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How do You Create and Deploy a Smart Contract on Ethereum?

What are smart contracts?

The term ‘Smart Contract’, was coined way back in 1996 and as its name suggests, this fairly new invention is the successor of the still used paper-based contracts. Reasons why these new ‘smart contracts’ are better include the fact, that, they are highly functional compared to their ancestors because these new contracts hold the same promises and protocols but this time, digitally so that they are accessible to all, allowing all the involved parties to work on the terms and their tasks in a much easier and an efficient way.

In other words, the transactions are executed following the terms, conditions, and protocols set on a smart contract. The base objective of these contracts is to the identification and simplification of similar contract protocols that apply to both parties one of them being, the creation of tokens on Ethereum. Once the contract is created, any calculations further on will be made according to the terms listed on the contract.

These contracts can also be called stand-alone scripts meaning, they are scripts that are not bounded by applications or have containers that they cannot be removed from. Examples of such containers include Google Sheets, Docs, etc.

These smart contracts or scripts are written in a high-level programming language known as Solidity which is based on the Object-Oriented Programming or OOP technique. Solidity is specifically used for these contracts because it makes it possible to easily and efficiently automate processes.

What is Solidity and why is it necessary?

This language was created by the Ethereum Network team for the sole purpose of designing and constructing Smart contracts.

It supports and works like any other programming language meaning it includes the following data types: Integers, Boolean, String, Modifiers, and Arrays.

The syntax of Solidity is very similar to that of basic C and C++ making it highly likely for any programmer to easily understand and adapt to.

Solidity also acts as a tool for compiling and creating machine-level code for the Ethereum Virtual Machine or EVM.

The function that sets Solidity apart from the rest of the languages and makes it the most efficient is the fact that it allows the user to map their data structures with Enums, operators, and hash values that in return, allow the user to return values stored in the specific storage.

These scripts are then compiled by a language-independent data-interchange format, are completely text-based, and are known as JavaScript Object Notation or JSON which is also language-independent.

Solidity developer can make it easier to develop projects on the Ethereum platform, as it provides a well-designed, easy-to-use language that is specifically tailored for Ethereum development. It also has a robust ecosystem of tools and resources, including libraries, frameworks, and solidity developers communities, that can help you with Ethereum development and accelerate your project.

Why use the JSON formatting technique?

The JSON formatting technique allows the user to work faster as it is specifically built for data interchange. Compared to XML, JSON consumes fewer bytes for transit.

It also requires reduced processing time and memory overhead due to the simple parsing process of JSON.

Lastly, the biggest opportunity that JSON gives is that it makes it possible for the user to store JavaScript objects as plain text. Hence, it allows the retrieval of text and can use it as a JavaScript object, it can send back the same object to the server as a text with help of not having to translate or parse JavaScript objects, it cuts out some difficulties in work for the programmer.

After compilation, these contracts are deployed to a specific blockchain address. To understand this better, it means that these contracts are deployed to decentralized databases with fees that are directly proportional to the storage size of the contract’s code. There is a vast collection of code stored in the blockchain network.

How Smart Contracts Are Executed on the Ethereum Blockchain

Smart contracts are huge contributors to the success of Ethereum and this is because the EBPs are the most efficient, thanks to smart contract development and the EVM. It is necessary to understand the execution of their smart contracts on the Ethereum Blockchain Platforms.

The Ethereum Virtual Machine or EVM as understood by its name is a computation engine that has the sole purpose of serving as a runtime environment for the Ethereum built smart contracts. This machine is acting like the bedrock or the base of all the other projects allowing it to act like a decentralized computer that has millions of executable projects.

Ethereum app development of decentralized apps of DAPPs is only possible because of the EVMs. Partly because the EVM allows a vast range of functionalities on the Blockchain the users have to face limited issues and problems. But also, partly because, the EVM is where all the Ethereum accounts and smart contracts live or are deployed hence this machine is an absolute necessity if one wants to work with Ethereum.

For the transactions that occur constantly in the EVM, the computation engine requires gas to process these computations which translates to the fact that for any process or transaction the Ethereum Virtual Machine makes, it requires gas as a fee token to work. The user pays the transaction fee which is at times of high network activity, as much as $20 for a simple ETH transaction. The calculation of these transaction fees is based on (the total units of gas used for the said transaction * the amount of money one unit of gas was available for).

After understanding how the environment for the smart contract transactions works, we must take a look at the direct execution that takes place.

Smart contracts as explained earlier are understood as programs or pieces of code that run on the Ethereum Blockchain. On the contrary, smart contract development is the process of writing these contracts. Because these contracts exist as Ethereum accounts, they can send over transactions over the network, the only difference being, that no users are controlling these accounts instead because of their deployment, they work the way they are programmed. Users can interact with smart contracts through their accounts. This allows the users to send transactions that execute under the functions defined by the contract.

After understanding the environment of the execution of smart contracts, we can now move on to understand smart contract development.

Like any other development, the creation of smart contracts requires a few prerequisites. The first one among them is the Meta-Mask Chrome extension which is necessary for two very basic functionalities. The first one being is that the Meta-Mask Chrome extension acts as an Ethereum browser as well as an e-wallet. The major benefit of having the Meta-Mask Chrome extension is the fact that it allows the user to interact with the dApps and smart contracts without actually having to download the blockchain or any other software.

Once downloaded, an e-wallet can either be created or imported if there is already one present. Even though smart contract development does not require Ether, when you are done creating a contract, it is helpful to fill your wallet with a few Ether before deployment.

For a basic explanation, Ether can be understood as the virtual currency for the Ethereum network.

We shall suppose a scenario where an e-wallet is not previously present hence needs to be created. Once you install the Meta-Mask extension in your browser, the following steps need to be followed:

1. Click on the icon of the extension on the top right of the browser to open a new tab of the browser.

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2. An option of ‘create a new wallet’ will show, clicking on which will open terms and conditions agreeing to which will allow you to proceed further.

3. Create your wallet with a strong password since from now on it will contain your Ether and other virtual currencies that you will be using.

4. Another important note to keep in mind is that after the creation of your wallet you will receive a secret backup phrase that will contain the backup of all the data of your wallet and will be the bedrock for the security of your wallet. Sharing it might or will cause you to lose all that you have in the wallet including the Ethers. A piece of advice that would go with this is to keep this phrase either written on a secured piece of paper or saved in an encrypted personal hard drive that no one can access except for you.

5. Next, you need to make sure that you are present in the ‘Main Ethereum Network’ because through this all your work will be done. To ensure this, you will need to find a checkmark next to the ‘Main Ethereum Network’ option.

6. There are also some other testing networks present that can be used such as Ropsten Test Network, Kovan Test Network, etc. The main purpose of these testing networks is that they allow the Ethereum app developers to check the blockchain development before deployment to the main network.

7. Testing the development of the blockchain requires you to have some dummy Ethers in your wallet that you shall gain by clicking on the ‘Deposit’ option and the ‘Get Ether’ options under the Test Faucet. These Ethers that you will gain hold no value but can be used for the testing phase however many times you want.

8. The next step is to use a Remix Browser IDE and the Solidity programming language to code a smart contract. The IDE is the best option to code Smart Contracts specifically because it allows a fast development cycle with an increasing set of plugins with intuitive GUIs. Some other very amazing functions of the Remix IDE include Static analysis, integrated testing, and deployment environment, function with injected Web3 objects, and many more.

9. The extension for the smart contract code file will be .sol which is a standard.

10. A standard smart contract to create tokens should contain the following:

  • Name of the token.
  • The terms of agreement with signatures of parties involved.
  • A connection to the database.
  • Symbol of the token.
  • Function to calculate the Total Supply and Total Amount.
  • Function to transfer.
  • Functions to send messages to the sender and receiver.

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11. Once the contract is created, select a compiler version to compile your smart contract code.

12. The next step is the deployment of your smart contract onto the main Ethereum BlockChain. To first check whether your contract can be deployed safely and has no errors, deploy the contract on a test network by clicking on the deploy button on the top-right side of the window.

13. It will take some time to complete the transaction but as soon as the transaction is successful, the initial tokens of your contract will be stored in the deployers wallet which could easily be checked by going to the meta-mask window and entering the smart contract address which will display the number of token present in your wallet.

14. Once this test deployment is successful, one last step before going live is to test the Ethereum Smart Contract. To this, you must check whether all the methods created by you such as transfer, the total supply, etc. are working properly, and do this, just click on these methods as they are present on the right-hand side of your remix window.

15. Once every protocol of checking has been followed, the final task is to get your smart contract live on the main Ethereum BlockChain network.

16. All you need to do is switch to the main Ethereum network at meta-mask.

17. Add some real Ethers this time and deploy using the same steps as you did when deploying on a test network.

18. Once the contract is deployed successfully on the main network, verification is then required which could be done by going to the official Etherscan website and searching your smart contract address there. Verify the contract once it shows.

19. Lastly, copy your contract code over to Etherscan and use the same compiler you did whilst programming.

20. Select optimization if it was previously selected otherwise uncheck it and continue. The final verification may take a while but once no error occurs and it has finished, you will be able to run your smart contract methods at Etherscan.

Even though reading, understanding, and practicing may help any individual to create their smart contract and dApps but the experience is the main differential and so, hiring Ethereum app developers is what will allow your dApp to be better compared to the others in the market and allow you to flourish faster. An example of a dApp that was one of the markers of the beginning of the Ethereum App Development, is Auger (REP) which is a prediction market platform and many more as they are increasing day by day.

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