Global Constants

The size limit for Michelson contracts is quite small, limited to 60 kilobytes as of Granada protocol. Global constants are a feature added in Hangzhou protocol that enables the re-use of user-defined Micheline chunks in Michelson scripts, allowing for larger and more complex contracts on the chain. It works in the following way:

  • Fragments of Michelson code (written in the Micheline format) are registered on the chain via a new operation register_global_constant. An example expression might be the integer 999 or the lambda expression { PUSH int 999; ADD }

  • Included in the receipt of the operation is a hash of the expression registered. For example the hash 999 is expruQN5r2umbZVHy6WynYM8f71F8zS4AERz9bugF8UkPBEqrHLuU8.

  • Constants can be referenced inside a Michelson script with the new primitive constant. For example, we could write a lambda equivalent to the one above like so: { PUSH int (constant "expruQN5r2umbZVHy6WynYM8f71F8zS4AERz9bugF8UkPBEqrHLuU8"); ADD }

Global Constant Registration

The new register_global_constant operation includes an object with a single key "value", the value of which is the Micheline expression to be registered.

You can submit this operation conveniently through a new tezos-client command. For example, the command:

tezos-client register global constant "999" from bootstrap1 --burn-cap 0.017

would result in the output:

Node is bootstrapped.
Estimated gas: 1440 units (will add 100 for safety)
Estimated storage: 68 bytes added (will add 20 for safety)
Operation successfully injected in the node.
Operation hash is 'onsFknW5iWa6eiTYqAghY4peQZ7JYQUJg5fR8MwAQkMKjXfNqGf'
NOT waiting for the operation to be included.
Use command
  tezos-client wait for onsFknW5iWa6eiTYqAghY4peQZ7JYQUJg5fR8MwAQkMKjXfNqGf to be included --confirmations 5 --branch BLockGenesisGenesisGenesisGenesisGenesisCCCCCeZiLHU
and/or an external block explorer to make sure that it has been included.
This sequence of operations was run:
  Manager signed operations:
    From: tz1KqTpEZ7Yob7QbPE4Hy4Wo8fHG8LhKxZSx
    Fee to the baker: ꜩ0.000385
    Expected counter: 1
    Gas limit: 1540
    Storage limit: 88 bytes
    Balance updates:
      tz1KqTpEZ7Yob7QbPE4Hy4Wo8fHG8LhKxZSx ................ -ꜩ0.000385
      fees(the baker who will include this operation,0) ... +ꜩ0.000385
    Register Global:
      Value: 999
      This global constant registration was successfully applied
      Balance updates:
        tz1KqTpEZ7Yob7QbPE4Hy4Wo8fHG8LhKxZSx ... -ꜩ0.017
      Consumed gas: 1440
      Storage size: 68 bytes
      Global address: expruQN5r2umbZVHy6WynYM8f71F8zS4AERz9bugF8UkPBEqrHLuU8

As you can see, the address of the constant is returned in the operation receipt in the field Global address. This address is the Base58-encode Blake2b hash of the binary serialization of the registered Micheline expression. This means constants are content-addressable - given a particular Micheline expression, you can always calculate its on-chain address and check if it’s registered.

A few points about registering global constants:

  • Global constants may contain references to other constants; however, any referenced constants must already be registered on the chain. As a corollary, you cannot have cyclic references.

  • Global constants are not type-checked before registration - any valid Micheline expression may be registered. That said, attempting to originate a contract that uses a constant in an ill-typed way will fail.

  • The total depth of the expression registered as a constant (after expanding all constant references) may not exceed 10,000.

  • The total number of nodes in the Micheline expression being registered (after expanding all constant references) may not exceed the max_micheline_node_count protocol constant. As of Hangzhou this is 50,000.

  • The total number of bytes in the Micheline expression being registered (after expanding all constant references) may not exceed the max_micheline_bytes_limit protocol constant. As of Hangzhou this is 50,000.

Originating a Contract that uses Global Constants

A global constant can be referenced in Michelson scripts via the primitive constant, which accepts a single string argument, being the hash of the expression to be referenced at runtime. This primitive can be used to replace any Micheline node in the bodies of the parameter, storage, code, or view fields of a Michelson script. For example, we replace every instance of the type lambda unit unit and value 999 with their respective hashes:

parameter (constant "exprtYirrFwYKm6yKLzJNtYRbq49zedYq16BonRvMzHiwSbUekB9YL");
storage (big_map int (constant "exprtYirrFwYKm6yKLzJNtYRbq49zedYq16BonRvMzHiwSbUekB9YL"));
code {
  PUSH int (constant "expruQN5r2umbZVHy6WynYM8f71F8zS4AERz9bugF8UkPBEqrHLuU8");
  # <rest of code>

The full expansion of this contract would be:

parameter (lambda unit unit);
storage (big_map int (lambda unit unit));
code {
  PUSH int 999;
  # <rest of code>

During origination, all constants are expanded recursively. The operation will fail if the resulting contract is ill-typed. Global constant expansion consumes gas; thus, the operation may also fail due to gas exhaustion.

Global Constants at Runtime

Contracts that use global constants are semantically equivalent to the contract with all constants expanded.

Note that using the UNPACK operation to deserialize a lambda which contains a reference to a global constant is not supported. Similarly, originating a contract which contains a reference to a global constant using the CREATE_CONTRACT instruction will also fail.