Developers guide:Message Workflows

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In general, the API implements a simple request-response protocol. The computer sends a request to the device and the device sends back a response. The response can be a simple Success message, a Failure message, or an answer to the request giving the requested data. Moreover, the response can be a request from the device to the computer, e.g., for entering the PIN, the passphrase or giving some other information. In that case the computer should send the corresponding Ack packet to answer the request and wait for another response.


As first message, the computer should send an empty Initialize packet and expect a Features packet as response. The Initialize packet will cause the device to stop what it is currently doing and should work at any time. Thus, it can also be used to recover from previous errors.

Button meta-workflow[edit]

If the device requires the user to press a button, it will reply with a ButtonRequest to the computer. The computer should immediately send a ButtonAck acknowledging the request. But it should also display an indication to the user that it should follow the instruction on the device. The field code in the ButtonRequest message explains what type of request the user should acknowledge with a button.

If the user never presses the button, there will never be a reply to the ButtonAck message. The computer can use Cancel to abort the current operation. This should result in a Failure response.

PinMatrix meta-workflow[edit]

If the device requires the user to unlock the device with a PIN, it will reply with a PinMatrixRequest. The field type gives some explanation what PIN is required (current pin, new pin, or confirmation of new pin). The computer should display an empty pin matrix and let the user enter the pin. The computer should encode the PIN as if the numbers are ordered like they are on the numeric keypad. The encoded PIN should then be send with a PinMatrixAck message.

Passphrase meta-workflow[edit]

If the device requires the user to enter the passphrase, it will reply with a PassphraseRequest. The computer should ask the user for the passphrase and send it in clear text with a PassphraseAck message.


The message GetAddress (send from the computer to the device) serves two purposes. It can be used to get a valid address or to display the address on the device. The field address_n gives the bip-32 path to the address. The field coin_name should be set to some supported coin (see the Feature message for a list of supported coins). For multisig addresses multisig must be filled out with all participating master public keys and there bip-32 path. The script_type field has the same meaning as for transaction inputs when signing:

  • SPENDADDRESS (standard p2pkh address)
  • SPENDMULTISIG (p2sh multisig address)
  • SPENDWITNESS (native segwit p2wpkh or multisig p2wsh address)
  • SPENDP2SHWITNESS (segwit encapsulated in a p2sh address)

If show_display is set the address is displayed to the user. In any case, it is also sent to the computer with an Address response.


The message GetPublicKey can be used to get a bip-32 master public key from the trezor or to display it to the user. The field address_n gives the bip-32 path to the master key. The field ecdsa_curve_name can be used to get ed25519 or nist256p1 public keys.


Signing a transaction is a little bit complicated. The reason is that transactions can be several hundred kilobytes in size, but Trezor has only 64 kilobytes memory. So it is the task of the computer to split the transactions in small pieces and send only those pieces that Trezor requested. The general workflow is given below

Developers guide signtx workflow.png

The computer starts the transaction signing process by sending a SignTx message. From then on, the device drives all further communications by sending requests to the computer until it finally sends a TxRequest with request set to TXFINISHED. This final message should not be acknowledged by the computer.

The SignTx message contains only the meta data of the transaction that should be signed, i.e., the number of inputs and outputs, the coin name, the version number, and lock_time (only for pre-signed time locked transactions). If the device was not unlocked before, it will respond with the usual PinMatrixRequest and PasswordRequest messages to authenticate the user. See the corresponding sections above. It may also send a ButtonRequest at any time to indicate that the user should confirm a transaction output or the total fee.

Then the main process begins and Trezor will respond with TxRequest messages, which should be answered by TxAck message. A TxRequest message has up to three parts.

  1. Parts of the signed transactions.
  2. A signature for one of the inputs.
  3. A request for one piece of the new transaction or a previous transaction.

If the field serialized.serialized_tx is set, it contains a chunk of the signed transaction in serialized format. The chunks are returned in the right order and just concatenating all returned chunks will result in the signed transaction.

If the field serialized.signature is set, it contains a signature for one of the inputs. The signatures are returned in the same order as they appear in the serialized transactions. I.e., the non-segwit signatures come before the segwit signatures, since the latter are part of the witness, which is serialized at the end. Apart from that, the signatures are returned in the order the inputs appear in the transaction. The signatures are not really needed, as they are already in the serialized transaction. They can be useful for combining multisig signatures without having to parse the transactions again.

If the field request equals TXFINISHED, this message contained the last chunk of the transaction. The signing is finished and the computer must not reply to this packet. In any other case, the device requested some piece of some transaction, which is specified by request and details. This request must be answered by a TxAck package containing the requested piece of data.

If the field details.tx_hash is not set, some piece of the transaction that should be signed is requested. Otherwise, this field contains the hash of some input transaction and some piece of that transaction is requested.

For request = TXMETA, the fields tx.version, tx.lock_time, tx.inputs_cnt (number of inputs), and tx.outputs_cnt must be filled. For ZCash transactions also tx.extra_data_len must be given. This will only be requested for input transactions (for the signed transaction it was given in the SignTx call).

For request = TXINPUT, the field details.request_index contains the number of the input requested (starting with zero). The reply must fill the structure tx.inputs[0] (there must be exactly one input in the reply). Which fields must be set depends on whether details.tx_hash is set (an input of some previous transaction is requested, that is spend in the new transaction), or whether an input of the new transaction is requested. In both cases prev_hash, prev_index and sequence must be set. For a previous transaction, the script_sig must be set to the raw signature data.

But if details.tx_hash is unset, the data must instead describe the private key that should be used to sign the input. This is specified by address_n (the bip-32 path to the private key), script_type and multisig. The field multisig is only given for multisig transactions and contains the master public keys and the derivation paths for all signers. The field script_type can be

  • SPENDADDRESS (standard p2pkh address)
  • SPENDMULTISIG (p2sh multisig address)
  • SPENDWITNESS (native segwit p2wpkh or multisig p2wsh address)
  • SPENDP2SHWITNESS (segwit encapsulated in a p2sh address)

Note, that for segwit script_type does not distinguish between multisig or p2wpkh addresses. Instead the presence of the multisig decides this. For segwit inputs also the amount field must be set to the amount of satoshis in the input transaction.

For request = TXOUTPUT, the field details.request_index contains the number of the output requested (starting with zero). If details.tx_hash is set, this is an output of a previous transaction and the tx.bin_outputs[0] field must be filled in the TxAck reply. Otherwise, the tx.outputs[0] field must be filled. For change outputs, the field address_n must be filled and address must be omitted. If the change is multisig, the multisig must be filled and it must use the same extended public keys as all inputs. For a change address, the script_type should be PAYTOADDRESS, PAYTOMULTISIG, PAYTOWITNESS or PAYTOP2SHWITNESS matching the corresponding cases SPEND... for inputs. For OP_RETURN outputs, set script_type = PAYTOOPRETURN and set the op_return_data field. Otherwise address should be set to a base58 encoded address and script_type to PAYTOADDRESS. Older firmware required script_type = PAYTOSCRIPTHASH for p2sh addresses, though (and newer firmware still support this).










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