Web3, Solc, IPFS and IPLD

Web3: JavaScript API for interacting with the Ethereum Virtual Machine

Solidity: Smart Contract Programming Language

IPFS: Distributed File System

This is a quick introduction to calling the Ethereum Virtual Machine using the web3 API, compiling Solidity Smart Contracts, and traversing content addressed data structures on the Interplanetary File System.

These are some of the core technologies that will be used to build  Ðapps.

npm install web3 –save

npm install solc –save

npm install ipfs-api –save

The Ethereum JS Util Library- “ethereumjs-util”: “4.5.0”

The Ethereum JS Transaction Library – “ethereumjs-tx”: “1.1.2”

The first thing we need to do is get testrpc up and running. Depending on the type of machine you have this could be rather straight forward or it may take a while. The link below should point you in the right direction.

Configure testrpc

Sending Transactions

Once your test Ethereum Node is running, instantiate a new web3 object. This can be done by doing the following:

Start up node in the console:

var Web3 = require(“web3”)

var web3 = new Web3(new Web3.providers.HttpProvider(http://localhost:8545))

We can now call different web3 APIs. Test out the connection to TESTRPC by calling:


You will see all 10 accounts generated from the TESTRPC.


You will see the address for the first address generated from the TESTRPC.


You should be returned the balance address from your first TESTRPC address.

Converting from Wei to Ether

web3.fromWei(web3.eth.getBalance(web3.eth.accounts[0]), ‘ether’).toNumber()

var acct1 = web3.eth.accounts[0]

var acct 2 = web3.eth.accounts[1]
var balance = (acct) => { return web3.fromWei(web3.eth.getBalance(acct), ‘ether’).toNumber() }


Send an Ethereum Transaction

web3.eth.sendTransaction({from: acct1, to: acct2, value: web3.toWei(1, ‘ether’), gasLimit: 21000, gasPrice: 2000000000 nonce: })

Send a Raw Ethereum Transaction

var EthTx = require(“ethereumjs-tx”)

var pKey1x = new Buffer(pKey1, ‘hex’)

var rawTx = {

nonce: web3.toHex(web3.eth.getTransactionCount(acct1)),

to: acct2,

gasPrice: web3.toHex(2000000000),

gasLimit: web3.toHex(21000),

value: web3.toHex(web3.toWei(25, ‘ether’)),

data: “”}

var tx = new Ethtx(rawTc0)



web3.eth.sendRawTransaction(Ox${tx.serialize().toString(‘hex’)}`, (error, data) => {

if(!error) { console.log(data) }


Creating Smart Contracts

var Web3 = require(“web3”)

var solc = require(“solc”)

var web3 = new Web3 (new Web3.providers.HttpProvider(http://localhost:8545))

Create a source variable with your Solidity code: (This can be any smart contract code, unless you are trying to import in another contract at the top).

var source = `{ contract Messenger {

function displayMessage() constant returns (string) {

return "This is the message in the smart contract";


var compiled = solc.compile(source)

You can then start to unpack the different parts of the compiled contract:




var abi = JSON.parse(compiled.contracts.Messenger.interface)

In order to deploy the contract to the network you will need the JSON Interface of the Contract, the abi (application binary interface).

var messengerContract = web3.eth.contract(abi)
var deployed = messengerContract.new({

... from: web3.eth.accounts[0],

... data: compiled.contracts.Messenger.bytecode,

... gas: 470000,

... gasPrice: 5,

... }, (error, contract) => { })

You should now see in the testrpc the transaction broadcasted to the network.


Call a Function in the Contract


IPFS  – Hashlink Technology

IPFS defines a new paradigm in the way that we can organize, traverse, and retrieve data using a p2p network that serves hash linked data. This is done by using merkle-links between files that are distributed on the interplanetary file system.

2017-02-14 07_31_46-ipfs_js-ipfs_ IPFS implementation in JavaScript.png

Content-addressing enables unique identifies and unique links between data that lives on the distributed network. It creates distributed, authenticated, hash-linked data structures. This is achieved by Merkle-Links and Merkle-Paths.

A merkle-link is a link between two objects which is content-addressed with the cryptographic hash of the target object, and embedded in the source object. This is the way  the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains work, they are both essentially giant merkle trees; one with blocks of ordered transactions one with computational operations driving state changes.

IPLD – Interplantary Linked Data 

IPLD is a common hash-chain format for distributed data structures. This creates a database agnostic path notation.

any hash –> any data format

This enables cryptographic integrity checking and immutable data structures. Some of the properties of this are longterm archival, versioning, and distributed  mutable state.

It shifts the way you think about fetching content. Content addressing is What vs Where.

A “link” as represented as a JSON object is comprised of the link and the link value:

{ “/” :        “ipfs/0x0 “ }

Link Key             Link Value

Other properties of the link can be defined in the json object as well.

What if we want to create a more dynamic link object. This can be achieved by using a merkle-path.

A Merkle is a unix-style path which initially dereferences through a merkle-link and allows access of elements of the referenced node and other nodes transitively.

This means that you can design an object model on top of IPLD that would be specialized for file manipulation and have specific path algorithms to query this model.

This would look like:


The protocol the hash of the linked object and the traversal

Here are some examples of traversals with the the link JSON object.



This is all essentially a JSON structure for traversing files, navigating through the IPLD object, walking along the ipfs hash to pull arbitrary data that is nested in these data structures.

CID: Content Identifier – format for hash-links

Multihash –  multiple cryptographic hashes

Multicodec  – multiple serialization formats

Multibase – multiple base encodings

2017-02-21 06_09_27-Juan Benet_ Enter the Merkle Forest - YouTube

This is very powerful because we can use Content Identifiers to traverse different crytographic protcols: Bitcoin, Ethereum, ZCash, Git.

We could also link from crypto to Salesforce or a relational DB by using content addressing.

The paths between these now disparate systems can be resolved by using this uniform, immutable, distributed file system.dsContent addressing is a true computational advancement in the way that we think about adding and retrieve content on the web. We can take existing databases and use the various parts of the IPFS protocol to build clusters of nodes that are serving content in the form of IPLD structures.

IPLD enables futureproof, immutable, secure graphs of data the essentially are giants Merkle Trees. The advantages of converting a relational database or key value db into a merkle tree are endless.

The data and named links gives the collection of IPFS objects the structure of a Merkle DAG — DAG meaning Directed Acyclic Graph, and Merkle to signify that this is a cryptographically authenticated data structure that uses cryptographic hashes to address content.

This protocol enables an entirely new way to search and retrieve data. It is no longer about where a file is located on a website. It is now about what exact piece of data you are looking for. If I send you an email with a link in it and 30 days later you click the link, how can you be certain that the data you are looking at is the same as what I original sent you? You can’t.

With IPLD you can use content addressing to know for certain that a piece of content has not changed. You can can traverse the IPLD object and seamlessly pick out piece of the data. By using IPLD once that data is locally cached you can use the application offline.

You can work on an application with other peers around you as well using a shared state. But why is this is important for businesses?

Content addressing for companies will ensure a number of open standards. We can now take fully encrypted private networks that are content addressed.

This is a future proof system. Hashes that are currently used in databased can be broken but now we have multi-hashing protocols.

We can build blockchains that use IPLD and libp2p.

The IPLD resolver uses two main pieces; the bitswap and the blocks-service.

Bitswap is transferring blocks and blocks-services is determining what needs to be fetched based on what is currently in the local cache and what needs to be fetched. This prevents duplication and increase efficiencies in the system.

We will be creating a resolver for the enterprise that enables them to take their existing noSQL key value and convert them into giant merkle trees that are interoperable. IPLD is like a global adapter for cryptographic protocols.

2017-02-23 04_34_00-Juan Benet_ Enter the Merkle Forest - YouTube

Creating the Enterprise Forrest

We can create a plug and play system of resolvers for IPLD.

We will resolve the database and run a blockchain in parallel. This blockchain will be built using two protocols that are from the IPFS project: ipld and libp2p

The IPLD Resolver for the enterprise will consist of






We will take any enterprise noSQL database (as long as there is a key value store) and build out the content addressed merkle tree on it.

Content Addressing enterprise content on IPFS-Clusters

Enterprise can consist of 10,000 nodes 50,000 nodes 100,000 nodes and the IPLD object has to be under 1 MB.

That all will be hosting the merkle tree mirror of the relational database.

This can also enable offline operation for the network. Essentially they have their own protocol that is mirroring their on-premise system.

This makes data migration a lot easier or not even necessary in the future. Once the data is content addressed and creates the merkle tree, we can then start traversing the data.

We will also build interfaces that can interact with the IPLD data

IPLD is a format that can enable version control. The resolver will essentially take any database, any enterprise implementation, and convert it into a merkle tree.

We are essentially planting the seeds (product) and watering them (services). Once these trees are all in place that can communicating because they are all using the same data format.

Future Proofing your Business

We are creating distributed, authenticated, hash-linked data structures. IPLD is a common hash-chain format for distributed data structures.

Each node in these merkle trees will have a unique Content Identified – a format for these hash-links.

This is a database agnostic path notation any hash – any data format.

This will have a multihash – multiple cryptographic hashes, multicodec – multiple serialization formats, multibase – multiple base encodings

2017-02-21 06_07_30-Juan Benet_ Enter the Merkle Forest - YouTube

Again, why is the important for businesses? The most important is transparency and security, this is a tamper proof, tamper evident database that can be shared, traversed, replicated, distributed, cached, encrypted and you know now exactly WHAT you are linking to, not where. You know which hash function to verify with. You know what base it is in.

This new protocol enables cryptographic systems to interoperate over a p2p network that serves hash linked data.

IPFS 0.4.5 includes that dag command that can be used to traverse IPLD objects.

Now to write the dag-sql resolver.

Take any existing relational database and you can now traverse that database content addressing.

Content Addressing your database to a cluster of IPFS Cluster nodes on a private encrypted network.

Deterministic head of the cluster then writes new entries.

2017-02-21 06_25_06-Juan Benet_ Enter the Merkle Forest - YouTube

We use the Ethereum network to assign a key pair for your users to leverage the mobile interface. You can sign in via fingerprint or by facial recognition using the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit. Your database will run in parallel , you will keep your on premise system and have a content addressed. Content Addressing a filesystem or any type of database creates a Merkle DAG. With this Merkle DAG we can format your data in a way that is secure, immutable, tamper proof, futureproof and able to communicate with other underlying network protocols and apllication stacks. We can effectively create a blockchain network out of your exisiting database the runs securely on a cluster of p2p nodes. This is an IPFS-Cluster. Here are the commands that can add / remove CIDS from peers in the cluster:


2017-04-30 10_25_12-ipfs_ipfs-cluster_ Collective pinning and composition for IPFS.

2017-05-02 02_29_29-Zoomit Zoom Window




I am planting business merkle dag seeds in the merkle forrest. Patches of these forrest will be able to communicate with other protocols via and hash and in any format.

This is the way that the internet will work going into the future. A purely decentralized web of business trees.


2017-04-17 05_10_20-https___protocol.ai_img_projects_logotype_IPLD.svg

Solidity and the Ethereum Virtual Machine

Welcome to the first decentralized global computational machine.

Over the past couple weeks I have been reading the Homestead release notes, the Solidity Documentation, watching youtube videos about Ethereum; really just an all out effort on trying to understand what this protocol is and why it is a technological successor to Bitcoin. In trying to explain it to others(or even write about it on here) I come to the notion that it is:

A global cryptographic, decentralized, immutable, permissionless world computer.

And in relation to the protocols of that which it is built on.

Internet = Communications

Bitcoin = Money

Ethereum = Computation

Without the Internet Bitcoin could have never existed and without Bitcoin, Ethereum could have never existed.

Now that’s a bold claim but I’m willing to make in that I truly believe that the predecessor technology has enabled this new paradigm in decentralized computing.

Bitcoin has and will continue to enable an unimaginable number of new and disruptive applications which will impact a number of verticals. I use my Shift card every day, wake up and check the price with an eye half open, and I anticipate my full attention will be back as we approach The Halvening. But right now, I want to learn how to write Smart Contracts in the Solidity programming language. I want to know how these contracts are compiled onto the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). And how this is powering the next generation of peer-to-peer technology.

Installation and Setup

Download the latest Ethereum Wallet

Install Mix IDE, the IDE for authoring Smart Contracts using the High Level Language Solidity.

Program Solidity contracts on Visual Studio

You can also use the Online Compiler

The Ethereum Computer

The EVM is stack-based execution environment that uses Smart Contracts (similar to object-oriented classes) and HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create dApps. When you are running a decentralized application (dApp), every instruction is executed on every node of the network. This means the operands for the instructions are taken from the stack, and it is also where the results are added. This is the low level assembly code of the EVM and the resulting flow-control functions that can be found in the Ethereum Yellow Paper. Items are pushed to the Stack and can be manipulated using POP (remove top item from the stack), SWAP (Swap item order on the stack / Limit of 16 elements), and DUP (copy and order new item on top of the stack).

Memory and Calldata

The stack also extends Memory and Calldata to be used in during program execution. Memory is an expandable byte-array used to store data during program execution. It can be accessed using the MSTORE and MLOAD instructions. Calldata is a byte-array, just like memory, but it is read-only. It contains the data from the transaction that triggered the code execution in the Contract.


Storage is a map used for fields in contracts. A contract can neither write nor read any storage other that its own. Essentially it is permanently storing the state variables within the contract.

Elements of the Ethereum Smart Contract

Contracts in Solidity are similar to classes in object-oriented languages. Each contract can contain declarations of:

  • State Variables
  • Functions
  • Function Modifiers
  • Events
  • Structs Types
  • Enum Types

with Parameters of:

  • The gas-price I want to pay (gasPrice).
  • The maximum amount of gas that may be spent (gas).
  • The amount of ether I want to transfer (value).
  • My account address (from).
  • The target account address (to).
  • The nonce (nonce).
  • The transaction data (data).

A smart contract’s code resides in a Contract Account. It is unalterable once deployed.

Accounts in Ethereum

There are two kinds of accounts on the Ethereum network: Externally Owned Accounts (Public-Private Key) and Contract Accounts.

Externally Owned Account (EOAs): an account controlled by a private key, and if you own the private key associated with the EOA you have the ability to send ether and messages from it.

  • Can have an Ether balance.
  • Can send transactions.
  • Are controlled by private keys.
  • Has no code.

Contract Accounts (CA): an account that has its own code, and is controlled by code.

  • Can have an Ether balance.
  • Can send transactions.
  • Can send messages.
  • Contracts are controlled by their contract code.
  • Only send transactions in response to other transactions that they have received. Therefore, all action on the Ethereum blockchain is set in motion by transactions fired from Externally Owned Accounts.
  • Every time a contract account receives a transaction its code activates, allowing it to read and write to internal storage and send other transactions/messages or create contracts.

EOA0 —-Transaction–> CA1 = Activate Code in CA1

CA1 —– Messages —> CA2, CA3, CA4= Perform functions in CA2, CA3, CA4

EOA1 —– Transaction —-> EOA2 = Send Ether EOA2


Ether, the currency used in Ethereum, is exchanged for computation on the platform. Gas is the name for the execution fee for every operation made on an Ethereum blockchain. Its price is expressed in ether and it’s decided by the miners, which can refuse to process transaction with less than a certain gas price. To get gas you simply need to add ether to your account. The Ethereum client automatically converts Ether to gas and gas to Ether when transactions are processed.


When a transaction is sent from an EOA to a CA, it is sent with input code and Ether. The input code and ether is then processed by the Contract Account, thereby activating itself and thus executes its code. A CA can then send a message out to other (CA) contracts.The contracts are essentially talking and passing messages between themselves, in this way, sending a message is exactly like calling a function. This could produce another smart contract, send Ether to another address, register a vote of confidence, open a door to a house; virtually any sort of call to or update to the state of the decentralized network.

The total cost of a transaction is based on 2 factors:

  • gasUsed is the total gas that is consumed by the transaction
  • gasPrice price (in ether) of one unit of gas specified in the transaction

Total cost = gasUsed * gasPrice

An EOA can also send a transaction to another EOA and nothing happens accept transfer some Ether (P2P payment or ether).


Visit the Solidity website to see example Smart Contracts and write and edit them within your wallet. You will be able to use Electron by Shapeshift to deposit bitcoin in exchange for Ether so you pay the mining fee and begin deploying your first smart contracts.

Start with the following three example smart contracts.

Create a cryptocurrency

Crowdfund your idea

Create a DAO

A new block is created every 15 seconds in Ethereum. Essentially you are sending binary data to invoke state transition rules through EVM bytecode at the assembly level thus updating the distributed state of the blockchain; AKA deploying your Smart Contract.

Mining Ether = Securing the Network = Verifying Computation on the Global Computer

Next: 3 RaspPi3’s, 32GB SD cards each a running the Ethereum computer (Web3.0, next-generation peer-to-peer technology platform) running on each…

Final Thoughts

Watch Ethereum for Dummies – Dr. Gavin Wood

A global cryptographic, decentralized, immutable, permissionless world computer.

Internet = Communications

Bitcoin = Finance

Etheruem = Computation



This thing is AWESOME! I have been deploying contracts, sending transactions, and it’s all (near) real time. I can create a couple wallets and a couple cryptocurrencies and exchange them back and forth all confirming within 12 confirmations < a minute or 2. It’s pretty wild to keep the network stats up on on one screen the Wallet on the other and see them contracts confirm. Working on the front end now, possibly Salesforce integration + React.


Ethereum White Paper

Ethereum Yellow Paper