New releases of Truffle & TestRPC. Now easier to install.

I have mentioned previously that Truffle & TestRPC are my development tools of choice for Ethereum based development.

truffle logo

It is exciting to see that there have been new releases of both Truffle & TestRPC. I have been hanging out in the Truffle Gitter channel, and been fielding lots of questions about installation issues on Windows. As Tim has previously blogged, there have been a number of issues with installation. The installation issues were mostly due to compiling C based libraries, and requiring a number of build tools on the local machine. These issues have now been removed as Truffle & TestRPC are both now built, and then released as a completely pre-packaged release. This also means that installation times have dropped from 10 minutes, to 10 seconds! (Which means I’ll need to go back and update some of my old tutorials 🙂)

 

Truffle

Highlights: More reliable installation. Makes it easier for everyone to jump in and start playing!
https://github.com/trufflesuite/truffle/releases/tag/v3.3.0

TestRPC

Highlights: Installs quicker. Reduced memory consumption. Ability to persist the blockchain to disk, meaning you can suspend and then resume if you like  (I’ll still be using it mostly as a throw away in memory style dev environment).
https://github.com/ethereumjs/testrpc/releases/tag/v4.0.0

Whats next?

I’ve been waiting in suspense for these updated installers to drop for many months now. There have been a couple of projects on my backlog that had been blocked until this came out. A short list of what I’ll be working on in the near term are:

  • Updated installation documentation (for Windows & Ubuntu)
  • Video tutorials showing how to install and get started with Truffle & TestRPC
  • New DevOps tutorials. The easier self contained install makes a couple of scenarios much easier now.

 

Reghack “Down Under” event roundup

Reghack was a 3 day hackfest that ran in Melbourne, Australia https://reghack.org/

The problem statement asked:
Do you have an interest in helping solve regulatory issues in the Financial Services and the Energy Sector in Australia?
How do we use RegTech to make regulatory compliance a strategic advantage that’s a win for the regulator, market participants and the consumer?

The focus of the event was to try and invigorate local innovation in the energy & financial services sectors, by allowing people to come together and explore how Blockchain could be utilised in these areas. The event was the brainchild of Chami Akmeemana https://www.linkedin.com/in/chami1/ who is a director of ConsenSys, the largest Blockchain focused consulting company in the world. Chami came to Melbourne and asked for local community support to help him organise and run the event. I was lucky enough to be tapped by Chami and invited to assist. I helped out by providing sponsorship for the meals via Microsoft, and delivered training to help upskill the community beforehand (more about that below).

The event had around 90 participants, with many more volunteers on the day. In the end 14 teams pitched their ideas which ranged from energy trading systems, ways to authenticate documents, to ways to eliminate GST during B2B transactions.
A big thanks to Chami for organising it all, and to all the volunteers that helped make the event a resounding success.

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Note: The roundup of the teams pitches are at the bottom of this post.

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I’m delivering two talks at Microsoft Ignite Australia on Blockchain development

I’m excited to be delivering 2 talks at Microsoft Ignite Australia this year, both of them are on Blockchain development. I’ll be able to share my experience so far with developing solutions on the Blockchain with some of our customers.

Blockchain 101 & Azure Blockchain as a Service

https://msftignite.com.au/sessions/session-details/2485/blockchain-101-azure-blockchain-as-a-service-cld213
You keep hearing about the Blockchain, but do you really understand what it is, and the potential impact it will have on practically all industries? Join us as we cover: What the Blockchain is, Some scenarios showing potential use cases to put it into context, and then how Azure Blockchain as a Service can help you get started today.

Blockchain Development on Azure Blockchain as a Service

https://msftignite.com.au/sessions/session-details/2484/blockchain-development-on-azure-blockchain-as-a-service-cld424
This deep dive session will show the frameworks and tools you can start using today to develop Blockchain based applications and smart contracts. Then how to use the Azure Blockchain as a Service to configure a private consortium, or development Blockchain environment. This is a level 400 session, it is HIGHLY recommended that you attend the Blockchain 101 session before this. I’ll be utilising the Truffle framework http://truffleframework.com/

 

 

Ethereum DevOps with Truffle, TestRPC & Visual Studio Team Services

I have been working on automating the compilation and testing of Ethereum solidity contracts, via the use of Truffle. I’ve got the test results being published back into the portal, allowing me to see on each commit if my code still compiles and passes my tests.

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I’m assuming you already have a Truffle project locally that you want to automate the continuous builds & testing on. Follow my tutorial on installing Truffle & TestRPC on Windows.

My final system will allow you to run “truffle test” locally to see standard test output, but will modify the test runner on the server to output it as JUnit format.

The Build system

The system uses the Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) build engine to automate this. You can sign up for free, and get unlimited private Git repos.
You can have the code hosted on any Git provider. So either within VSTS itself, or GitHub, BitBucket, etc.

Prepare truffle.js

A pre-step is to define the  test section in the truffle.js file

mocha: {
reporter: “spec”,
reporterOptions: {
mochaFile: ‘junitresults.xml’
}
}

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Create a build agent

VSTS does provide hosted build agents, which are generic and can build standard .Net projects, Xamarin, etc. But because we are going to use npm packages installed globally on the box to handle the Truffle builds

  • Create a new Windows VM (Can be your own hosted server, or Azure).
    e.g. Windows Server 2016 Datacentre edition on Azure
  • Install the VSTS build agent. Instructions at https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/docs/build/admin/agents/v2-windows
    Note: DON’T select to run service as NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK, this will not work with TestRPC (needs to open ports).
    Run the service as another user, or NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM
  • Install chocolatey
    https://chocolatey.org/install
  • Install these chocolatey packages
    • choco install git -y
    • choco install nodejs.install –
  • Install npm packages (make sure you open a new PowerShell window so that node is in your path)
    • npm install -g npm
    • npm install -g –production windows-build-tools
    • npm install -g ethereumjs-testrpc
    • npm install -g truffle
    • npm install -g mocha
    • npm install -g mocha-junit-reporter
  • Restart the build agent so that all new paths are working

Configure VSTS build

    • Create a new variable with the path to where the npm global path is, for the user you installed the npm packages on above
      variable name: npm.path
      variable value: path to npm packages e.g. C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\npm
      image
    • Add 7 PowerShell tasks, and configure them like this
      • Name: System version information
        Script:
        #Setting environment paths
        $ENV:Path = $ENV:Path + “;” + $env:npm_path
        npm config set prefix $env:npm_path    #only needs to be set once, will update for user
        #DEBUG
        #$env:path
        #npm list -g –depth=0
        #Display system information
        Write-Host “System version information”
        Write-Host -nonewline    “node version: ” ; node -v
        Write-Host -nonewline    “npm version: “; npm -v
        Write-Host -nonewline    “npm prefix: “;  npm prefix -g
        Write-Host -nonewline    “truffle: ” ;    truffle version
        image
    • Name: Config transform & test clean
      Script:
      # remove old test results
      rm .\junitresults.xml -ea SilentlyContinue
       

      # Modify the Truffle test runner to use the JUnit reporter
      Rename-Item .\truffle.js .\truffle_temp.js
      cat .\truffle_temp.js | % { $_ -replace ‘reporter: “spec”‘, ‘reporter: “mocha-junit-reporter”‘ } | Out-File -Encoding ASCII .\truffle.js
      rm .\truffle_temp.js
      image

    • Name: Truffle build
      Script:
      #Setting environment paths
      $ENV:Path = $ENV:Path + “;” + $env:npm_path
      #Truffle build
      truffle compile
      image
    • Name: Launch TestRPC
      Script:
      #Setting environment paths
      $ENV:Path = $ENV:Path + “;” + $env:npm_path
      # launch the process
      echo “launching TestRPC”
      $testrpcProcess = Start-Process testrpc -passthru
      # persist the PID to disk and display in logs
      $testrpcProcess.Id | Export-CliXml testrpcPID.xml
      cat testrpcPID.xml

      image

    • Name: Run Truffle tests
      Script:
      #Setting environment paths
      $ENV:Path = $ENV:Path + “;” + $env:npm_path
      # Run the tests
      truffle test
      image
    • Name: Shutdown TestRPC
      Other Settings: Enable “Always Run” (to make sure it is shutdown if there is an error)
      Script:
      #Setting environment paths
      $ENV:Path = $ENV:Path + “;” + $env:npm_path
      # retrieve the PID and kill the entire processs tree
      cat testrpcPID.xml
      $testrpcPID = Import-CliXml testrpcPID.xml
      taskkill /pid $testrpcPID /F /T
      image
  • Add a new Publish test result
    • Test Result Format: JUnit
      Test Result Files: junitresults.xml
      image

 

Future work

Things that I would like to add in the future:

  • Figure out how to automate this on a Linux build agent (VSTS supports both Windows & Linux based build agents)
  • Automate Release Management to run “truffle migrate” to push to a Bletchley test environment

Configuring Visual Studio code for Ethereum Blockchain development

Visual Studio code is a great tool for editing Solidity smart contracts, and is available on Windows, Mac & Linux. There is a great plugin that enables Syntax highlighting, snippets, and compiling of the current contract (if you aren’t using an external tool) https://github.com/juanfranblanco/vscode-solidity/

This configuration works really well with Truffle (as shown in the final screenshot). You can read how to install Truffle on Windows in my previous post https://davidburela.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/how-to-install-truffle-testrpc-on-windows-for-blockchain-development/

Step 1: Install Visual Studio code
https://code.visualstudio.com/

Easy option on Windows: Just install via https://chocolatey.org/ by using the command
choco install VisualstudioCode –y

Step 2: Install Visual Studio extensions
Go into the extensions section, then install these plugins:

  • solidity
  • Material Icon Theme

image

Step 3: Enable icon theme
File –> Preferences –> File Icon Themeimage

Final result: Sexy workspace
image

How to install Truffle & TestRPC on Windows for Blockchain development

I have been doing a bunch of Blockchain development work, one of which was recently featured on the front page of the Australian Financial Review and on Microsoft’s news website.

One of the trickiest things has been trying to get Windows environments correctly configured, as the tools are npm based and want to be compiled natively and assumes it is on a Linux machine. Here is the simplest install script I have found

Step 0. Pre-step:

Step 1. Install windows tools with chocolatey:
Open a PowerShell prompt as Administrator

image

Step 2. Install the tools via npm:
Open a NEW PowerShell prompt as Administrator (to ensure that it reloads )

  • npm install -g npm
  • npm install -g –production windows-build-tools
  • npm install -g ethereumjs-testrpc
  • npm install -g truffle

You may see some error messages during npm installs. Many of these are just informational / optional components failing. You can test that it is all working by trying to run the commands truffle and testrpc.
imageimage

 

Bonus Step: combining with Visual Studio Code
This is how I use Truffle & Visual Studio code together. Make sure you install and configure Visual Studio Code with the Solidity extensions.
If you navigate into the folder where your files are, typing “code .” will open Visual Studio Code in the current folder. Running the command after a truffle init gets you up and running quickly

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