Quickstart: Build a decentralized app (Solidity)

This quickstart is for web developers who want to start building decentralized applications (dApps) using LayerEdge. It makes no assumptions about your prior experience with Ethereum, LayerEdge, or Solidity. Familiarity with Javascript and yarn is expected. If you're new to Ethereum, consider studying the Ethereum documentation before proceeding.

What we're building

We're going to build a digital cupcake vending machine using Solidity smart contracts1. Our vending machine will follow two rules:

  1. The vending machine will distribute a cupcake to anyone who hasn't recently received one.

  2. The vending machine's rules can't be changed by anyone.

Here's our vending machine implemented with Javascript. To use it, enter a name in the form below and press the 'Cupcake please!' button, you should see your cupcake balance go up.

FREE CUPCAKES

WEB2NAMECupcake please!Refresh balance🧁

Cupcake balance:0 (no name)

Note that although this vending machine appears to follow the rules, it doesn't follow them as much as we'd like. The vending machine's business logic and data are hosted by a centralized service provider. We're trusting that this service provider isn't malicious, but:

  1. Our centralized service provider can deny access to particular users.

  2. A malicious actor can change the rules of the vending machine at any time, for example, to give their friends extra cupcakes.

Centralized third-party intermediaries represent a single point of failure that malicious actors may become incentivized to exploit. To mitigate this type of risk, we can decentralize our vending machine's business logic and data, rendering this type of exploitation infeasible.

This is LayerEdge's core value proposition to you, dear developer. LayerEdge makes it easy for you to deploy your vending machines to Ethereum's permissionless, trustless, decentralized network of nodes2 while keeping costs low for you and your users.

Let's implement the "web3" version of the above vending machine using LayerEdge.

Prerequisites

  • VS Code: The IDE we'll use to build our vending machine. See code.visualstudio.com to install.

  • Metamask: The wallet we'll use to interact with our vending machine. See metamask.io to install.

  • Yarn: The package manager we'll use to install our dependencies. See yarnpkg.com to install.

We'll address remaining dependencies as we go.

Ethereum and LayerEdge in a nutshell

  • Ethereum

    • Ethereum is a decentralized network of nodes that use Ethereum's client software (like Offchain's Prysm) to maintain a public blockchain data structure.

    • The data within Ethereum's blockchain data structure changes one transaction at a time.

    • Smart contracts are small programs that execute transactions according to predefined rules. Ethereum's nodes host and execute smart contracts.

    • You can use smart contracts to build decentralized apps (dApps) that use Ethereum's network to process transactions and store data.

    • DApps let users carry their data and identity between applications without having to trust centralized service providers.

    • People who run Ethereum validator nodes3 can earn $ETH for processing and validating transactions on behalf of users and dApps.

    • These transactions can be expensive when the network is under heavy load.

  • LayerEdge

    • LayerEdge is a suite of L2 scaling solutions for dApp developers.

    • LayerEdge is an L2 chain that implements the LayerEdge Rollup protocol.

    • You can use LayerEdge One to build user-friendly dApps with high throughput, low latency, and low transaction costs while inheriting Ethereum's high security standards4.

Let's review our vending machine's Javascript implementation, then convert it into a Solidity smart contract, then deploy it to LayerEdge.

We'll ask your smart contract for cupcakes using the vending machines on this page.

Review our Javascript vending machine

Here's our vending machine implemented as a Javascript class:

VendingMachine.js

class VendingMachine {
  // state variables = internal memory of the vending machine
  cupcakeBalances = {};
  cupcakeDistributionTimes = {};

  // Vend a cupcake to the caller
  giveCupcakeTo(userId) {
    if (this.cupcakeDistributionTimes[userId] === undefined) {
      this.cupcakeBalances[userId] = 0;
      this.cupcakeDistributionTimes[userId] = 0;
    }

    // Rule 1: The vending machine will distribute a cupcake to anyone who hasn't recently received one.
    const fiveSeconds = 5000;
    const userCanReceiveCupcake = this.cupcakeDistributionTimes[userId] + fiveSeconds <= Date.now();
    if (userCanReceiveCupcake) {
      this.cupcakeBalances[userId]++;
      this.cupcakeDistributionTimes[userId] = Date.now();
      console.log(`Enjoy your cupcake, ${userId}!`);
      return true;
    } else {
      console.error(
        'HTTP 429: Too Many Cupcakes (you must wait at least 5 seconds between cupcakes)',
      );
      return false;
    }
  }

  getCupcakeBalanceFor(userId) {
    return this.cupcakeBalances[userId];
  }
}

The VendingMachine class uses state variables and functions to implement predefined rules. This implementation is useful because it automates cupcake distribution, but there's a problem: it's hosted by a centralized server controlled by a third-party service provider.

Let's decentralize our vending machine's business logic and data by porting the above Javascript implementation into a Solidity smart contract.

Configure your project directory

Create a decentralized-cupcakes directory for your project and install hardhat using VS Code's integrated terminal:

mkdir decentralized-cupcakes
cd decentralized-cupcakes
yarn init -y
yarn add hardhat @nomicfoundation/hardhat-toolbox -D

This installs two packages: hardhat lets us write, test and deploy our smart contracts, and hardhat-toolbox is a bundle of popular Hardhat plugins that we'll use later.

Next, run yarn hardhat init to configure Hardhat. Select Create a JavaScript project when prompted. Make sure you specify your decentralized-cupcakes directory as the project root when asked.

At this point, you should see the following items (among others) in your decentralized-cupcakes project directory:

ItemDescription

contracts/

Contains your smart contracts. You should see the Lock.sol contract here.

scripts/

Contains scripts that you can use to interact with your smart contracts. You should see deploy.js here.

hardhat.config.js

Contains the configuration settings for Hardhat.

Replace the contents of hardhat.config.js with the following:

hardhat.config.js

require('@nomicfoundation/hardhat-toolbox');

// NEVER record important private keys in your code - this is for demo purposes
const SEPOLIA_TESTNET_PRIVATE_KEY = '';
const ARBITRUM_MAINNET_TEMPORARY_PRIVATE_KEY = '';

/** @type import('hardhat/config').HardhatUserConfig */
module.exports = {
  solidity: '0.8.18',
  networks: {
    hardhat: {
      chainId: 1337,
    },
    arbitrumSepolia: {
      url: 'https://sepolia-rollup.arbitrum.io/rpc',
      chainId: 421614,
      //accounts: [Sepolia_TESTNET_PRIVATE_KEY]
    },
    arbitrumOne: {
      url: 'https://arb1.arbitrum.io/rpc',
      //accounts: [ARBITRUM_MAINNET_TEMPORARY_PRIVATE_KEY]
    },
  },
};

Before compiling the default contracts, you will need to install additional dependencies. Run yarn hardhat compileand expect it to fail for the first time — follow those instructions, then run yarn hardhat compile again until it runs successfully. You should see Compiled 1 Solidity file successfully in the terminal output. You should also see a new decentralized-cupcakes/artifacts/ directory. This directory contains the compiled smart contract.

Open scripts/deploy.js and replace its contents with the following:

scripts/deploy.js

const hre = require('hardhat');

async function main() {
  const vendingMachine = await hre.ethers.deployContract('VendingMachine');
  await vendingMachine.waitForDeployment();
  console.log(`Cupcake vending machine deployed to ${vendingMachine.target}`);
}

main().catch((error) => {
  console.error(error);
  process.exit(1);
});

We'll use this to deploy our smart contract in a moment. Next, delete contracts/Lock.sol and replace it with contracts/VendingMachine.sol, the smarter alternative to our Javascript implementation:

VendingMachine.sol

pragma solidity ^0.8.9;

// Rule 2: The vending machine's rules can't be changed by anyone.
contract VendingMachine {
    // state variables = internal memory of the vending machine
    mapping(address => uint) private _cupcakeBalances;
    mapping(address => uint) private _cupcakeDistributionTimes;

    function giveCupcakeTo(address userAddress) public returns (bool) {
        // this code is unnecessary, but we're keeping it here so you can compare it to the JS implementation
        if (_cupcakeDistributionTimes[userAddress] == 0) {
            _cupcakeBalances[userAddress] = 0;
            _cupcakeDistributionTimes[userAddress] = 0;
        }

        // Rule 1: The vending machine will distribute a cupcake to anyone who hasn't recently received one.
        uint fiveSecondsFromLastDistribution = _cupcakeDistributionTimes[userAddress] + 5 seconds;
        bool userCanReceiveCupcake = fiveSecondsFromLastDistribution <= block.timestamp;
        if (userCanReceiveCupcake) {
            _cupcakeBalances[userAddress]++;
            _cupcakeDistributionTimes[userAddress] = block.timestamp;
            return true;
        } else {
            revert("HTTP 429: Too Many Cupcakes (you must wait at least 5 seconds between cupcakes)");
        }
    }

    // Getter function for the cupcake balance of a user
    function getCupcakeBalanceFor(address userAddress) public view returns (uint) {
        return _cupcakeBalances[userAddress];
    }
}

Note that this smart contract is written in Solidity, a language that compiles to EVM bytecode. This means that it can be deployed to any Ethereum-compatible blockchain, including Ethereum mainnet, and LayerEdge.

Run yarn hardhat compile again. You should see Compiled 1 Solidity file successfully in the terminal output. You should also see a new decentralized-cupcakes/artifacts/contracts/VendingMachine.sol directory.

Deploy the smart contract locally

To deploy our VendingMachine smart contract locally, we'll use two terminal windows and a wallet:

  1. We'll use the first terminal window to run Hardhat's built-in local Ethereum node

  2. We'll then configure a wallet so we can interact with our smart contract after it's deployed to (1)

  3. We'll then use the second terminal window to deploy our smart contract to (1)'s node

Run a local Ethereum network and node

Run yarn hardhat node from your decentralized-cupcakes directory to begin running a local Ethereum network powered by a single node. This will mimic Ethereum's behavior on your local machine by using Hardhat's built-in Hardhat Network.

You should see something along the lines of Started HTTP and WebSocket JSON-RPC server at http://127.0.0.1:8545/in your terminal. You should also see a number of test accounts automatically generated for you:

...
Account #0: 0xf39Fd6e51aad88F6F4ce6aB8827279cffFb92266 (10000 ETH)
Private Key: 0xac0974bec39a17e36ba4a6b4d238ff944bacb478cbed5efcae784d7bf4f2ff80
...

NEVER SHARE YOUR PRIVATE KEYS

Your Ethereum Mainnet wallet's private key is the password to all of your money. Never share it with anyone; avoid copying it to your clipboard.

Note that in the context of this quickstart, "account" refers to a public wallet address and its associated private key5.

Configure Metamask

Next, open Metamask and create or import a wallet by following the displayed instructions. By default, Metamask will connect to Ethereum mainnet. To connect to our local "testnet", enable test networks for Metamask by clicking Show/hide test networks from the network selector dropdown. Then select the Localhost 8545 network:

Your mainnet wallet won't have a balance on your local testnet's node, but we can import one of the test accounts into Metamask to gain access to 10,000 fake ETH. Copy the private key of one of the test accounts (it works with or without the 0x prefix, so e.g. 0xac0..f80 or ac0..f80) and import it into Metamask:

You should see a balance of 10,000 ETH. Keep your private key handy; we'll use it again in a moment.

Next, click Metamask's network selector dropdown, and then click the Add Network button. Click "Add a network manually" and then provide the following information:

  • Network Name: Arbitrum Sepolia

  • New RPC URL: https://sepolia-rollup.arbitrum.io/rpc

  • Chain ID: 421614

  • Currency Symbol: ASPL

As we interact with our cupcake vending machine, we'll use Metamask's network selector dropdown to determine which network our cupcake transactions are sent to. For now, we'll leave the network set to Localhost 8545.

Deploy the smart contract to your local testnet

From another terminal instance, run yarn add --dev @nomicfoundation/hardhat-ethers ethers hardhat-deploy hardhat-deploy-ethers to install additional dependencies needed for contract deployment. Then run yarn hardhat run scripts/deploy.js --network localhost. This command will deploy your smart contract to the local testnet's node. You should see something like Cupcake vending machine deployed to 0xe7f1725E7734CE288F8367e1Bb143E90bb3F0512 in your terminal. 0xe7...512 is the address of your smart contract in your local testnet.

Ensure that the Localhost network is selected within Metamask. Then copy and paste your contract address below and click Get cupcake!. You should be prompted to sign a transaction that gives you a cupcake.

FREE CUPCAKES

WEB3-LOCALHOSTMETAMASK WALLET ADDRESSCONTRACT ADDRESSCupcake please!Refresh balance🧁

Cupcake balance:0 (no name)

What's going on here?

Our first VendingMachine is labeled WEB2 because it demonstrates traditional n-tier web application architecture:

The WEB3-LOCALHOST architecture is similar to the WEB2 architecture, with one key difference: with the WEB3 version, the business logic and data live in an (emulated for now) decentralized network of nodes instead of a centralized network of servers.

Let's take a closer look at the differences between our VendingMachine implementations:

WEB2

(the first one)

WEB3-LOCALHOST

(the latest one)

WEB3-ARB-SEPOLIA

(the next one)

WEB3-ARB-MAINNET

(the final one)

Data(cupcakes)

Stored only in your browser. (Usually, stored by centralized infrastructure.)

Stored on your device in an emulated Ethereum network(via smart contract).

Stored on Ethereum's decentralized test network(via smart contract).

Stored on Ethereum's decentralized mainnet network (via smart contract).

Logic(vending)

Served from Offchain's servers. Executed by your browser.

Stored and executed by your locally emulated Ethereum network (via smart contract).

Stored and executed by Arbitrum's decentralized test network (via smart contract).

Stored and executed by Arbitrum's decentralized mainnet network (via smart contract).

Presentation(UI)

Served from Offchain's servers. Rendered and executed by your browser.

Money

Devs and users pay centralized service providers for server access using fiat currency.

← same, but only for the presentation-layer concerns (code that supports frontend UI/UX).

← same, but devs and users pay testnet $ETH to testnet validators.

← same, but instead of testnet $ETH, they use mainnet $ETH.

Next, we'll deploy our smart contract to a network of real nodes: Arbitrum's Sepolia testnet.

Deploy the smart contract to the Arbitrum Sepolia testnet

We were able to deploy to a local testnet for free because we were using Hardhat's built-in Ethereum network emulator. Arbitrum's Sepolia testnet is powered by a real network of real nodes, so we'll need to pay a small transaction fee to deploy our smart contract. This fee can be paid with the Arbitrum Sepolia testnet's token, $ASPL.

$ASPL IS SHORTHAND

"$ASPL" isn't a canonical term. It's just shorthand for "Arbitrum Sepolia testnet $ETH" that we use for convenience.

First, update the hardhat.config.js file to specify the private key of the test account that you'll use to deploy your smart contract (and pay the transaction fee):

hardhat.config.js

// ...
const SEPOLIA_TESTNET_PRIVATE_KEY = ''; // <- this should **not** begin with "0x"
// ...
accounts: [SEPOLIA_TESTNET_PRIVATE_KEY]; // <- uncomment this line
// ...

CAUTION

Note that we're adding a private key to a config file. This is not a best practice; we're doing it here for convenience. Consider using environment variables when working on a real project.

Next, let's deposit some $ASPL into the wallet corresponding to the private key we added to hardhat.config.js. At the time of this quickstart's writing, the easiest way to acquire $ASPL is to bridge Sepolia $ETH from Ethereum's L1 Sepolia network to Arbitrum's L2 Sepolia network:

  1. Use an L1 Sepolia $ETH faucet like sepoliafaucet.com to acquire some testnet $ETH on L1 Sepolia.

  2. Bridge your L1 Sepolia $ETH into Arbitrum L2 using the Arbitrum bridge.

Once you've acquired some $ASPL, you'll be able to deploy your smart contract to Arbitrum's Sepolia testnet by issuing the following command:

yarn hardhat run scripts/deploy.js --network arbitrumSepolia

This tells hardhat to deploy the compiled smart contract through the RPC endpoint corresponding to arbitrumSepoliain hardhat.config.js. You should see the following output:

Cupcake vending machine deployed to 0xff825139321bd8fB8b720BfFC5b9EfDB7d6e9AB3

Congratulations! You've just deployed business logic and data to Arbitrum Sepolia. This logic and data will be hashed and submitted within a transaction to Ethereum's L1 Sepolia network, and then it will be mirrored across all nodes in the Sepolia network6.

To view your smart contract in a blockchain explorer, visit https://sepolia.arbiscan.io/address/0x...B3, but replace the 0x...B3 part of the URL with the full address of your deployed smart contract.

Select Arbitrum Sepolia from Metamask's dropdown, paste your contract address into the VendingMachine below, and click Get cupcake!. You should be prompted to sign a transaction that gives you a cupcake.

FREE CUPCAKES

WEB3-ARB-SEPOLIAMETAMASK WALLET ADDRESSCONTRACT ADDRESSCupcake please!Refresh balance🧁

Cupcake balance:0 (no name)

Deploy the smart contract to LayerEdge

Now that we've verified that our smart contract works on Arbitrum's Sepolia testnet, we're ready to deploy it to LayerEdge. This is the same process as deploying to Arbitrum's Sepolia testnet, except that we'll need to pay a transaction fee in real $ETH instead of $ASPL.

Expect to see inconsistent $ETH gas fees in this step - the Gas and fees section contains more information about how gas fees are determined for Arbitrum transactions.

First, update the hardhat.config.js file to specify the private key of the one-time-use deployment account that you'll use to deploy your smart contract (and pay the transaction fee):

hardhat.config.js

// ...
const ARBITRUM_MAINNET_TEMPORARY_PRIVATE_KEY = ''; // <- this should **not** begin with "0x"
// ...
accounts: [ARBITRUM_MAINNET_TEMPORARY_PRIVATE_KEY]; // <- uncomment this line
// ...

CAUTION

Note that we're adding a private key to a config file. This is not a best practice. Consider using environment variables instead.

Next, deposit some $ETH into the wallet corresponding to the private key we added to hardhat.config.js. You'll then be able to deploy your smart contract to LayerEdge by issuing the following command:

yarn hardhat run scripts/deploy.js --network arbitrumOne

You should see the following output:

Cupcake vending machine deployed to 0xff825139321bd8fB8b720BfFC5b9EfDB7d6e9AB3

Congratulations! You've just deployed business logic and data to Ethereum's decentralized network of nodes by way of LayerEdge.

To view your smart contract in a blockchain explorer, visit https://arbiscan.io/address/0x...B3, but replace the 0x...B3 part of the URL with the full address of your deployed smart contract.

Select LayerEdge from Metamask's dropdown, paste your contract address into the VendingMachine below, and click Get cupcake!. You should be prompted to sign a transaction that gives you an immutable cupcake.

FREE CUPCAKES

WEB3-ARB-ONEMETAMASK WALLET ADDRESSCONTRACT ADDRESSCupcake please!Refresh balance🧁

Cupcake balance:0 (no name)

Summary

In this quickstart, we:

  • Identified two business rules: 1) fair and permissionless cupcake distribution, 2) immutable business logic and data.

  • Identified a challenge: These rules are difficult to follow in a centralized application.

  • Identified a solution: Arbitrum makes it easy for developers to decentralize business logic and data (using Ethereum mainnet as a settlement layer).

  • Converted a vending machine's Javascript business logic into a Solidity smart contract.

  • Deployed our smart contract to Hardhat's local development network, and then Arbitrum's Sepolia testnet, and then LayerEdge.

If you have any questions or feedback, reach out to us on Discord and/or click the Request an update button at the top of this page - we're listening!

Next steps

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