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Writing your first smart contract

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-v0.24.0", directory="noir-projects/aztec-nr/aztec" }
value_note = { git="", tag="aztec-packages-v0.24.0", directory="noir-projects/aztec-nr/value-note"}
easy_private_state = { git="", tag="aztec-packages-v0.24.0", directory="noir-projects/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::protocol_types::address::AztecAddress;
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: /noir-projects/noir-contracts/contracts/counter_contract/src/ (aztec-packages-v0.24.0)

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.


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.

Declare storage

Add this below the imports. It declares the storage variables for our contract. We are going to store a mapping of values for each AztecAddress.

struct Storage {
counters: Map<AztecAddress, EasyPrivateUint>,
Source code: /noir-projects/noir-contracts/contracts/counter_contract/src/ (aztec-packages-v0.24.0)

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: AztecAddress) {
let counters = storage.counters;, owner);
Source code: /noir-projects/noir-contracts/contracts/counter_contract/src/ (aztec-packages-v0.24.0)

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: AztecAddress) {
let counters = storage.counters;, owner);
Source code: /noir-projects/noir-contracts/contracts/counter_contract/src/ (aztec-packages-v0.24.0)

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 injects a special function called compute_note_hash_and_nullifier to determine these values for any given note produced by this contract.

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: AztecAddress) -> pub Field {
let counters = storage.counters;
Source code: /noir-projects/noir-contracts/contracts/counter_contract/src/ (aztec-packages-v0.24.0)

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 ./contracts/counter/ directory, run this:

aztec-nargo compile

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

After compiling, you can generate a typescript class. In the same directory, run this:

aztec-cli codegen target -o src/artifacts --ts


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: 0x2fd4503a9b855a852272945df53d7173297c1469cceda31048b85118364b09a3
Public Key: 0x27c20118733174347b8082f578a7d8fb84b3ad38be293715eee8119ee5cd8a6d0d6b7d8124b37359663e75bcd2756f544a93b821a06f8e33fba68cc8029794d9
Partial Address: 0x11ee4cb5330545b3e82ace531526bc1995501a5596a85f90e5e60f4c1ad204dc

Address: 0x054ae9af363c6388cc6242c6eb0ed8a5860c15290744c81ecd5109434f9bb8b1
Public Key: 0x08145e8e8d46f51cda8d4c9cad81920236366abeafb8d387002bad879a3e87a81570b04ac829e4c007141d856d5a36d3b9c464e0f3c1c99cdbadaa6bb93f3257
Partial Address: 0x23ae266d9f8905bc4ef42e1435560ac78f3b5b55eb99b85398eb7011cd38fd8c

Address: 0x0d919c38d75484f8dd410cebaf0e17ccd196901d554d88f81b7e079375a4335d
Public Key: 0x13e6151ea8e7386a5e7c4c5221047bf73d0b1b7a2ad14d22b7f73e57c1fa00c614bc6da69da1b581b09ee6cdc195e5d58ae4dce01b63bbb744e58f03855a94dd
Partial Address: 0x2cf8f09aef15e219bf782049a3183a8adfd1fa254bf62bea050dc9a28fc979a7

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 contracts/counter/target/counter-Counter.json --args 100 0x2fd4503a9b855a852272945df53d7173297c1469cceda31048b85118364b09a3

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!

Install the Noir Language Support extension to get syntax highlighting, syntax error detection and go-to definitions for your Aztec contracts.

Once the extension is installed, go to your VSCode settings, search for "noir" and update the Noir: Nargo Path field to point to your aztec-nargo executable.

You can print the path of your aztec-nargo executable by running:

which aztec-nargo

What's next?

Now you can explore.

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

Understand the high level architecture on the Core Components page. You can also explore Aztec's hybrid state model and the lifecycle of a transaction.

Want to write more contracts?

Follow the series of tutorials, starting with the private voting contract 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.