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Preparing for On-Chain Upgrades

Consider the different approaches to upgrade your chain.


Ensure parachains are prepared for an on-chain upgrade.

Use cases#

Launching a parachain.


This guide outlines two steps to consider before moving on to implementing a runtime upgrade for a parachain launch.


1. Inform the relay chain#

When launching a parachain, the relay chain needs to be informed about the runtime upgrade of your chain before it happens. Cumulus provides functionality to help you notify the relay chain about the upcoming upgrade by:

  1. Using authorize_upgrade to provide the hash of your upgrade and authorize it.
  2. Using enact_authorized_upgrade to provide the actual code for the upgrade.

With both these functions called, the relay chain will be notified that the new upgrade has been scheduled.

2. Choose your upgrade approach#

If your existing Substrate chain has a very large state, which you are migrating between different storage formats, it might not be possible to run all of the runtime migrations within one block. There are a handful of strategies you can use to remedy this problem:

  1. If the amount of storage items to be migrated can feasibly be processed within two or three blocks you can run the migrations using the Scheduler pallet to ensure they get executed regardless of the block producer. Refer to this guide on how to do that.

  2. Use versioned storage and only execute migrations when storage values that haven't yet been upgraded are accessed. This can cause variance in transaction fees between users and could potentially result in more complex runtime code. However, if properly metered (weights are properly benchmarked) this approach will ensure minimal downtime for migration.

  3. If you must split your migrations among multiple blocks you can do it either on-chain or off-chain:

    • An on-chain multi-block migration will require custom pallet logic to be written which can either queue changes over time or use the Scheduler pallet to migrate chunks of storage at a time.

    • Instead of adding migration code to your runtime you can generate the migration manually off-chain by using multiple system.setStorage calls to add and remove storage items via an origin with root permission (for example democracy). If you are limited in the number of transactions you can make, you can batch multiple transactions to occur over time via the scheduler. Follow these steps:

      • Ensure you have the scheduler pallet available on your chain.
      • Use the root origin to schedule any changes to state using scheduler.scheduleNamed in the Apps UI Extrinsics tab.
      • Schedule changes for the blocks immediately after a system.setcode call is scheduled.
      • Use system.set_storage and system.kill_storage calls.
      • Make sure that the scheduling fits within the PoV block size.
      • Schedule the extrinsics in advance over multiple blocks.




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