API: States


In Corda, states are instances of classes that implement ContractState. The ContractState interface is defined as follows:

 * A contract state (or just "state") contains opaque data used by a contract program. It can be thought of as a disk
 * file that the program can use to persist data across transactions. States are immutable: once created they are never
 * updated, instead, any changes must generate a new successor state. States can be updated (consumed) only once: the
 * notary is responsible for ensuring there is no "double spending" by only signing a transaction if the input states
 * are all free.
interface ContractState {
     * A _participant_ is any party that is able to consume this state in a valid transaction.
     * The list of participants is required for certain types of transactions. For example, when changing the notary
     * for this state, every participant has to be involved and approve the transaction
     * so that they receive the updated state, and don't end up in a situation where they can no longer use a state
     * they possess, since someone consumed that state during the notary change process.
     * The participants list should normally be derived from the contents of the state.
    val participants: List<AbstractParty>

ContractState has a single field, participants. participants is a List of the AbstractParty that are considered to have a stake in the state. Among other things, the participants will:

  • Usually store the state in their vault (see below)
  • Need to sign any notary-change and contract-upgrade transactions involving this state
  • Receive any finalised transactions involving this state as part of FinalityFlow

ContractState sub-interfaces

The behaviour of the state can be further customised by implementing sub-interfaces of ContractState. The two most common sub-interfaces are:

  • LinearState
  • OwnableState

LinearState models shared facts for which there is only one current version at any point in time. LinearState states evolve in a straight line by superseding themselves. On the other hand, OwnableState is meant to represent assets that can be freely split and merged over time. Cash is a good example of an OwnableState - two existing $5 cash states can be combined into a single $10 cash state, or split into five $1 cash states. With OwnableState, its the total amount held that is important, rather than the actual units held.

We can picture the hierarchy as follows:

state hierarchy


The LinearState interface is defined as follows:

 * A state that evolves by superseding itself, all of which share the common "linearId".
 * This simplifies the job of tracking the current version of certain types of state in e.g. a vault.
interface LinearState : ContractState {
     * Unique id shared by all LinearState states throughout history within the vaults of all parties.
     * Verify methods should check that one input and one output share the id in a transaction,
     * except at issuance/termination.
    val linearId: UniqueIdentifier

Remember that in Corda, states are immutable and can’t be updated directly. Instead, we represent an evolving fact as a sequence of LinearState states that share the same linearId and represent an audit trail for the lifecycle of the fact over time.

When we want to extend a LinearState chain (i.e. a sequence of states sharing a linearId), we:

  • Use the linearId to extract the latest state in the chain from the vault
  • Create a new state that has the same linearId
  • Create a transaction with:
    • The current latest state in the chain as an input
    • The newly-created state as an output

The new state will now become the latest state in the chain, representing the new current state of the agreement.

linearId is of type UniqueIdentifier, which is a combination of:

  • A Java UUID representing a globally unique 128 bit random number
  • An optional external-reference string for referencing the state in external systems


The OwnableState interface is defined as follows:

 * Return structure for [OwnableState.withNewOwner]
data class CommandAndState(val command: CommandData, val ownableState: OwnableState)

 * A contract state that can have a single owner.
interface OwnableState : ContractState {
    /** There must be a MoveCommand signed by this key to claim the amount. */
    val owner: AbstractParty

    /** Copies the underlying data structure, replacing the owner field with this new value and leaving the rest alone. */
    fun withNewOwner(newOwner: AbstractParty): CommandAndState


  • owner is the PublicKey of the asset’s owner
  • withNewOwner(newOwner: AbstractParty) creates an copy of the state with a new owner

Because OwnableState models fungible assets that can be merged and split over time, OwnableState instances do not have a linearId. $5 of cash created by one transaction is considered to be identical to $5 of cash produced by another transaction.

Other interfaces

You can also customize your state by implementing the following interfaces:

  • QueryableState, which allows the state to be queried in the node’s database using custom attributes (see API: Persistence)
  • SchedulableState, which allows us to schedule future actions for the state (e.g. a coupon payment on a bond) (see Event scheduling)

User-defined fields

Beyond implementing ContractState or a sub-interface, a state is allowed to have any number of additional fields and methods. For example, here is the relatively complex definition for a state representing cash:

    /** A state representing a cash claim against some party. */
    data class State(
            override val amount: Amount<Issued<Currency>>,

            /** There must be a MoveCommand signed by this key to claim the amount. */
            override val owner: AbstractParty
    ) : FungibleAsset<Currency>, QueryableState {
        constructor(deposit: PartyAndReference, amount: Amount<Currency>, owner: AbstractParty)
                : this(Amount(amount.quantity, Issued(deposit, amount.token)), owner)

        override val exitKeys = setOf(owner.owningKey, amount.token.issuer.party.owningKey)
        override val participants = listOf(owner)

        override fun withNewOwnerAndAmount(newAmount: Amount<Issued<Currency>>, newOwner: AbstractParty): FungibleAsset<Currency>
                = copy(amount = amount.copy(newAmount.quantity), owner = newOwner)

        override fun toString() = "${Emoji.bagOfCash}Cash($amount at ${amount.token.issuer} owned by $owner)"

        override fun withNewOwner(newOwner: AbstractParty) = CommandAndState(Commands.Move(), copy(owner = newOwner))
        infix fun ownedBy(owner: AbstractParty) = copy(owner = owner)
        infix fun issuedBy(party: AbstractParty) = copy(amount = Amount(amount.quantity, amount.token.copy(issuer = amount.token.issuer.copy(party = party))))
        infix fun issuedBy(deposit: PartyAndReference) = copy(amount = Amount(amount.quantity, amount.token.copy(issuer = deposit)))
        infix fun withDeposit(deposit: PartyAndReference): Cash.State = copy(amount = amount.copy(token = amount.token.copy(issuer = deposit)))

        /** Object Relational Mapping support. */
        override fun generateMappedObject(schema: MappedSchema): PersistentState {
            return when (schema) {
                is CashSchemaV1 -> CashSchemaV1.PersistentCashState(
                        owner = this.owner,
                        pennies = this.amount.quantity,
                        currency = this.amount.token.product.currencyCode,
                        issuerPartyHash = this.amount.token.issuer.party.owningKey.toStringShort(),
                        issuerRef = this.amount.token.issuer.reference.bytes
            /** Additional schema mappings would be added here (eg. CashSchemaV2, CashSchemaV3, ...) */
                else -> throw IllegalArgumentException("Unrecognised schema $schema")

        /** Object Relational Mapping support. */
        override fun supportedSchemas(): Iterable<MappedSchema> = listOf(CashSchemaV1)
        /** Additional used schemas would be added here (eg. CashSchemaV2, CashSchemaV3, ...) */

The vault

Whenever a node records a new transaction, it also decides whether it should store each of the transaction’s output states in its vault. The default vault implementation makes the decision based on the following rules:

  • If the state is an OwnableState, the vault will store the state if the node is the state’s owner
  • Otherwise, the vault will store the state if it is one of the participants

States that are not considered relevant are not stored in the node’s vault. However, the node will still store the transactions that created the states in its transaction storage.


When a ContractState is added to a TransactionBuilder, it is wrapped in a TransactionState:

typealias ContractClassName = String

 * A wrapper for [ContractState] containing additional platform-level state information and contract information.
 * This is the definitive state that is stored on the ledger and used in transaction outputs.
data class TransactionState<out T : ContractState> @JvmOverloads constructor(
        /** The custom contract state */
        val data: T,
         * The contract class name that will verify this state that will be created via reflection.
         * The attachment containing this class will be automatically added to the transaction at transaction creation
         * time.
         * Currently these are loaded from the classpath of the node which includes the cordapp directory - at some
         * point these will also be loaded and run from the attachment store directly, allowing contracts to be
         * sent across, and run, from the network from within a sandbox environment.
         * TODO: Implement the contract sandbox loading of the contract attachments
         * */
        val contract: ContractClassName,
        /** Identity of the notary that ensures the state is not used as an input to a transaction more than once */
        val notary: Party,
         * All contract states may be _encumbered_ by up to one other state.
         * The encumbrance state, if present, forces additional controls over the encumbered state, since the platform checks
         * that the encumbrance state is present as an input in the same transaction that consumes the encumbered state, and
         * the contract code and rules of the encumbrance state will also be verified during the execution of the transaction.
         * For example, a cash contract state could be encumbered with a time-lock contract state; the cash state is then only
         * processable in a transaction that verifies that the time specified in the encumbrance time-lock has passed.
         * The encumbered state refers to another by index, and the referred encumbrance state
         * is an output state in a particular position on the same transaction that created the encumbered state. An alternative
         * implementation would be encumbering by reference to a [StateRef], which would allow the specification of encumbrance
         * by a state created in a prior transaction.
         * Note that an encumbered state that is being consumed must have its encumbrance consumed in the same transaction,
         * otherwise the transaction is not valid.
        val encumbrance: Int? = null,
         * A validator for the contract attachments on the transaction.
        val constraint: AttachmentConstraint = AutomaticHashConstraint)


  • data is the state to be stored on-ledger
  • contract is the contract governing evolutions of this state
  • notary is the notary service for this state
  • encumbrance points to another state that must also appear as an input to any transaction consuming this state
  • constraint is a constraint on which contract-code attachments can be used with this state