Smart Contract Development Guide for Beginners

Smart Contract Development Guide for Beginners

What is a smart contract in terms of technology? It is represented by a program code, therefore, some programming skills are required for developing it. If you don’t have any, you definitely need to start with the basics. Well, for web developers of any level familiar with Javascript, Python or C++, there is nothing to worry about. By and large, blockchain has many similarities with traditional frameworks, especially when it comes to wide application range blockchains like DecimalChain.

Today, most smart contracts are developed with DApp, that is, specialized platforms for the development of decentralized Apps (Ethereum, Cardano, Lisk). But a trend has appeared when such platforms are created “from scratch” by large technology companies, for example, IBM. The logic here is clear: newcomers who want to master the field of smart contract development would rather trust a well-known brand with a long history than little-known young blockchain platforms.

In any case, the use of popular DApp platforms together with the corresponding accompanying tools significantly simplifies the development of the IC, and we are no longer talking about creating your own unique blockchain along the way.

Let’s consider the main stages of creating smart contracts.

Smart Contract Development: How do smart contracts work?

Let’s first consider such an area as holding concerts or some other mass events. The organizer needs to ensure that he gets the maximum benefit from ticket sales, that is, to optimize their cost so that it is not too high and does not scare away the clients. But they face such a problem as speculators who buy a lot of tickets online with bots in order to resell them, which can negatively affect people`s attendance and cause reputational damage to the organizers. Do not forget about the issue of fake tickets.

Using a smart contract on the basis of blockchain can solve both of the problems. To avoid the risk of speculation, it is enough to put in the code the cost increase of the ticket when it is resold again. To solve the issue of fake tickets, we just link them to unique tokens, the forgery of which is impossible.

Choosing a DApp platform

The next step is no less important. It is known that today most ICS are developed on the Ethereum platform, which was initially focused on the use of decentralized applications. For this, it has its own low–level programming language -Solidity. If you have the opportunity and desire to study it, it is quite possible to limit yourself to this option, since a large number of libraries and other auxiliary tools have been developed for it, including for testing and implementing applications in the blockchain. A powerful community of developers can help you learn a new language.

If you have problems with mastering the syntax of a new language, you can choose Lisk as a platform for smart contract development. Here it will be enough for you to know Javascript, since this is the language used to write the SC. An additional advantage of this option will be the presence of its own DApp store, which simplifies the publication of the finished App (similar to Google Play / iTunes).

SC Development

An important feature of the Solidity language is the use of hash functions. You definitely shouldn’t be afraid of this, as it is an extremely useful tool that increases the security of transactions. For our example, hash keys can be used to unify tickets, as well as to link them to a specific buyer (at the wallet level, of course). As for the syntax, there are usually no issues with studying the low-level capabilities of Solidity.

As for the specific development environment, there are many of them, such as remix.ethereum.org. Here you can easily deploy a new contract, and access to the project from several Ethereum accounts is allowed, and the use of the functions library is simplified to a minimum, in a visual form.

Let’s consider some aspects of cryptographic smart contracts development in Solidity:

  • the Ethereum network, however, like any other blockchain, is characterized by a unique addressing of the parties involved in the transaction. In our case, the organizer shouls link his account ID to the contract, which will allow him to receive money from each ticket sold without intermediaries. The customer purchases a ticket, tokens are debited from his wallet and credited to the seller’s wallet;
  • Solidity has a convenient function of linking transactions to a smart contract: when it is called, the seller would receive a message on each operation, containing details such as the buyer’s wallet address and the number of tokens that he transfers to the seller;
  • smart contracts built on Solidity are not completely free. For actions such as buying a ticket, the network charges a fee. This is the accepted compensation for the use of the computing power of the network by the IC to carry out the transaction. But such actions as viewing the terms of the contract, the cost /availability of tickets (that is, calls that do not make changes to the information on the blockchain) are free.

Integration with JavaScript

If you have made a choice in favor of Solidity, then one of the most important and difficult stages is the integration of SC with Javascript. To do this, you can use the Truffle framework. It provides the developer with the Ganache test network on the Ethereum blockchain. As a result, you convert the code into a JSON format and get the opportunity to call a smart contract from a Javascript application using the addresses of the test network.

As a rule, non-experienced in the field of SCs web developers consider blockchain as an analogue of relational databases. On the one hand, a distributed network really stores a set of ordered data. On the other hand, it is not a centralized server, data is stored on thousands of computers and contains transaction chains. And only through these chains can the history of transactions be traced.

In any case, the developer will need to connect the IC to his server, but thanks to the developed API of the Solidity platform, it is not difficult to do this, as well as subsequently access data from his computer.

It is important to understand that, for example, the purchase of a ticket and its use in a smart contract are different actions, and you need to design these pieces of code accordingly, since mechanisms such as hashing and working with transactions at the block level will be involved here. And these are the moments that are usually the most difficult for beginners.

Assistance in mastering the development of smart contracts

If you have any problems with the development of the SC, feel free to use the following resources:

  •  in the Ethereum Stack Exchange community, you can get answers to any complex technical questions;
  • in general, without reference to a specific development environment, you can “hang out” on the Smart Contract Research Forum;
  • another type of resource that helps in mastering the skills of smart contract development are hackathons. One of the most popular is Chainlink Hackathon;
  • to solve organizational issues, you can use Chainlink Discord;
  • if you prefer visual courses, welcome to YouTube, where there are many tutorials on relevant topics (Dapp University, Patrick Collins, Nader Dabit, etc.).

In short, even if you are not a backend developer or have minimal experience in web development, this is not a big obstacle to mastering the skills of smart contracts creation. And the future, of course, cannot be seen without the widespread use of this promising technology since benefits of smart contracts are so obvious that a lot of startups are now considering their implementation.

Although the DecimalChain project cannot be called a startup, it illustrates the way developers use Decimal for developing cool Apps.

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