Setup Boilerplate

AElf Boilerplate is the go-to environment for creating and testing smart contracts. It takes care of including your contract files in the build system and linking the appropriate development SDK. Boilerplate also takes care of generating the csharp code from the proto definition.

This article will get you started with development on Boilerplate. It contains the following items:

  • how to clone, build and run AElf Boilerplate.

  • how to run the Hello World contract tests.

  • a brief presentation of Boilerplate.



Strictly speaking you don't need an IDE for this tutorial but it is highly recommended. If you don't already have one you can try Visual Studio Code (vscode) with the C# extension:

  • installation instructions for vscode here.

  • working with C# extension here.

You can of course use your favorite C# IDE, most of the steps described here and in later articles do not need IDE support.

Clone the repository

The following command will clone AElf Boilerplate into a aelf-boilerplate folder with Boilerplate's code inside it, open a terminal and enter the following command:

git clone

The boilerplate repo contains a framework for easy smart contract development as well as examples (some explained in this series of articles).

Build and run

Open the project

If not already done, open vscode and open the aelf-boilerplate folder. If asked to add some "required assets" say yes. There may also be some dependencies to restore: for all of them choose Restore.

Open vscode's Integrated Terminal and build the project with the following command. Note: you can find out more about vscode's terminal here.

Install script

As stated earlier, Boilerplate takes care of the C# code generation and thus has a dependency on protobuf. If you don't already have it installed, run the following script from withing the aelf-boilerplate folder:

# Mac or Linux
sh chain/scripts/
# Windows
# open a PowerShell console as administrator

If you prefer or have problems, you can refer to the following guide to manually install protobuf on your system.

Build and run

The next step is to build Boilerplate and all the contracts to ensure everything is working correctly. Once everything is built we'll run Boilerplate's internal node.

# enter the Launcher folder and build
cd chain/src/AElf.Boilerplate.Launcher/
# build
dotnet build
# run the node
dotnet run --no-build bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/AElf.Boilerplate.Launcher

When running Boilerplate, you might see some errors related to an incorrect password, to solve this, you need to backup your data-dir/keys/ folder and start with an empty keys folder. Once you've cleaned the keys, stop and restart the node with the dotnet run command shown above.

At this point the smart contracts have been deployed and are ready to be called (Boilerplate has a functionning API). You should see the node's logs in the terminal and see the node producing blocks. You can now stop the node by killing the process (usually control-c or ctrl-c in the terminal).

Run tests

Boilerplate makes it easy to write unit tests for your contracts. Here we'll take the tests of the Hello World contract included in Boilerplate as an example. To run the tests, simply navigate to the AElf.Contracts.HelloWorldContract.Test folder and run:

cd ../../test/AElf.Contracts.HelloWorldContract.Test/
dotnet test

The output should look somewhat like this, meaning that the tests have successfully executed:

Test Run Successful.
Total tests: 1
Passed: 1
Total time: 2.8865 Seconds

At this point you have successfully downloaded, built and run Boilerplate. You have also run the HelloWorld contract's tests that are included in Boilerplate. Later articles will show you how to add a contract and its tests and add it to the deployment process.

More on Boilerplate

Boilerplate is an environment that is used to develop smart contracts and dApps. After writing and testing your contract on Boilerplate you can deploy it to a running AElf chain. Internally Boilerplate will run an AElf node that will automatically have your contract deployed on it at genesis.

Boilerplate is composed of two root folders: chain and web. This series of tutorial articles focuses on contract development so we'll only go into the details of the chain part of Boilerplate. Here is a brief overview of the folders:

└── chain
├── src
├── contract
│ └── AElf.Contracts.HelloWorldContract
│ ├── AElf.Contracts.HelloWorldContract.csproj
│ ├── HelloWorldContract.cs
│ ├── HelloWorldContractState.cs
│ └── ...
├── protobuf
│ ├── hello_world_contract.proto
│ └── ...
├── test
│ └── AElf.Contracts.HelloWorldContract.Test
│ ├── AElf.Contracts.HelloWorldContract.Test.csproj
│ └── HelloWorldContractTest.cs
└── ...

The hello world contract and its tests are split between the following folders:

  • contract: this folder contains the csharp projects (.csproj) along with the contract implementation (.cs files).

  • protobuf: contains the .proto definition of the contract.

  • test: contains the test project and files (basic xUnit test project).

You can use this layout as a template for your future smart contracts. Before you do we recommend you follow through all the articles of this series.

You will also notice the src folder. This folder contains Boilerplate's modules and the executable for the node.


You've just seen a short introduction on how to run a smart contract that is already included in Boilerplate. The next article will show you a more complete smart contract and extra content on how to organize your code and tests files.

All production contracts (contracts destined to be deployed to a live chain) must go through a complete review process by the contract author and undergo proper testing. It is the authors responsibility to check the validity and security of his contract. The author should not simply copy the contracts contained in Boilerplate, it's the authors responsibility to ensure the security and correctness of his contracts.