,
ConsensusParamUpdates: endBlockResp.ConsensusParamUpdates,
AppHash: nil,


Many tools, indexers and ecosystem libraries rely on the existence BeginBlock and EndBlock events. Since CometBFT now only exposes FinalizeBlockEvents, we find that it will still be useful for these clients and tools to still query for and rely on existing events, especially since applications will still define BeginBlock and EndBlock implementations.

In order to facilitate existing event functionality, we propose that all BeginBlock and EndBlock events have a dedicated EventAttribute with key=block and value=begin_block|end_block. The EventAttribute will be appended to each event in both BeginBlock and EndBlock events`.


CometBFT defines a consensus parameter, VoteExtensionsEnableHeight, which specifies the height at which vote extensions are enabled and required. If the value is set to zero, which is the default, then vote extensions are disabled and an application is not required to implement and use vote extensions.

However, if the value H is positive, at all heights greater than the configured height H vote extensions must be present (even if empty). When the configured height H is reached, PrepareProposal will not include vote extensions yet, but ExtendVote and VerifyVoteExtension will be called. Then, when reaching height H+1, PrepareProposal will include the vote extensions from height H.

It is very important to note, for all heights after H:

  • Vote extensions CANNOT be disabled
  • They are mandatory, i.e. all pre-commit messages sent MUST have an extension attached (even if empty)

When an application updates to the Cosmos SDK version with CometBFT v0.38 support, in the upgrade handler it must ensure to set the consensus parameter VoteExtensionsEnableHeight to the correct value. E.g. if an application is set to perform an upgrade at height H, then the value of VoteExtensionsEnableHeight should be set to any value >=H+1. This means that at the upgrade height, H, vote extensions will not be enabled yet, but at height H+1 they will be enabled.


Backwards Compatibility

ABCI 2.0 is naturally not backwards compatible with prior versions of the Cosmos SDK and CometBFT. For example, an application that requests RequestFinalizeBlock to the same application that does not speak ABCI 2.0 will naturally fail.

In addition, BeginBlock, DeliverTx and EndBlock will be removed from the application ABCI interfaces and along with the inputs and outputs being modified in the module interfaces.


  • BeginBlock and EndBlock semantics remain, so burden on application developers should be limited.
  • Less communication overhead as multiple ABCI requests are condensed into a single request.
  • Sets the groundwork for optimistic execution.
  • Vote extensions allow for an entirely new set of application primitives to be developed, such as in-process price oracles and encrypted mempools.


  • Some existing Cosmos SDK core APIs may need to be modified and thus broken.
  • Signature verification in ProcessProposal of 100+ vote extension signatures will add significant performance overhead to ProcessProposal. Granted, the signature verification process can happen concurrently using an error group with GOMAXPROCS goroutines.


  • Having to manually "inject" vote extensions into the block proposal during PrepareProposal is an awkward approach and takes up block space unnecessarily.
  • The requirement of ResetProcessProposalState can create a footgun for application developers if they're not careful, but this is necessary in order for applications to be able to commit state from vote extension computation.

Further Discussions

Future discussions include design and implementation of ABCI 3.0, which is a continuation of ABCI++ and the general discussion of optimistic execution.