DApp Learnings  –  Storing & Iterating a Collection

I’ve been working on a rock, paper, scissors Ethereum DApp using Solidity, Web3 and the Truffle framework. I hit a few difficulties trying to replicate functionality that would normally be trivial in a non blockchain world so I thought I’d share what I learned.

My first thoughts for the DApp was to display a list of existing games that people had created. Normally if I were doing something like this in Django I’d create a game model and save any new games in the database. To display a list of existing games on the front end I’d query the db and iterate over the returned collection. (I realise storage is expensive when using the Ethereum blockchain but I thought trying to replicate this functionality would make sense and would be a good place to start.)



While investigating the various data types that could be used I found the Typing and Your Contracts Storage page from Ethereum useful. I settled on using a struct, a grouping of variables, stored under one reference.

struct Game {
   string name;
   uint move;
   bool isFinished;
   address ownerAddress;
   uint stake;
   uint index;

That handles one game but I want to store all games. I attempted to do this in a number of different ways but settled on mapping using the games index as the key. Every time a new game is added the index is incremented so I also use gameCount to keep count of the total games.

mapping (uint => Game) games;
uint gameCount;

struct Game {
        string name;
        uint move;
        bool isFinished;
        address ownerAddress;
        uint stake;
        uint index;

To add a new game I used this function:

function StartGame(uint moveId, string gameName) payable {
      require(moveId >= 0 && moveId <= 2);
      games[gameCount].name = gameName;
      games[gameCount].move = moveId;
      games[gameCount].isFinished = false;
      games[gameCount].ownerAddress = msg.sender;
      games[gameCount].stake = msg.value;
      games[gameCount].index = gameCount;

I also added a function that returns the total number of games:

function GetGamesLength() public returns (uint){
   return gameCount;

Returning A Structure

Next I want to be able to get information about a game using it’s index. In Solidity a structure can only be returned by a function from an internal call so for the front end to get the data I had to find another way. I went with the suggestion here — return the fields of the struct as separate return variables.

function GetGame(uint Index) public returns (string, bool, address, uint, uint) {
    return (games[Index].name, games[Index].isFinished, games[Index].ownerAddress, games[Index].stake, games[Index].index);

Front End

On the front end I use Web3 to iterate over each game and display it. To begin I call the GetGamesLength() function. As we saw previously this gives the total number of games. Then I can iterate the index from 0->NoGames to get the data for each game using the GetGame(uint Index) function.

When my page first loads it calls:

getGames: function() {
    var rpsInstance;
    App.contracts.RpsFirst.deployed().then(function(instance) {
      rpsInstance = instance;
      return rpsInstance.GetGamesLength.call();
    }).then(function(gameCount) {
      App.getAllGames(web3.toDecimal(gameCount), rpsInstance);
    }).catch(function(err) {

Web3 – Promises, Promises & more Promises…

The getAllGames function calls GetGame(uint Index) for each game. To do this I created a sequence of promises using the method described here:

getAllGames: function(NoGames, Instance){
   var sequence = Promise.resolve()

   for (var i=0; i < NoGames; i++){(function(){  
         var capturedindex = i
         sequence = sequence.then(function(){
            return Instance.GetGame.call(capturedindex);
            console.log(Game + ' fetched!'
            // Do something with game data. 
            console.log(Game[0]); // Name
            console.log(Game[1]); // isFinished
            console.log('Error loading ' + err)


Looking back at this now it’s all pretty easy looking but it took me a while to get there! I’m still not even sure if it’s the best way to do it. Any advice would be awesome and if it helps someone even better.

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