High-level cross contract calls

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Example of using cross-contract functions, like promises, or money transfers.

Note: many other examples use Gitpod to spin up an environment where smart contracts and their frontend can be quickly accessed. This example is best run locally with nearcore, as the instructions will explain.


We will use three tabs (or separate windows) in Terminal for this example:

  1. example tab - this example project (likely …/rust-high-level-cross-contract)
  2. nearcore tab - nearcore running an instance
  3. app tab - small JavaScript app generated with create-near-app

Let's start the NEAR localnet so we can run a smart contract on it.

To start your local node, go to the nearcore tab and run the following commands:

rm -rf ~/.near

This will pull the docker image and start a single local node. When prompted, enter the account name test_near to be associated with that account. Just to be clear, this account does not live on testnet but on the localnet. It is not possible to, for example, log into this account with the NEAR Wallet after this example. Then execute the following to follow the block production logs:

docker logs --follow nearcore

In a new tab, create a project:

npx create-near-app --vanilla myproject
cd myproject

This tab is the app tab. In src/config.json change the CONTRACT_NAME to be test_near:


const CONTRACT_NAME = process.env.CONTRACT_NAME || 'near-blank-project';


const CONTRACT_NAME = process.env.CONTRACT_NAME || 'test_near';

In the same file, modify nodeUrl to point to your local node:

case 'development':
    return {
        networkId: 'default',
        nodeUrl: 'http://localhost:3030', // ⟵ change this line
        contractName: CONTRACT_NAME,
        walletUrl: '',

Then copy the key that the node generated upon starting in your local project to use for transaction signing. (The ~/.near folder was populated when we started the localnet in the nearcore tab)

mkdir ./neardev/default
cp ~/.near/validator_key.json ./neardev/default/test_near.json

Create the cross_contract account from test_near with an initial balance:

near create_account cross_contract --masterAccount test_near  --initialBalance 10000000

Deploying the cross_contract contract

You'll want to run the following near deploy command from the same app tab that you've been in, but you'll need to know the full path to the location of this repository (the example tab) on your machine.

If you're not sure about that path, or just want to copy and paste it, switch to your example tab and run:


Then, back in your app tab, run:

near deploy --accountId cross_contract --wasmFile YOUR_PATH_HERE/res/cross_contract_high_level.wasm

Deploying another contract

Let's deploy another contract using the cross_contract that we just deployed, factory-style:

near call cross_contract deploy_status_message '{"account_id": "status_message", "amount":1000000000000000}' --accountId test_near

Trying money transfer

While still in the app tab, first check the balance on both status_message and cross_contract accounts:

near state cross_contract
near state status_message

See that cross_contract has just shy of 10,000,000 and status_message has 0.000000001 tokens.

Then call a function on cross_contract that transfers money to status_message:

near call cross_contract transfer_money '{"account_id": "status_message", "amount":1000000000000000}' --accountId test_near

Then check the balances again:

near state cross_contract
near state status_message

Observe that status_message has 0.000000002 tokens, even though test_near signed the transaction and paid for all the gas that was used.

Trying simple cross contract call

Call simple_call function on cross_contract account:

near call cross_contract simple_call '{"account_id": "status_message", "message":"bonjour"}' --accountId test_near --gas 10000000000000000000

Verify that this actually resulted in correct state change in status_message contract:

near call status_message get_status '{"account_id":"test_near"}' --accountId test_near --gas 10000000000000000000



Trying complex cross contract call

Call complex_call function on cross_contract account:

near call cross_contract complex_call '{"account_id": "status_message", "message":"halo"}' --accountId test_near --gas 10000000000000000000



What just happened?

  1. test_near account signed a transaction that called a complex_call method on cross_contract smart contract.
  2. cross_contract executed complex_call with account_id: "status_message", message: "halo" arguments;
    1. During the execution the promise #0 was created to call set_status method on status_message with arguments "message": "halo";
    2. Then another promise #1 was scheduled to be executed right after promise #0. Promise #1 was to call get_status on status_message with arguments: "message": "test_near"";
    3. Then the return value of get_status is programmed to be the return value of complex_call;
  3. status_message executed set_status, then status_message executed get_status and got the "halo" return value which is then passed as the return value of complex_call.

Trying callback with return values

Call merge_sort function on cross_contract account:

near call cross_contract merge_sort '{"arr": [2, 1, 0, 3]}' --accountId test_near --gas 10000000000000000000

Observe the logs:

[cross_contract]: Received [2] and [1]
[cross_contract]: Merged [1, 2]
[cross_contract]: Received [0] and [3]
[cross_contract]: Merged [0, 3]
[cross_contract]: Received [1, 2] and [0, 3]
[cross_contract]: Merged [0, 1, 2, 3]

And the output:


The reason why output is a binary is because we used Borsh binary serialization format to communicate between the contracts instead of JSON. Borsh is faster and costs less gas. In this simple example you can even read the format, here \u0004\u0000\u0000\u0000 stands for 4u32 encoded using little-endian encoding which corresponds to the length of the array, \u0000\u0001\u0002\u0003 are the elements of the array. Since the array has type Vec<u8> each element is exactly one byte.

If you don't want to use it you can remove #[serializer(borsh)] annotation everywhere from the code and the contract will fall back to JSON.

Finally, you may stop the running docker container(s) by running this command in the nearcore tab:


Playing with the code

After you make changes in src/, recompile the contract with:

yarn build

Then redeploy the contract, following the "deploying the cross_contract contract" instructions above.