Develop smart contract

This article will guide you through how to use AElf Boilerplate project to implement and test a smart contract. This guide assumes you have completed the previous Setup tutorial.



To easily follow this tutorial you will need to open the the AElf Boilerplate root folder in Visual Studio Code and also open the Integrated Terminal.

In the previous image you can see that the repository is composed of a chain and a web folder. The following content will help you understand the content of the chain folder. Every path in the following tutorial will be relative to this folder.

Folder structure

This section will introduce you to the structure of a smart contract developed with Boilerplate by introducing the Hello World contract example. Here's an overview of the folders and files you will find in the chain folder:

  • protobuf: contains some protobuf message definitions, some common to all contracts, some for specific contracts.

  • scripts: build scripts - not important for this guide.

  • src:

    • AElf.Boilerplate.Launcher: console project to launch the node.

    • AElf.Boilerplate.Mainchain: a library for the node.

    • HelloWorldContract: the implementation of the Hello World contract.

  • test:

    • HelloWorldContract.Test: the tests for the Hello World contract.

This guide will focus on the HelloWorldContract and HelloWorldContract.Test folders since the code we will modify is located in these.

Hello World contract

The following content will walk you through the basics of writing a smart contract. These files are already included in the source folder so there's no need to create these, for every source file that's presented, the path is given so you can easily navigate to the file using vscode's file explorer panel.

Definition and implementation

Definition: in AElf, contracts are defined as services and are implemented using Protobuf. Let's take a look at the hello_world.proto file located in the protobuf/ folder:

syntax = "proto3";
import "aelf_options.proto";
import "google/protobuf/empty.proto";
option csharp_namespace = "HelloWorldContract";
service HelloWorldContract {
option (aelf.csharp_state) = "HelloWorldContractState";
rpc Hello (google.protobuf.Empty) returns (HelloReturn) { }
message HelloReturn {
string Value = 1;

It's a simple contract that defines one method Hello and one type HelloReturn.

Note: the definition contains no logic, at build time when running the dotnet build command this file is used to generate the C# classes that will be used to implement the service.

Implementation: the implementation of the contract is located in the src/HelloWorldContract/ folder, it contains two important files: HelloWorldContract.cs and HelloWorldContractState.cs that implement respectively the contract's implementation and its state.

using Google.Protobuf.WellKnownTypes;
namespace HelloWorldContract
public partial class HelloWorldContract : HelloWorldContractContainer.HelloWorldContractBase
public override HelloReturn Hello(Empty input)
return new HelloReturn {Value = "Hello world!"};

The above code, represents the implementation of the Hello method of the smart contract. It returns a HelloReturn object that holds an "Hello world!" string.

using AElf.Sdk.CSharp.State;
namespace HelloWorldContract
public class HelloWorldContractState : ContractState

This class represents the state of the contract. It is empty now, but you'll find out how to add some code in here in Adding some methods (below).


Now lets look at the test :

public class HelloWorldContractTest : HelloWorldContractTestBase
public async Task HelloCall_ReturnsHelloWorldMessage()
var result = await HelloWorldContractStub.Hello.CallAsync(new Empty());
result.Value.ShouldBe("Hello world!");

This is a simple test that uses AElf's test framework to validate that the method does what it's supposed to - in this case return an "Hello world!" string.

Adding some methods

The following content will guide you through adding some methods and state to the Hello World contract.

Modify the definition

Add the following definitions to the hello_world.proto right after the Hello rpc method:

rpc Visit (Visitor) returns (google.protobuf.Empty) { }
rpc GetVisitors (google.protobuf.Empty) returns (VisitorList) { }

and the following two message types, after the HelloReturn message:

message Visitor {
string Name = 1;
message VisitorList {
repeated string Names = 1;

The next step is to build the project. This has the side effect of generating the updated C# code.

Note: assuming you're at the root of AElf Boilerplate's clone, execute the following command to generate the protobuf messages and service based on the definitions we just added. If not already done open vscode's Terminal.

cd chain/src/HelloWorldContract/
dotnet build

If everything went well you should see the build log show Build succeeded.

Implement the logic and state

The first step is to add some state to our state definition. Open the src/HelloWorldContract/HelloWorldContractState.cs and add the following property to the HelloWorldContractState class:

public SingletonState<VisitorList> Visitors { get; set; }

Override the service/contract methods previously added to the definition to src/HelloWorldContract/HelloWorldContract.cs:

public override Empty Visit(Visitor visitor)
if (State.Visitors.Value == null)
State.Visitors.Value = new VisitorList();
return new Empty();
public override VisitorList GetVisitors(Empty input)
return State.Visitors.Value;

The Visit logic will add the names of the visitors to the contracts state and the GetVisitors method will return the list of all visitors that have visited the contract. Build with the following command:

dotnet build

Test the new logic

Now we're going to add a test to verify the behavior of our new contract methods. With the test framework you can test your contract without running the node and test your scenarios programmatically.

In the Integrated Terminal navigate to the test folder:

cd ../../test/HelloWorldContract.Test/

Add the following test to HelloWorldContractTest.cs located in the test/HelloWorldContract.Test/ folder:

public async Task VisitCall_AddsVisitorToVisitorList()
await HelloWorldContractStub.Visit.SendAsync(new Visitor { Name = "Jon Snow"});
var result = await HelloWorldContractStub.GetVisitors.CallAsync(new Empty());
result.ShouldBe(new VisitorList { Names = { "Jon Snow" }});

This test will first use SendAsync to call the Visit method on the contract. Then we call the GetVisitors method to validate that the previous name has been recorded. Launch the test with the following method:

dotnet test

You should see the following:

Total tests: 2. Passed: 2. Failed: 0. Skipped: 0.
Test Run Successful.

That's more or less everything. We recommend you write the contract in a test driven way, when you are ready you can run the launcher project and you will be able to call the contract through the RPC to start integration testing with some external client (or the CLI if you don't plan on building some sort of dApp).

The next section will show you how to interact with the smart contract through the Javascript SDK.