The basic and advanced topics in this article

You don't need to understand all the contents in this article. Most are advanced topics that are only for those advanced readers. It's totally fine to skip this article and continue this tutorial as long as you understand the following items:

  • The request and response are all what the actors do.

  • Copy and paste the type definition from the boilerplate and add your own types following the same template. Pay attention to the parameter types.

  • In most cases, it should work just fine. If not, please come back to read the advanced topics below. Good luck!

What does derive(TypeId) mean?

In our hello_world tutorial, you've seen the Requests and Responses defined in the codec/src/lib.rs like this:

#[derive(Debug, Clone, Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct GreetingsRequest(pub String);

#[derive(Debug, Clone, Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct AddRequest(pub i32, pub i32);

#[derive(Debug, Clone, Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct AddResponse(pub i32);

Even if you're a rust veteran, you may still want to ask what does the TypeId mean or response(()) mean?

A type with TypeId derive means it can be sent throw actor calls. It's always ok to be used a a response but it still needs a response type to be used as a request since a request should have a response type.

Note that a response of the unit type () is logically the same as what it means in rust's type system. () means the value exists, but without any state provided, as opposed to the never typed !, which means it didn't ever exist. If some operation results in Ok(()), it at least means the operation is completed successfully.

A request must have a response, and a #[response(())] enables it to be used as a request that returns a () as a response. By default, a type with TypeId derive does not attach a response type, which means it cannot be used as a request unless an explicit #[response(SomeResponseType)] is provided. But as for types named with a Request suffix, it means it must be a request type and should have a response type, it automatically attaches a response type definition to the same name with the Request suffix replaced by Response. A macro cannot check whether a type with some name exists, therefore this response type being missing would be a compiling error.

As for types named with a Request suffix but also with a #[response(SomeResponseType)], the default behavior is overridden since the explicit attribute always has the highest priority.


struct SomeNormalType; // No response type defined, so that it could only be used as a response

struct SomeOtherNormalType; // This type could be used as a request with response of type `()`

struct SomeRequest; // This binds `SomeResponse` as its response type. Note that our system searches for "Request" in struct under derive(TypeID) and if found will add a "Response" struct. Therefore if the developer declares: 

struct SomeRequest;`

the code is actually converted into:

struct SomeRequest;
struct SomeResponse;

The last line was added automatically by the compiler.

struct SomeResponse; // No response type defined, so it could only be used as a response. It's therefore a regular rust struct with no special treatment done to add a response.

Note that because "Request" isn't in the struct here, no additional conversion is generated, i.e. SomeResponse won't be split into two struct and just be left as is

struct SomeOtherRequest; // This binds `SomeOtherResponse` as its response type, but `SomeOtherResponse` doesn't exist, so it becomes a compiling error.  

The serialized request and response types are identified by the type id as the head of the binary data, so these types have to implement the trait TypeId, which works different from rust's std::any::TypeId, whose generated identifier is only guaranteed to be unique within a compilation. But it's obviously insufficient for the types that are to be transmitted through processes and wasm instances that are loaded from different compilations.

Our workaround is to define the trait TypeId along with its derive macro, which is a pure function evaluated during the compile time. It's only input is the code of the type definition, as a token stream, lexed by the rust compiler. And the only output is an extra token stream in order to emit extra definitions (mainly to implement the trait with the same name as the macro) that are to be compiled along with the original type definition.

What a derive macro do is to parse the token stream into an abstract syntax tree (aka. AST), and analyze the AST to get all information in need to generate extra definitions, such as impl blocks. Note that input tokens come with its span information, including the package name, version, module path, filename, line & column number, and whether it is from the hand-written code or generated from a previous macro.

Note that derive macro, as a procedure macro, is evaluated right before the souce being parsed into an AST. While it's far before the typed high-level intermediate representation (aka. THIR) stage, that's where type information is generated. Thus a procedure macro (or anything else in rust code) doesn't have the ability to scan all types.

As for each type for which a TypeId derive is applied, the derive macro generates a definition that impls TypeId for such type, of which the only trait member is a const string that would be used as the unique id among compilations. The derive macro generates the type id by concating the package name with version, the module path, and the name of such type, which could guarantees that, for any crate that reference tea-sdk of a certain version, no matter how and where it's compiled, the type id is ensured to be certain and unique.

Additionally, rust allows extra attributes to be attached after the derive macro (aka. helper attributes) as extra arguments for the derive macros. The TypeId derive macro looks for response helper attributes to indicate whether and for what type the derive macro should generate impl Request, of which the only trait member is type Response that indicates the response type of such type (when used as a request).

The ideal design is to check whether a Response suffixed type exists for the Request suffixed type. Otherwise it uses () instead to automatically bind the response type without errors. But as explained above, a procedure macro is unable to access the type information. It can only access the literal code information of the type definition where the derive macro is attached, as token stream, so it infers the Response suffixed name as the response type regardless of whether it exists. Therefore a #[response(())] is needed to tell the macro to use () instead.

Better example for Requests and Response definition

The tutorial is meant to be simple and clear. So we intend to have only a few examples of requests and responses. A better example for different types of request/response would be inside the sdk codebase. It is located inside the sdk code repo, under actorx/examples. The Github link is ` https://github.com/tearust/sdk/blob/master/actorx/examples/codec/src/lib.rs.

Here's the example code at the time of this document was written:


use serde::{Deserialize, Serialize};
use tea_sdk::{actorx::ActorId, serde::TypeId};

pub const WASM_ID: ActorId = ActorId::Static(b"com.tea.examples-actor");
pub const NATIVE_ID: ActorId = ActorId::Static(b"com.tea.time-actor");

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct GreetingsRequest(pub String);

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct AddRequest(pub u32, pub u32);

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct AddResponse(pub u32);

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct GetSystemTimeRequest;

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct GetSystemTimeResponse(pub u128);

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct FactorialRequest(pub u64);

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, TypeId)]
pub struct FactorialResponse(pub u64);

There might be some updates in the future.

In the actor/src/lib.rs you can find how they're implemented:


use crate::error::Result;
use tea_actorx_examples_codec::{
	AddRequest, AddResponse, FactorialRequest, FactorialResponse, GetSystemTimeRequest,
	GetSystemTimeResponse, GreetingsRequest, NATIVE_ID, WASM_ID,
use tea_sdk::{
	actorx::{actor, hooks::Activate, println, ActorId, HandlerActor},

pub mod error;


pub struct Actor;

impl HandlerActor for Actor {
	fn id(&self) -> Option<ActorId> {

impl Actor {
	async fn handle(&self, _: Activate) -> Result<_> {

	async fn handle(&self, GreetingsRequest(name): _) -> Result<_> {
		let GetSystemTimeResponse(time) = NATIVE_ID.call(GetSystemTimeRequest).await?;
		println!("Hello {name}, the system time is {time}.");

	async fn handle(&self, AddRequest(lhs, rhs): _) -> Result<_> {
		Ok(AddResponse(lhs + rhs))

	async fn handle(&self, FactorialRequest(arg): _) -> Result<_> {
		Ok(FactorialResponse(if arg <= 2 {
		} else {
			arg * WASM_ID.call(FactorialRequest(arg - 1)).await?.0

You can find more examples from other projects.

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