In this stage, we will integrate Lightning micropayments into our server-side web application.

Starting Afresh

It’s time to recreate the micropayments ourselves. Get the starter code:

# Clear any local changes first and checkout the start tag
git checkout -- .
git checkout start

The starter code has stripped out all micropayments code, and we just also just reset our database state to the default.

The models

First, let’s examine coindesk/models.py to understand our web app a little better.

coindesk/models.py (cleaned up a little bit):

class Profile(models.Model):
    user = models.OneToOneField(User)
    created_at = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)
    modified_at = models.DateTimeField(auto_now=True)
    identity_pubkey = models.CharField(max_length=80, unique=True)
    # bitcoin_address = BitcoinAddressField()


class Article(models.Model):

    ARTICLE_STATUS_CHOICES = (
        ('visible', 'Visible'),
        ('deleted by admin', 'Deleted by admin'),
    )

    title = models.CharField(max_length=191)
    text = models.TextField()
    created_at = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)
    status = models.CharField(max_length=50, default='visible', choices=ARTICLE_STATUS_CHOICES)

    @property
    def views(self):
        return self.payments.filter(status='complete', purpose='view').count()


class Payment(models.Model):

    PAYMENT_STATUS_CHOICES = (
        ('pending_invoice', 'Pending Invoice'), # Should be atomic
        ('pending_payment', 'Pending Payment'),
        ('complete', 'Complete'),
        ('error', 'Error'),
    )

    PAYMENT_PURPOSE_CHOICES = (
        ('view', 'View'),
        ('upvote', 'Upvote')
    )

    user = models.ForeignKey(User)
    article = models.ForeignKey(Article, related_name='payments')
    purpose = models.CharField(max_length=10, choices=PAYMENT_PURPOSE_CHOICES)

    satoshi_amount = models.IntegerField()
    r_hash = models.CharField(max_length=64)
    payment_request = models.CharField(max_length=1000)

    status = models.CharField(max_length=50, default='pending_invoice', choices=PAYMENT_STATUS_CHOICES)
    created_at = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)
    modified_at = models.DateTimeField(auto_now=True)

    def generate_invoice(self, user, article):
        """
        Generates a new invoice
        """
        pass

    def check_payment(self):
        """
        Checks if the Lightning payment has been received for this invoice
        """
        pass

Each Profile object is associated with one User object, and stores the identity pubkey of that user.

The Article class has a title, text, a timestamp and some basic moderation functionality. Notice that the number of views for an article as counted as the number of completed payments associated with it.

The Payment class represents a Lightning micropayment, and is going to be where we implement the bulk of our work. Each payment is associated with a particular user and a article.

We have the satoshi_amount, r_hash and payment_request fields - the basic technical information required to conduct a Lightning payment.

Each Payment goes through the following lifecycle, represented by the status field:

  1. The payment is initially pending an invoice. Calling generate_invoice will generate an invoice for a user and a particular article they want to view.
  2. After the invoice is generated, it is now pending payment.
  3. check_payment will check if a payment has indeed been received by Bob node. Afterwards, this Payment counts as complete, and the user should be able to view the article.

It will soon be up to us to implement the generate_invoice and check_payment functions. But first, let’s add in some security.

The views

We also need to understand some of the wiring behind the app.

Open coindesk/views.py. For our purposes, the article view is the most important since it is executed when we view an article and handles what to do with the different payment states.

def article(request, pk):

    try:
        article = Article.objects.filter(status='visible').get(id=pk)
    except Article.DoesNotExist:
        raise Exception("Article with id {} does not exist or is not visible".format(pk))

    context = {'article': article}

    if not request.user.is_authenticated():
        return render(request,
            template_name='article.html',
            context=context)

    qs = article.payments.filter(user=request.user, purpose='view')

    if qs.count() == 0:
        # Generate a new payment
        payment, _ = Payment.objects.get_or_create(user=request.user,
                          article=article,
                          purpose='view',
                          satoshi_amount=settings.MIN_VIEW_AMOUNT,
                          status='pending_invoice')
        payment.save()
    elif qs.count() == 1:
        payment = qs.last()
    else:
        # This should not happen because there should never be more than one view payment per article per person
        raise Exception("Multiple payments detected")

    # User client requests that we check if the payment has been made
    if request.GET.get('check'):
        print "Checking for payment {}".format(payment.payment_request)
        if payment.check_payment():
            print "Payment succeeded!"
        else:
            print "Payment not received"

    if payment.status == 'pending_invoice':
        payment.generate_invoice(request.user, article)
    elif payment.status == 'pending_payment':
        # Do nothing; display the payment page to user
        pass
    elif payment.status == 'complete':
        # Do nothing; display the article to user
        pass
    elif payment.status == 'error':
        # TODO Optionally implement some kind of error resolution
        pass
        raise Exception("Payment error")
    else:
        context['payment_status'] = payment.status

    context['payment'] = payment

    return render(request,
        template_name='article.html',
        context=context)

A quick breakdown of what’s going on:

  1. First, we try to find the appropriate Article by its id. If successful, we populate the context variable so that the template can work with it.
  2. If the user is not logged in, we can’t check for a payment from them because we don’t know who they are, so we just direct them to the article page.
  3. We attempt to find a Payment for this particular User and Article. If a Payment was not found, we generate a new one. The satoshi amount is set by settings.MIN_VIEW_AMOUNT, which defaults to 1000 satoshis. This newly created Payment has the initial state: pending_invoice.
  4. If the user provides the check query parameter, we call the check_payment function, which will check if the payment was indeed complete and update the state if so.
  5. If the payment is pending an invoice, we call the generate_invoice function, which will generate the invoice and update the Payment state.
  6. If the payment is in any other state, we render article.html for the user or throw an error.

Adding in a paywall

Right now, all the articles in the app are freely viewable. We all know no one likes free stuff, so let’s fix that.

We will begin by adding some conditionals in the html where we are currently displaying the article content.

In coindesk/templates/article.html, notice the following code:

<div class="article-body">
  <div class="article-text">
    {{ article.text }}
  </div>
</div>

{{ article.text }} is the Django template variable representing the text of the website. We need to hide this for all non-authenticated users. Let’s show them the pay.html page instead. And of course, users who have completed payments must be able to view the article text.

Make the necessary edits:

<div class="article-body">
  {% if not request.user.is_authenticated %}
    <h3>Make Payment</h3>
    <p>
      To view this article, please log in and return to this page to make
      a payment.
    </p>
    <a id="complete_button" href="/login">Log in</a>
  {% elif payment.status == "complete" %}
    <div class="article-text">
      {{ article.text }}
    </div>
  {% else %}
    <div>
      {% include "pay.html" %}
    </div>
  {% endif %}
</div>

As this is a Lightning tutorial, understanding the exact syntax is not important, but a quick clarification may be helpful:

  • The {% if %} blocks are Django’s way of adding conditionals in html templates. We are using this to determine if users are logged in or if the payment is complete.
  • payment is a context variable the template needs populated in order to render correctly and access the relevant information. This was done in the article view.
  • The {% include %} tag adds in the template by the name of pay.html.

We should now see something like this when we click on an article: logged out article page

Generating an invoice

Examine coindesk/templates/pay.html:

<div id="payment" class="ln-dialog">
  <div id="submit_box" class="animated fadeInDown delay">
    <h3>Make Payment</h3>
    <p>To view this article, please pay 1000 satoshis via the request below:</p>
    <p class="small">{{ payment.payment_request }}</p><br>
    <a id="complete_button" href="/articles/{{ article.id }}/?check=true">Complete</a>
  </div>
</div>

This template prompts the user to pay 1000 satoshis, and supplies a payment request.

Log in as Alice. The page should look something like this: logged in article page with payment prompt missing payment
request

We are missing the payment request, so let’s generate an invoice.

Navigate to generate_invoice in coindesk/models.py. Modify it to the following:

def generate_invoice(self, user, article):
    """
    Generates a new invoice
    """
    assert self.status == 'pending_invoice', "Already generated invoice"
    channel = grpc.insecure_channel(settings.LND_RPCHOST)
    stub = lnrpc.LightningStub(channel)

    add_invoice_resp = stub.AddInvoice(ln.Invoice(value=settings.MIN_VIEW_AMOUNT, memo="User '{}' | ArticleId {}".format(user.username, article.id)))
    r_hash_base64 = codecs.encode(add_invoice_resp.r_hash, 'base64')
    self.r_hash = r_hash_base64.decode('utf-8')
    self.payment_request = add_invoice_resp.payment_request
    self.status = 'pending_payment'
    self.save()

Don’t forget also to include the necessary imports at the top of the file:

from coindesk import rpc_pb2 as ln, rpc_pb2_grpc as lnrpc
import grpc

Walking through the code:

  • We first check that this Payment is indeed pending an invoice, and throw an error otherwise.
  • Using gRPC, we add an invoice of the amount set by MIN_VIEW_AMOUNT in settings.py.
  • We set the r_hash and payment_request attributes and update the state of this Payment to now be pending payment.

Checking for payment receipt

The last piece needed for our fully functional Lightning Coindesk is to implement the check_payment function of the Payment class. Recall from coindesk.views. that check_payment() is called if the user passes along the check query parameter. For your convenience, we have already implemented this for you in the frontend:

In coindesk/templates/pay.html:

<a id="complete_button" href="/articles//?check=true">Complete</a>

Now, try to implement the check_payment function yourself. Here’s some starter code to help you with the annoying and unimportant parts:

def check_payment(self):
    """
    Checks if the Lightning payment has been received for this invoice
    """
    if self.status == 'pending_invoice':
        return False

    # Prepare r_hash_bytes, which can be passed into the gRPC client
    r_hash_base64 = self.r_hash.encode('utf-8')
    r_hash_bytes = str(codecs.decode(r_hash_base64, 'base64'))

    # Implement this
    payment_settled = False

    if payment_settled:
        # Payment complete
        self.status = 'complete'
        self.save()
        return True
    else:
        # Payment not received
        return False

If you’re absolutely stuck, you may refer to the tutorial repo for the final solution.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You have now built a working Lightning Coindesk app! If you are looking to take this tutorial to the next level, consider trying one or more of the following:

  • Integrate error handling in the webapp; see the TODO in coindesk.views.article
  • Add P2P payments through the app. Instead of paying the central server, distribute your micropayment equally between all the people who upvoted before you. The upvote functionality was intentionally left unimplemented for this purpose.
  • Run this application in a more “production” environment, by using testnet and deploying your webapp online
  • Allow the server to accept Litecoin in addition to Bitcoin.

At this point, you’re ready to build with lnd. Go forth and bring Bitcoin to the masses!

Next Steps

Read through the LND Overview and Developer Guide to see best practices and guidelines for implementing LND in your own webapp, or for a conceptual brushup of the Lightning Network.

Check out the accessible dev manuals available on our Guides page.

Questions