Creating a developer account
On ICP developers accounts, or identities, use a private/public key pair for authentication. Accounts are identified by a principal which is a generic identifier value that is used for users, canisters, and potentially other future concepts. Each developer account's principal value is derived from the account's public key from the private/public key pair.
ICP developer accounts can be compared to a Bitcoin or Ethereum wallet address. One primary difference, however, is that ICP accounts do not have an initial balance.
ICP identity terms
Other ICP identity-related terms you may come across include:
Ledger account identifier: The identifier associated with your ICP ledger account.
Wallets: Used to store forms of currency. Developers primarily use a cycles wallet to send cycles to and from canisters.
Internet Identity: ICP's native authentication service. Internet Identity doesn't use usernames and passwords; instead it uses a passkey that is stored in your local device's hardware.
Difference between a ledger and a wallet
On ICP, a ledger is a system canister used to store accounts and their transactions. Users have a ledger account identifier. Ledger accounts are used to hold ICP tokens. To get information on your ledger account, you need to query the ledger system canister.
A wallet on ICP is used to store cycles that can be sent to canisters to pay for their consumed resources.
In a typical developer workflow, a developer will receive ICP tokens to their ledger account, then convert those tokens into cycles, which are stored in a cycles wallet.
Creating your account
To create a new developer account, use the IC SDK tool dfx:
dfx identity new <identity_name>
Identities created with dfx are global; they are not confined to a specific project's context. Identity names must use the characters
Getting your account principal
To obtain the principal identifier for your account, use the commands:
dfx identity use <identity_name>
dfx identity get-principal
The principal will look something like this:
You can also inspect the corresponding private key by running:
dfx identity export default
The result may look something like this:
-----BEGIN EC PRIVATE KEY-----
-----END EC PRIVATE KEY-----
Storing the account's keys
When a new identity is created with dfx, the private key is stored in the
~/.config/dfx/identity/<identity_name>/identity.pem file. This file should be backed up to a secure location.
--storage-mode flag is available, which can be used to create a password-protected or plaintext PEM file instead. These flags can be used such as:
dfx identity new <identity_name> --storage-mode password-protected
dfx identity new <identity_name> --storage-mode plaintext
Import an existing account
To import an existing PEM file to be used for your identity, use the command:
dfx identity import <identity_name> pem_file-name
This command supports the
--storage-mode flag as well, allowing for importing password-protected or plaintext PEM files.
How to top up the ICP balance of your account
Once you have a developer account, you will need to top up the account with ICP. First, get your account's ledger account id:
dfx identity use <identity_name>
dfx ledger account-id
This will return your account number on the ICP ledger:
This account id is where you will need to send ICP tokens. To obtain ICP tokens, you can use several methods:
Purchase ICP tokens directly through an exchange.
Receive tokens as rewards for participating in the governance of the Internet Computer.
Receive a grant of tokens through the Internet Computer Association (ICA) or the DFINITY Foundation.
Receive tokens as remuneration for providing computing capacity as a node provider.
Once you have received ICP tokens into your account, you can see the balance using this command:
dfx ledger --network ic balance
This will output something like this:
Next, learn about cycles and how to acquire them.