Incrementing a counter

In this tutorial, you are going to write a program that provides a few basic functions to increment a counter and illustrates the persistence of a value.

For this tutorial, the program declares a COUNTER as a mutable variable to contain a natural number that represents the current value of the counter. This program supports the following functions:

  • The increment function updates the current value, incrementing by 1 with no return value.

  • The get function is a simple query that returns the current value of the counter.

  • The set function updates the current value to the numeric value you specify as an argument.

This tutorial provides a simple example of how you can increment a counter by calling functions on a deployed canister. By calling the function to increment a value multiple times, you can verify that the variable state—that is, the value of the variable between calls—persists.

Like the other sample programs, this tutorial demonstrates a simple, but realistic, workflow in which you perform the following steps:

  • Create a new project.

  • Write a program that compile into a WebAssembly module.

  • Deploy the canister on the local Internet Computer network.

  • Invoke the canister methods to increment then read the value of a counter.

Before you begin

Before you start your project, verify the following:

  • You have an internet connection and access to a shell terminal on your local macOS or Linux computer.

  • You have downloaded and installed the Rust programming language and Cargo as described in the Rust installation instructions for your operating system.

    curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh

    The Rust tool chain must be at version 1.46.0, or later.

  • You have downloaded and installed the DFINITY Canister Software Development Kit (SDK) package as described in Download and install.

  • You have cmake installed. For example, use Homebrew with the following command:

    brew install cmake

    For instructions on how to install Homebrew, see the Homebrew Documentation.

  • You have stopped any Internet Computer network processes running on the local computer.

If you aren’t sure how to open a new terminal shell on your local computer, run commands in a terminal, or how to check for and install packages, see Preliminary steps for newcomers. If you are comfortable meeting the prerequisites without instructions, continue to Create a new project.

This tutorial takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Create a new project

To create a new project directory for this tutorial:

  1. Open a terminal shell on your local computer, if you don’t already have one open.

  2. Create a new project by running the following command:

    dfx new rust_counter
  3. Change to your project directory by running the following command:

    cd rust_counter

Modify the default configuration

In the Hello, World! Rust CDK Quick Start, you saw that creating a new project adds several template files to your project directory much like when you create a new Rust package using the cargo new command. You need to modify these default files and add some Rust-specific files to your project before you can build canisters that run on the Internet Computer.

To modify the default configuration for a Motoko project, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

Edit the default canister settings

One of the template files included in your project directory is a default dfx.json configuration file. This file contains settings required to build a project for the Internet Computer much like the Cargo.toml file provides build and package management configuration details for Rust programs. You need to modify the default settings in the dfx.json configuration file to build Rust programs that run on the Internet Computer as canisters.

To modify the dfx.json configuration file:

  1. Check that you are still in the root directory for your project, if needed.

  2. Open the dfx.json configuration file in a text editor.

  3. Replace the canisters.rust_counter settings with settings for building a canister using the cargo build command.

    For example, under the rust_counter key, replace the main and type settings with settings like these:

      "rust_counter": {
        "build": "cargo build --target wasm32-unknown-unknown --package  rust_counter --release",
        "candid": "src/rust_counter/counter.did",
        "wasm": "target/wasm32-unknown-unknown/release/rust_counter.wasm",
        "type": "custom"
        }
  4. Remove all of the rust_counter_assets configuration settings from the file.

    The sample program for this tutorial doesn’t use any front-end assets, so you can remove those settings from the configuration file.

  5. Remove the defaults and dfx version settings because this tutorial doesn’t use these settings.

    For example, the configuration file looks like this after you modify the settings:

    {
      "canisters": {
        "rust_counter": {
          "build": "cargo build --target wasm32-unknown-unknown --package  rust_counter --release",
          "candid": "src/rust_counter/counter.did",
          "wasm": "target/wasm32-unknown-unknown/release/rust_counter.wasm",
          "type": "custom"
          }
        },
        "networks": {
          "local": {
            "bind": "127.0.0.1:8000",
            "type": "ephemeral"
          }
        },
        "version": 1
    }
  6. Save your change and close the dfx.json file to continue.

Add a Cargo.toml file to the project

Because we are creating this new Rust project for the Internet Computer using the DFINITY Canister SDK, you need to manually create some Rust-specific files in specific locations within the project directory. Let’s start by creating the Cargo.toml configuration file that describes the packages in our project.

To add a Cargo.toml configuration file for the project:

  1. Check that you are still in the root directory for your project, if needed.

  2. Create a new file in the current directory named Cargo.toml.

  3. Open the Cargo.toml in a text editor.

  4. Use the [workspace] key to specify the source file directory for your program.

    For example:

    [workspace]
    members = [
        "src/rust_counter",
    ]
  5. Save your changes and close the file to continue.

Add Rust files to the source directory

Creating a new project creates a default src/rust_counter directory with a template main.mo. We’ll replace this default program with a Rust library lib.rs package and Cargo.toml files.

To prepare the source directory with Rust files:

  1. Check that you are in the root directory for your project, if needed.

  2. Create a new cargo package using a library template by running the following command:

    cargo init --lib src/rust_counter

    This command creates a src/rust_counter/src directory with a library (lib.rs) package and a Cargo.toml file in the src/rust_counter directory.

  3. Open the src/rust_counter/Cargo.toml file in a text editor.

    You use this file to configure the details used to build the Rust package.

    At a minimum, you need to configure the following sections with basic information about the package name, the crate type, and the version of the DFINITY Rust CDK libraries to use.

    • [package]

    • [lib]

    • [dependencies]

  4. Delete the existing [dependencies] section and replace it with the following:

    [lib]
    crate-type = ["cdylib"]
    
    [dependencies]
    ic-cdk = "0.3"
    ic-cdk-macros = "0.3"
    When you deploy the app later in the tutorial, you might get an error message that the dependency version is wrong. If there is a newer version of the DFINITY Rust CDK, update the dependencies in the src/rust_counter/Cargo.toml file to match the latest version.
  5. Save your changes and close the file to continue.

Replace the default program

Now that you have the files in place for your Rust program, we can replace the template main.mo program with the Rust program we want to deploy on the Internet Computer.

To replace the default program:

  1. Check that you are still in the root directory for your project, if needed.

  2. Delete the template src/rust_counter/main.mo file by running the following command:

    rm src/rust_counter/main.mo
  3. Open the template src/rust_counter/src/lib.rs file in a text editor and delete the existing content.

    The next step is to write a Rust program that declares the COUNTER variable and implements the increment, get, and set functions.

  4. Copy and paste the following sample code into the lib.rs file:

    use ic_cdk_macros::*;
    use ic_cdk::export::candid;
    
    static mut COUNTER: Option<candid::Nat> = None;
    
    #[init]
    fn init() {
        unsafe {
            COUNTER = Some(candid::Nat::from(0));
        }
    }
    
    #[update]
    fn increment() -> () {
        unsafe {
            COUNTER.as_mut().unwrap().0 += 1u64;
        }
    }
    
    #[query]
    fn get() -> candid::Nat {
        unsafe { COUNTER.as_mut().unwrap().clone() }
    }
    
    #[update]
    fn set(input: candid::Nat) -> () {
        unsafe {
            COUNTER.as_mut().unwrap().0 = input.0;
        }
    }
  5. Save your changes and close the counter.rs file to continue.

Add an interface description file

Candid is an interface description language (IDL) for interacting with canisters running on the Internet Computer. Candid files provide a language-independent description of a canister’s interfaces including the names, parameters, and result formats and data types for each function a canister defines.

By adding Candid files to your project, you can ensure that data is properly converted from its definition in Rust to run safely on the Internet Computer.

To see details about the Candid interface description language syntax, see the Candid Guide or the Candid crate documentation.

To add a Candid file for this tutorial:

  1. Check that you are still in the root directory for your project, if needed.

  2. Create a new file named counter.did in the src/rust_counter/src directory.

  3. Open the src/rust_counter/src/counter.did file in a text editor, then copy and paste the following service definition for the increment, get, and set functions:

    service : {
      "increment": () -> ();
      "get": () -> (nat) query;
      "set": (nat) -> ();
    }
  4. Save your changes and close the counter.did file to continue.

Start the local network

Before you can build the rust_counter project, you need to connect to the Internet Computer network either running locally in your development environment or running remotely on a sub-network that you can access.

To start the network locally:

  1. Check that you are still in the root directory for your project, if needed.

  2. Start the Internet Computer network on your local computer in the background by running the following command:

    dfx start --background

    Depending on your platform and local security settings, you might see a warning displayed. If you are prompted to allow or deny incoming network connections, click Allow.

Register, build, and deploy your project

After you connect to the Internet Computer network running locally in your development environment, you can register, build, and deploy your project locally.

To register, build, and deploy:

  1. Check that you are still in root directory for your project directory, if needed.

  2. Register, build, and deploy the canisters specified in the dfx.json file by running the following command:

    dfx deploy

    The dfx deploy command output displays information about each of the operations it performs similar to the following excerpt:

    Creating a wallet canister on the local network.
    The wallet canister on the "local" network for user "pubs_user_id" is "rwlgt-iiaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa-cai"
    Deploying all canisters.
    Creating canisters...
    Creating canister "rust_counter"...
    "rust_counter" canister created with canister id: "rrkah-fqaaa-aaaaa-aaaaq-cai"
    Building canisters...
    Executing 'cargo build --target wasm32-unknown-unknown --package  rust_counter --release'
        Updating crates.io index
      Downloaded thiserror v1.0.25
      Downloaded libc v0.2.95
      ...
      Compiling ic-cdk v0.3
      Compiling ic-cdk-macros v0.3
      Compiling rust_counter v0.1.0 (/Users/lisagunn/CDK-RS-APR-2021/rust_counter/src/rust_counter)
        Finished release [optimized] target(s) in 1m 10s
    Installing canisters...
    Creating UI canister on the local network.
    The UI canister on the "local" network is "ryjl3-tyaaa-aaaaa-aaaba-cai"
    Installing code for canister rust_counter, with canister_id rrkah-fqaaa-aaaaa-aaaaq-cai
    Deployed canisters.

Call functions and test the program

After successfully deploying the canister, you can test the canister by invoking the functions it provides. For this tutorial:

  • Call the get function to query the value of the counter.

  • Call the increment function to increment the counter each time it is called.

  • Call the set function to pass an argument to update the counter to an arbitrary value you specify.

To test the program:

  1. Call the get function to read the current value of the COUNTER variable by running the following command:

    dfx canister call rust_counter get

    The command returns the current value of the COUNTER variable as zero:

    (0)
  2. Call the increment function to increment the value of the COUNTER variable by one:

    dfx canister call rust_counter increment

    This command increments the value of the variable—changing its state—but does not return the result.

  3. Rerun the command to call the get function to see the current value of the COUNTER variable:

    dfx canister call rust_counter get

    The command returns the updated value of the COUNTER variable as one:

    (1)
  4. Run additional commands to experiment with call the functions and using different values.

    For example, try commands similar to the following to set and return the counter value:

    dfx canister call rust_counter set '(987)'
    dfx canister call rust_counter get

    Returns the current value of 987.

    dfx canister call rust_counter increment
    dfx canister call rust_counter get

    Returns the incremented value of 988.

Stop the local network

After you finish experimenting with your program, you can stop the local Internet Computer network so that it doesn’t continue running in the background.

To stop the local network:

  1. In the terminal that displays network operations, press Control-C to interrupt the local network process.

  2. Stop the Internet Computer network by running the following command:

    dfx stop