Useful Detector Patterns

This page will find common patterns used when developing custom Aderyn detectors.

Check out the official Aderyn GitHub repository for more examples of detectors and design patterns.

Traversing the Abstract Syntax Tree (AST)

When writing a detector, a typical pattern is to find an AST node (by getting it from the WorkspaceContext and then traverse the tree to its parent node or a child node for more information.

An example of traversing up the tree to parent nodes is that you have a specific VariableDeclarationbut want to know which ContractDefinition it is defined in. To do that, you must traverse up the tree.

Conversely, suppose you have a ContractDefinition and want to find all the state variable VariableDeclaration nodes defined within it. In that case, you must traverse down the tree from there ContractDefinition to its children.

Aderyn provides useful patterns for traversing up and traversing down the tree from any AST node.

Traversing Down

Patterns available to you:

  1. Extractor Pattern - Get all descendents of a particular type from the current AST Node, regardless of depth.

  2. .children() - Get the immediate children Nodes of the current AST Node/.

1. Extractor Pattern

From any ASTNode, you can extract all descendants of any particular Node type.

For example, to extract all VariableDeclaration nodes from a ContractDefinition node, the code would look like this:

let my_contract: &ContractDefinition = ...;
// Extract
let var_decs: Vec<VariableDeclaration> = ExtractVariableDeclarations::from(my_contract).extracted;

Note that this obtains all VariableDeclaration nodes within that ContractDefinition, not just its immediate children. The full list of extractors is defined in

2. .children()

From any ASTNode, get the immediate child nodes.

For example, take this Counter contract:

// SPDX-License-Identifier: UNLICENSED
pragma solidity ^0.8.13;

contract Counter {
    uint256 public number;

    function setNumber(uint256 newNumber) public {
        number = newNumber;

    function increment() public {

The immediate children of the Counter ContractDefinition is:

  • uint256 public number; - VariableDeclaration

  • function setNumber(uint256 newNumber) public - FunctionDefinition

  • function increment() public - FunctionDefinition

So this code will return those children:

let contract_definition = ...;
let children = contract_definition.children(context);

Traversing Up

Patterns available to you:

  1. .parent(WorkspaceContext) - From the current AST Node, get its parent AST Node.

  2. .closest_ancestor_of_type(WorkspaceContext, NodeType) - From the current node, traverse up the AST until you find an ancestor of a particular NodeType.

  3. .ancestral_line(WorkspaceContext) - Get the entire ancestry chain from the current node to the SourceUnit node.

1. .parent(WorkspaceContext)

From any AST Node, get the immediate parent node. For example, from a ContractDefinition node, .parent() will return the SourceUnit parent.

let contract_definition = ...;
let parent = contract_definition.parent(context);

2. .closest_ancestor_of_type(WorkspaceContext, NodeType)

From an AST Node, traverse upwards until an ancestor of a particular NodeType is found.

For example, from a FunctionDefinition, find the SourceUnit ancestor.

let function_definition = ...;
let source_unit = function_definition.closest_ancestor_of_type(context, NodeType::SourceUnit);

3. .ancestral_line(WorkspaceContext)

From an AST Node, get the entire chain of ancestors up to the SourceUnit.

For example, from a FunctionDefinition, .ancestral_line(context) will return all ancestor nodes in an array, starting with the closest all the way to the SourceUnit.

let function_definition = ...;
let chain = function_definition.ancestral_line(context);

Last updated