Skip to main content
Version: 0.50.0

Getting started

This section is aimed at newcomers to Ligo and Tezos smart-contracts. In this turorial, we will go through the following step :

  • Setting up the development environment,
  • Writing a simple contract in Cameligo
  • Testing the contract
  • Deploying the contract to tezos

Setting up the development environment.

At the present moment, we recommand the user to develop on a UNIX system, GNU/Linux or MacOSX as the windows native binary is still in preparation. You can still use Ligo on windows through our docker image More on installation and editor support

Alternatively, you can decide to use our webide. This can be usefull for testing or for small project. However, it doesn't scale well for bigger size projet as you won't be able to spread your project accross multiple files and use your own libraries.

Install ligo

If you are on linux, we have a .deb package ready for you. Those package are widely supported by linux distribution

  • On debian or unbuntun, download the package, and then install using:

    sudo apt install ./ligo.deb
  • If you are using another distribution, refer to their doc on how to install .deb packages.

  • Alternatively, you can download the program and install it by hand by running

    chmod +x ./ligo

    Move it to you path for global install

    sudo cp ./ligo /usr/local/bin

    If you choose this method, you will have to manually update the program by reproducing those step.

Check that the installation is correct by opening a terminal and running the command

ligo --version

If you get an error message, start again. If you don't, then let setup our editor.

Setting up the editor

You can see the updated list of supported editor here

In this tutorial, we will use vs-code.

  • For vs-code, simply go to the extension menu in the left bar (Ctrl + Shift + X) and search for the ligo-vscode extension and install it.

  • For emacs, follow the instruction here

  • For vim, follow the instruction here

    Once, you've done it, you are ready to make your first smart-contract

Install the tezos tools

To deploy your smart-contract on the network and to test it, you will need to use a tezos client.

  • On GNU/linux, the simplest way to get tezos-client is through opam using opam install tezos. alternatives are avaliable here

  • On MacOsX, the sowtfare is distributed through a brew formula with brew install tezos.

Building a smart-contract.

In this section and the following one we will use a simple smart-contract that is present as example on our webide. We will cover the ligo language and smart-contract development in the following tutorials.

First, create a ligo_tutorial folder on your computer. Then download and put the contract in this folder. It is availiable in Pascaligo, Cameligo, Reasonligo and Jsligo

In the following, we consider that you are using the Cameligo contract, simply change the extension (.mligo for cameligo, .ligo for pascaligo, .religo for reasonligo, .jsligo) in case you use another one.

Open your editor in the folder and the file in the editor. you should have this code

type storage = int;
type parameter =
| ["Increment", int]
| ["Decrement", int]
| ["Reset"];
type return_ = [list <operation>, storage];
/* Two entrypoints */
const add = ([store, delta] : [storage, int]) : storage => store + delta;
const sub = ([store, delta] : [storage, int]) : storage => store - delta;
/* Main access point that dispatches to the entrypoints according to
the smart contract parameter. */
const main = ([action, store] : [parameter, storage]) : return_ => {
return [
(list([]) as list <operation>), // No operations
(match (action, {
Increment: (n: int) => add ([store, n]),
Decrement: (n: int) => sub ([store, n]),
Reset: () => 0}))

Now we are going to compile the contract, open a terminal in the folder. (or the vs-code built-in terminal with Ctrl+shift+²) and run the following command:

ligo compile contract increment.mligo -o

The compile contract take one parameters, the file you want to compile. The -o parameter indicates to store the result in instead of outputting it in the terminal. By default, the maiin function will be use as entrypoint. To select another entrypoint use -e

Now, you should have a michelson contract in the folder ready to be deploy. But before that, we want to test it to be sure that it behaves as expected, because once publish, it cannot be modified.

Testing the contract

As we can never underline enough the importance of tests in the context of smart-contract. We will now test our contract three times on different levels :

Test the code from the command line

Using the interpret command, one can run ligo code in the context of an init file. For intances

ligo run interpret "<code>" --init-file increment.mligo

will run <code> after evaluating everything in increment.mligo. This is usefull to test arbitrary function and variable in your code.

For intance, to test the add function you can run

ligo run interpret "add(10,32)" --init-file increment.mligo

which should return 42. Running several of this command will cover the complete code.

To run the contract as called on the blockchain, you will prefer the command dry-run which take the contract, the entrypoint, the initial parameter and the initial storage, like so

ligo run dry-run increment.mligo "Increment(32)" "10"

which will return (LIST_EMPTY(), 42).

Combine several of those command to fully test the contract use-cases.

Test the code with ligo test framework.

In ligo, you are able to write test directly in the source file, using the test module.

Add the following line at the end of increment.mligo

const _test_increment = () : unit => {
let initial_storage = 10 as int;
let [taddr, _, _] = Test.originate(main, initial_storage, 0 as tez);
let contr = Test.to_contract(taddr);
let _ = Test.transfer_to_contract_exn(contr, (Increment (1)), 1 as mutez);
return assert(Test.get_storage(taddr) == initial_storage + 1);
const test_increment = _test_increment();

which execute the same test as the previous section.

Now simply run the command

ligo run test increment.mligo

The command will run every function starting with test and return their values.

More on the syntax for the test framework here.

Testing the michelson contract

The ligo compiler is made so the produced michelson program types and correspond to the initial ligo program. However until we have tools for formal verification, we advise testing that the michelson code will behave as the ligo one. For this purpose, you should also write a test for the michelson code.

There is different methods for testing michelson code. In this tutorial we will focus on tezos-client mockup. More information here

This method consist in running a "mockup" tezos chain on our computer, push the contract on the chain and send transaction to the chain to test the contract behavior.

First, create a temporary folder for the mockup chain by runnig

mkdir /tmp/mockup

Now start the node by running

tezos-client \
--protocol PtEdoTezd3RHSC31mpxxo1npxFjoWWcFgQtxapi51Z8TLu6v6Uq \
--base-dir /tmp/mockup \
--mode mockup \
create mockup

This will run the node using the Edo protocol and return a few address, aliased from bootstrap1 to 5. For other version, check tezos-client list mockup protocols

You can now originate the contract to the mock net with :

tezos-client \
--protocol PtEdo2ZkT9oKpimTah6x2embF25oss54njMuPzkJTEi5RqfdZFA \
--base-dir /tmp/mockup \
--mode mockup \
originate contract mockup_testme \
transferring 0 from bootstrap1 \
running \
--init 10 --burn-cap 0.1

you should see a lot of information on the command line and the information New contract ... origninated

You can now start testing the contract.

To check its storage run :

tezos-client \
--protocol PtEdo2ZkT9oKpimTah6x2embF25oss54njMuPzkJTEi5RqfdZFA \
--base-dir /tmp/mockup \
--mode mockup \
get contract storage for mockup_testme

You should see a 10 in your terminal

We are now ready to send a transaction to our contract. We want to send a transaction with parameter "Increment (32)" but the parameter is written is ligo. For that, it must first be converted to a michelson parameter. Which is done by running :

ligo compile parameter increment.mligo "Increment (32)"

Which give you the result (Left (Right 32))

Now we can send our transaction with the command

tezos-client \
--protocol PtEdo2ZkT9oKpimTah6x2embF25oss54njMuPzkJTEi5RqfdZFA \
--base-dir /tmp/mockup \
--mode mockup \
transfer 0 from bootstrap2 \
to mockup_testme \
--arg "(Left (Right 32))" --burn-cap 0.01

The network will again send back many information including the updated storage which should now be equal to 42.

This conclude our section about testing. As a exercice, you can write the test for the other entrypoint (decrease and reset). Once you are sure that the contract work corectly for all the use cases, you can move on to the next section

Publishing the contract

For deploying the contract on tezos, we will use the tezos-client interface like we did on the previous section.

First, you will need an account address. You can get one for testing at the faucet. Download the json file and place it in the ligo_tutorial folder. $!$ The account that you get from the faucet are only temporary

Then we are going to point the client on a tezos node

tezos-client --endpoint config update

This is the testnet, which is a seperate network from Tezos, use for testing.

Once done, activate your account

tezos-client activate account alice with <the name of the json file>

You will receive different messages from the node. The last one should confirm the activation of account Alice

You are now ready to originate your contract

tezos-client originate contract increment \
transferring 0 from alice \
running \
--init 10 --burn-cap 0.1

Again, you will receive several messages from the node and you should get the confirmation that the contract has been published.

You can search your contract on the network using the portal Better call dev

You can know call your contract with

tezos-client call increment from alice \
--arg "(Left (Right 32))" \
--burn-cap 0.1

If you do so, you will see several information on the operation, including the new contract storage.

This conclude this part of our tutorial. You should now be able to compile, test, publish and call a contract. Now you can go to the tacos shop tutorial to know more about programming with Ligo or you can start developping your own contract using the Ligo flavor you are more familiar with.