Context is an etch language type that provides access to currently invoking ledger transaction data - such as block and transaction information - coming from smart contracts running against ledger nodes.

Specific annotated functions

  • Smart contract transaction data is available in functions annotated with @init and @action.

This means that, putting Context code in @query functions or other functions not equipped to access a Context, should raise an error.


It is not possible to provide standalone `etch` code snippet examples as `Context` requires a running ledger node.

Coding with Context


The only way to get a `Context` is by calling `getContext()`.

The Context object has two member functions.

  • block(): returns access to the current Block object - see below.
  • transaction(): returns access to the current Transaction. Check the Transaction documentation for details.

We will execute the example below against a local ledger node. Instructions for running a ledger node are here.

etch smart contract code is wrapped inside Python Ledger API scripts which take care of the implementation against a running ledger (think truffle/ganache plus web3).


Full and complete documentation for the Python Ledger API is currently in development. Please check here for updates.

getContext(), block(), and blockNumber()

To get a Context, call getContext().

From here, you have access to the Block object which has a blockNumber() function that returns the current block number.

The following syntax grabs the Context, gets the Block object from the Context, then runs the blockNumber() function of Block which returns the current block number.

var context = getContext();
var block = context.block();
var block_number = block.blockNumber();


The following etch smart contract tests the Context and Block types and the blockNumber() function.

persistent init_block_number_state : UInt64;

function set_block_number(owner : Address) : Int64
  use init_block_number_state;

  var context = getContext();
  var block = context.block();
  var block_number = block.blockNumber();


  return toInt64(block_number);

function get_init_block_number_state() : UInt64
  use init_block_number_state;

  return init_block_number_state.get(0u64);

Now run the above embedded in this script that calls the Python Ledger API.

from fetchai.ledger.api import LedgerApi
from fetchai.ledger.contract import Contract
from fetchai.ledger.crypto import Entity

CONTRACT_TEXT = "[as above]"

def run(options):
    entity1 = Entity()
    # build the ledger API
    api = LedgerApi(options['host'], options['port'])
    # create wealth so that we have the funds to be able to create contracts on the network
    api.sync(api.tokens.wealth(entity1, 100000))

    contract = Contract(CONTRACT_TEXT, entity1)

    # deploy the contract to the network
    status = api.sync(api.contracts.create(entity1, contract, 20000))[0]

    block_number = contract.query(api, 'get_init_block_number_state')


if __name__ == "__main__":
    run({'host': '', 'port': 8100})

The script prints the current block number to the console.