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Getting started in 5 minutes

This guide provides a general overview of running programs on the Vara Network). It guides you through how to write a program, compile it to Wasm and deploy it to the network.


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  1. Linux users should generally install GCC and Clang, according to their distribution’s documentation.

    For example, on Ubuntu use:

    sudo apt install -y build-essential clang cmake

    On macOS, you can get a compiler toolset by running:

    xcode-select --install
  2. Make sure you have installed all the tools required to build a program in Rust. Rustup will be used to get Rust compiler ready:

    curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf | sh
  3. A Wasm compiler is necessary for compiling a Rust program to Wasm, add it to the toolchain.

    rustup target add wasm32-unknown-unknown
  4. Install the wasm-proc utility that optimizes compiled Wasm to be more compact.

    cargo install --locked --git wasm-proc

Note: If you use Windows, download and install Build Tools for Visual Studio.

Creating your first Vara program

  1. For your convenience, it is recommended that you create a dedicated directory for everything Gear-related. The rest of the article will assume that you are using the paths suggested. Type to create a folder in your home directory:

    mkdir -p ~/gear
  2. Create a contracts directory inside gear and cd to it.

    mkdir -p ~/gear/contracts
    cd ~/gear/contracts
  3. Build a Rust library for the program:

    cargo new counter --lib

    Now, your gear/contracts directory tree should look like this:

    ├── Cargo.toml
    └── src
  4. It's time to write some code. Open counter with your favorite editor. For VS Code editor type:

    code ~/gear/contracts/counter
  5. In the counter folder, configure Cargo.toml for our program to be properly built:

    name = "counter"
    version = "0.1.0"
    edition = "2021"

    crate-type = ["cdylib"]

    gstd = { git = "", tag = "v1.1.1" }
  6. Replace the default contents of in the counter folder with the code for our first program.

    This simple program accepts inc, dec, and get commands. Open src/ in your editor and paste the following code:


    use gstd::{msg, prelude::*};

    static mut COUNTER: i32 = 0;

    extern "C" fn handle() {
    let command = msg::load_bytes().expect("Invalid message");

    let mut counter = unsafe { COUNTER };

    match command.as_slice() {
    b"inc" => counter += 1,
    b"dec" => counter -= 1,
    b"get" => {
    msg::reply_bytes(format!("{counter}"), 0).expect("Unable to reply");
    _ => (),

    unsafe { COUNTER = counter };
  7. Now compile the program to Wasm using cargo:

    RUSTFLAGS="-C link-args=--import-memory -C linker-plugin-lto" \
    cargo build --release --target=wasm32-unknown-unknown

    This command is quite verbose, so you can create cargo config and Rust toolchain override files to make it shorter. Create a .cargo/config.toml file in the counter directory with the following contents:

    target = "wasm32-unknown-unknown"
    rustflags = [
    "-C", "link-args=--import-memory",
    "-C", "linker-plugin-lto",

    And create a rust-toolchain.toml file in the counter directory with the following contents:

    channel = "stable"
    targets = ["wasm32-unknown-unknown"]
    profile = "default"

    Now build your program with a single command:

    cargo build --release

    If everything goes well, your working directory should now have a target directory that looks like this:

    ├── ...
    └── wasm32-unknown-unknown
    └── release
    ├── ...
    └── counter.wasm <---- this is our built .wasm file
  8. The last step is to optimize the Wasm binary using wasm-proc:

    wasm-proc target/wasm32-unknown-unknown/release/counter.wasm

    A new Wasm file will be created:

    ├── ...
    └── wasm32-unknown-unknown
    └── release
    ├── ...
    ├── counter.wasm <---- this is our built .wasm file
    └── counter.opt.wasm <---- this is optimized .wasm file

    Now the target/wasm32-unknown-unknown/release directory contains two required Wasm binaries:

    • counter.wasm is the output Wasm binary built from source files
    • counter.opt.wasm is the optimized Wasm aimed to be uploaded to the blockchain

Deploy your program to the Testnet

Gear provides an application for developers (Gear Idea) that implements all of the possibilities of interaction with programs in Vara networks (mainnet and testnet), available at

Create account

  1. Download the Polkadot extension for your browser via This extension manages accounts and allows the signing of transactions with those accounts. It is a secure tool that allows injecting your accounts into any Substrate-based dapp. It does not perform wallet functions, e.g send funds.

  2. Once downloaded, click + button to create a new account:

    Add account

  3. Make sure you save your 12-word mnemonic seed securely.

    Create account

  4. Select the network that will be used for this account - choose "Allow to use on any chain". Provide any name to this account and password and click "Add the account with the generated seed" to complete account registration.

    Finalizing account

  5. Go to You will be prompted to grant access to your account for the application, click "Yes, allow this application access".

    Allow access

  6. Make sure you are connected to the Vara Network Testnet. The network name is on the bottom left corner of the page.

    Network name

  7. You may switch the network by clicking on the network name.

    Switch network

  8. Click the Connect button on the top-right to select an account that will be connected to Vara.

Connect account

  1. In accordance with the Actor model, programs are uploaded to a network via messages. Vara node charges a gas fee during message processing. Your account balance needs to have enough funds to upload a program to the TestNet. Click the following button to get the test balance:

    Get balance

    A notification about successful balance replenishment will appear after passing captcha at the bottom of the window. You can also see the current account balance next to the account name in the upper right corner.

    Transfer balance

Upload program

  1. When your account balance is sufficient, click the Upload program and navigate to the .opt.wasm file we have pointed to above.

    Upload program button

  2. Specify the program Name and click Calculate Gas button. The Gas limit will be set automatically. Now click the Upload program button.

    Upload program form

  3. Sign the program uploading transaction to Vara. Also, sign the program and metadata upload to the Gear Idea portal so you could work with the program. It is recommended to set the checkbox Remember my password for the next 15 minutes for your convenience.

    Sign transaction



The red dot status for a program indicates init failure. Try to upload the program again with an increased Gas limit.

  1. Once your program is uploaded, head to the Programs section and find your program.

    Recently uploaded programs

Send message to a program

  1. Now, try sending your newly uploaded program a message to see how it responds! Click the Send message button.

  2. In the Payload field of the opened dialog type 0x696E63 (this is inc encoded in hex). Click Calculate Gas button, the Gas limit will be set automatically. Now click the Send Message button.

    Send form

  3. Sign the message sending transaction as it is shown in step 3 of the section Upload Program.

  4. After your message has been successfully processed, you are to see correspondent log messages:


    Now you have sent an increment command to the program. After processing the counter will be incremented to 1.

  5. Repeat step 2 with 0x676574 payload (this is get command). This will send a get command to the program.

  6. Press the Mailbox button to enter the mailbox and find the reply.

    Mailbox reply


    The reply is in the mailbox for a limited time depending on the gas limit. If you don't see the reply, try resending the 0x676574 (get) message with the gas limit increasing and go to the mailbox immediately after sending the message.

Further reading

For more info about writing programs for Vara and the specifics behind the program implementation, refer to this article.