Node services

This document is intended as a very brief introduction to the current service components inside the node. Whilst not at all exhaustive it is hoped that this will give some context when writing applications and code that use these services, or which are operated upon by the internal components of Corda.

Services within the node

The node services represent the various sub functions of the Corda node. Some are directly accessible to contracts and flows through the ServiceHub, whilst others are the framework internals used to host the node functions. Any public service interfaces are defined in the net.corda.core.node.services package. The ServiceHub interface exposes functionality suitable for flows. The implementation code for all standard services lives in the net.corda.node.services package.

All the services are constructed in the AbstractNode start method. They may also register a shutdown handler during initialisation, which will be called in reverse order to the start registration sequence when the Node.stop is called.

The roles of the individual services are described below.

Key management and identity services

InMemoryIdentityService

The InMemoryIdentityService implements the IdentityService interface and provides a store of remote mappings between PublicKey and remote Parties. It is automatically populated from the NetworkMapCache updates and is used when translating PublicKey exposed in transactions into fully populated Party identities. This service is also used in the default JSON mapping of parties in the web server, thus allowing the party names to be used to refer to other nodes’ legal identities. In the future the Identity service will be made persistent and extended to allow anonymised session keys to be used in flows where the well-known PublicKey of nodes need to be hidden to non-involved parties.

PersistentKeyManagementService and E2ETestKeyManagementService

Typical usage of these services is to locate an appropriate PrivateKey to complete and sign a verified transaction as part of a flow. The normal node legal identifier keys are typically accessed via helper extension methods on the ServiceHub, but these ultimately delegate signing to internal PrivateKeys from the KeyManagementService. The KeyManagementService interface also allows other keys to be generated if anonymous keys are needed in a flow. Note that this interface works at the level of individual PublicKey and internally matched PrivateKey` pairs, but the signing authority may be represented by a ``CompositeKey on the NodeInfo to allow key clustering and threshold schemes.

The PersistentKeyManagementService is a persistent implementation of the KeyManagementService interface that records the key pairs to a key-value storage table in the database. E2ETestKeyManagementService is a simple implementation of the KeyManagementService that is used to track our KeyPairs for use in unit testing when no database is available.

Messaging and network management services

ArtemisMessagingServer

The ArtemisMessagingServer service is run internally by the Corda node to host the ArtemisMQ messaging broker that is used for reliable node communications. Although the node can be configured to disable this and connect to a remote broker by setting the messagingServerAddress configuration to be the remote broker address. (The MockNode used during testing does not use this service, and has a simplified in-memory network layer instead.) This service is not exposed to any CorDapp code as it is an entirely internal infrastructural component. However, the developer may need to be aware of this component, because the ArtemisMessagingServer is responsible for configuring the network ports (based upon settings in node.conf) and the service configures the security settings of the ArtemisMQ middleware and acts to form bridges between node mailbox queues based upon connection details advertised by the NetworkMapCache. The ArtemisMQ broker is configured to use TLS1.2 with a custom TrustStore containing a Corda root certificate and a KeyStore with a certificate and key signed by a chain back to this root certificate. These keystores typically reside in the certificates sub folder of the node workspace. For the nodes to be able to connect to each other it is essential that the entire set of nodes are able to authenticate against each other and thus typically that they share a common root certificate. Also note that the address configuration defined for the server is the basis for the address advertised in the NetworkMapCache and thus must be externally connectable by all nodes in the network.

P2PMessagingClient

The P2PMessagingClient is the implementation of the MessagingService interface operating across the ArtemisMQ middleware layer. It typically connects to the local ArtemisMQ hosted within the ArtemisMessagingServer service. However, the messagingServerAddress configuration can be set to a remote broker address if required. The responsibilities of this service include managing the node’s persistent mailbox, sending messages to remote peer nodes, acknowledging properly consumed messages and deduplicating any resent messages. The service also handles the incoming requests from new RPC client sessions and hands them to the CordaRPCOpsImpl to carry out the requests.

InMemoryNetworkMapCache

The InMemoryNetworkMapCache implements the NetworkMapCache interface and is responsible for tracking the identities and advertised services of authorised nodes provided by the remote NetworkMapService. Typical use is to search for nodes hosting specific advertised services e.g. a Notary service, or an Oracle service. Also, this service allows mapping of friendly names, or Party identities to the full NodeInfo which is used in the StateMachineManager to convert between the PublicKey, or Party based addressing used in the flows/contracts and the physical host and port information required for the physical ArtemisMQ messaging layer.

Flow framework and event scheduling services

StateMachineManager

The StateMachineManager is the service that runs the active flows of the node whether initiated by an RPC client, the web interface, a scheduled state activity, or triggered by receipt of a message from another node. The StateMachineManager wraps the flow code (extensions of the FlowLogic class) inside an instance of the FlowStateMachineImpl class, which is a Quasar Fiber. This allows the StateMachineManager to suspend flows at all key lifecycle points and persist their serialized state to the database via the DBCheckpointStorage service. This process uses the facilities of the Quasar Fibers library to manage this process and hence the requirement for the node to run the Quasar java instrumentation agent in its JVM.

In operation the StateMachineManager is typically running an active flow on its server thread until it encounters a blocking, or externally visible operation, such as sending a message, waiting for a message, or initiating a subFlow. The fiber is then suspended and its stack frames serialized to the database, thus ensuring that if the node is stopped, or crashes at this point the flow will restart with exactly the same action again. To further ensure consistency, every event which resumes a flow opens a database transaction, which is committed during this suspension process ensuring that the database modifications e.g. state commits stay in sync with the mutating changes of the flow. Having recorded the fiber state the StateMachineManager then carries out the network actions as required (internally one flow message exchanged may actually involve several physical session messages to authenticate and invoke registered flows on the remote nodes). The flow will stay suspended until the required message is returned and the scheduler will resume processing of other activated flows. On receipt of the expected response message from the network layer the StateMachineManager locates the appropriate flow, resuming it immediately after the blocking step with the received message. Thus from the perspective of the flow the code executes as a simple linear progression of processing, even if there were node restarts and possibly message resends (the messaging layer deduplicates messages based on an id that is part of the checkpoint).

The StateMachineManager service is not directly exposed to the flows, or contracts themselves.

NodeSchedulerService

The NodeSchedulerService implements the SchedulerService interface and monitors the Vault updates to track any new states that implement the SchedulableState interface and require automatic scheduled flow initiation. At the scheduled due time the NodeSchedulerService will create a new flow instance passing it a reference to the state that triggered the event. The flow can then begin whatever action is required. Note that the scheduled activity occurs in all nodes holding the state in their Vault, it may therefore be required for the flow to exit early if the current node is not the intended initiator.

Corda Web Server

A simple web server is provided that embeds the Jetty servlet container. The Corda web server is not meant to be used for real, production-quality web apps. Instead it shows one example way of using Corda RPC in web apps to provide a REST API on top of the Corda native RPC mechanism.

Note

The Corda web server may be removed in future and replaced with sample specific webapps using a standard framework like Spring Boot.