How To Create An Ethereum Smart Contract

– [Instructor] The most
interesting part of ethereum are smart contracts. You can think of smart
contracts like autonomous agents deployed onto the
ethereum block chain. Smart contracts are made
up of some state, or data as well as some code that
manipulates that data. Just like a user account,
smart contract accounts also have their own balance, as well as a public address which looks the same as a user account address. To interact with smart
contracts you send transactions to it with some extra
data to specify which function you want to
invoke, as well as any input parameters for the function. The transaction will invoke
the function and return any possible output
once it has been mined. We’re going to be using Remix
to write smart contracts, which is an online IDE
available for free at It comes with a compiler, editor, and debugger for solidity. The great part is that
you don’t need to download or install or set up anything. You just go to this webpage and start writing smart contracts, which is awesome. The UI is divided into four main sections. The left part is our file explorer, where we can open solidity
files from our hard drive. The middle section is our editor, where we can view and write our source code. At the bottom we have a terminal which prints out important
events and transactions. And the right most section contains some handy tools for compiling, running, and debugging our code. The first example we’ll look at is a smart contract called Hodor. Let’s load up the source code. You’ll notice that solidity source files end with the .sol extension. The syntax of solidity
resembles JavaScript, so it should be fairly easy to pick up. The first line we see at the top uses the pragma directive, this tell the compiler that the contract is
written for a solidity compiler version of at
least .4.0 or anything newer that doesn’t break functionality. We then have a multi-line comment block briefly describing what this class does. The next line is where we declare the name of our smart contract
using the contract keyword. We’ve simply called our
class Hodor, because as you’ll see, all it does is
return a simple greeting. We also declared two
state variables called creator and greeting. Creator has an address data type, which is used for storing
addresses of accounts. Greeting is a string data
type which just stores some text greeting. We initialize both of these variables in our constructor. The constructor is
declared using the function keyword followed by the name of the class. The constructor is a
special function that is invoked only once when a
contract is first deployed to the ethereum block chain. You can only declare a single
constructor for a contract. We also inject the initial
string greeting as a parameter into the constructor
and set the greeting variable to that value. In the second line of the constructor we initialize the creator variable to a value called message.sender,
but if you look closely you might wonder where
this value came from since it’s not being injected
into the constructor. This is because message
is a global variable that provides certain information
about the message such as the address of
the account sending it. We can get the address of
the account creating the contract using message.sender
in the constructor. You may notice that we don’t
actually use this creator variable anywhere in our contract because this is just a simple example. We could potentially use
this information to implement access control to certain functions. We’ll see an example of this later. Below the constructor
we define two functions for this contract, greet and set greeting. Invoking greet will simply return the currently saved greeting. You can see that we declared a return type of string for the
function and we used the return keyword to give
back the value of greeting. We also used the constant keyword, which is a way of saying that
this function does not modify the contract state,
and it doesn’t make any rights to the block chain. Anyone can also change the saved greeting using the set greeting function. This method doesn’t have
a return type, but does take a string input parameter
as the new greeting. Now, let’s try to actually deploy and interact with this contract. We can go back to our right most section and take a look at the
tools available there. The first tab is the
compile tab, which allows us to compile the code or
enable disable auto-compile. It also prints out any static
analysis errors and warnings. The run tab is where
we can actually deploy and execute our code. We can select from three
environments to run the code. The first is JavaScript
VM, meaning that is uses and ethereum node running inside the browser to deploy the contract. It’s convenient but it also
means that if you reload the browser it will restart
a new node from scratch and you lose the old one. The other two options rely on nodes running external to the browser. Injected provider connects to a web three provider like MetaMask,
that can inject web three. And web three provider
allows you to connect to a node by specifying the url. This could also be a locally running node, like TestRPC or Geth. You can also choose
from a list of accounts associated with your current node to be the author of the contract, and specify the amount of gas you want to pay for the deployment transaction as well as any initial ether to provide. Below we also see an at
address and create button with a list of the compiled
contracts available. You can use at address
to connect and interact with an already deployed
instance of a contract if you know its address,
but since we’re deploying for the first time, we’ll
use the create button. It has a field for the
input greeting parameter which we need to specify
as a string in quotations. Otherwise, you’ll get an encoding error. Clicking the create button
will deploy the contract to the block chain using a transaction. We can create as many
instances as we like and each deployed instance will be visible at the bottom of the run tab. We can also see the
corresponding transaction logs in the terminal. Clicking on the details
button will give us more info such as the resulting
contract address, and the amount of gas used
to process the transaction. We can then interact with the instance, and invoke any of its functions. If we click the greet button to invoke the greet function on this contract we can see it returns the
greeting set from the constructor. Let’s set a different greeting and click the set greeting button. We see the corresponding
transaction in the terminal as well. And if we now invoke the greet function we should get back the updated greeting. Let’s look at another example, say we wanted to create our own crypto-currency called DragonStone. How would we do this? Let’s look at the code. We declare our DragonStone smart contract using the contract keyword. We have two state variables,
creator and balances. The address of the account
creating the contract is stored in the creator
field, like the last example. We also added the public
keyword to the creator field. The public keyword automatically
generates a function that allows contracts to access the current value of the field like this. Without this keyword
other contracts cannot access this field. The balances field, also
publicly accessible, keeps track of who owns
how many DragonStones. The automatically generated
function in this case is a bit different, and
would have a signature like this, allowing anyone
to query the balance of any account. This is because we have
a data type of mapping, which can be thought of as hash table of key value pairs. The key value data types are
defined inside the brackets as address keys mapping to
unsigned integer values, representing the amount
owned by an address. We also see a new keyword,
the event keyword, events are used to indicate that something of interest has happened. They’re fired from
within functions and can be listened to by other
applications, either Server Side or Front End. As soon as the delivered event is fired the listener will receive the from, to, and amount arguments. This feature of solidity makes it easy to track transactions. In the constructor we only record the address of the creator. This information is then used to ensure that only the creator can invoke the create function to issue currency. The if condition in create verifies that the sender of the message
is the same as the creator. Otherwise, it throws an exception and does not create any currency. If the sender is the
creator then the balance is updated for the receiving account by the specified amount. Transferring DragonStone can be done by anybody, not just the creator. The only requirement to transfer an amount is to actually have that
amount in your account. Otherwise, the transfer
can’t be completed. We verify the account
balance as the first step in the transfer function, returning early if there is an insufficient balance. The balances for the sender
and receiver are then updated by the specified amount
to complete the transfer. A delivered event is then fired to notify listeners of the successful transfer. And there we have a very
basic crypto-currency that the creator can
issue out of thin air, and owners of this
currency can transfer it to whomever they please. Note that this class is
only four lines longer than the Hodor class,
which is pretty cool. Let’s deploy this contract
and test it out a bit. We can try to create
some DragonStone as the creator of the contract, and issue ourselves five DragonStone. If we try to create DragonStone as someone who is not the creator,
we’ll get back an exception since it won’t get past our if condition. Let’s try transferring
some DragonStone from an account that doesn’t have any. We should also see an exception since we checked for the sender’s
balance before transferring. Now, let’s try that
again but as the creator, and we can see that the
transfer was made successfully. And there we have a simple
introduction to smart contracts. To learn more about ethereum
and solidity check out our online guides and
courses at Thanks for watching and
we’ll catch you next time.

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