Welcome to the smart contracts section of the Developer Hub!
Because Substrate supports Wasm smart contracts, it means that any language that can compile to Wasm could be used to write these contracts. ink! is Parity's answer for writing smart contracts using the Rust programming language.
The Contracts pallet provides the ability for the runtime to deploy and execute WebAssembly smart contracts. Here we will provide a short overview of the major features of the contracts pallet. To really learn all of the fine details, you can take a look at the reference documentation for
The Contracts pallet uses an account-based system similar to many existing smart contract platforms. To the Substrate runtime, contract accounts are just like normal user accounts; however, in addition to an
Balance that normal accounts have, a contract account also has associated contract code and some persistent contract storage.
Two Step Deployment
Deploying a contract with the Contracts pallet takes two steps:
- Store the Wasm contract on the blockchain.
- Instantiate a new account, with new storage, associated with that Wasm contract.
This means that multiple contract instances, with different constructor arguments, can be initialized using the same Wasm code, reducing the amount of storage space needed by the Contracts pallet on your blockchain.
Runtime Environment Types
For writing contracts and interacting with the runtime, a set of types are available (e.g.
Timestamp). These types can be user defined for custom runtimes, or the supplied defaults can be used. See: EnvTypes
Calls to contracts can alter the storage of the contract, create new contracts, and call other contracts. Because Substrate provides you with the ability to write custom runtime pallets, the Contracts pallet also enables you to make asynchronous calls directly to those runtime functions on behalf of the contract's account.
The Contracts pallet is intended to be used by any user on a public network. This means that contracts only have the ability to directly modify their own storage. To provide safety to the underlying blockchain state, the Contracts pallet enables revertible transactions, which roll back any changes to the storage by contract calls that do not complete successfully.
Contract calls are charged a gas fee to limit the amount of computational resources a transaction can use. When forming a contract transaction, a gas limit is specified. As the contract executes, gas is incrementally used up depending on the complexity of the computation. If the gas limit is reached before the contract execution completes, the transaction fails, contract storage is reverted, and the gas fee is not returned to the user. If the contract execution completes with remaining gas, it is returned to the user at the end of the transaction.
The Contracts pallet determines the gas price, which is a conversion between the Substrate
Currency and a single unit of gas. Thus, to execute a transaction, a user must have a free balance of at least
gas price *
gas limit which can be spent.
Similar to how gas limits the amount of computational resources that can be used during a transaction, storage rent limits the footprint that a contract can have on the blockchain's storage. A contract account is charged proportionally to the amount of storage its account uses. When a contract's balance goes below a defined limit, the contract's account is turned into a "tombstone" and its storage is cleaned up. A tombstone contract can be restored by providing the data that was cleaned up when it became a tombstone as well as any additional funds needed to keep the contract alive.
ink! is a Rust-based embedded domain specific language (eDSL) for writing Wasm smart contracts specifically for the Contracts pallet. The main goals of ink! are user friendliness, conciseness, and efficiency.
The ink! language is composed of three different layers of abstractions with which you can write smart contracts:
- Lang: The actual eDSL to provide a user-friendly interface to writing smart contract code.
- Core: The core utilities and APIs used to interact with the Contracts pallet.
We expect that most users will develop using the language layer, but thanks to the other abstractions, it is possible for developers to create their own Rust eDSL for their specific needs.
ink! should feel familiar to developers who have programmed using other modern smart contract languages. The skeleton of a contract has all of the same components that you might expect:
- Deployment (Constructor) Function
- Public Functions
- Internal functions
In ink!, mutability and visibility are explicitly defined per contract function. In these functions, you gain access to a number of common Substrate types like
Hash, etc. Additionally, you gain access to commonly used environment variables like the
gas_left, and more!
Being written in Rust, ink! can provide compile-time overflow/underflow safety. Using a Rust compiler configuration, you can specify whether you want to support overflowing math, or if you want contract execution to panic when overflows occur. No need to continually import "Safe Math" libraries, although Rust also provides integrated checked, wrapped, and saturated math functions.
ink! provides a built in test environment that can be used to perform off-chain unit testing with the Rust framework. This makes it simple and easy to ensure that your contract code functions as expected, without the need for third party testing platforms.