Setting up the development environment

How to prep up for compiling AppLayer's BDK and running your own blockchain.

This subchapter explains how to set up AppLayer's BDK, our open-core blockchain SDK project, to start creating and deploying your contracts in it. This is an overview/"more approachable" version of the project's file - be sure to read it as well.

You're able to tweak almost everything related to the BDK. We offer pre-existing solutions for all of those, but you are free to hack into them as you wish:

  • Consensus

  • Block processing

  • Transaction processing

  • Contract processing

  • Communication between nodes, etc.


Head over to the GitHub repository and click the "Fork" button. After that, you can clone your forked repository with git clone and start developing on your own local blockchain.


You can setup the environment in two ways: using Docker, or manually. Manual setup has instructions for APT-based distros (e.g. Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, etc.), but other distros should work as long as you have all the dependencies installed.

Using the Docker image is the recommended way to develop on the BDK. It will ensure that you have the correct environment to build and deploy the network, without worrying about dependencies or which host distro you're using.

Fork the project and clone your forked repository:

# Clone your repository
git clone
# Go to the project directory
cd bdk-cpp
# Switch to a branch for contract development on latest release (main branch)
git checkout -b contract-development main

Then, install Docker on your system (if you don't have it installed already). Instructions can be found at the links below:

Once Docker is installed, go to the root directory of your cloned repository (where the Dockerfile is located), and run the following command (if you're on Linux or Mac, use sudo):

docker build -t bdk-cpp-dev:latest .

This will build the image and tag it as bdk-cpp-dev:latest. You can change the tag to whatever you want, but remember to change it at the next step.

After building the image, run it with the following command (again, if using Linux or Mac, run as sudo):

# For Linux/Mac
docker run -it -v $(pwd):/orbitersdk-volume -p 8080-8099:8080-8099 -p 8110-8111:8110-8111 bdk-cpp-dev:latest
# For Windows
docker run -it -v %cd%:/orbitersdk-volume -p 8080-8099:8080-8099 -p 8110-8111:8110-8111 bdk-cpp-dev:latest


  • $(pwd) or %cd% is the absolute/full path to your repository's folder

  • :/orbitersdk-volume is the path inside the container where the BDK will be mounted. This volume is synced with the bdk-cpp folder inside the container

  • The -p flags expose the ports used by the nodes - the example exposes the default ports 8080-8099 and 8110-8111, if you happen to use different ports, change them accordingly

When running the container, you will be logged in as the root user and will be able to develop, build and deploy the network within the container. Remember that we are using our local repo as a volume, so every change in the local folder will be reflected to the container in real time, and vice-versa (so you can develop outside and use the container only for build and deploy). You can also integrate the container with your favorite IDE or editor.

VSCode + Docker extension

To integrate the container with VSCode, you need to install the Docker extension and configure it to use the container. After installing it, there is a docker-compose.yml file on the root of the repository that you can use to build and run the container. The only thing that you need to do is to change the volumes section to point to your local SDK folder:

  - /path/to/your/sdk:/orbitersdk-volume

After editing the docker-compose.yml file, right-click on it and select Compose Up to build and run the container so you can start developing on it. Click on the Docker extension icon on the left side of the VSCode window and you will see the container running. You can also right-click on the container and select Attach Shell to open a terminal on the container.

Manual setup

You can follow these steps to build the BDK in your own system. Dependencies are:

  • GCC with support for C++23 or higher

  • CMake 3.19.0 or higher

  • Boost 1.83 or higher (components: chrono, filesystem, program-options, system, thread, nowide)

  • OpenSSL 1.1.1

  • CryptoPP 8.2.0 or higher

  • libscrypt

  • zlib

  • libsnappy for database compression

  • tmux (for deploying)

  • (optional) clang-tidy for linting

  • (optional) mold for faster/better linking

The versions of those dependencies should suffice out-of-the-box for at least the following distros (or greater, including their derivatives):

  • Debian 13 (Trixie)

  • Ubuntu 24.04 LTS (Noble Numbat)

  • Linux Mint 22 (Wilma)

  • Fedora 40

  • Any rolling release distro from around May 2024 onwards (check their repos to be sure)

For older distros, you may need to compile some dependencies from source (specifically CMake and Boost). Make sure to uninstall them from the system first to prevent any version conflicts.


  • For APT-based distros:

sudo apt install git build-essential cmake mold tmux clang-tidy autoconf libtool pkg-config libboost-all-dev libcrypto++-dev libscrypt-dev libsnappy-dev libssl-dev zlib1g-dev openssl


After forking the project, you can now setup your own local testnet. This is strongly recommended, as it will ensure your environment is properly setup and that you are able to compile the project with your contracts in it.

Clone your forked repository by following the steps below:

# Clone your repository
git clone
# Go to the project directory
cd bdk-cpp
# Switch to a branch for contract development on latest release (main branch)
git checkout -b contract-development main

After cloning, the following commands will build the project within the folder which scripts/ (a script that automatically deploys a local testnet) will use later.

# Create the folder and enter it
mkdir build_local_testnet && cd build_local_testnet
# Configure cmake (DEBUG=ON will enable debug symbols and address sanitizer)
cmake -DDEBUG=ON ..
# Build the project - you can use either one of the lines below
make -j$(nproc)
# or...
cmake --build . -- -j$(nproc)

After building, you can optionally run a test bench with the following command: ./src/bins/orbitersdkd-tests/orbitersdkd-tests -d yes (the -d yes parameter will give a verbose output). You can also use filter tags to test specific parts of the project (e.g. ./src/bins/orbitersdkd-tests/orbitersdkd-tests [utils] -d yes will test all the components inside the src/utils folder, [utils][tx] will test only the transaction-related components inside utils, etc.).

Usable tags are:

  • [utils] - everything in src/utils

    • [utils][*] - replace * with one of the class names: block, db, hex, merkle, randomgen, secp256k1, strings, tx (TxBlock), txvalidator, utilsitself (the last one refers to the actual Utils class), [*][throw] (for testing actual throwing conditions)

  • [contract] - everything in src/contract

    • [contract][*] - replace * with one of the contract names: abi, contractabigenerator, contractmanager, dexv2, erc20, erc20wrapper, nativewrapper

    • [contract][variables][*] - all SafeVariable types - [*] is optional, if you want to test specific variables, replace * with one of the class names: safeaddress, safearray, safebool, safestring, safeuintX_t (replace X with a uint size from 8 to 256), safeunorderedmap, safevector

  • [core] - everything in src/core

    • [core][*] - replace * with one of the class names: blockchain, options, rdpos, state, storage

    • [core][rdpos][net] - only networking-related functionality - append [heavy] for very taxing functionality

  • [net] - everything in src/net

    • [net][http][jsonrpc] - only JSONRPC-related functionality

  • [p2p] - only P2P-related functionality

  • [sdktestsuite] - test the SDKTestSuite itself (test suite used internally for testing contracts)


Currently there are two ways to deploy an AppLayer node: manual, and dockerized. Go back to the project's root folder and check the scripts subfolder - there are two main scripts there used for deploying the node. You can pick whichever one you prefer, depending on your needs.

Dockerized deploy

You can deploy a node using Docker by running ./scripts/ Make sure you have both docker and docker-compose installed, as the script requires both to work. The script itself accepts several parameters. Running ./scripts/ help will give you more info on each parameter.

Manual deploy

To manually deploy a node, run ./scripts/ Make sure tmux is installed, as the script needs it to work. The script will create two folders at the project's root - build_local_testnet and local_testnet - and build and deploy a fresh new instance of a local testnet.

Running the script again will stop the testnet, rebuild it, replace it and restart it on the spot. If you wish to manually stop the testnet for some reason, run tmux kill-server. You can also read the script to find out the specific names of the tmux sessions to manually restart or stop accordingly.

Note that, when re-deploying, if your wallet or RPC client keeps track of account nonce data, you must reset it as a network reset would set back their nonces to 0. Here's how to do it in MetaMask, for example.

You can use the following flags when calling the manual script to customize deployment:

FlagDescriptionDefault Value


Clean the build folder before building



Only build the project, don't deploy the network



Build in debug mode



Number of cores to use for building

Maximum available

As an example, ./scripts/ --clean --no-deploy --debug=false --cores=4 will clean the build folder, only build the project, build in release mode and use 4 cores for building. Remember that GCC uses around 1.5GB of RAM per core, so we recommend adjusting the number of cores according to the available RAM on your system for more stability.

MetaMask config

After deploying your node, you can configure and connect your preferred Web3 client/frontend to the network. We recommend using Metamask as it is the most popular one, but you're free to use any other client you wish.

As an example, here's how to configure MetaMask to connect to your local testnet:


Network Name

AppLayer Local Testnet


Chain ID


Currency Symbol


Once you're connected, import the following private key for the chain owner account: 0xe89ef6409c467285bcae9f80ab1cfeb3487cfe61ab28fb7d36443e1daa0c2867. This account contains 1000 APPL Tokens from the get go and is able to call the ContractManager contract.

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