Release notes for Corda 4.1

It’s been a little under 3 1/2 months since the release of Corda 4.0 and all of the brand new features that added to the powerful suite of tools Corda offers. Now, following the release of Corda Enterprise 4.0, we are proud to release Corda 4.1, bringing over 150 fixes and documentation updates to bring additional stability and quality of life improvements to those developing on the Corda platform.

Information on Corda Enterprise 4.0 can be found *here*_ and here. (It’s worth noting that normally this document would have started with a comment about whether or not you’d been recently domiciled under some solidified mineral material regarding the release of Corda Enterprise 4.0. Alas, we made that joke when we shipped the first release of Corda after Enterprise 3.0 shipped, so the thunder has been stolen and repeating ourselves would be terribly gauche.)

Corda 4.1 brings the lessons and bug fixes discovered during the process of building and shipping Enterprise 4.0 back to the open source community. As mentioned above there are over 150 fixes and tweaks here. With this release the core feature sets of both entities are far closer aligned than past major releases of the Corda that should make testing your CorDapps in mixed type environments much easier.

As such, we recommend you upgrade from Corda 4.0 to Corda 4.1 as soon possible.

Issues Fixed

  • Docker images do not support passing a prepared config with initial registration [ CORDA-2888]
  • Different hashes for container Corda and normal Corda jars [ CORDA-2884]
  • Auto attachment of dependencies fails to find class [ CORDA-2863]
  • Artemis session can’t be used in more than one thread [ CORDA-2861]
  • Property type checking is overly strict [ CORDA-2860]
  • Serialisation bug (or not) when trying to run SWIFT Corda Settler tests [ CORDA-2848]
  • Custom serialisers not found when running mock network tests [ CORDA-2847]
  • Base directory error message where directory does not exist is slightly misleading [ CORDA-2834]
  • Progress tracker not reloadable in checkpoints written in Java [ CORDA-2825]
  • Missing quasar error points to non-existent page [ CORDA-2821]
  • TransactionBuilder can build unverifiable transactions in V5 if more than one CorDapp loaded [ CORDA-2817]
  • The node hangs when there is a dis-connection of Oracle database [ CORDA-2813]
  • Docs: fix the latex warnings in the build [ CORDA-2809]
  • Docs: build the docs page needs updating [ CORDA-2808]
  • Don’t retry database transaction in abstract node start [ CORDA-2807]
  • Upgrade Corda Core to use Java Persistence API 2.2 [ CORDA-2804]
  • Network map stopped updating on Testnet staging notary [ CORDA-2803]
  • Improve test reliability by eliminating fixed-duration Thread.sleeps [ CORDA-2802]
  • Not handled exception when certificates directory is missing [ CORDA-2786]
  • Unable to run FinalityFlow if the initiating app has targetPlatformVersion=4 and the recipient is using the old version [ CORDA-2784]
  • Performing a registration with an incorrect Config gives error without appropriate info [ CORDA-2783]
  • Regression: java.lang.Comparable is not on the default whitelist but never has been [ CORDA-2782]
  • Docs: replace version string with things that get substituted [ CORDA-2781]
  • Inconsistent docs between internal and external website [ CORDA-2779]
  • Change the doc substitution so that it works in code blocks as well as in other places [ CORDA-2777]
  • net.corda.core.internal.LazyStickyPool#toIndex can create a negative index [ CORDA-2772]
  • NetworkMapUpdater#fileWatcherSubscription is never assigned and hence the subscription is never cleaned up [ CORDA-2770]
  • Infinite recursive call in NetworkParameters.copy [ CORDA-2769]
  • Unexpected exception de-serializing throwable for OverlappingAttachmentsException [ CORDA-2765]
  • Always log config to log file [ CORDA-2763]
  • ReceiveTransactionFlow states to record flag gets quietly ignored if checkSufficientSignatures = false [ CORDA-2762]
  • Fix Driver’s PortAllocation class, and then use it for Node’s integration tests. [ CORDA-2759]
  • State machine logs an error prior to deciding to escalate to an error [ CORDA-2757]
  • Migrate DJVM into a separate module [ CORDA-2750]
  • Error in HikariPool in the performance cluster [ CORDA-2748]
  • Package DJVM CLI for standalone distribution [ CORDA-2747]
  • Unable to insert state into vault if notary not on network map [ CORDA-2745]
  • Create sample code and integration tests to showcase rpc operations that support reconnection [ CORDA-2743]
  • RPC v4 client unable to subscribe to progress tracker events from Corda 3.3 node [ CORDA-2742]
  • Doc Fix: Rpc client connection management section not fully working in Corda 4 [ CORDA-2741]
  • AnsiProgressRenderer may start reporting incorrect progress if tree contains identical steps [ CORDA-2738]
  • The FlowProgressHandle does not always return expected results [ CORDA-2737]
  • Doc fix: integration testing tutorial could do with some gradle instructions [ CORDA-2729]
  • Release upgrade to Corda 4 notes: include upgrading quasar.jar explicitly in the Corda Kotlin template [ CORDA-2728]
  • DJVM CLI log file is always empty [ CORDA-2725]
  • DJVM documentation incorrect around djvm check [ CORDA-2721]
  • Doc fix: reflect the CorDapp template doc changes re quasar/test running the official docs [ CORDA-2715]
  • Upgrade to Corda 4 test docs only have Kotlin examples [ CORDA-2710]
  • Log message “Cannot find flow corresponding to session” should not be a warning [ CORDA-2706]
  • Flow failing due to “Flow sessions were not provided” for its own identity [ CORDA-2705]
  • RPC user security using Shiro docs have errant commas in example config [ CORDA-2703]
  • The crlCheckSoftFail option is not respected, allowing transactions even if strict checking is enabled [ CORDA-2701]
  • Vault paging fails if setting max page size to Int.MAX_VALUE [ CORDA-2698]
  • Upgrade to Corda Gradle Plugins 4.0.41 [ CORDA-2697]
  • Corda complaining of duplicate classes upon start-up when it doesn’t need to [ CORDA-2696]
  • Launching node explorer for node creates error and explorer closes [ CORDA-2694]
  • Transactions created in V3 cannot be verified in V4 if any of the state types were included in “depended upon” CorDapps which were not attached to the transaction [ CORDA-2692]
  • Reduce CorDapp scanning logging [ CORDA-2690]
  • Clean up verbose warning: ProgressTracker has not been started [ CORDA-2689]
  • Add a no-carpenter context [ CORDA-2688]
  • Improve CorDapp upgrade guidelines for migrating existing states on ledger (pre-V4) [ CORDA-2684]
  • SessionRejectException.UnknownClass trapped by flow hospital but no way to call dropSessionInit() [ CORDA-2683]
  • Repeated CordFormations can fail with ClassLoader exception. [ CORDA-2676]
  • Backwards compatibility break in serialisation engine when deserialising nullable fields [ CORDA-2674]
  • Simplify sample CorDapp projects. [ CORDA-2672]
  • Remove ExplorerSimulator from Node Explorer [ CORDA-2671]
  • Reintroduce pendingFlowsCount to the public API [ CORDA-2669]
  • Trader demo integration tests fails with jar not found exception [ CORDA-2668]
  • Fix Source ClassLoader for DJVM [ CORDA-2667]
  • Issue with simple transfer of ownable asset [ CORDA-2665]
  • Fix references to Docker images in docs [ CORDA-2664]
  • Add something to docsite the need for a common contracts Jar between OS/ENT and how it should be compiled against OS [ CORDA-2656]
  • Create document outlining CorDapp Upgrade guarantees [ CORDA-2655]
  • Fix DJVM CLI tool [ CORDA-2654]
  • Corda Service needs Thread Context ClassLoader [ CORDA-2653]
  • Useless migration error when finance workflow jar is not installed [ CORDA-2651]
  • Database connection pools leaking memory on every checkpoint [ CORDA-2646]
  • Exception swallowed when querying vault via RPC with bad page spec [ CORDA-2645]
  • Applying CordFormation and Cordapp Gradle plugins together includes Jolokia into the Cordapp. [ CORDA-2642]
  • Wrong folder ownership while trying to connect to Testnet using RC* docker image [ CORDA-2641]
  • Provide a better error message on an incompatible implicit contract upgrade [ CORDA-2633]
  • uploadAttachment via shell can fail with unhelpful message if the result of the command is unsuccessful [ CORDA-2632]
  • Provide a better error msg when the notary type is misconfigured on the net params [ CORDA-2629]
  • Maybe tone down the level of panic when somebody types their SSH password in incorrectly… [ CORDA-2621]
  • Cannot complete transaction that has unknown states in the transaction history [ CORDA-2615]
  • Switch off the codepaths that disable the FinalityHandler [ CORDA-2613]
  • is our API documentation (what is stable and what isn’t) correct? [ CORDA-2610]
  • Getting set up guide needs to be updated to reflect Java 8 fun and games [ CORDA-2602]
  • Not handle exception when Explorer tries to connect to inaccessible server [ CORDA-2586]
  • Errors received from peers can’t be distinguished from local errors [ CORDA-2572]
  • Add flow kill command, deprecate run killFlow [ CORDA-2569]
  • Hash to signature constraints migration: add a config option that makes hash constraints breakable. [ CORDA-2568]
  • Deadlock between database and AppendOnlyPersistentMap [ CORDA-2566]
  • Docfix: Document custom cordapp configuration [ CORDA-2560]
  • Bootstrapper - option to include contracts to whitelist from signed jars [ CORDA-2554]
  • Explicit contract upgrade sample fails upon initiation (ClassNotFoundException) [ CORDA-2550]
  • IRS demo app missing demodate endpoint [ CORDA-2535]
  • Doc fix: Contract testing tutorial errors [ CORDA-2528]
  • Unclear error message when receiving state from node on higher version of signed cordapp [ CORDA-2522]
  • Terminating ssh connection to node results in stack trace being thrown to the console [ CORDA-2519]
  • Error propagating hash to signature constraints [ CORDA-2515]
  • Unable to import trusted attachment [ CORDA-2512]
  • Invalid node command line options not always gracefully handled [ CORDA-2506]
  • node.conf with rogue line results non-comprehensive error [ CORDA-2505]
  • Fix v4’s inability to migrate V3 vault data [ CORDA-2487]
  • Vault Query fails to process states upon CorDapp Contract upgrade [ CORDA-2486]
  • Signature Constraints end-user documentation is limited [ CORDA-2477]
  • Docs update: document transition from the whitelist constraint to the sig constraint [ CORDA-2465]
  • The ContractUpgradeWireTransaction does not support the Signature Constraint [ CORDA-2456]
  • Intermittent relation “hibernate_sequence” does not exist error when using Postgres [ CORDA-2393]
  • Implement package namespace ownership [ CORDA-1947]
  • Show explicit error message when new version of OS CorDapp contains schema changes [ CORDA-1596]
  • Dockerfile improvements and image size reduction [ CORDA-2929]
  • Update QPID Proton-J library to latest [ CORDA-2856]
  • Not handled excpetion when certificates directory is missing [ CORDA-2786]
  • The DJVM cannot sandbox instances of Contract.verify(LedgerTransaction) when testing CorDapps. [ CORDA-2775]
  • State machine logs an error prior to deciding to escalate to an error [ CORDA-2757]
  • Should Jolokia be included in the built jar files? [ CORDA-2699]
  • Transactions created in V3 cannot be verified in V4 if any of the state types were included in “depended upon” CorDapps which were not attached to the transaction [ CORDA-2692]
  • Prevent a node re-registering with the doorman if it did already and the node “state” has not been erased [ CORDA-2647]
  • The cert hierarchy diagram for C4 is the same as C3.0 but I thought we changed it between C3.1 and 3.2? [ CORDA-2604]
  • Windows build fails with FileSystemException in TwoPartyTradeFlowTests [ CORDA-2363]
  • Cash.generateSpend cannot be used twice to generate two cash moves in the same tx [ CORDA-2162]
  • FlowException thrown by session.receive is not propagated back to a counterparty
  • invalid command line args for corda result in 0 exit code
  • Windows build fails on TwoPartyTradeFlowTests
  • C4 performance below C3, bring it back into parity
  • Deserialisation of ContractVerificationException blows up trying to put null into non-null field
  • Reference state test (R3T-1918) failing probably due to unconsumed linear state that was referenced.
  • Signature constraint: Jarsigner verification allows removal of files from the archive.
  • Node explorer bug revealed from within Demobench: serialisation failed error is shown
  • Security: Fix vulnerability where an attacker can use CustomSerializers to alter the meaning of serialized data
  • Node/RPC is broken after CorDapp upgrade
  • RPC client disconnects shouldn’t be a warning
  • Hibernate logs warning and errors for some conditions we handle

Release notes for Corda 4

Welcome to the Corda 4 release notes. Please read these carefully to understand what’s new in this release and how the changes can help you. Just as prior releases have brought with them commitments to wire and API stability, Corda 4 comes with those same guarantees. States and apps valid in Corda 3 are transparently usable in Corda 4.

For app developers, we strongly recommend reading “ Upgrading apps to Corda 4”. This covers the upgrade procedure, along with how you can adjust your app to opt-in to new features making your app more secure and easier to upgrade in future.

For node operators, we recommend reading “ Upgrading your node to Corda 4”. The upgrade procedure is simple but it can’t hurt to read the instructions anyway.

Additionally, be aware that the data model improvements are changes to the Corda consensus rules. To use apps that benefit from them, all nodes in a compatibility zone must be upgraded and the zone must be enforcing that upgrade. This may take time in large zones like the testnet. Please take this into account for your own schedule planning.

Changes for developers in Corda 4

Reference states

With Corda 4 we are introducing the concept of “reference input states”. These allow smart contracts to reference data from the ledger in a transaction without simultaneously updating it. They’re useful not only for any kind of reference data such as rates, healthcare codes, geographical information etc, but for anywhere you might have used a SELECT JOIN in a SQL based app.

A reference input state is a ContractState which can be referred to in a transaction by the contracts of input and output states but, significantly, whose contract is not executed as part of the transaction verification process and is not consumed when the transaction is committed to the ledger. Rather, it is checked for “current-ness”. In other words, the contract logic isn’t run for the referencing transaction only. Since they’re normal states, if they do occur in the input or output positions, they can evolve on the ledger, modeling reference data in the real world.

Signature constraints

CorDapps built by the corda-gradle-plugins are now signed and sealed JAR files by default. This signing can be configured or disabled with the default certificate being the Corda development certificate.

When an app is signed, that automatically activates the use of signature constraints, which are an important part of the Corda security and upgrade plan. They allow states to express what contract logic governs them socially, as in “any contract JAR signed by a threshold of these N keys is suitable”, rather than just by hash or via zone whitelist rules, as in previous releases.

We strongly recommend all apps be signed and use signature constraints going forward.

Learn more about this new feature by reading the Upgrading apps to Corda 4.

State pointers

State Pointers formalize a recommended design pattern, in which states may refer to other states on the ledger by StateRef (a pair of transaction hash and output index that is sufficient to locate any information on the global ledger). State pointers work together with the reference states feature to make it easy for data to point to the latest version of any other piece of data, with the right version being automatically incorporated into transactions for you.

New network builder tool

A new graphical tool for building test Corda networks has been added. It can build Docker images for local deployment and can also remotely control Microsoft Azure, to create a test network in the cloud.

Learn more on the Corda Network Builder page.

network builder v4

JPA access in flows and services

Corda 3 provides the jdbcConnection API on FlowLogic to give access to an active connection to your underlying database. It is fully intended that apps can store their own data in their own tables in the node database, so app-specific tables can be updated atomically with the ledger data itself. But JDBC is not always convenient, so in Corda 4 we are additionally exposing the Java Persistence Architecture, for object-relational mapping. The new ServiceHub.withEntityManager API lets you load and persist entity beans inside your flows and services.

Please do write apps that read and write directly to tables running alongside the node’s own tables. Using SQL is a convenient and robust design pattern for accessing data on or off the ledger.

Security upgrades

Sealing. Sealed JARs are a security upgrade that ensures JARs cannot define classes in each other’s packages, thus ensuring Java’s package-private visibility feature works. The Gradle plugins now seal your JARs by default.

BelongsToContract annotation. CorDapps are currently expected to verify that the right contract is named in each state object. This manual step is easy to miss, which would make the app less secure in a network where you trade with potentially malicious counterparties. The platform now handles this for you by allowing you to annotate states with which contract governs them. If states are inner classes of a contract class, this association is automatic. See API: Contract Constraints for more information.

Two-sided FinalityFlow and SwapIdentitiesFlow. The previous FinalityFlow API was insecure because nodes would accept any finalised transaction, outside of the context of a containing flow. This would allow transactions to be sent to a node bypassing things like business network membership checks. The same applies for the SwapIdentitiesFlow in the confidential-identities module. A new API has been introduced to allow secure use of this flow.

Package namespace ownership. Corda 4 allows app developers to register their keys and Java package namespaces with the zone operator. Any JAR that defines classes in these namespaces will have to be signed by those keys. This is an opt-in feature designed to eliminate potential confusion that could arise if a malicious developer created classes in other people’s package namespaces (e.g. an attacker creating a state class called com.megacorp.exampleapp.ExampleState). Whilst Corda’s attachments feature would stop the core ledger getting confused by this, tools and formats that connect to the node may not be designed to consider attachment hashes or signing keys, and rely more heavily on type names instead. Package namespace ownership allows tool developers to assume that if a class name appears to be owned by an organisation, then the semantics of that class actually were defined by that organisation, thus eliminating edge cases that might otherwise cause confusion.

Network parameters in transactions

Transactions created under a Corda 4+ node will have the currently valid signed NetworkParameters file attached to each transaction. This will allow future introspection of states to ascertain what was the accepted global state of the network at the time they were notarised. Additionally, new signatures must be working with the current globally accepted parameters. The notary signing a transaction will check that it does indeed reference the current in-force network parameters, meaning that old (and superseded) network parameters can not be used to create new transactions.

RPC upgrades

AMQP/1.0 is now default serialization framework across all of Corda (checkpointing aside), swapping the RPC framework from using the older Kryo implementation. This means Corda open source and Enterprise editions are now RPC wire compatible and either client library can be used. We previously started using AMQP/1.0 for the peer to peer protocol in Corda 3.

Class synthesis. The RPC framework supports the “class carpenter” feature. Clients can now freely download and deserialise objects, such as contract states, for which the defining class files are absent from their classpath. Definitions for these classes will be synthesised on the fly from the binary schemas embedded in the messages. The resulting dynamically created objects can then be fed into any framework that uses reflection, such as XML formatters, JSON libraries, GUI construction toolkits, scripting engines and so on. This approach is how the Blob Inspector tool works - it simply deserialises a message and then feeds the resulting synthetic class graph into a JSON or YAML serialisation framework.

Class synthesis will use interfaces that are implemented by the original objects if they are found on the classpath. This is designed to enable generic programming. For example, if your industry has standardised a thin Java API with interfaces that expose JavaBean style properties (get/is methods), then you can have that JAR on the classpath of your tool and cast the deserialised objects to those interfaces. In this way you can work with objects from apps you aren’t aware of.

SSL. The Corda RPC infrastructure can now be configured to utilise SSL for additional security. The operator of a node wishing to enable this must of course generate and distribute a certificate in order for client applications to successfully connect. This is documented here Using the client RPC API

Preview of the deterministic DJVM

It is important that all nodes that process a transaction always agree on whether it is valid or not. Because transaction types are defined using JVM byte code, this means that the execution of that byte code must be fully deterministic. Out of the box a standard JVM is not fully deterministic, thus we must make some modifications in order to satisfy our requirements.

This version of Corda introduces a standalone Deterministic JVM. It isn’t yet integrated with the rest of the platform. It will eventually become a part of the node and enforce deterministic and secure execution of smart contract code, which is mobile and may propagate around the network without human intervention.

Currently, it is released as an evaluation version. We want to give developers the ability to start trying it out and get used to developing deterministic code under the set of constraints that we envision will be placed on contract code in the future. There are some instructions on how to get started with the DJVM command-line tool, which allows you to run code in a deterministic sandbox and inspect the byte code transformations that the DJVM applies to your code. Read more in “ Deterministic JVM”.

Configurable flow responders

In Corda 4 it is possible for flows in one app to subclass and take over flows from another. This allows you to create generic, shared flow logic that individual users can customise at pre-agreed points (protected methods). For example, a site-specific app could be developed that causes transaction details to be converted to a PDF and sent to a particular printer. This would be an inappropriate feature to put into shared business logic, but it makes perfect sense to put into a user-specific app they developed themselves.

If your flows could benefit from being extended in this way, read “ Configuring Responder Flows” to learn more.

Target/minimum versions

Applications can now specify a target version in their JAR manifest. The target version declares which version of the platform the app was tested against. By incrementing the target version, app developers can opt in to desirable changes that might otherwise not be entirely backwards compatible. For example in a future release when the deterministic JVM is integrated and enabled, apps will need to opt in to determinism by setting the target version to a high enough value.

Target versioning has a proven track record in both iOS and Android of enabling platforms to preserve strong backwards compatibility, whilst also moving forward with new features and bug fixes. We recommend that maintained applications always try and target the latest version of the platform. Setting a target version does not imply your app requires a node of that version, merely that it’s been tested against that version and can handle any opt-in changes.

Applications may also specify a minimum platform version. If you try to install an app in a node that is too old to satisfy this requirement, the app won’t be loaded. App developers can set their min platform version requirement if they start using new features and APIs.

Dependency upgrades

We’ve raised the minimum JDK to 8u171, needed to get fixes for certain ZIP compression bugs.

We’ve upgraded to Kotlin 1.2.71 so your apps can now benefit from the new features in this language release.

We’ve upgraded to Gradle 4.10.1.

Changes for administrators in Corda 4

Official Docker images

Corda 4 adds an Official Corda Docker Image for starting the node. It’s based on Ubuntu and uses the Azul Zulu spin of Java 8. Other tools will have Docker images in future as well.

Auto-acceptance for network parameters updates

Changes to the parameters of a compatibility zone require all nodes to opt in before a flag day.

Some changes are trivial and very unlikely to trigger any disagreement. We have added auto-acceptance for a subset of network parameters, negating the need for a node operator to manually run an accept command on every parameter update. This behaviour can be turned off via the node configuration. See The network map.

Automatic error codes

Errors generated in Corda are now hashed to produce a unique error code that can be used to perform a lookup into a knowledge base. The lookup URL will be printed to the logs when an error occur. Here’s an example:

[ERROR] 2018-12-19T17:18:39,199Z [main] internal.NodeStartupLogging.invoke - Exception during node startup: The name 'O=Wawrzek Test C4, L=London, C=GB' for identity doesn't match what's in the key store: O=Wawrzek Test C4, L=Ely, C=GB [errorCode=wuxa6f, moreInformationAt=]

The hope is that common error conditions can quickly be resolved and opaque errors explained in a more user friendly format to facilitate faster debugging and trouble shooting.

At the moment, Stack Overflow is that knowledge base, with the error codes being converted to a URL that redirects either directly to the answer or to an appropriate search on Stack Overflow.

Standardisation of command line argument handling

In Corda 4 we have ported the node and all our tools to use a new command line handling framework. Advantages for you:

  • Improved, coloured help output.
  • Common options have been standardised to use the same name and behaviour everywhere.
  • All programs can now generate bash/zsh auto completion files.

You can learn more by reading our CLI user experience guidelines document.

Liquibase for database schema upgrades

We have open sourced the Liquibase schema upgrade feature from Corda Enterprise. The node now uses Liquibase to bootstrap and update itself automatically. This is a transparent change with pre Corda 4 nodes seamlessly upgrading to operate as if they’d been bootstrapped in this way. This also applies to the finance CorDapp module.

Ability to pre-validate configuration files

A new command has been added that lets you verify a config file is valid without starting up the rest of the node:

java -jar corda-4.0.jar validate-configuration

Flow control for notaries

Notary clusters can now exert backpressure on clients, to stop them from being overloaded. Nodes will be ordered to back off if a notary is getting too busy, and app flows will pause to give time for the load spike to pass. This change is transparent to both developers and administrators.

Retirement of non-elliptic Diffie-Hellman for TLS

The TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 family of ciphers is retired from the list of allowed ciphers for TLS as it is a legacy cipher family not supported by all native SSL/TLS implementations. We anticipate that this will have no impact on any deployed configurations.

Miscellaneous changes

To learn more about smaller changes, please read the Changelog.

Finally, we have added some new jokes. Thank you and good night!