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eip title author discussions-to status type category created
1066
Status Codes
Brooklyn Zelenka (@expede), Tom Carchrae (@carchrae), Gleb Naumenko (@naumenkogs)
Draft
Standards Track
ERC
2018-05-05

Simple Summary

Broadly applicable status codes for smart contracts.

Abstract

This standard outlines a common set of status codes in a similar vein to HTTP statuses. This provides a shared set of signals to allow smart contracts to react to situations autonomously, expose localized error messages to users, and so on.

The current state of the art is to either revert on anything other than a clear success (ie: require human intervention), or return a low-context true or false. Status codes are similar-but-orthogonal to reverting with a reason, but aimed at automation, debugging, and end-user feedback (including translation). They are fully compatible with both revert and revert-with-reason.

As is the case with HTTP, having a standard set of known codes has many benefits for developers. They remove friction from needing to develop your own schemes for every contract, makes inter-contract automation easier, and makes it easier to broadly understand which of the finite states your request produced. Importantly, it makes it much easier to distinguish between expected errors states, truly exceptional conditions that require halting execution, normal state transitions, and various success cases.

Motivation

Semantic Density

HTTP status codes are widely used for this purpose. BEAM languages use atoms and tagged tuples to signify much the same information. Both provide a lot of information both to the programmer (debugging for instance), and to the program that needs to decide what to do next.

Status codes convey a much richer set of information than Booleans, and are able to be reacted to autonomously unlike arbitrary strings.

User Experience (UX)

End users get little to no feedback, and there is no translation layer.

Since ERC1066 status codes are finite and known in advance, we can leverage ERC1444 to provide global, human-readable sets of status messages. These may also be translated into any language, differing levels of technical detail, added as revert messages, natspecs, and so on.

We also see a desire for this in transactions, and there's no reason that status codes couldn't be used by the EVM itself.

Developer Experience (DX)

Developers currently have very little context exposed by their smart contracts.

At time of writing, other than stepping through EVM execution and inspecting memory dumps directly, it is very difficult to understand what is happening during smart contract execution. By returning more context, developers can write well-decomposed tests and assert certain codes are returned as an expression of where the smart contract got to. This includes status codes as bare values, events, and reverts.

Having a fixed set of codes also makes it possible to write common helper functions to react in common ways to certain signals. This can live off- or on-chain library, lowering the overhead in building smart contracts, and helping raise code quality with trusted shared components.

Smart Contract Autonomy

Smart contracts don’t know much about the result of a request beyond pass/fail; they can be smarter with more context.

Smart contracts are largely intended to be autonomous. While each contract may define a specific interface, having a common set of semantic codes can help developers write code that can react appropriately to various situations.

While clearly related, status codes are complementary to revert-with-reason. Status codes are not limited to rolling back the transaction, and may represent known error states without halting execution. They may also represent off-chain conditions, supply a string to revert, signal time delays, and more.

All of this enables contracts to share a common vocabulary of state transitions, results, and internal changes, without having to deeply understand custom status enums or the internal business logic of collaborator contracts.

Specification

Format

Codes are returned either on their own, or as the first value of a multiple return.

// Status only

function isInt(uint num) public pure returns (byte status) {
    return hex"01";
}

// Status and value

uint8 private counter;

function safeIncrement(uint8 interval) public returns (byte status, uint8 newCounter) {
    uint8 updated = counter + interval;

    if (updated >= counter) {
        counter = updated;
        return (hex"01", updated);
    } else {
        return (hex"00", counter);
    }
}

Code Table

Codes break nicely into a 16x16 matrix, represented as a 2-digit hex number. The high nibble represents the code's kind or "category", and the low nibble contains the state or "reason". We present them below as separate tables per range for explanatory and layout reasons.

NB: Unspecified codes are not free for arbitrary use, but rather open for further specification.

0x0* Generic

General codes. These double as bare "reasons", since 0x01 == 1.

Code Description
0x00 Failure
0x01 Success
0x02 Accepted / Started
0x03 Awaiting / Before
0x04 Action Required
0x05 Expired
0x06 [reserved]
0x07 [reserved]
0x08 [reserved]
0x09 [reserved]
0x0A [reserved]
0x0B [reserved]
0x0C [reserved]
0x0D [reserved]
0x0E [reserved]
0x0F Meta or Info Only

0x1* Permission

Related to permisson, authorization, approval, and so on.

Code Description
0x10 Disallowed
0x11 Allowed
0x12 Requested Permission
0x13 Awaiting Permission
0x14 Awaiting Your Permission
0x15 No Longer Allowed
0x16 [reserved]
0x17 [reserved]
0x18 [reserved]
0x19 [reserved]
0x1A [reserved]
0x1B [reserved]
0x1C [reserved]
0x1D [reserved]
0x1E [reserved]
0x1F Permission Meta or Info

0x2* Find, Match, &c

This range is broadly intended for finding and matching. Data lookups and order matching are two common use cases.

Code Description
0x20 Not Found
0x21 Found
0x22 Match Request Sent
0x23 Awaiting Match
0x24 Match Request Received
0x25 Out of Range
0x26 [reserved]
0x27 [reserved]
0x28 [reserved]
0x29 [reserved]
0x2A [reserved]
0x2B [reserved]
0x2C [reserved]
0x2D [reserved]
0x2E [reserved]
0x2F Matching Meta or Info

0x3* Negotiation, Terms, and Offers

Negotiation, and very broadly the flow of such transactions. Note that "other party" may be more than one actor (not necessarily the sender).

Code Description
0x30 Other Party Disagreed
0x31 Other Party Agreed
0x32 Sent Offer
0x33 Awaiting Their Ratification
0x34 Awaiting Your Ratification
0x35 Offer Expired
0x36 [reserved]
0x37 [reserved]
0x38 [reserved]
0x39 [reserved]
0x3A [reserved]
0x3B [reserved]
0x3C [reserved]
0x3D [reserved]
0x3E [reserved]
0x3F Negotiation Meta or Info

0x4* Availability

Service or action availability.

Code Description
0x40 Unavailable
0x41 Available
0x42 You May Begin
0x43 Not Yet Available
0x44 Awaiting Your Availability
0x45 No Longer Available
0x46 [reserved]
0x47 [reserved]
0x48 [reserved]
0x49 [reserved]
0x4A [reserved]
0x4B [reserved]
0x4C [reserved]
0x4D [reserved]
0x4E [reserved]
0x4F Availability Meta or Info

0x5* TBD

Currently unspecified. (Full range reserved)

0x6* TBD

Currently unspecified. (Full range reserved)

0x7* TBD

Currently unspecifie. (Full range reserved)

0x8* TBD

Currently unspecified. (Full range reserved)

0x9* TBD

Currently unspecified. (Full range reserved)

0xA* Application-Specific Codes

Contracts may have special states that they need to signal. This proposal only outlines the broadest meanings, but implementers may have very specific meanings for each, as long as they are coherent with the broader definition.

Code Description
0xA0 App-Specific Failure
0xA1 App-Specific Success
0xA2 App-Specific Acceptance / Start
0xA3 App-Specific Awaiting / Before
0xA4 App-Specific Action Required
0xA5 App-Specific Expiry
0xA6 [reserved]
0xA7 [reserved]
0xA8 [reserved]
0xA9 [reserved]
0xAA [reserved]
0xAB [reserved]
0xAC [reserved]
0xAD [reserved]
0xAE [reserved]
0xAF App-Specific Meta or Info

0xB* TBD

Currently unspecified. (Full range reserved)

0xC* TBD

Currently unspecified. (Full range reserved)

0xD* TBD

Currently unspecified. (Full range reserved)

0xE* Cryptography and Authentication

Actions around signatures, cryptography, signing, and application-level authentication.

The meta code 0xEF is often used to signal a payload describing the algorithm or process used.

Code Description
0xE0 Decrypt Failure
0xE1 Decrypt Success
0xE2 Signed
0xE3 Their Signature Required
0xE4 Your Signature Required
0xE5 Auth Expired
0xE6 [reserved]
0xE7 [reserved]
0xE8 [reserved]
0xE9 [reserved]
0xEA [reserved]
0xEB [reserved]
0xEC [reserved]
0xED [reserved]
0xEE [reserved]
0xEF Crypto Info or Meta

0xF0 Off-Chain

For off-chain actions. Much like th 0x0_: Generic range, 0xF* is very general, and does little to modify the reason.

Among other things, the meta code 0xFF may be used to describe what the off-chain process is.

Code Description
0xF0 Off-Chain Failure
0xF1 Off-Chain Success
0xF2 Off-Chain Process Stared
0xF3 Awaiting Off-Chain Completion
0xF4 Off-Chain Action Required
0xF5 Off-Chain Service Unavailable
0xF6 [reserved]
0xF7 [reserved]
0xF8 [reserved]
0xF9 [reserved]
0xFA [reserved]
0xFB [reserved]
0xFC [reserved]
0xFD [reserved]
0xFE [reserved]
0xFF Off-Chain Info or Meta

As a Grid

X. Low Nibble 0. Generic 10. Permission 20. Find/Match/&c 30. Negotiation / Offers 40. Availability 50. [reserved] 60. [reserved] 70. [reserved] 80. [reserved] 90. [reserved] A0. [reserved] B0. [reserved] C0. [reserved] D0. [reserved] E0. Cryptography F0. Off Chain
0. Failure 0x00 Failure 0x10 Disallowed 0x20 Not Found 0x30 Other Party Disagreed 0x40 Unavailable or Expired [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] 0xE0 Decrypt Failure 0xF0 Off Chain Failure
1. Success 0x01 Success 0x11 Allowed 0x21 Found 0x31 Other Party Agreed 0x41 Available [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] 0xE1 Decrypt Success 0xF1 Off Chain Success
2. Accepted / Started 0x02 Accepted / Started 0x12 Requested Permission 0x22 Match Request Sent 0x32 Sent Offer [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] 0xE2 Signed 0xF2 Off Chain Process Started
3. Awaiting Others 0x03 Awaiting 0x13 Awaiting Permission 0x23 Awaiting Match 0x33 Awaiting Their Ratification 0x43 Not Yet Available [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] 0xE3 Other Party Signature Required 0xF3 Awaiting Off Chain Completion
4. Action Required / Awaiting You 0x04 Action Required 0x14 Awaiting Your Permission [reserved] 0x34 Awaiting Your Ratification 0x44 Awaiting Your Availability* [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] 0xE4 Your Signature Required 0xF4 Off Chain Action Required
5. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
6. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
7. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
8. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
9. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
A. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
B. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
C. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
D. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
E. [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved]
F. Meta/Info 0x0F Metadata Only [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] [reserved] 0xFF Data Source is Off Chain (ie: no guarantees)

Example Function Change

uint256 private startTime;
mapping(address => uint) private counters;

// Before
function increase() public returns (bool _available) {
    if (now < startTime && counters[msg.sender] == 0) {
        return false;
    };

    counters[msg.sender] += 1;
    return true;
}

// After
function increase() public returns (byte _status) {
    if (now < start) { return hex"43"; } // Not yet available
    if (counters[msg.sender] == 0) { return hex"10"; } // Not authorized

    counters[msg.sender] += 1;
    return hex"01"; // Success
}

Example Sequence Diagrams

0x03 = Waiting
0x31 = Other Party (ie: not you) Agreed
0x41 = Available
0x43 = Not Yet Available


                          Exchange


AwesomeCoin                 DEX                     TraderBot
     +                       +                          +
     |                       |       buy(AwesomeCoin)   |
     |                       | <------------------------+
     |         buy()         |                          |
     | <---------------------+                          |
     |                       |                          |
     |     Status [0x43]     |                          |
     +---------------------> |       Status [0x43]      |
     |                       +------------------------> |
     |                       |                          |
     |                       |        isDoneYet()       |
     |                       | <------------------------+
     |                       |                          |
     |                       |       Status [0x43]      |
     |                       +------------------------> |
     |                       |                          |
     |                       |                          |
     |     Status [0x41]     |                          |
     +---------------------> |                          |
     |                       |                          |
     |       buy()           |                          |
     | <---------------------+                          |
     |                       |                          |
     |                       |                          |
     |     Status [0x31]     |                          |
     +---------------------> |      Status [0x31]       |
     |                       +------------------------> |
     |                       |                          |
     |                       |                          |
     |                       |                          |
     |                       |                          |
     +                       +                          +
0x01 = Generic Success
0x10 = Disallowed
0x11 = Allowed

                                              Token Validation


           Buyer                  RegulatedToken           TokenValidator               IDChecker          SpendLimiter
             +                          +                         +                         +                   +
             |        buy()             |                         |                         |                   |
             +------------------------> |          check()        |                         |                   |
             |                          +-----------------------> |          check()        |                   |
             |                          |                         +-----------------------> |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |         Status [0x10]   |                   |
             |                          |       Status [0x10]     | <-----------------------+                   |
             |        revert()          | <-----------------------+                         |                   |
             | <------------------------+                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
+---------------------------+           |                         |                         |                   |
|                           |           |                         |                         |                   |
| Updates ID with provider  |           |                         |                         |                   |
|                           |           |                         |                         |                   |
+---------------------------+           |                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             |         buy()            |                         |                         |                   |
             +------------------------> |        check()          |                         |                   |
             |                          +-----------------------> |         check()         |                   |
             |                          |                         +-----------------------> |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |       Status [0x11]     |                   |
             |                          |                         | <-----------------------+                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |   check()         |
             |                          |                         +-------------------------------------------> |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |  Status [0x11]    |
             |                          |       Status [0x11]     | <-------------------------------------------+
             |        Status [0x01]     | <-----------------------+                         |                   |
             | <------------------------+                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             |                          |                         |                         |                   |
             +                          +                         +                         +                   +

Rationale

Encoding

Status codes are encoded as a byte. Hex values break nicely into high and low nibbles: category and reason. For instance, 0x01 stands for general success (ie: true) and 0x00 for general failure (ie: false).

bytes1 is very lightweight, portable, easily interoperable with uint8, cast from enums, and so on.

Alternatives

Alternate schemes include bytes32 and uint8. While these work reasonably well, they have drawbacks.

uint8 feels even more similar to HTTP status codes, and enums don't require as much casting. However does not break as evenly as a square table (256 doesn't look as nice in base 10).

Packing multiple codes into a single bytes32 is nice in theory, but poses additional challenges. Unused space may be interpeted as 0x00 Failure, you can only efficiently pack four codes at once, and there is a challenge in ensuring that code combinations are sensible. Forcing four codes into a packed representation encourages multiple status codes to be returned, which is often more information than strictly necessarily. This can lead to paradoxical results (ex 0x00 and 0x01 together), or greater resorces allocated to interpreting 2564 (4.3 billion) permutations.

Multiple Returns

While there may be cases where packing a byte array of status codes may make sense, the simplest, most forwards-compatible method of transmission is as the first value of a multiple return.

Familiarity is also a motivating factor. A consistent position and encoding together follow the principle of least surprise. It is both viewable as a "header" in the HTTP analogy, or like the "tag" in BEAM tagged tuples.

Human Readable

Developers should not be required to memorize 256 codes. However, they break nicely into a table. Cognitive load is lowered by organizing the table into categories and reasons. 0x10 and 0x11 belong to the same category, and 0x04 shares a reason with 0x24

While this repository includes helper enums, we have found working directly in the hex values to be quite natural. Status code 0x10 is just as comfortable as HTTP 401, for example.

Localizations

One commonly requested application of this spec is human-readable translations of codes. This has been moved to its own proposal: ERC-1444, primarily due to a desire to keep both specs focused.

Extensibility

The 0xA category is reserved for application-specific statuses. In the case that 256 codes become insufficient, bytes1 may be embedded in larger byte arrays.

EVM Codes

The EVM also returns a status code in transactions; specifically 0x00 and 0x01. This proposal both matches the meanings of those two codes, and could later be used at the EVM level.

Empty Space

Much like how HTTP status codes have large unused ranges, there are totally empty sections in this proposal. The intent is to not impose a complete set of codes up front, and to allow users to suggest uses for these spaces as time progresses.

Beyond Errors

This spec is intended to be much more than a set of common errors. One design goal is to enable easier contract-to-contract communication, protocols built on top of status codes, and flows that cross off-chain. Many of these cases include either expected kinds of exception state (as opposed to true errors), neutral states, time logic, and various successes.

Just like how HTTP 200 has a different meaning from HTTP 201, ERC-1066 status codes can relay information between contract beyond simply pass or fail. They can be thought of as the edges in a graph that has smart contracts as nodes.

Fully revertable

This spec is fully compatible with revert-with-reason and does not intend to supplant it in any way. Both by reverting with a common code, the developer can determine what went wrong from a set of known error states.

Further, by leveraging ERC-1066 and a translation table (such as in ERC-1444) in conjunction, developers and end users alike can receive fully automated human-readable error messages in the language and phrasing of their choice.

Nibble Order

Nibble order makes no difference to the machine, and is purely mnemonic. This design was originally in opposite order, but changed it for a few convenience factors. Since it's a different scheme from HTTP, it may feel strange initially, but becomes very natural after a couple hours of use.

Short Forms

Generic is 0x0*, general codes are consistent with their integer representations

hex"1" == hex"01" == 1 // with casting

Contract Categories

Many applications will always be part of the same category. For instance, validation will generally be in the 0x10 range.

contract Whitelist {
    mapping(address => bool) private whitelist;
    uint256 private deadline;
    byte constant private prefix = hex"10";

    check(address _, address _user) returns (byte _status) {
        if (now >= deadline)  { return prefix | 5; }
        if (whitelist[_user]) { return prefix | 1; }
        return prefix;
    }
}

Helpers

This above also means that working with app-specific enums is slightly easier:

enum Sleep {
    Awake,
    Asleep,
    REM,
    FallingAsleep
}

// From the helper library

function appCode(Sleep _state) returns (byte code) {
    return byte(160 + _state); // 160 = 0xA0
}

// Versus

function appCode(Sleep _state) returns (byte code) {
    return byte((16 * _state) + 10); // 10 = 0xA
}

Implementation

Reference cases and helper libraries (Solidity and JS) can be found at:

Copyright

Copyright and related rights waived via CC0.