Expand description

Learn about FRAME, the framework used to build Substrate runtimes.


  ______   ______    ________   ___ __ __   ______
 /_____/\ /_____/\  /_______/\ /__//_//_/\ /_____/\
 \::::_\/_\:::_ \ \ \::: _  \ \\::\| \| \ \\::::_\/_
  \:\/___/\\:(_) ) )_\::(_)  \ \\:.      \ \\:\/___/\
   \:::._\/ \: __ `\ \\:: __  \ \\:.\-/\  \ \\::___\/_
    \:\ \    \ \ `\ \ \\:.\ \  \ \\. \  \  \ \\:\____/\
     \_\/     \_\/ \_\/ \__\/\__\/ \__\/ \__\/ \_____\/

Framework for Runtime Aggregation of Modularized Entities: Substrate’s State Transition Function (Runtime) Framework.


As described in crate::reference_docs::wasm_meta_protocol, at a high-level Substrate-based blockchains are composed of two parts:

  1. A runtime which represents the state transition function (i.e. “Business Logic”) of a blockchain, and is encoded as a WASM blob.
  2. A node whose primary purpose is to execute the given runtime.
graph TB
subgraph Substrate
	direction LR
	subgraph Node
	subgraph Runtime

FRAME is the Substrate’s framework of choice to build a runtime.

FRAME is composed of two major components, pallets and a runtime.


A pallet is a unit of encapsulated logic. It has a clearly defined responsibility and can be linked to other pallets. In order to be reusable, pallets shipped with FRAME strive to only care about its own responsibilities and make as few assumptions about the general runtime as possible. A pallet is analogous to a module in the runtime.

A pallet is defined as a mod pallet wrapped by the frame::pallet macro. Within this macro, pallet components/parts can be defined. Most notable of these parts are:

  • Config, allowing a pallet to make itself configurable and generic over types, values and such.
  • Storage, allowing a pallet to define onchain storage.
  • Dispatchable function, allowing a pallet to define extrinsics that are callable by end users, from the outer world.
  • Events, allowing a pallet to emit events.
  • Errors, allowing a pallet to emit well-formed errors.

Some of these pallet components resemble the building blocks of a smart contract. While both models are programming state transition functions of blockchains, there are crucial differences between the two. See crate::reference_docs::runtime_vs_smart_contract for more.

Most of these components are defined using macros, the full list of which can be found in frame::pallet_macros.


The following examples showcases a minimal pallet.

pub mod pallet {
	use super::*;

	/// The configuration trait of a pallet. Mandatory. Allows a pallet to receive types at a
	/// later point from the runtime that wishes to contain it. It allows the pallet to be
	/// parameterized over both types and values.
	pub trait Config: frame_system::Config {
		/// A type that is not known now, but the runtime that will contain this pallet will
		/// know it later, therefore we define it here as an associated type.
		type RuntimeEvent: IsType<<Self as frame_system::Config>::RuntimeEvent> + From<Event<Self>>;

		/// A parameterize-able value that we receive later via the `Get<_>` trait.
		type ValueParameter: Get<u32>;

		/// Similar to [`Config::ValueParameter`], but using `const`. Both are functionally
		/// equal, but offer different tradeoffs.

	/// A mandatory struct in each pallet. All functions callable by external users (aka.
	/// transactions) must be attached to this type (see [`frame::pallet_macros::call`]). For
	/// convenience, internal (private) functions can also be attached to this type.
	pub struct Pallet<T>(PhantomData<T>);

	/// The events tha this pallet can emit.
	pub enum Event<T: Config> {}

	/// A storage item that this pallet contains. This will be part of the state root trie/root
	/// of the blockchain.
	pub type Value<T> = StorageValue<Value = u32>;

	/// All *dispatchable* call functions (aka. transactions) are attached to `Pallet` in a
	/// `impl` block.
	impl<T: Config> Pallet<T> {
		/// This will be callable by external users, and has two u32s as a parameter.
		pub fn some_dispatchable(
			_origin: OriginFor<T>,
			_param: u32,
			_other_para: u32,
		) -> DispatchResult {

A runtime is a collection of pallets that are amalgamated together. Each pallet typically has some configurations (exposed as a trait Config) that needs to be specified in the runtime. This is done with frame::runtime::prelude::construct_runtime.

A (real) runtime that actually wishes to compile to WASM needs to also implement a set of runtime-apis. These implementation can be specified using the frame::runtime::prelude::impl_runtime_apis macro.


The following example shows a (test) runtime that is composing the pallet demonstrated above, next to the frame::prelude::frame_system pallet, into a runtime.

pub mod runtime {
	use super::pallet as pallet_example;
	use frame::{prelude::*, testing_prelude::*};

	// The major macro that amalgamates pallets into `enum Runtime`
		pub enum Runtime {
			System: frame_system,
			Example: pallet_example,

	// These `impl` blocks specify the parameters of each pallet's `trait Config`.
	impl frame_system::Config for Runtime {
		type Block = MockBlock<Self>;

	impl pallet_example::Config for Runtime {
		type RuntimeEvent = RuntimeEvent;
		type ValueParameter = ConstU32<42>;
		const ANOTHER_VALUE_PARAMETER: u32 = 42;

§More Examples

You can find more FRAME examples that revolve around specific features at pallet_examples.

§Alternatives 🌈

There is nothing in the Substrate’s node side code-base that mandates the use of FRAME. While FRAME makes it very simple to write Substrate-based runtimes, it is by no means intended to be the only one. At the end of the day, any WASM blob that exposes the right set of runtime APIs is a valid Runtime form the point of view of a Substrate client (see crate::reference_docs::wasm_meta_protocol). Notable examples are:


  • The pallet module in each FRAME pallet hosts the most important items needed to construct this pallet.
  • A simple runtime that contains the above pallet and frame_system, the mandatory pallet of all runtimes. This runtime is for testing, but it shares a lot of similarities with a real runtime.