Overview page background
HomeOverviewsLayer 2
How to Start Developing on Arbitrum

How to Start Developing on Arbitrum

Alchemy headshot

Written by Alchemy

Brady Werkheiser headshot

Reviewed by Brady Werkheiser

Published on 2022-10-194 min read

Arbitrum is an Ethereum layer-2 blockchain that uses optimistic rollups to provide developers with greater scalability and lower gas costs than running dapps on Ethereum's base layer blockchain while benefiting from Ethereum's layer 1 security.

If you're interested in learning how to develop Arbitrum, this article will be perfect for you! In this guide, we will walk you through the steps necessary to start coding on the Arbitrum network.

What Is Arbitrum?

Arbitrum is a layer-2 optimistic rollup blockchain that helps to scale the main Ethereum chain while remaining trustlessly secure. While it is based on Ethereum's Virtual Machine (EVM), Arbitrum offers a unique design that makes it much more scalable and user-friendly than the Ethereum network.

In addition, Arbitrum smart contracts are EVM-compatible meaning they work with existing Ethereum tooling, wallets, and dapps. Arbitrum was created as one of the Ethereum scaling solutions available to create low cost smart contracts and to address long transaction times.

The Arbitrum Virtual Machine, which runs on ArbOS, helps act as a record-keeper, traffic cop, and enforcer for the execution of smart contracts on the Arbitrum chain.

How to Start Developing on Arbitrum

Before you start developing on Arbitrum, it is important to understand how the blockchain works and configure a few prerequisites:

  1. Hardhat

  2. An Alchemy account

  3. A web3 wallet (E.g. MetaMask, Apex, etc.)

1. Understand How Arbitrum Works

Before you start developing on Arbitrum, it's important to have a good understanding of how the platform works. You can read the Arbitrum Whitepaper to learn more about the technical details.

According to Offchain Labs, the team who created and maintains Arbitrum, the architecture of Arbitrum is as follows: Users and service providers are part of the off-chain on the left, and the Arbitrum system consists of Layer 1 and Layer 2 on the right.

Arbitrum is a layer-2 rollup solution (green) that sits on top of Layer-1 Ethereum chain (orange).

How Arbitrum works
Source: Offchain Labs

In addition, the Arbitrum team has created several resources to help developers get started, including an overview of the platform and a step-by-step guide to creating your first smart contract.

2. Download Hardhat (Integrated Development Environment)

There are two ways to develop on Arbitrum: using the online IDE or by setting up a local development environment. Either way, you’ll need to choose and configure an IDE for Solidity development before you start.

For this article we will build with Hardhat, a local development environment. Once you're done with installing Hardhat, create a Hardhat project.

3. Create An Arbitrum App on Alchemy

To deploy a smart contract, you will need an Arbitrum RPC node. Fortunately, you don't need to run your own Arbitrum node, instead you can sign up for Alchemy for free and create an app on the Arbitrum-Goerli testnet.

Once you're signed up, here's what to do:

  1. Click on the Dashboard

  2. Click "Create App"

  3. Pick a name for your app

  4. Select the Arbitrum Nitro Goerli testnet.

  5. Then click "Create App"

Your app should appear in the Alchemy Dashboard.

4. Get Fake ETH from the Goerli Faucet

In order to interact with Arbitrum contracts on the Arbitrum-Goerli testnet, you'll need some test ETH and an Arb-Goerli RPC endpoint.

The easiest way to get Goerli ETH is from a faucet.

  1. Add Arbitrum to MetaMask

  2. Go to the Goerli faucet

  3. Enter your Ethereum address

  4. You should receive Goerli ETH in your MetaMask wallet in a few minutes

To check if you've received the ETH from the faucet, go into the MetaMask settings, and under Advanced, select "Show test networks".

If you're using the Goerli faucet that's compatible with the Arbitrum Nitro Testnet, here is how to bridge Goerli tokens to Arbitrum Nitro.

5. Write, Compile, and Deploy Your Smart Contract

At this point, you will be able to start writing your smart contract. Follow the steps in the Alchemy docs to build a simple "Hello World" smart contract. You can also follow this Hello World video tutorial on how to write, compile, and deploy the "Hello World" smart contract. This github repo contains all the scripts covered in the video.

Once you're done writing your contract, compile it using Hardhat, connect to an Ethereum client (Ganache or Geth), and use the hardhat deploy command to deploy your contract.

If you want more inspiration, be sure to take a look at the Offchain Labs GitHub monorepo for demo examples such as a Pet Shop dapp and an Election dapp.

6. Interact With and Submit Your Smart Contract to Etherscan

After you've created your smart contract, you'll need to learn how to interact with a smart contract for it to be useful! Watch this video tutorial on how to read and interact with a smart contract.

The video will run you through the following steps:

  • Create an interact.js file

  • Update your env. file

  • Grab your contract ABI

  • Create a contract instance

  • Read and update the init message

Once done, you're ready to publish your contract to Etherscan. Watch this video to learn how to verify your contract on Etherscan.

This is done by:

  • Installing the hardhat-etherscan plugin

  • Changing the Etherscan config options

  • Verifying the smart contract on Etherscan

All transactions on Arbitrum can be seen on the Arbitrum block explorer.

7. Integrate Your Smart Contract With a Frontend

Creating and seeing your smart contract being published to Etherscan isn't the end! You'll now need to integrate your smart contract with a frontend interface.

The tutorial will cover these steps:

  • Cloning the starter files

  • Check out the starter files

  • Read from the smart contract

  • Set up an Ethereum wallet

  • Connect MetaMask to UI

  • Implement the updateMessage function

  • Make your own dApp

Congratulations! You just developed your own simple dApp on Arbitrum! 🎉

Ever since Arbitrum's mainnet launch, a growing number of developers have been building Arbitrum smart contracts on the blockchain, and learning how to develop on Arbitrum is an important step in becoming a well-rounded Solidity developer.

Before launching your smart contract to Arbitrum's mainnet, remember to test your dapp thoroughly on testnets and consider hiring a smart contract auditing company to test your contracts for vulnerabilities.

Overview cards background graphic
Section background image

Build blockchain magic

Alchemy combines the most powerful web3 developer products and tools with resources, community and legendary support.

Get your API key