DApp Tutorial - Wiki Parity Ethereum Documentation

This is the fourth part of the Dapp Tutorial. We assume you’re familiar with the content of the past chapters.

⟵ 3rd Part 5th Part ⟶

Calling Contracts

You should now be familiar with Bonds and some of the core Parity bond API. Next we’ll put this knowledge to use with more complex expressions that will feature contracts.

Contract API basically comes in three pieces. Firstly, there’s state-changing transactions like transferring tokens to a counter-party. Secondly, there’s event reception and reporting that (usually) happen when such a state change occurs. Finally, there is inspection of the contract state through calling constant functions. For now we will restrict ourselves to the latter.

1. Our first contract

The first contract we will deal with is the global (name) registry. If you are not yet familiar, this is a registry that exists on all sensible blockchains which records fields of information for any desired name. The registry records ownership information so that names can be registered and their information changed at a later date.

The registry contract has a fairly simple API for inspecting. We only need to worry about two functions:

There are subordinate functions to the latter such as getAddress and getUint which coerce the data into some other type. It is important to note that amongst the standardised field keys are:

Let’s begin by displaying the address associated with the name 'gavofyork'. To do this we will need to create a special Bond-API contract object. The function to do this is bonds.makeContract; it takes the address and the ABI of the contract and returns an object with Bond-returning functions for each of the contract’s functions.

The address is easy enough to find; this can be determined via the parity.api.parity.registry call. The ABI spec is rather long and can be derived from the contract code available at the ethcore/contracts repository. Since there is only a single canonical registry, Parity, conveniently constructs this for you and provides it at the bonds.registry object.

To figure out the primary associated address of the gavofyork name, we can use the getAddress call, together with the parity.api.util.sha3 call to take the Keccak hash of our name. The full expression would be:

bonds.registry.getAddress(parity.api.util.sha3('gavofyork'))

Typing parity.api.util.sha3(...) every time you want to look up a name in the registry gets tedious fast. Happily, Parity provides a number of derivative helper functions as part of the bonds.registry object: lookupData, lookupAddress, lookupUint and lookupOwner; they’re all just like the get-prefixed brethren, but do the hashing for you. Our expression therefore can become:

bonds.registry.lookupAddress('gavofyork', 'A')

Let’s get this in to our dapp. Change the render()ed HTML to:

<div>
	gavofyork's address is&nbsp;
	<Rspan>{bonds.registry.lookupAddress('gavofyork', 'A')}</Rspan>
</div>

Refresh your dapp page and, assuming you’re running on Kovan, you’ll see something like:

image

2. Dynamic lookups

Now this is all very well, but perhaps you’re not just interested in my account, but want to allow the user to enter whatever account they desire. Bonds make it easy:

export class App extends React.Component {
	constructor() {
		super();
		this.bond = new Bond;
	}
	render() {
		return (
			<div>
				Address of <InputBond bond={this.bond} placeholder='Lookup a name' /> is:<br/>
				<Rspan>{bonds.registry.lookupAddress(this.bond, 'A')}</Rspan>
				, it's balance is <Rspan>
					{bonds.balance(bonds.registry.lookupAddress(this.bond, 'A')).map(formatBalance)}
				</Rspan>
			</div>
		);
	}
}

Here we have rewritten the component to include a new Bond which, via the InputBond, we are using to represent the current text in the text input field. We are passing this into the lookupAddress function to turn it into a Bond equivalent to the address for that name in the registry, and using this as the value of a reactive Hash display component. We are also using it in conjunction with bonds.getBalance to display a formatted balance of the account.

Here’s what it looks like:

image

If the name you are currently looking up happens to have its address changed meanwhile, or their balance changes, you will of course see these details reflected in real-time.

3. Derivative contracts

So far so good, but while the registry contract is interesting, it’s not usually the final destination. Typically the registry is used to lookup the address of a second contract that you would actually like to use.

Let’s suppose that second contract is the GithubHint contract; if you’re not already familiar, the GithubHint contract allows you to suggest which URLs might serve content for a particular hash. It’s a semi-centralised, hacky alternative to content-addressable-delivery systems like BitTorrent/Kademlia, Swarm and IPFS. We use it widely in Parity as a means of content dissemination.

Since it’s a “standard” contract in Parity, the ABI for it is available in oo7-parity as GitHubHintABI. The address changes per chain, but can be discovered via the registry under the name 'githubhint'; the expression would therefore be bonds.registry.lookupAddress('githubhint', 'A').

An important thing to realise about the makeContract function is that it does not require a “plain” address for the contract, but can actually work with a Bond for the address; everything will magically react if the address to which the Bond evaluates changes.

Therefore our GithubHint contract object can be created with the expression:

bonds.makeContract(
	bonds.registry.lookupAddress('githubhint', 'A'),
	GitHubHintABI);

Though we mustn’t forget to import GitHubHint:

import {GitHubHintABI} from 'oo7-parity';

The GithubHint contract has only a single inspection method: entries. This takes a bytes32 (the hash of the content to be found) and returns three items (via an array). There are three kinds of entry; Github repository entries, whereby the first and second items form the address of a particular commit of a particular repository; general URLs, where the first item is a URL and the second is the null hash; and empty entries where both items are null. The third item is always the owner (if any) of the entry and the only account capable of changing the hint information.

In this small demo, we’ll assume that we are looking up only URLs and so are only interested in the first item. We therefore want an expression like:

GithubHint.entries(hash)[0]

where hash is some content hash and GithubHint is the contract object.

Putting this all together we can change our dapp to:

export class App extends React.Component {
	constructor() {
		super();
		this.bond = new Bond;
		this.GithubHint = bonds.makeContract(bonds.registry.lookupAddress('githubhint', 'A'), GitHubHintABI);
	}
	render() {
		return (
			<div>
				URL for content <HashBond bond={this.bond} floatingLabelText='Content-hash' /> is:<br/>
				<Rspan>{this.GithubHint.entries(this.bond)[0]}</Rspan>
			</div>
		);
	}
}

Note that we are using HashBond from oo7-react rather than InputBond. This just ensures that we enter only valid 32-byte hashes. Ensure that the import line is changed to:

import {InputBond, HashBond} from 'parity-reactive-ui';

When you refresh the page enter the hash of a some content you know has a URL hint, for example:

0xd40679a3a234d8421c678d64f4df3308859e8ad07ac95ce4a228aceb96955287

Then watch the URL come up!

image

Further refinements

Let’s display the image associated with a registered name - we want to type gavofyork and have my mug come up. First we’ll need to import the reactive version of the img element (the Rimg component) from the oo7-react package, so we should change the oo7-react import line:

import {Rspan, Rimg} from 'oo7-react';

Next, let’s alter the dapp’s render div:

<div>
	<InputBond bond={this.bond} placeholder='Name' />
	<Rimg src={this.GithubHint.entries(bonds.registry.lookupData(this.bond, 'IMG'))[0]} />
</div>

The only interesting thing here is the fact we’re looking up the IMG entry of the entered name, passing it into GithubHint and taking the URL item from the result.

Fire it up and type the name of an entry which has an IMG field (e.g. gavofyork):

image

And after enough time to download, you should see the avatar!

Now that you’re familiar with how to inspect the state of contracts, in the next tutorial, we’ll look into state-changing APIs, starting with making simple transactions.


5th Part ⟶