Chapter 2 - Using Objects

In Chapter 1 we covered how to define, create and take ownership of a Sui object in Move. In this chapter we will look at how to use objects that you own in Move calls.

Sui authentication mechanisms ensure only you can use objects owned by you in Move calls. (We will cover non-owned objects in future chapters.) To use an object in Move calls, pass them as parameters to an entry function. Similar to Rust, there are a few ways to pass parameters:

Pass objects by reference

There are two ways to pass objects by reference: read-only references (&T) and mutable references (&mut T). Read-only references allow you to read data from the object, while mutable references allow you to mutate the data in the object. Let's try to add a function that would allow us to update one of ColorObject's values with another ColorObject's value. This will exercise using both read-only references and mutable references.

The ColorObject we defined in the previous chapter looks like:

struct ColorObject has key {
    id: UID,
    red: u8,
    green: u8,
    blue: u8,
}

Now let's add this function:

/// Copies the values of `from_object` into `into_object`.
public entry fun copy_into(from_object: &ColorObject, into_object: &mut ColorObject) {
    into_object.red = from_object.red;
    into_object.green = from_object.green;
    into_object.blue = from_object.blue;
}

💡We declared this function with the entry modifier to be callable as an entry function from transactions.

In the above function signature, from_object can be a read-only reference because we only need to read its fields; conversely, into_object must be a mutable reference since we need to mutate it. In order for a transaction to make a call to the copy_into function, the sender of the transaction must be the owner of both of from_object and into_object.

💡Although from_object is a read-only reference in this transaction, it is still a mutable object in Sui storage--another transaction could be sent to mutate the object at the same time! To prevent this, Sui must lock any mutable object used as a transaction input, even when it's passed as a read-only reference. In addition, only an object's owner can send a transaction that locks the object.

Let's write a unit test to see how we could interact with multiple objects of the same type in tests. In the previous chapter, we introduced the take_from_sender<T> API, which takes an object of type T from the global storage created by previous transactions. However, what if there are multiple objects of the same type? take_from_sender<T> will no longer be able to tell which one to return. To solve this problem, we need to use two new, test-only APIs. The first is tx_context::last_created_object_id(ctx), which returns the ID of the most recently created object. The second is test_scenario::take_from_sender_by_id<T>, which returns an object of type T with a specific object ID. Now let's take a look at the test (test_copy_into):

let owner = @0x1;
let scenario_val = test_scenario::begin(owner);
let scenario = &mut scenario_val;
// Create two ColorObjects owned by `owner`, and obtain their IDs.
let (id1, id2) = {
    let ctx = test_scenario::ctx(scenario);
    color_object::create(255, 255, 255, ctx);
    let id1 = object::id_from_address(tx_context::last_created_object_id(ctx));
    color_object::create(0, 0, 0, ctx);
    let id2 = object::id_from_address(tx_context::last_created_object_id(ctx));
    (id1, id2)
};

The above code created two objects. Note that right after each call, we make a call to tx_context::last_created_object_id to get the ID of the object just created. At the end we have id1 and id2 capturing the IDs of the two objects. Next we retrieve both of them and test the copy_into function:

test_scenario::next_tx(scenario, owner);
{
    let obj1 = test_scenario::take_from_sender_by_id<ColorObject>(scenario, id1);
    let obj2 = test_scenario::take_from_sender_by_id<ColorObject>(scenario, id2);
    let (red, green, blue) = color_object::get_color(&obj1);
    assert!(red == 255 && green == 255 && blue == 255, 0);

    let ctx = test_scenario::ctx(scenario);
    color_object::copy_into(&obj2, &mut obj1);
    test_scenario::return_to_sender(scenario, obj1);
    test_scenario::return_to_sender(scenario, obj2);
};

We used take_from_sender_by_id to take both objects using different IDs. We then used copy_into to update obj1's value using obj2's. We can verify that the mutation works:

test_scenario::next_tx(scenario, owner);
{
    let obj1 = test_scenario::take_from_sender_by_id<ColorObject>(scenario, id1);
    let (red, green, blue) = color_object::get_color(&obj1);
    assert!(red == 0 && green == 0 && blue == 0, 0);
    test_scenario::return_to_sender(scenario, obj1);
};
test_scenario::end(scenario_val);

Pass objects by value

Objects can also be passed by value into an entry function. By doing so, the object is moved out of Sui storage. It is then up to the Move code to decide where this object should go.

📚Since every Sui object struct type must include UID as its first field, and the UID struct does not have the drop ability, the Sui object struct type cannot have the drop ability either. Hence, any Sui object cannot be arbitrarily dropped and must be either consumed (e.g., transferred to another owner) or deleted by unpacking, as described below.

There are two ways we can deal with a pass-by-value Sui object in Move:

Option 1. Delete the object

If the intention is to actually delete the object, we can unpack the object. This can be done only in the module that defined the struct type, due to Move's privileged struct operations rules. Upon unpacking, if any field is also of struct type, recursive unpacking and deletion will be required.

However, the id field of a Sui object requires special handling. We must call the following API in the object module to signal Sui that we intend to delete this object:

public fun delete(id: UID) { ... }

Let's define a function in the ColorObject module that allows us to delete the object:

    public entry fun delete(object: ColorObject) {
        let ColorObject { id, red: _, green: _, blue: _ } = object;
        object::delete(id);
    }

As we can see, the object is unpacked, generating individual fields. The u8 values are primitive types and can all be dropped. However the id (which has type UID) cannot be dropped and must be explicitly deleted through the object::delete API. At the end of this call, the object will no longer be stored on-chain.

We can add a unit test for it, as well:

let owner = @0x1;
// Create a ColorObject and transfer it to @owner.
let scenario_val = test_scenario::begin(owner);
let scenario = &mut scenario_val;
{
    let ctx = test_scenario::ctx(scenario);
    color_object::create(255, 0, 255, ctx);
};
// Delete the ColorObject we just created.
test_scenario::next_tx(scenario, owner);
{
    let object = test_scenario::take_from_sender<ColorObject>(scenario);
    color_object::delete(object);
};
// Verify that the object was indeed deleted.
test_scenario::next_tx(scenario, &owner);
{
    assert!(!test_scenario::has_most_recent_for_sender<ColorObject>(scenario), 0);
};
test_scenario::end(scenario_val);

The first part is the same as what we have seen in Chapter 1, which creates a new ColorObject and puts it in the owner's account. The second transaction is what we are testing: retrieve the object from the storage and then delete it. Since the object is deleted, there is no need (in fact, it is impossible) to return it to the storage. The last part of the test checks that the object is indeed no longer in the global storage and hence cannot be retrieved from there.

Option 2. Transfer the object

The owner of the object may want to transfer it to another address. To support this, the ColorObject module will need to define a transfer API:

public entry fun transfer(object: ColorObject, recipient: address) {
    transfer::transfer(object, recipient)
}

💡One cannot call transfer::transfer directly as it is not an entry function.

Let's add a test for transferring too. First of all, we create an object in owner's account and then transfer it to a different account recipient:

let owner = @0x1;
// Create a ColorObject and transfer it to @owner.
let scenario_val = test_scenario::begin(owner);
let scenario = &mut scenario_val;
{
    let ctx = test_scenario::ctx(scenario);
    color_object::create(255, 0, 255, ctx);
};
// Transfer the object to recipient.
let recipient = @0x2;
test_scenario::next_tx(scenario, owner);
{
    let object = test_scenario::take_from_sender<ColorObject>(scenario);
    let ctx = test_scenario::ctx(scenario);
    transfer::transfer(object, recipient, ctx);
};

Note that in the second transaction, the sender of the transaction should still be owner, because only the owner can transfer the object that it owns. After the transfer, we can verify that owner no longer owns the object, while recipient now owns it:

// Check that owner no longer owns the object.
test_scenario::next_tx(scenario, owner);
{
    assert!(!test_scenario::has_most_recent_for_sender<ColorObject>(scenario), 0);
};
// Check that recipient now owns the object.
test_scenario::next_tx(scenario, recipient);
{
    assert!(test_scenario::has_most_recent_for_sender<ColorObject>(scenario), 0);
};
test_scenario::end(scenario_val);

On-chain interactions

Now it's time to try this out on-chain. Assuming you have already followed the instructions in Chapter 1, you should already have the package published and a new object created. Now we can try to transfer it to another address. First let's see what other addresses you own:

$ sui client addresses

Since the default current address is the first address, let's pick the second address in the list as the recipient. In my case, I have 0x1416f3d5af469905b0580b9af843ec82d02efd30. Let's save it for convenience:

$ export RECIPIENT=0x1416f3d5af469905b0580b9af843ec82d02efd30

Now let's transfer the object to this address:

$ sui client call --gas-budget 1000 --package $PACKAGE --module "color_object" --function "transfer" --args \"$OBJECT\" \"$RECIPIENT\"

Now let's see what objects the RECIPIENT owns:

$ sui client objects $RECIPIENT

We should be able to see that one of the objects in the list is the new ColorObject! This means the transfer was successful.

Let's also try to delete this object:

$ sui client call --gas-budget 1000 --package $PACKAGE --module "color_object" --function "delete" --args \"$OBJECT\"

Oops. It will error out and complain that the address is unable to lock the object, which is a valid error because we have already transferred the object away from the original owner.

In order to operate on this object, we need to switch our client address to $RECIPIENT:

$ sui client switch --address $RECIPIENT

And try the deletion again:

$ sui client call --gas-budget 1000 --package $PACKAGE --module "color_object" --function "delete" --args \"$OBJECT\"

In the output, you will see in the Transaction Effects section a list of deleted objects. This shows that the object was successfully deleted. If we run this again:

$ sui client objects $RECIPIENT

We will see that this object is no longer there in the address.

Now you know how to pass objects by reference and value and transfer them on-chain.

Last update 11/27/2022, 2:39:22 AM

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