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DispatchResult vs DispatchResultWithPostInfo

When writing functions for substrate modules, you generally have the option to return their values as one of two result types: DispatchResult or DispatchResultWithPostInfo . You can create your own custom types and use them as return types, of course, provided they implement the necessary traits.

In practice, however, using DispatchResult and DispatchResultWithPostInfo is recommended because they provide a consistent interface and are integrated with Substrate's error handling mechanism.

In this Substrate in Bits content, we will take a problem-based approach to knowing the difference between these two common return types.

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Reproducing errors

To reproduce the errors for this project you’ll have to set up your environment and clone the repository of the node for this project.

Environment and project set up.

To follow along with this tutorial, ensure that you have the Rust toolchain installed.

git clone https://github.com/abdbee/DispatchResult-vs-DispatchResultWithPostInfo.git
  • Navigate into the project’s directory.
cd DispatchResult-vs-DispatchResultWithPostInfo
  • Run the command below to compile the node.
cargo build --release

While attempting to compile the node above, you’ll encounter an error similar to the one below:

error[E0308]: mismatched types
--> pallets/template/src/lib.rs:120:7
|
120 | Ok(())
| ^^ expected struct `PostDispatchInfo`, found `()`

For more information about this error, try `rustc --explain E0308`.
error: could not compile `pallet-template` due to previous error
warning: build failed, waiting for other jobs to finish...
error: build failed

Solving the error

Let’s look at the function that this error arises from:

#[pallet::weight(10_000 + T::DbWeight::get().writes(1))]
pub fn add_number(origin: OriginFor<T>, number: u32) -> DispatchResultWithPostInfo {
// Ensure the call is signed
let _ = ensure_signed(origin)?;

// Validate the input
ensure!(number >= 100, Error::<T>::NumberTooLow); // Returns an error if number is less than 100
ensure!(number <= 1000, Error::<T>::NumberTooHigh); // Returns an error if number is greater than 1000

// Store the number in the storage
<Numbers<T>>::put(number);

// Return success without additional info
Ok(())
}

The function above was declared to return a DispatchResultWithPostInfo type. But at the end of the function, it’s returning Ok(()), which is of the DispatchResult type.

To correct this, you need to ensure that the returned value is of the DispatchResultWithPostInfo type. you can convert a DispatchResult into a DispatchResultWithPostInfo by calling .into() on the DispatchResult type. This will automatically create a PostDispatchInfo with default values (actual_weight: None, pays_fee: Pays::Yes).

  • Replace Ok(()) in the function above with the following code:
Ok(().into())
  • Re-compile the node
cargo build --release

You can also specify the actual values for the fields of PostDispatchInfo manually. For example, you can specify the actual weight to be 6_500. If actual_weight is provided, the value you specified will be used instead of the weight originally declared with the #[pallet::weight] attribute.

  • Replace Ok(().into()) in the function above with the following code:
//Assume that the actual weight consumed is 6_500 units
let actual_weight = 6_500;
Ok(Some(actual_weight).into())
  • Re-compile the node.

In this case, we are manually specifying PostDispatchInfo to say the actual_weight used was 6_500. The runtime will use this value for weight calculation instead of the initially declared weight. .into() converts the DispatchResult type into a DispatchResultWithPostInfo with the explicitly defined actual_weight value and the default pays_fee: value (ie, pays_fee: Pays::Yes)

But if you don’t want to return any post-dispatch info, you can declare the function to return the DispatchResult type. In that case, the function can return Ok(()) without an error.

Going in-depth

DispatchResult

DispatchResult is a simple enumeration that indicates whether a dispatchable call was successful or failed. It can either be Ok (the call succeeded, and there's no value to return), or Err (the call failed, and here's why). You would use DispatchResult when you don't need to return any additional information about the call execution, such as post-dispatch weight adjustments.

pub type DispatchResult = Result<(), DispatchError>;

The Err variant (ie., DispatchError)is an enum that contains the possible reasons why a dispatch call might have failed.

source

pub enum DispatchError {
Other(&'static str),
CannotLookup,
BadOrigin,
Module(ModuleError),
ConsumerRemaining,
NoProviders,
TooManyConsumers,
Token(TokenError),
Arithmetic(ArithmeticError),
Transactional(TransactionalError),
Exhausted,
Corruption,
Unavailable,
RootNotAllowed,
}

This enum represents all the possible errors that can occur during dispatch. When DispatchResult is used as the return type, Error types in a function have to be converted into the DispatchError type before they can be returned. For an error type in a function to be converted into the DispatchError type, DispatchError must implement the From trait that specifies how to convert that particular error into a DispatchError.

To understand this, let’s take a look at the function below:

#[pallet::call_index(4)]
pub fn transfer_all(
origin: OriginFor<T>,
dest: AccountIdLookupOf<T>,
keep_alive: bool,
) -> DispatchResult {
let transactor = ensure_signed(origin)?;

let keep_alive = if keep_alive {
Preserve
} else {
Expendable
};

// --- snip ---

Ok(())
}

In line 7, ensure_signed(origin)?; helps ensure the transaction is originating from a signed source. It returns a Result type that, if successful, contains the AccountId of the signer, but if unsuccessful, contains a BadOrigin error. You can check the source code of the ensure_signed(o) function [here](https://paritytech.github.io/substrate/master/src/frame_system/lib.rs.html#918-926

This BadOrigin error is represented by a struct in the [sp_runtime](https://paritytech.github.io/substrate/master/src/sp_runtime/traits.rs.html#180 module.

pub struct BadOrigin;

But since this function is expected to return a DispatchResult type, it needs to convert this error type to a DispatchError. For this to be possible the From<BadOrigin> trait needs to be implemented for DispatchError .

// Implement the `From` trait for converting `BadOrigin` into `DispatchError`.
impl From<crate::traits::BadOrigin> for DispatchError {
// Define the conversion function.
fn from(_: crate::traits::BadOrigin) -> Self {
// Convert `BadOrigin` into `DispatchError::BadOrigin`.
Self::BadOrigin
}
}

From<BadOrigin> allows for the automatic conversion of a BadOrigin type into a DispatchError::BadOrigin enum variant, and this is returned by the ? operator if the ensure_signed(origin) function returns an error variant.

In essence, From<ErrorType> trait has to be implemented for DispatchError for each error type that could be returned. You can check out the implementations for the error types [here](https://paritytech.github.io/substrate/master/src/sp_runtime/lib.rs.html

In summary, DispatchResult is used as the return type for functions that mutate state but don't need to return data. The purpose of the function is to make changes, and its success or failure is the only relevant information to return.

DispatchResultWithPostInfo

DispatchResultWithPostInfo is a return type that is designed to provide additional information about the execution of a call beyond just success or failure. It allows developers to convey information about the computational weight consumed by a call and whether the call should pay fees.

Underlying this, DispatchResultWithPostInfo is a type alias for DispatchResultWithInfo<PostDispatchInfo>.


pub type DispatchResultWithPostInfo = DispatchResultWithInfo<PostDispatchInfo>;

DispatchResultWithInfo<T> is a more general type alias for Result<T, DispatchErrorWithPostInfo<T>>. This is designed to return either a success (with some type T of data) or an error (along with some type T of data).


pub type DispatchResultWithInfo<T> = Result<T, DispatchErrorWithPostInfo<T>>;

In the context of DispatchResultWithPostInfo, T is replaced with PostDispatchInfo.

PostDispatchInfo is a struct carrying additional data such as the actual computational weight consumed by the dispatchable call, and information about whether the call should pay fees.

pub struct PostDispatchInfo {
pub actual_weight: Option<Weight>,
pub pays_fee: Pays,
}

When a function returns a DispatchResultWithPostInfo, it could return an Ok(PostDispatchInfo) signifying success, or an Err(DispatchErrorWithPostInfo) indicating failure. If successful, PostDispatchInfo can carry additional data like the actual weight consumed. In the event of failure, DispatchErrorWithPostInfo contains the error along with additional PostDispatchInfo.

For instance, consider the following return statement:


Ok(PostDispatchInfo {
actual_weight: Some(5000),
pays_fee: Pays::Yes,
})

This indicates that the dispatchable function was successful, consumed 5000 units of weight, and that the caller should pay a fee.

On the other hand, an error return might look like this:

// Return an error along with additional post-dispatch information
Err(DispatchErrorWithPostInfo {
// Specify post-dispatch information
post_info: PostDispatchInfo {
// Indicate the actual computational weight used by the function
actual_weight: Some(3000),
// Specify that the function does not pay a fee
pays_fee: Pays::No,
},
// Indicate the specific error that occurred
error: DispatchError::BadOrigin,
})

This signals that the function failed with a BadOrigin error, consumed 3000 units of weight by the time the error occurred, and the caller should not be charged a fee.

Summary

This guide provides an in-depth exploration into the role of DispatchResult and DispatchResultWithPostInfo return types when writing functions for Substrate modules.

The DispatchResult enumeration indicates the success or failure of a dispatchable call. DispatchResultWithPostInfo, on the other hand, provides additional post-dispatch information such as computational weight consumed by the call and fee payment details.

By using a problem-based approach, the guide highlights a typical error related to mismatched return types, specifically when a DispatchResult type is returned for a function declared to return DispatchResultWithPostInfo. Solutions are provided to correct the issue, demonstrating how to return PostDispatchInfo with default values or manually specified ones.

A further dissection of the DispatchResult and DispatchResultWithPostInfo types illuminates their underlying structure and interaction with the Substrate framework. It demonstrates how various errors are handled and converted into a DispatchError type, which forms a part of the DispatchResult.

For more resources on the concepts discussed in this article, check out the official substrate documentation.

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