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Introduction to State variables

A State provides persistent storage for smart contracts. It’s like a global variable that is always there when any function of your contract runs.

A smart contract might use a State to store the total supply or use multiple State variables to keep a track of who has what, for example. It can also let a contract track whether some events have occurred before it releases tokens.

Declare a State like this:

var myState1 = State<Int32>("simple_state_declaration");
var myState2 = State<Array<Array<Array<String>>>>("nested_array_state_declaration");

A State is not like a normal variable, you have to create a reference to it. For example:

function main()

    var supply = UInt256(1000u64);
    var contract_amount_state = State<UInt256>("contract_amount");  


The above code creates a variable contract_amount_state which is a reference to a State<Int32> called contract_amount. It then sets a value on the State.

State references can be Address types.

function main()

    var account = Address("2ifr5dSFRAnXexBMC3HYEVp3JHSuz7KBPXWDRBV4xdFrqGy6R9");
    var supply = UInt256(1000u64);
    var myState = State<UInt256>(account);

State references can also be strings and you can get and set values on a State object.

function main()

    var contract_amount_state = State<UInt256>("contract_amount");
    var supply = UInt256(1000u64);
    var contract_amount = contract_amount_state.get();
    printLn("My state value = " + toString(myState.get()));


Default values

If a value has not been set on the State object and it does not already exist on the ledger, a run-time error is thrown on get().

To avoid this, use with care get(<default>) with a default value. For example, the following code prints zero if the state doesn't exist and the value that was originally set on it if it does exist.

function main()

  var contract_amount_state = State<Int32>("contract_amount");  
  var contract_amount = contract_amount_state.get(0); 


Test a State exists

You can test if a state already exists with existed().

function main()

  var contract_amount_state = State<Int32>("contract_amount");   

  if (contract_amount_state.existed())
      printLn("Yes, it existed");


This test is useful for scenarios in which you use states to see who has what, as you might do in a token contract where you need to keep track of who has the tokens.

State references and scope

In the example below, ownerState and contractState point to the same State object on the ledger.

function main()

  var owner = Address("2ifr5dSFRAnXexBMC3HYEVp3JHSuz7KBPXWDRBV4xdFrqGy6R9");
  var ownerState = State<Int32>(owner);
  printLn("My state value = " + toString(ownerState.get()));
  var contractState = State<Int32>(owner);
  // printLn("My state value = " + toString(contractState.get())); // runtime error: line 7: The state does not represent any value. 
  //The value has not been assigned and/or it does not exist in data storage.


Assuming the referenced State object does not exist on the ledger, attempting to print the value of the second declaration of State generates an error - even though a value was set on it previously. This is because the data set in ownerState has not yet been written to the intermediate cache or ledger storage, so when contractState tries to access it, it finds no value and this generates a runtime error.

Writing State data to the ledger

The following is true for State variables with a var identifier.

Currently, State data is written to smart contract intermediate cache only after control has passed out of scope and the destructor() function has been called behind the scenes.

While identifiable State variables remain in function scope, data is written to an intermediate object cache mechanism at construction time. Within the same scope, such data is inaccessible to new State identifiers which do not explicitly call set().

Once control reaches the end of the function, data is written to an intermediate ledger cache mechanism and is available throughout the contract.

Once control has reached the end of the contract, and no errors have arisen, the data is etched upon the ledger.

How smart contracts manage State and ShardedState memory allocation

Anonymous State types

Declaring an anonymous State type without a var name performs an immediate data write.

function main()


  var account1 = State<String>("account1");


This is useful for ShardedState types which build up with immediate write anonymous State types behind the scenes.

Passing States around

The following code shows the behaviour of State types as they are passed around functions.

State values are available to get() if the scope they were created in originally has closed.

function main()

  var myState = State<Int32>("contract_owner_balance");
  // PRINTS 33

  // PRINTS 44

  var result = query();
  // PRINTS 55


function change_state(state : State<Int32>)

  // you can pass around a State parameter and get access to the original state
  var newState = state;

  // a new state with pointer = "balance"
  var anotherState = State<Int32>("balance");
  // all states from this function are written now

function query() : Int32

  // accessing the State at pointer = "balance", a value out of scope 
  var myState = State<Int32>("balance");
  // returns the 55 set in change_state()
  return myState.get();


Similarly, you cannot access a value set on a State if the function scope in which it was created is still open.

function main()

    var state = State<Int32>("value");

    var value1 = value();     
    // scope not yet closed therefore runtime error: 
    // The state does not represent any value. 
    // The value has not been assigned and/or it does not exist in data storage.


function value() : Int32      

    var state = State<Int32>("value");
    return state.get();


Verify an Address

Often, a contract needs to confirm whether an @action or @query comes from a specific address. This can be done with the signedTx() function of the Address type.

In the example below, an @action establishes if the the signer of the calling transaction is a specific authorised address.

function doSomething(signer : Address)

  if (!signer.signedTx())
      panic("This address doesn't verify, stopping here.");    

    // Get the authorised address from the ledger
    var authorised_state = State<Address>("owner");
    var authorised_address = authorised_state.get();

    if (authorised_address != signer)
        panic("Incorrect address used to trigger");
        // ... we're good to go, the signer of the TX is the stored authorised address...

function main()

  var owner = Address("2ifr5dSFRAnXexBMC3HYEVp3JHSuz7KBPXWDRBV4xdFrqGy6R9");
  var authorised = State<Address>("owner");