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Status Message Payloads Specification

Version: 0.1 (Draft)

Authors: Adam Babik, Oskar Thorén (alphabetical order)


This specifications decribes how the payload of each message in Status looks like. It is primarly centered around chat and chat-related use cases.

The payloads aims be flexible enough to support messaging but also cases described in the Status Whitepaper as well as various clients created using different technologies.

Table of Contents


In this document we describe the payload format and some special considerations.

Payload wrapper

All payloads are wrapped in a protobuf record record:

message StatusProtocolMessage {
  bytes signature = 4001;
  bytes payload = 4002;

signature is the bytes of the signed SHA3-256 of the payload, signed with the key of the author of the message. The signature is needed to validate authorship of the message, so that the message can be relayed to third parties. If a signature is not present but an author is provided by a layer below, the message is not to be relayed to third parties and its considered plausibly deniable.


The payload is encoded using Transit format. Transit was chosen over JSON in order to reduce the bandwidth.

Types of messages


The type Message represents a text message exchanged between clients and is identified by the transit tag c4.


Payload is a struct (a compound data type) with the following fields (order is important):

Field Name Type Description
1 text string The text version of the message content
2 content type enum (more in Content types) See details
3 message type enum (more in Message types) See details
4 clock int64 See details
5 timestamp int64 See details
6 content struct { chat-id string, text string, response-to string } The chat-id of the chat this message is destined to, the text of the content and optionally the id of the message it is responding to

Content types

Content types are required for a proper interpretation of incoming messages. Not each message is plain text but may carry a different information.

The following content types MUST be supported:

  • text/plain identifies a message which content is a plain text.

There are also other content types that MAY be implemented by the client:

  • sticker
  • status
  • command
  • command-request
  • emoji

These are currently underspecified. We refer to real-world implementations for clients who wish to interoperate.

Message types

Message types are required to decide how a particular message is encrypted and what metadata needs to be attached when passing a message to the transport layer. For more on this, see Status Whisper Usage Specification.

The following messages types MUST be supported:

  • public-group-user-message is a message to the public group
  • user-message is a private message
  • group-user-message is a message to the private group.

Clock vs Timestamp and message ordering

timestamp MUST be Unix time calculated when the message is created in milliseconds. This field SHOULD not be relied upon for message ordering.

clock SHOULD be calculated using the algorithm of Lamport timestamps. When there are messages available in a chat, clock's value is calculated based on the last received message in a particular chat: last-message-clock-value + 1. If there are no messages, clock is initialized with timestamp * 100's value.

clock value is used for the message ordering. Due to the used algorithm and distributed nature of the system, we achieve casual ordering which might produce counterintuitive results in some edge cases. For example, when one joins a public chat and sends a message before receiving the exist messages, their message clock value might be lower and the message will end up in the past when the historical messages are fetched.


Chat is a structure that helps organize messages. It's usually desired to display messages only from a single recipient or a group of recipients at a time and chats help to achieve that.

All incoming messages can be matched against a chat. Below you can find a table that describes how to calculate a chat ID for each message type.

Message Type Chat ID Calculation Direction Comment
public-group-user-message chat ID is equal to a public channel name; it should equal chat-id from message's content field Incoming/Outgoing
user-message let P be a public key of the recipient; hex-encode(P) is a chat ID; use it as chat-id value in message's content field Outgoing
user-message let P be a public key of message's signature; hex-encode(P) is a chat ID; discard chat-id from message's content field Incoming if there is no matched chat, it might be the first message from public key P; you can discard it or create a new chat; Status official clients create a new chat
group-user-message use chat-id from message's content field Incoming/Outgoing find an existing chat by chat-id; if none is found discard the message (TODO: incomplete)

Contact Requests

Contact requests consists in 3 kind of messages: ContactRequest, ContactRequestConfirmed and ContactUpdate. These messages are used to notify the receiving end that it has been added to the sender's contact. They are identified by the transit tags c2, c3, c4 respectively, but they are all interchangeable, meaning a client SHOULD handle them in exactly the same way. The payload of the 3 messages is identical.


Field Name Type Description
1 name string The self-assigned name of the user (DEPRECATED)
2 profile image string The base64 encoded profile picture of the user
3 address string The ethereum address of the user
4 fcm-token string The FCM Token used by mobile devices for push notifications (DEPRECATED)
5 device-info [struct { id string, fcm-token string }] A list of pair installation-id, fcm-token for each device that is currently paired

Contact update

A client SHOULD send a ContactUpdate to all the contacts each time:

  • The name is edited
  • The profile image is edited
  • A new device has been paired

A client SHOULD also periodically send a ContactUpdate to all the contacts, the interval is up to the client, the Status official client sends these updates every 48 hours.

Handling contact messages

A client SHOULD handle any Contact* message in the same way. Any Contact* message with a whisper timestamp lower than the last one processed MUST be discarded.


SyncInstallation messages are used to synchronize in a best-effort way all the paired installations. It is identified by a transit tag of p1


Field Name Type Description
1 contacts [struct { name string last-updated int device-info struct {id string fcm-token string } pending? bool} An array of contacts
2 account struct {name string photo-path string last-updated int} Information about your own account
3 chat struct {:public? bool :chat-id string} A description of a public chat opened by the client


PairInstallation messages are used to propagate informations about a device to its paired devices. It is identified by a transit tag of p2


Field Name Type Description
1 installation-id string A randomly generated id that identifies this device
2 device-type string The OS of the device ios,android or desktop
3 name string The self-assigned name of the device
4 fcm-token string The FCM Token used by mobile devices for push notifications


GroupMembershipUpdate is a message used to propagate information about group membership changes in a group chat.. It is identified by a transit tag of g5. The details are in the Group chats specs


Field Name Type Description
1 chat-id string The chat id of the chat where the change is to take place
2 membership-updates See details A list of events that describe the membership changes
3 message Transit message An optional message, described in Message


There are two ways to upgrade the protocol without breaking compatibility:

  • Struct fields can be enriched with a new key, which will be ignored by old clients.
  • An element can be appended to the Transit array, which will also be ignored by old clients.

Security Considerations


Design rationale

Why are you using Transit and Protobuf?

Transit was initially chose for encoding, and Protobuf was added afterwards. This is partly due to the history of the protocol living inside of status-react, which is written in Clojurescript.

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