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An action is a function that can be called on the Smart Contract. It is the entry point into some piece of functionality that you want to expose to the outside world.

Actions can be called by any account, even other smart contracts.

Defining an Action

There are two ways to define an action, one is more verbose, but allows you to specify the return type of the action, and the other is a shorthand that will always return void.

Simple action

When you don't need to specify the return type of the action, you can use the ACTION keyword which is a shorthand for [[eosio::action]] void.

ACTION youraction(){
// Your logic here

Specifying the return type

If you want to specify the return type of the action, you must use the [[eosio::action]] attribute followed by the return type.

[[eosio::action]] uint64_t youraction(){
// Your logic here
return 1337;

Return values & Composability

Return values are only usable from outside the blockchain, and cannot currently be used in EOS for smart contract composability.

Inline Actions

Inline actions are a way to call another contract's action from within your contract. This is useful when you want to build functionality on top of other contracts.

Let's demonstrate this below with two simple contracts.

#include <eosio/eosio.hpp>
using namespace eosio;

CONTRACT sender : public contract {
using contract::contract;

ACTION sendinline(name user) {
permission_level{get_self(), name("active")},

Your contract's account

The get_self() function returns the name of the account that the contract is deployed to. It is useful when you don't know where this contract will be deployed to until you deploy it, or if the contract might be on multiple accounts.

#include <eosio/eosio.hpp>
using namespace eosio;

CONTRACT receiver : public contract {
using contract::contract;

ACTION received(name user) {
print("I was called by ", user);
ContractAccount deployed to

If you had these two contracts deployed, you could call the contract1::sendinline action, which would then call the contract2::receiver action.

It would also pass the parameter user to the contract2::receiver action.

Interface of the inline action sender

The action constructor takes four arguments:

  • permission_level - The permission level that the action will be called with
  • contract (name type) - The account that the action is deployed to
  • action (name type) - The name of the action that will be called
  • data - The data that will be passed to the action, as a tuple

name function

The name() function is used to convert a string into a name type. This is useful when you want to pass the name of an account or action as a string, but the function you are calling requires a name type.

Creating the permission level

The permission_level argument is used to specify the permission level that the action will be called with. This will either be the contract that the action is deployed to, or a permission that the account that the contract is deployed to has.

The permission_level constructor takes two arguments:

<account (name type)>,
<permission (name type)>

The contract is the new sender

When you call an inline action, the contract that is calling the action becomes the new sender. For security reasons, the original authorization is not passed to the new contract, as it would mean that the new contract could call actions on behalf of the original sender (like sending tokens).

Creating the tuple

The data argument is used to specify the parameters of the action that you are calling.

A tuple is just a way to group multiple arguments together. You can create a tuple using the std::make_tuple function.

std::make_tuple(<arg1>, <arg2>, <arg3>, ...);

Code Permission

There is a special account permission called eosio.code that allows a contract to call inline actions. Without this permission your contract will not be able to call actions on other contracts.

This permission sits on the active permission level, so that other contract's using the require_auth function will be able to verify that your contract has the authority to call the action.

To add the code permission you need to update your account's active permission to be controlled by <YOURACCOUNT>@eosio.code along with your current active permission.

Don't lose access!

The eosio.code permission is meant to be added to your existing active permission, not replace it. If you remove your current active permission controllers (accounts or keys), then you will lose access to your account/contract.

An example permission structure with a Code Permission on the account yourcontract would look like:

↳ active ->
• yourcontract@eosio.code