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How to Write a Smart Contract in Solidity

Ethereum is a decentralized virtual computer with a native cryptocurrency ETH which allows the transfer of value in form of ETH between addresses and deploys codes to the blockchain to run logic and store statements. Ethereum is designed for decentralized applications or dApps with a client that enables peer-to-peer messages on the network. It is also a generalized blockchain with a built-in programming language that lets anyone build any kind of application they can imagine such as social networks, browsers, search engines, financial applications, healthcare applications, and a lot more. Applications on Ethereum are fully trustworthy and transparent since they run on the blockchain.

What is a Smart Contract?

To understand smart contracts, think about a kick-starter campaign. You set a goal and promote your campaign so that others can support you. If you hit your targeted amount, the platform will offer you an equivalent amount to help you smash your goals. If you fail to meet the target, the donated funds will be paid back to those who donated to your cause. The same goes for smart contracts and it is why some people call them if this then that statement. A smart contract is a piece of code that does something if something happens.

The most basic smart contracts can include such statements as if I add 1ETH to the contract, then 100 BAT tokens should be released to me or if all participants contributing to a pool reach a certain amount, then each contributor should receive a certain amount. The participants could also get exclusive access to an event, or receive a digital asset. Smart contracts are codes on the blockchain that get run to achieve an objective once they are triggered. They are immutable, and can only be overwritten with a new smart contract if that is ever necessary. Smart contracts are also distributed which implies that the code is validated by everyone on the network, and not a single individual can manipulate the code.

Ethereum was specifically designed for running smart contract applications known as dApps. Smart contracts on Ethereum are written in a Turing complete programming language known as Solidity. Solidity resembles JavaScript in its syntax and is by far the most popular programming language used by blockchain developers. In this article, we shall explore how to write codes in Solidity in a manner that is suitable for beginners and possibly beneficial for professionals who would love to go back to the basics.

A Step-by-Step Process of Writing Smart Contracts

Visit Remix.ethereum.org to get started with writing your smart contract. Note that there is also a language similar to Python which is less used but serves the same purpose as Solidity. A screen like this should appear on your computer when you visit the said website. Remix is a browser-based IDE that lets you write Ethereum smart contracts without setting up a development environment.

Select the file icon to create a new file, then declare the version of solidity that you intend to use. Using the latest version such as version 0.8.17 is the best option to write the safest codes, and stay up to date with improvements to the programming language. In our first piece of code, we will use the count function to update certain values like you would do with other programming languages to update databases.

Using Events in Smart Contracts

You can also create events in the smart contracts such as increments and decrements which are important in state retrievals when working on more complex projects. After writing our increment or decrement function, we can edit the contract to tell the solidity where the function can be called. In this case, we set the increment function to the public. Adding public to the contracts lets you call the function outside the contract.

Constructor Functions in Smart Contracts

Next, we can use a constructor function, a special function that gets run when the smart contract is initialized to set a default value for our count. Remember that smart contracts are codes that exist on the blockchain, and whenever we deploy smart contracts we update the state of the blockchain by running the smart contracts on the Ethereum virtual machine. Create the function and set the visibility to the public, and create the count to zero.

Another way to run your smart contract is to simply add a value to the count such as 0 or 1,000 and test the contract out in the Remix IDE. To test the contract, deploy it on the test blockchain connected to the Remix IDE. Select the compiler tab shown below, and choose the version of solidity you imputed earlier in your code. In our case, we used v0.8.17 which is the latest release according to the GitHub repository available here: https://github.com/ethereum/solidity/releases. Keep in mind that recent solidity smart contracts require an SPDX comment which may cause your code to return an error, also ensure that your curly brackets are connected so that when you click one of the brackets, the IDE highlights the corresponding opening and closing bracket.

Deploying Smart Contracts

To deploy your smart contracts, visit the deploy tab and select from JavaScript virtual machine, Injected Web 3.0, and Web 3.0 provider. We will be using the JVM environment to test our smart contract. You will find an account that is preloaded with test Ethereum tokens which you can use to test your smart contracts. Select any of these accounts and click on the deploy button to test your smart contracts. Select the deployed contract at the lower left of the deployment tab and you will have a button that can be incremented or decremented. To actually increment our count, we need to write a function that says get count, set the view of this function to the public, and make the initial uint of count public as well. Click the trash icon to remove the smart contract we deployed previously since that is useless to us now, then deploy the new smart contract in the image below.

If you have followed the steps above, you should now understand how smart contracts work at some level, but we need to do a bit more for you to see an actual smart contract working. We will now proceed to write an actual smart contract that is used in most DAOs for decision-making, and it is a voting smart contract. If you have been following along it would be pretty easy for you to move on with the following. Although, if you haven’t been following, you can go back to check how we got up to this point. Note that every step in the process is relevant, and critical if you must follow through with the next steps. Now, let's start coding our election smart contract.

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Creating a Voting Smart Contract For Decentralized systems

Grouping Data in Smart Contracts

We want to write a contract that lets participants in a decentralized system, for example, vote in a free and fair election. Using the same Remix IDE we will start by creating a data type, struct which allows us to group other data types to define a candidate struct. We will also define a struct for the voter that will store whether or not a voter has voted and the candidate they voted for.

Tracking Data in Smart Contracts

Next, we must keep track of the owner of the contract since they have special rights to authorize voters. We must also keep a mapping to store voter information and a dynamically sized array of candidates that will be initialized on construction. Use square brackets after the data type of a variable to define an array. Also, track the time when an election ends using an integer timestamp.

Creating Constructors

Initialize the list of candidates in the constructor, passing in a name for the election, the duration of the election in minutes, and an array of the names of candidates. Solidity does not support two-dimensional arrays so we would use two-string arguments representing two candidates in the election. If we must support multiple candidates we can push in an array of bytes 32.

To define candidate objects we must use the provided names. We will then define an authorization function that allows the owner to give voting authorization to any address. In the function, we will initialize the voter object for the address. The process is not the same as initializing an object in the voter’s mapping. Instead, we initialize with the default boolean value present in the mapping. To prevent anyone from participating in the election, we need to add weight to the voter struct authorizing people we assign a voter weight of 1.

Defining Transactions in Smart Contracts

Voters must submit an integer representing the zero-based index represented in the list. Anyone can access the list of candidates and vote within the time for a valid candidate. To increase the vote count for the specified candidate by the weight assigned to the voter. We can also add a statement that checks that the message sender has a weight of at least 1. Next, we write an end function that allows the owner to end the election only when the time is up.

Let's build together on Solidity

Let's Help You Build Your Next Blockchain Application

We specialized in building and developing logical smart contracts for financial applications, business, and social applications. Our codes are properly audited in-house and our process ensures that no mistakes move from prior stages of development to cause glitches at the final stages. Ethereum development can get really complex but we handle and resolve all problems with finesse and experience.

Haven worked for some of the biggest names in the blockchain space, deploying projects across blockchains, we are poised on working with the biggest brands as well as startups to transform simple business ideas into working solutions that are automated, trusted, and decentralized. Newer implementation of smart contracts requires the development of unique logic and structures that needs to be tested and tried before implementation. With the rise of hacking and other backdoor activities mostly targeting blockchain and crypto projects, working with us puts you at rest assured that all the critical drawbacks will be taken care of without issues.

You can get started even though you are unsure about how smart contracts work. The most important thing is that you have spotted a unique case where smart contracts can be applied to make your business easy or you have seen areas where it has been applied before and you are interested in implementing a similar solution. For newer areas, our in-house smart contract development team researches the use case and develops prototypes to check and ensure that it is feasible and there are no loopholes. After that, we walk you through the process, responding kindly to all the questions you may have and additional things you would like us to consider.

Conclusion

Smart contracts are the essential ingredient in Ethereum development. It is impossible for DApps to function on any blockchain without clearly written smart contracts. Since the blockchain is decentralized, it is impossible to change or influence the instructions coded in smart contracts this is why developers must check for errors and potential drawbacks before launching a smart contract live on the mainnet of the blockchain.

Thankfully, most blockchains have sufficient testnet resources for testing and deploying smart contracts to ensure that they do what they are meant to do. Unlike mainnets, it costs nothing to run a smart contract on a testnet, and there are ample opportunities to change and try out the results of an application.

Once a smart contract is deployed, there are no know means of updating it onchian unless you call a more advanced function like SelfDestruct which we shall leave for discussion another day. Smart contracts are the backbone of DApps on Ethereum, Avalanche, and other programmable blockchains. Although some blockchains have their unique programming languages for writing smart contracts, solidity remains the most popular blockchain among developers and could remain so as the syntax is pretty easy to pick up. If you are a developer who wishes to learn more about solidity, you can visit the Ethereum documentation at https://soliditylang.org/.

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