I'm working on a proof-of-concept "email server" dapp and am getting different behavior in atom-ethereum-interface vs. browser-solidity

I'm running a private blockchain in a Docker container with my own nodes successfully mining all my transactions.

Here's my solidity code:

// EmailServer.sol

pragma solidity ^0.4.2;

contract EmailServer {
  address owner;
  bytes[] inbox;

  function EmailServer() {
    owner = msg.sender;

  function addEmail(bytes x) constant {

  function getInboxCount() returns (uint count) {
    return inbox.length;

  function getEmails() returns (bytes email) {
    bytes emailsOutput;
    uint inboxCount = getInboxCount();
    uint emailLength;

    if (inboxCount == 0) {

    for (uint i = 0; i < inboxCount; i++) {
      emailLength = inbox[i].length;
      for (uint j = 0; j < emailLength; j++) {

      if (i < inboxCount - 1) {

    return emailsOutput;

  function getOwner() returns (address) {
    return owner;

  // Kill contract and return funds to owner
  function kill() {
    if (msg.sender == owner) {

This contract correctly compiles and deploys on both atom-ethereum-interface and browser-solidity.

In both places you can run addEmail("QmZULkCELmmk5XNfCgTnCyFgAVxBRBXyDHGGMVoLFLiXEN") and it works fine.

But then in browser-solidity when you run getInboxCount() you get a result of: 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 which decodes to a uint of 1.

When you run getInboxCount() in atom-ethereum-interface, the contract output is 0xab979d45598f6f3a548113f896a8d24681e9d231a5e3d614cae4b0dcee19e578 and is different every time you run the function. It doesn't seem to decode to anything.

Likewise with any of the other functions. In browser-solidity, it seems to work fine, but in atom-ethereum-interface it returns something I can't seem to decode to anything meaningful.


You need to use constant label:

function getInboxCount() constant returns (uint count) {
    return inbox.length;

Without it, web3.js / atom-ethereum-interface is giving you a transaction hash, like Reading a uint from a mapping keeps returning a random address

Without constant, invoking getInboxCount with web3.js is a sendTransaction which always returns a transaction hash. See What is the difference between a transaction and a call?

  • Thank you, this helps a lot and has fixed a couple of the methods. The method it doesn't fix is getEmails() which is going through the bytes[], and going through each bytes and decoding each letter, to return a serialized array. This is erroring with Uncaught BigNumber Error: new BigNumber() not a base 16 number. I'm sure there's a better way to return an array?
    – jaybee
    Oct 14 '16 at 2:15
  • Returning an array, and the error when returning bytes, might be best asked as 2 separate questions. Also, try a simpler function that returns bytes.
    – eth
    Oct 16 '16 at 8:06

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