Developer Libraries

Let’s say that you’re a developer. You’ve read through the book so far, and you’re excited to get started working with the ecosystem. How do you get started? Well the first place you want to get started is probably interacting with some of the data markets that are out there already. How can you do that?

Let’s take a quick detour and talk through how interactions with smart contract systems on Ethereum work. Recall that Ethereum is a system that runs on thousands of nodes, each of which verify and execute every transaction that happens on the network. Talking to a smart contract system involves talking with one of these nodes, which will then propagate your transaction out to the network at broad.

For this transaction to be actually entered into the on-chain state, it needs to be “mined.” That is, it has to be processed by an Ethereum miner. We haven’t discussed Ethereum mining much, but for now, think of it as a sort of “validation process” by which new transactions are appended to the blockchain (a “block” is basically a batch of transactions). Typically a miner has to be incentivized to do this work (there’s a lot of competition for miner time), so transactions are usually bundled with a gas fee which pays out to the miner. This is worth pausing and thinking about. Every interaction with the Ethereum ecosystem, and with the Computable contracts, will cost you real money.

This creates an interesting set of dynamics. For example, the set of transactions required to get a listing candidate listed will take about $1 (more or less) in gas fees. Nothing is free. This rule of thumb should inform a lot of your thinking as you interact with the ecosystem.

In particular, this means that you’ll need to be set up with some Ethereum basics. You’ll need control of an Ethereum address which has some funds to pay for gas fees. The easiest way to do this is probably installing an Ethereum wallet such as metamask. You’ll then need to purchase some ETH from an exchange such as Coinbase and transfer ETH from your exchange wallet to your personal wallet. We recommend starting with small amounts of money. It’s really easy to make mistakes and there are no take-backsies on the blockchain.

Once you have a wallet set up, you’ll still need a way to programmatically interact with the Ethereum ecosystem. The Ethereum community has built a number of developer libraries to facilitate this access. The most popular are probably web3.js and These libraries are very handy, but they’re somewhat low-level. They provide you the nuts and bolts you need to construct Ethereum transactions from scratch. This gives you a really useful substrate to do many things with Ethereum, but it will take you some significant effort with them before you can start interacting with Computable contracts.

For this reason, we’ve built the and computable.js libraries. These libraries provide higher-order object oriented interfaces to the Computable contracts. For example, let’s check out the EtherToken class in

from computable.contracts.erc20 import ERC20

class EtherToken(ERC20):
    def at(self, w3, address):
        super().at(w3, address, 'ethertoken')

    def deposit(self, amount, opts=None):
        @param amount An amount of ETH, in wei, sent as msg.value
        @param opts Transact Opts for this send type method
        opts = self.assign_transact_opts({'gas': self.get_gas('deposit'), 'value': amount}, opts)
        return self.deployed.functions.deposit(), opts

    def withdraw(self, amount, opts=None):
        @param amount An amount of ETH, in wei, to withdraw from this contract
        by its owner
        opts = self.assign_transact_opts({'gas': self.get_gas('withdraw')}, opts)
        return self.deployed.functions.withdraw(amount), opts

We won’t go into too much detail, but you can see how the major functionality of EtherToken (depositing and withdrawing funds) are exposed as methods. You can use this and similar classes to easily write readable code that interacts with the Computable contracts.

Last Thoughts

You’ve seen a bit about how to interact with Computable programmatically through the developer libraries. But what are some of the flows you might want to know about for getting things done? You’ll learn more in the next chapter

Next Chapter