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Getting Started with

In this guide, we will create our first smart contract. We will build a simple private counter. This contract will get you started with the basic setup and syntax of, but doesn't showcase the awesome stuff Aztec is capable of.

If you already have some experience with Noir and want to build a cooler contract that utilizes both private and public state, you might want to check out the token contract tutorial instead.


  • You have followed the quickstart
  • Running Aztec Sandbox

Set up a project

Create a new directory called aztec-private-counter

mkdir aztec-private-counter

then create a contracts folder inside where our contract will live:

cd aztec-private-counter
mkdir contracts

Inside contracts create the following file structure:

| |-contracts
| | |--counter
| | | |--src
| | | | |
| | | |--Nargo.toml

The file will soon turn into our smart contract!

Add the following content to Nargo.toml:

name = "counter"
type = "contract"
authors = [""]
compiler_version = ">=0.18.0"

aztec = { git="", tag="aztec-packages-v0.16.1", directory="yarn-project/aztec-nr/aztec" }
value_note = { git="", tag="aztec-packages-v0.16.1", directory="yarn-project/aztec-nr/value-note"}
easy_private_state = { git="", tag="aztec-packages-v0.16.1", directory="yarn-project/aztec-nr/easy-private-state"}

Define the functions

Go to and start with this contract initialization:

contract Counter {

This defines a contract called Counter.


We need to define some imports.

Write this within your contract at the top

use dep::aztec::{
context::{PrivateContext, Context},
utils as note_utils,
use dep::value_note::{
use dep::easy_private_state::easy_private_state::EasyPrivateUint;
Source code: /yarn-project/noir-contracts/src/contracts/counter_contract/src/

context::{PrivateContext, Context}

Context gives us access to the environment information such as msg.sender. We are also importing PrivateContext to access necessary information for our private functions. We’ll be using it in the next step.


Map is a private state variable that functions like a dictionary, relating Fields to other state variables. You can learn more about it here.


Notes are fundamental to how Aztec manages privacy. A note is a privacy-preserving representation of an amount of tokens associated with an address, while encrypting the amount and owner. In this contract, we are using the value_note library. This is a type of note interface for storing a single Field, eg a balance - or, in our case, a counter.

We are also using balance_utils from this import, a useful library that allows us to utilize value notes as if they are simple balances.


This allows us to store our counter in a way that acts as an integer, abstracting the note logic.

Implement a Storage struct

In this step, we will initiate a Storage struct to store balances in a private way. The vast majority smart contracts will need this.

struct Storage {
counters: Map<EasyPrivateUint>,
Source code: /yarn-project/noir-contracts/src/contracts/counter_contract/src/

We are only storing one variable - counts as a Map of EasyPrivateUint. This means our count will act as a private integer, and we can map it to an address.

impl Storage {
fn init(context: Context) -> pub Self {
Storage {
counters: Map::new(
|context, slot| {
EasyPrivateUint::new(context, slot)
Source code: /yarn-project/noir-contracts/src/contracts/counter_contract/src/

This init method is creating and initializing a Storage instance. This instance includes a Map named counters. Each entry in this Map represents an account's counter.

Keep the counter private

Now we’ve got a mechanism for storing our private state, we can start using it to ensure the privacy of balances.

Let’s create a constructor method to run on deployment that assigns an initial supply of tokens to a specified owner. In the constructor we created in the first step, write this:

fn constructor(headstart: u120, owner: Field) {
let counters = storage.counters;, owner);
Source code: /yarn-project/noir-contracts/src/contracts/counter_contract/src/

This function accesses the counts from storage. Then it assigns the passed initial counter to the owner's counter privately using at().add().

We have annotated this and other functions with #[aztec(private)] which are ABI macros so the compiler understands it will handle private inputs. Learn more about functions and annotations here.

Incrementing our counter

Now let’s implement the increment function we defined in the first step.

fn increment(owner: Field) {
let counters = storage.counters;, owner);
Source code: /yarn-project/noir-contracts/src/contracts/counter_contract/src/

The increment function works very similarly to the constructor, but instead directly adds 1 to the counter rather than passing in an initial count parameter.

Prevent double spending

Because our counters are private, the network can't directly verify if a note was spent or not, which could lead to double-spending. To solve this, we use a nullifier - a unique identifier generated from each spent note and its owner. Although this isn't really an issue in this simple smart contract, Aztec requires a contract that has any private functions to include this function.

Add a new function into your contract as shown below:

unconstrained fn compute_note_hash_and_nullifier(contract_address: Field, nonce: Field, storage_slot: Field, preimage: [Field; VALUE_NOTE_LEN]) -> [Field; 4] {
let note_header = NoteHeader::new(contract_address, nonce, storage_slot);
note_utils::compute_note_hash_and_nullifier(ValueNoteMethods, note_header, preimage)
Source code: /yarn-project/noir-contracts/src/contracts/counter_contract/src/

Here, we're computing both the note hash and the nullifier. The nullifier computation uses Aztec’s compute_note_hash_and_nullifier function, which takes details about the note's attributes eg contract address, nonce, storage slot, and preimage.

Getting a counter

The last thing we need to implement is the function in order to retrieve a counter. In the getCounter we defined in the first step, write this:

unconstrained fn get_counter(owner: Field) -> Field {
let counters = storage.counters;
Source code: /yarn-project/noir-contracts/src/contracts/counter_contract/src/

This function is unconstrained which allows us to fetch data from storage without a transaction. We retrieve a reference to the owner's counter from the counters Map. The get_balance function then operates on the owner's counter. This yields a private counter that only the private key owner can decrypt.

Test with the CLI

Now we've written a simple smart contract, it's time to ensure everything works by testing with the CLI.

Compile the smart contract

In the root of the nargo project, run this:

aztec-cli compile .

This will compile the smart contract and create a target folder with a .json artifact inside.


You can use the previously generated artifact to deploy the smart contract. Our constructor takes two arguments - initial_counter and owner so let's make sure to pass those in.

initial_counter can be any uint. In this guide we'll pick 100, but you can pick anything.

For the owner you can get the account addresses in your sandbox by running:

aztec-cli get-accounts

This will return something like this:

➜ counter aztec-cli get-accounts
Accounts found:

Address: 0x25048e8c1b7dea68053d597ac2d920637c99523651edfb123d0632da785970d0
Public Key: 0x27c20118733174347b8082f578a7d8fb84b3ad38be293715eee8119ee5cd8a6d0d6b7d8124b37359663e75bcd2756f544a93b821a06f8e33fba68cc8029794d9
Partial Address: 0x077fed6015ea2e4aabfd566b16d9528e79dc0f1d8573716a3f4de1f02962e8c9

Address: 0x115f123bbc6cc6af9890055821cfba23a7c4e8832377a32ccb719a1ba3a86483
Public Key: 0x08145e8e8d46f51cda8d4c9cad81920236366abeafb8d387002bad879a3e87a81570b04ac829e4c007141d856d5a36d3b9c464e0f3c1c99cdbadaa6bb93f3257
Partial Address: 0x092908a7140034c7add7f2fac103abc41bedd5474cf09b1c9c16e5331282de77

Address: 0x0402655a1134f3f248e9f2032c27b26d2c3ab57eaab3189541895c13f3622eba
Public Key: 0x13e6151ea8e7386a5e7c4c5221047bf73d0b1b7a2ad14d22b7f73e57c1fa00c614bc6da69da1b581b09ee6cdc195e5d58ae4dce01b63bbb744e58f03855a94dd
Partial Address: 0x211edeb823ef3e042e91f338d0d83d0c90606dba16f678c701d8bb64e64e2be5

Use one of these addresses as the owner. You can either copy it or export.

To deploy the counter contract, ensure the sandbox is running and run this in the root of your Noir project:

aztec-cli deploy target/Counter.json --args 100 0x25048e8c1b7dea68053d597ac2d920637c99523651edfb123d0632da785970d0

You can also test the functions by applying what you learned in the quickstart.

Congratulations, you have now written, compiled, and deployed your first smart contract!

The CLI comes with the Noir compiler, so installing nargo is not required, however it is recommended as it provides a better developer experience for writing contracts. You will need nargo installed to take advantage of the Noir Language Server, which provides syntax highlighting and formatting for your Aztec contracts.

You will also need nargo if you want to run unit tests in Noir.

You can install nargo with the following commands:

curl -L | bash
noirup -v v0.18.0-aztec.5

What's next?

Now you can explore.

Interested in learning more about how Aztec works under the hood?

Understand the high level architecture here.

Want to write more advanced smart contracts?

Follow the token contract tutorial here.

Ready to dive into Aztec and Ethereum cross-chain communication?

Read the Portals page and learn how to practically implement portals in the token bridge tutorial.