Event scheduling

This article explains our approach to modelling time based events in code. It explains how a contract state can expose an upcoming event and what action to take if the scheduled time for that event is reached.

Introduction

Many financial instruments have time sensitive components to them. For example, an Interest Rate Swap has a schedule for when:

  • Interest rate fixings should take place for floating legs, so that the interest rate used as the basis for payments can be agreed.
  • Any payments between the parties are expected to take place.
  • Any payments between the parties become overdue.

Each of these is dependent on the current state of the financial instrument. What payments and interest rate fixings have already happened should already be recorded in the state, for example. This means that the next time sensitive event is thus a property of the current contract state. By next, we mean earliest in chronological terms, that is still due. If a contract state is consumed in the UTXO model, then what was the next event becomes irrelevant and obsolete and the next time sensitive event is determined by any successor contract state.

Knowing when the next time sensitive event is due to occur is useful, but typically some activity is expected to take place when this event occurs. We already have a model for business processes in the form of flows, so in the platform we have introduced the concept of scheduled activities that can invoke flow state machines at a scheduled time. A contract state can optionally described the next scheduled activity for itself. If it omits to do so, then nothing will be scheduled.

How to implement scheduled events

There are two main steps to implementing scheduled events:

  • Have your ContractState implementation also implement SchedulableState. This requires a method named nextScheduledActivity to be implemented which returns an optional ScheduledActivity instance. ScheduledActivity captures what FlowLogic instance each node will run, to perform the activity, and when it will run is described by a java.time.Instant. Once your state implements this interface and is tracked by the vault, it can expect to be queried for the next activity when committed to the vault. The FlowLogic must be annotated with @SchedulableFlow.
  • If nothing suitable exists, implement a FlowLogic to be executed by each node as the activity itself. The important thing to remember is that in the current implementation, each node that is party to the transaction will execute the same FlowLogic, so it needs to establish roles in the business process based on the contract state and the node it is running on. Each side will follow different but complementary paths through the business logic.

Note

The scheduler’s clock always operates in the UTC time zone for uniformity, so any time zone logic must be performed by the contract, using ZonedDateTime.

The production and consumption of ContractStates is observed by the scheduler and the activities associated with any consumed states are unscheduled. Any newly produced states are then queried via the nextScheduledActivity method and if they do not return null then that activity is scheduled based on the content of the ScheduledActivity object returned. Be aware that this only happens if the vault considers the state “relevant”, for instance, because the owner of the node also owns that state. States that your node happens to encounter but which aren’t related to yourself will not have any activities scheduled.

An example

Let’s take an example of the interest rate swap fixings for our scheduled events. The first task is to implement the nextScheduledActivity method on the State.

override fun nextScheduledActivity(thisStateRef: StateRef, flowLogicRefFactory: FlowLogicRefFactory): ScheduledActivity? {
    val nextFixingOf = nextFixingOf() ?: return null

    // This is perhaps not how we should determine the time point in the business day, but instead expect the schedule to detail some of these aspects
    val instant = suggestInterestRateAnnouncementTimeWindow(index = nextFixingOf.name, source = floatingLeg.indexSource, date = nextFixingOf.forDay).fromTime!!
    return ScheduledActivity(flowLogicRefFactory.create("net.corda.irs.flows.FixingFlow\$FixingRoleDecider", thisStateRef), instant)
}

The first thing this does is establish if there are any remaining fixings. If there are none, then it returns null to indicate that there is no activity to schedule. Otherwise it calculates the Instant at which the interest rate should become available and schedules an activity at that time to work out what roles each node will take in the fixing business process and to take on those roles. That FlowLogic will be handed the StateRef for the interest rate swap State in question, as well as a tolerance Duration of how long to wait after the activity is triggered for the interest rate before indicating an error.