ScriptPubKeyManagers (SPKM)

Each wallet contains one or more ScriptPubKeyManagers which are derived from the base SPKM class and are in control of storing the scriptPubkeys managed by that wallet.

"A wallet" in the general sense therefore becomes "a collection of ScriptPubKeyManagers", which are each managing an address type.

In the current implementation, this means that a default (descriptor) wallet consists of 8 ScriptPubKeyManagers, one SPKM for each combination shown in the table below.

Table 1. Descriptor wallet SPKMans








Here is the descriptor wallet code fragment which sets up an SPKM for each OUTPUT_TYPE:

// ...

for (bool internal : {false, true}) {
    for (OutputType t : OUTPUT_TYPES) {
        auto spk_manager = std::unique_ptr<DescriptorScriptPubKeyMan>(new DescriptorScriptPubKeyMan(*this));
        if (IsCrypted()) {
            if (IsLocked()) {
                throw std::runtime_error(std::string(__func__) + ": Wallet is locked, cannot setup new descriptors");
            if (!spk_manager->CheckDecryptionKey(vMasterKey) && !spk_manager->Encrypt(vMasterKey, nullptr)) {
                throw std::runtime_error(std::string(__func__) + ": Could not encrypt new descriptors");
        spk_manager->SetupDescriptorGeneration(master_key, t, internal);
        uint256 id = spk_manager->GetID();
        m_spk_managers[id] = std::move(spk_manager);
        AddActiveScriptPubKeyMan(id, t, internal);

// ...

By contrast a Legacy wallet will set up a single SPKM which will then be aliased to a SPKM for each of the 6 LEGACY_OUTPUT_TYPES: LEGACY, P2SH-SEGWIT and BECH32. This gives it the external appearance of 6 distinct SPKMans, when really it only has 1:

// ...

auto spk_manager = std::unique_ptr<ScriptPubKeyMan>(new LegacyScriptPubKeyMan(*this));
for (const auto& type : LEGACY_OUTPUT_TYPES) {
    m_internal_spk_managers[type] = spk_manager.get();
    m_external_spk_managers[type] = spk_manager.get();
m_spk_managers[spk_manager->GetID()] = std::move(spk_manager);

// ...

SPKMans are stored in maps inside a CWallet according to output type. "External" and "Internal" (SPKMans) refer to whether the addresses generated are designated for giving out "externally", i.e. for receiving new payments to, or for "internal", i.e. change addresses.

Prior to c729afd0 the equivalent SPKM functionality (fetching new addresses and signing transactions) was contained within CWallet itself, now however is split out for better maintainability and upgradability properties as brought about by the wallet box class structure changes. Therefore CWallet objects no longer handle keys and addresses.

The change to a CWallet made up of (multiple) {Descriptor|Legacy}ScriptPubKeyMan's is also sometimes referred to as the "Wallet Box model", where each SPKM is thought of as a distinct "box" within the wallet, which can be called upon to perform new address generation and signing functions.