Thursday, August 31, 2017

Visibility Modifiers

Solidity exposes state variables and functions to internal and external worlds using the visibility modifiers. There are four types of visibility modifiers public, internal, private and external.

Functions can have all the four visibility modifiers, the default visibility modifier for functions is public. State variables cannot have external visibility modifier and the default modifier is internal.

Below is the brief description and usage of these visibility modifiers for state variables and functions:


Public functions are part of the contract interface and can be either accessible within the contract or via messages. Public state variables are accessible similar to the functions.
contract Service {
    address public arbiter; // 0x is the default arbiter for every contract
    address contractor;

    /// @notice Once the service is completed, client pays to the contractor
    function pay() public {
        amountPaid = 0;

For public State variables Solidity automatically generates a getter function. In the above contract, arbiter is defined as public, Solidity generates a function called arbiter which returns the arbiter address.


The internal functions and state variables can only be accessed within the contract or derived contracts. This is similar to protected variables in C# and other object oriented programming.
In the above code, contractor state variable does not have any visibility modifier. As per default configuration, the contract state variable will be on internal scope.


Private functions and state variables, like the name indicates, are accessible within the contract they defined. They are not available in the derived contracts.


An external function is similar to public function. In addition from being called internally and via transactions, external functions can be called from other contracts. To call an external function internally it needs to be prefixed with this ( External functions can access other functions and state variable directly (without the prefix of this)
/// @notice based on the agreement, client will fund the contract
/// this amount will be payed to contractor at the end
function fund() external onlyClient payable {
    amountPaid += msg.value;

As mentioned earlier State variables cannot have external visibility modifier. Only functions can have external visibility modifier.

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