Release new CorDapp versions

Note

This document only concerns the upgrading of CorDapps and not the Corda platform itself (wire format, node database schemas, etc.).

CorDapp versioning

The Corda platform does not mandate a version number on a per-CorDapp basis. Different elements of a CorDapp are allowed to evolve separately. Sometimes, however, a change to one element will require changes to other elements. For example, changing a shared data structure may require flow changes that are not backwards-compatible.

Flow versioning

Any flow that initiates other flows must be annotated with the @InitiatingFlow annotation, which is defined as:

annotation class InitiatingFlow(val version: Int = 1)

The version property, which defaults to 1, specifies the flow’s version. This integer value should be incremented whenever there is a release of a flow which has changes that are not backwards-compatible. A non-backwards compatible change is one that changes the interface of the flow.

Defining a flow’s interface

The flow interface is defined by the sequence of send and receive calls between an InitiatingFlow and an InitiatedBy flow, including the types of the data sent and received. We can picture a flow’s interface as follows:

_images/flow-interface.png

In the diagram above, the InitiatingFlow:

  • Sends an Int
  • Receives a String
  • Sends a String
  • Receives a CustomType

The InitiatedBy flow does the opposite:

  • Receives an Int
  • Sends a String
  • Receives a String
  • Sends a CustomType

As long as both the InitiatingFlow and the InitiatedBy flows conform to the sequence of actions, the flows can be implemented in any way you see fit (including adding proprietary business logic that is not shared with other parties).

Non-backwards compatible flow changes

A flow can become backwards-incompatible in two main ways:

  • The sequence of send and receive calls changes:
    • A send or receive is added or removed from either the InitiatingFlow or InitiatedBy flow
    • The sequence of send and receive calls changes
  • The types of the send and receive calls changes

Consequences of running flows with incompatible versions

Pairs of InitiatingFlow flows and InitiatedBy flows that have incompatible interfaces are likely to exhibit the following behaviour:

  • The flows hang indefinitely and never terminate, usually because a flow expects a response which is never sent from the other side
  • One of the flow ends with an exception: “Expected Type X but Received Type Y”, because the send or receive types are incorrect
  • One of the flows ends with an exception: “Counterparty flow terminated early on the other side”, because one flow sends some data to another flow, but the latter flow has already ended

Ensuring flow backwards-compatibility

The InitiatingFlow version number is included in the flow session handshake and exposed to both parties via the FlowLogic.getFlowContext method. This method takes a Party and returns a FlowContext object which describes the flow running on the other side. In particular, it has a flowVersion property which can be used to programmatically evolve flows across versions. For example:

@Suspendable
override fun call() {
    val otherFlowVersion = otherSession.getCounterpartyFlowInfo().flowVersion
    val receivedString = if (otherFlowVersion == 1) {
        otherSession.receive<Int>().unwrap { it.toString() }
    } else {
        otherSession.receive<String>().unwrap { it }
    }
}
@Suspendable
@Override public Void call() throws FlowException {
    int otherFlowVersion = otherSession.getCounterpartyFlowInfo().getFlowVersion();
    String receivedString;

    if (otherFlowVersion == 1) {
        receivedString = otherSession.receive(Integer.class).unwrap(integer -> {
            return integer.toString();
        });
    } else {
        receivedString = otherSession.receive(String.class).unwrap(string -> {
            return string;
        });
    }

    return null;
}

This code shows a flow that in its first version expected to receive an Int, but in subsequent versions was modified to expect a String. This flow is still able to communicate with parties that are running the older CorDapp containing the older flow.

Handling interface changes to inlined subflows

Here is an example of an in-lined subflow:

@StartableByRPC
@InitiatingFlow
class FlowA(val recipient: Party) : FlowLogic<Unit>() {
    @Suspendable
    override fun call() {
        subFlow(FlowB(recipient))
    }
}

@InitiatedBy(FlowA::class)
class FlowC(val otherSession: FlowSession) : FlowLogic() {
    // Omitted.
}

// Note: No annotations. This is used as an inlined subflow.
class FlowB(val recipient: Party) : FlowLogic<Unit>() {
    @Suspendable
    override fun call() {
        val message = "I'm an inlined subflow, so I inherit the @InitiatingFlow's session ID and type."
        initiateFlow(recipient).send(message)
    }
}
@StartableByRPC
@InitiatingFlow
class FlowA extends FlowLogic<Void> {
    private final Party recipient;

    public FlowA(Party recipient) {
        this.recipient = recipient;
    }

    @Suspendable
    @Override public Void call() throws FlowException {
        subFlow(new FlowB(recipient));

        return null;
    }
}

@InitiatedBy(FlowA.class)
class FlowC extends FlowLogic<Void> {
    // Omitted.
}

// Note: No annotations. This is used as an inlined subflow.
class FlowB extends FlowLogic<Void> {
    private final Party recipient;

    public FlowB(Party recipient) {
        this.recipient = recipient;
    }

    @Suspendable
    @Override public Void call() {
        String message = "I'm an inlined subflow, so I inherit the @InitiatingFlow's session ID and type.";
        initiateFlow(recipient).send(message);

        return null;
    }
}

Inlined subflows are treated as being the flow that invoked them when initiating a new flow session with a counterparty. Suppose flow A calls inlined subflow B, which, in turn, initiates a session with a counterparty. The FlowLogic type used by the counterparty to determine which counter-flow to invoke is determined by A, and not by B. This means that the response logic for the inlined flow must be implemented explicitly in the InitiatedBy flow. This can be done either by calling a matching inlined counter-flow, or by implementing the other side explicitly in the initiated parent flow. Inlined subflows also inherit the session IDs of their parent flow.

As such, an interface change to an inlined subflow must be considered a change to the parent flow interfaces.

An example of an inlined subflow is CollectSignaturesFlow. It has a response flow called SignTransactionFlow that isn’t annotated with InitiatedBy. This is because both of these flows are inlined. How these flows speak to one another is defined by the parent flows that call CollectSignaturesFlow and SignTransactionFlow.

In code, inlined subflows appear as regular FlowLogic instances without either an InitiatingFlow or an InitiatedBy annotation.

Inlined flows are not versioned, as they inherit the version of their parent InitiatingFlow or InitiatedBy flow.

Flows which are not an InitiatingFlow or InitiatedBy flow, or inlined subflows that are not called from an InitiatingFlow or InitiatedBy flow, can be updated without consideration of backwards-compatibility. Flows of this type include utility flows for querying the vault and flows for reaching out to external systems.

Performing flow upgrades

  1. Update the flow and test the changes. Increment the flow version number in the InitiatingFlow annotation
  2. Ensure that all versions of the existing flow have finished running and there are no pending SchedulableFlows on any of the nodes on the business network. This can be done by Draining the node
  3. Shut down the node
  4. Replace the existing CorDapp JAR with the CorDapp JAR containing the new flow
  5. Start the node

If you shut down all nodes and upgrade them all at the same time, any incompatible change can be made.

In situations where some nodes may still be using previous versions of a flow and thus new versions of your flow may talk to old versions, the updated flows need to be backwards-compatible. This will be the case for almost any real deployment in which you cannot easily coordinate the roll-out of new code across the network.

Draining the node

A flow checkpoint is a serialised snapshot of the flow’s stack frames and any objects reachable from the stack. Checkpoints are saved to the database automatically when a flow suspends or resumes, which typically happens when sending or receiving messages. A flow may be replayed from the last checkpoint if the node restarts. Automatic checkpointing is an unusual feature of Corda and significantly helps developers write reliable code that can survive node restarts and crashes. It also assists with scaling up, as flows that are waiting for a response can be flushed from memory.

However, this means that restoring an old checkpoint to a new version of a flow may cause resume failures. For example if you remove a local variable from a method that previously had one, then the flow engine won’t be able to figure out where to put the stored value of the variable.

For this reason, in currently released versions of Corda you must drain the node before doing an app upgrade that changes @Suspendable code. A drain blocks new flows from starting but allows existing flows to finish. Thus once a drain is complete there should be no outstanding checkpoints or running flows. Upgrading the app will then succeed.

A node can be drained or undrained via RPC using the setFlowsDrainingModeEnabled method, and via the shell using the standard run command to invoke the RPC. See Node shell to learn more.

Contract and state versioning

There are two types of contract/state upgrade:

  1. Implicit: By allowing multiple implementations of the contract ahead of time, using constraints. See API: Contract Constraints to learn more
  2. Explicit: By creating a special contract upgrade transaction and getting all participants of a state to sign it using the contract upgrade flows

The general recommendation for Corda 4 is to use implicit upgrades for the reasons described here.

Performing explicit contract and state upgrades

In an explicit upgrade, contracts and states can be changed in arbitrary ways, if and only if all of the state’s participants agree to the proposed upgrade. To ensure the continuity of the chain the upgraded contract needs to declare the contract and constraint of the states it’s allowed to replace.

Warning

In Corda 4 we’ve introduced the Signature Constraint (see API: Contract Constraints). States created or migrated to the Signature Constraint can’t be explicitly upgraded using the Contract upgrade transaction. This feature might be added in a future version. Given the nature of the Signature constraint there should be little need to create a brand new contract to fix issues in the old contract.

1. Preserve the existing state and contract definitions

Currently, all nodes must permanently keep all old state and contract definitions on their node’s classpath if the explicit upgrade process was used on them.

Note

This requirement will go away in a future version of Corda. In Corda 4, the contract-code-as-attachment feature was implemented only for “normal” transactions. Contract Upgrade and Notary Change transactions will still be executed within the node classpath.

2. Write the new state and contract definitions

Update the contract and state definitions. There are no restrictions on how states are updated. However, upgraded contracts must implement the UpgradedContract interface. This interface is defined as:

interface UpgradedContract<in OldState : ContractState, out NewState : ContractState> : Contract {
    val legacyContract: ContractClassName
    fun upgrade(state: OldState): NewState
}

The upgrade method describes how the old state type is upgraded to the new state type.

By default this new contract will only be able to upgrade legacy states which are constrained by the zone whitelist (see API: Contract Constraints).

Note

The requirement for a legacyContractConstraint arises from the fact that when a transaction chain is verified and a Contract Upgrade is encountered on the back chain, the verifier wants to know that a legitimate state was transformed into the new contract. The legacyContractConstraint is the mechanism by which this is enforced. Using it, the new contract is able to narrow down what constraint the states it is upgrading should have. If a malicious party would create a fake com.megacorp.MegaToken state, he would not be able to use the usual MegaToken code as his fake token will not validate because the constraints will not match. The com.megacorp.SuperMegaToken would know that it is a fake state and thus refuse to upgrade it. It is safe to omit the legacyContractConstraint for the zone whitelist constraint, because the chain of trust is ensured by the Zone operator who would have whitelisted both contracts and checked them.

If the hash constraint is used, the new contract should implement UpgradedContractWithLegacyConstraint instead, and specify the constraint explicitly:

interface UpgradedContractWithLegacyConstraint<in OldState : ContractState, out NewState : ContractState> : UpgradedContract<OldState, NewState> {
    val legacyContractConstraint: AttachmentConstraint
}

For example, in case of hash constraints the hash of the legacy JAR file should be provided:

override val legacyContractConstraint: AttachmentConstraint
    get() = HashAttachmentConstraint(SecureHash.parse("E02BD2B9B010BBCE49C0D7C35BECEF2C79BEB2EE80D902B54CC9231418A4FA0C"))

3. Create the new CorDapp JAR

Produce a new CorDapp JAR file. This JAR file should only contain the new contract and state definitions.

4. Distribute the new CorDapp JAR

Place the new CorDapp JAR file in the cordapps folder of all the relevant nodes. You can do this while the nodes are still running.

5. Stop the nodes

Have each node operator stop their node. If you are also changing flow definitions, you should perform a node drain first to avoid the definition of states or contracts changing whilst a flow is in progress.

6. Re-run the network bootstrapper (only if you want to whitelist the new contract)

If you’re using the network bootstrapper instead of a network map server and have defined any new contracts, you need to re-run the network bootstrapper to whitelist the new contracts. See Network Bootstrapper.

7. Restart the nodes

Have each node operator restart their node.

8. Authorise the upgrade

Now that new states and contracts are on the classpath for all the relevant nodes, the nodes must all run the ContractUpgradeFlow.Authorise flow. This flow takes a StateAndRef of the state to update as well as a reference to the new contract, which must implement the UpgradedContract interface.

At any point, a node administrator may de-authorise a contract upgrade by running the ContractUpgradeFlow.Deauthorise flow.

9. Perform the upgrade

Once all nodes have performed the authorisation process, a single node must initiate the upgrade via the ContractUpgradeFlow.Initiate flow for each state object. This flow has the following signature:

class Initiate<OldState : ContractState, out NewState : ContractState>(
    originalState: StateAndRef<OldState>,
    newContractClass: Class<out UpgradedContract<OldState, NewState>>
) : AbstractStateReplacementFlow.Instigator<OldState, NewState, Class<out UpgradedContract<OldState, NewState>>>(originalState, newContractClass)

This flow sub-classes AbstractStateReplacementFlow, which can be used to upgrade state objects that do not need a contract upgrade.

One the flow ends successfully, all the participants of the old state object should have the upgraded state object which references the new contract code.

Points to note

Capabilities of the contract upgrade flows

  • Despite its name, the ContractUpgradeFlow handles the update of both state object definitions and contract logic
  • The state can completely change as part of an upgrade! For example, it is possible to transmute a Cat state into a Dog state, provided that all participants in the Cat state agree to the change
  • If a node has not yet run the contract upgrade authorisation flow, they will not be able to upgrade the contract and/or state objects
  • State schema changes are handled separately

Logistics

  • All nodes need to run the contract upgrade authorisation flow to upgrade the contract and/or state objects
  • Only node administrators are able to run the contract upgrade authorisation and deauthorisation flows
  • Upgrade authorisations can subsequently be deauthorised
  • Only one node should run the contract upgrade initiation flow. If multiple nodes run it for the same StateRef, a double-spend will occur for all but the first completed upgrade
  • Upgrades do not have to happen immediately. For a period, the two parties can use the old states and contracts side-by-side
  • The supplied upgrade flows upgrade one state object at a time

State schema versioning

By default, all state objects are serialised to the database as a string of bytes and referenced by their StateRef. However, it is also possible to define custom schemas for serialising particular properties or combinations of properties, so that they can be queried from a source other than the Corda Vault. This is done by implementing the QueryableState interface and creating a custom object relational mapper for the state. See API: Persistence for details.

For backwards compatible changes such as adding columns, the procedure for upgrading a state schema is to extend the existing object relational mapper. For example, we can update:

object ObligationSchemaV1 : MappedSchema(Obligation::class.java, 1, listOf(ObligationEntity::class.java)) {
    @Entity @Table(name = "obligations")
    class ObligationEntity(obligation: Obligation) : PersistentState() {
        @Column var currency: String = obligation.amount.token.toString()
        @Column var amount: Long = obligation.amount.quantity
        @Column @Lob var lender: ByteArray = obligation.lender.owningKey.encoded
        @Column @Lob var borrower: ByteArray = obligation.borrower.owningKey.encoded
        @Column var linear_id: String = obligation.linearId.id.toString()
    }
}
public class ObligationSchemaV1 extends MappedSchema {
    public ObligationSchemaV1() {
        super(Obligation.class, 1, ImmutableList.of(ObligationEntity.class));
    }
}

@Entity
@Table(name = "obligations")
public class ObligationEntity extends PersistentState {
    @Column(name = "currency") private String currency;
    @Column(name = "amount") private Long amount;
    @Column(name = "lender") @Lob private byte[] lender;
    @Column(name = "borrower") @Lob private byte[] borrower;
    @Column(name = "linear_id") private UUID linearId;

    protected ObligationEntity(){}

    public ObligationEntity(String currency, Long amount, byte[] lender, byte[] borrower, UUID linearId) {
        this.currency = currency;
        this.amount = amount;
        this.lender = lender;
        this.borrower = borrower;
        this.linearId = linearId;
    }

    public String getCurrency() {
        return currency;
    }

    public Long getAmount() {
        return amount;
    }

    public byte[] getLender() {
        return lender;
    }

    public byte[] getBorrower() {
        return borrower;
    }

    public UUID getLinearId() {
        return linearId;
    }
}

To:

object ObligationSchemaV1 : MappedSchema(Obligation::class.java, 1, listOf(ObligationEntity::class.java)) {
    @Entity @Table(name = "obligations")
    class ObligationEntity(obligation: Obligation) : PersistentState() {
        @Column var currency: String = obligation.amount.token.toString()
        @Column var amount: Long = obligation.amount.quantity
        @Column @Lob var lender: ByteArray = obligation.lender.owningKey.encoded
        @Column @Lob var borrower: ByteArray = obligation.borrower.owningKey.encoded
        @Column var linear_id: String = obligation.linearId.id.toString()
        @Column var defaulted: Bool = obligation.amount.inDefault               // NEW COLUMN!
    }
}
public class ObligationSchemaV1 extends MappedSchema {
    public ObligationSchemaV1() {
        super(Obligation.class, 1, ImmutableList.of(ObligationEntity.class));
    }
}

@Entity
@Table(name = "obligations")
public class ObligationEntity extends PersistentState {
    @Column(name = "currency") private String currency;
    @Column(name = "amount") private Long amount;
    @Column(name = "lender") @Lob private byte[] lender;
    @Column(name = "borrower") @Lob private byte[] borrower;
    @Column(name = "linear_id") private UUID linearId;
    @Column(name = "defaulted") private Boolean defaulted;            // NEW COLUMN!

    protected ObligationEntity(){}

    public ObligationEntity(String currency, Long amount, byte[] lender, byte[] borrower, UUID linearId, Boolean defaulted) {
        this.currency = currency;
        this.amount = amount;
        this.lender = lender;
        this.borrower = borrower;
        this.linearId = linearId;
        this.defaulted = defaulted;
    }

    public String getCurrency() {
        return currency;
    }

    public Long getAmount() {
        return amount;
    }

    public byte[] getLender() {
        return lender;
    }

    public byte[] getBorrower() {
        return borrower;
    }

    public UUID getLinearId() {
        return linearId;
    }

    public Boolean isDefaulted() {
        return defaulted;
    }
}

Thus adding a new column with a default value.

To make a non-backwards compatible change, the ContractUpgradeFlow or AbstractStateReplacementFlow must be used, as changes to the state are required. To make a backwards-incompatible change such as deleting a column (e.g. because a property was removed from a state object), the procedure is to define another object relational mapper, then add it to the supportedSchemas property of your QueryableState, like so:

override fun supportedSchemas(): Iterable<MappedSchema> = listOf(ExampleSchemaV1, ExampleSchemaV2)
@Override public Iterable<MappedSchema> supportedSchemas() {
    return ImmutableList.of(new ExampleSchemaV1(), new ExampleSchemaV2());
}

Then, in generateMappedObject, add support for the new schema:

override fun generateMappedObject(schema: MappedSchema): PersistentState {
    return when (schema) {
        is DummyLinearStateSchemaV1 -> // Omitted.
        is DummyLinearStateSchemaV2 -> // Omitted.
        else -> throw IllegalArgumentException("Unrecognised schema $schema")
    }
}
@Override public PersistentState generateMappedObject(MappedSchema schema) {
    if (schema instanceof DummyLinearStateSchemaV1) {
        // Omitted.
    } else if (schema instanceof DummyLinearStateSchemaV2) {
        // Omitted.
    } else {
        throw new IllegalArgumentException("Unrecognised schema $schema");
    }
}

With this approach, whenever the state object is stored in the vault, a representation of it will be stored in two separate database tables where possible - one for each supported schema.

Serialisation

The Corda serialisation format

Currently, the serialisation format for everything except flow checkpoints (which uses a Kryo-based format) is based on AMQP 1.0, a self-describing and controllable serialisation format. AMQP is desirable because it allows us to have a schema describing what has been serialized alongside the data itself. This assists with versioning and deserialising long-ago archived data, among other things.

Writing classes that meet the serialisation format requirements

Although not strictly related to versioning, AMQP serialisation dictates that we must write our classes in a particular way:

  • Your class must have a constructor that takes all the properties that you wish to record in the serialized form. This is required in order for the serialization framework to reconstruct an instance of your class
  • If more than one constructor is provided, the serialization framework needs to know which one to use. The @ConstructorForDeserialization annotation can be used to indicate the chosen constructor. For a Kotlin class without the @ConstructorForDeserialization annotation, the primary constructor is selected
  • The class must be compiled with parameter names in the .class file. This is the default in Kotlin but must be turned on in Java (using the -parameters command line option to javac)
  • Your class must provide a Java Bean getter for each of the properties in the constructor, with a matching name. For example, if a class has the constructor parameter foo, there must be a getter called getFoo(). If foo is a boolean, the getter may optionally be called isFoo(). This is why the class must be compiled with parameter names turned on
  • The class must be annotated with @CordaSerializable
  • The declared types of constructor arguments/getters must be supported, and where generics are used the generic parameter must be a supported type, an open wildcard (*), or a bounded wildcard which is currently widened to an open wildcard
  • Any superclass must adhere to the same rules, but can be abstract
  • Object graph cycles are not supported, so an object cannot refer to itself, directly or indirectly