#0 Never Have I Ever Tried: ArConnect
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Never have I ever tried series represents an effort to create basic tutorials, almost walkthroughs, that will help even the most entry-level users use a specific project from Arweave’s ecosystem. While doing this, we’ll provide information about the user experience delivered by the project at hand. We’ll try to understand how knowledgeable the user should be to access its services and offer our feedback on potential improvements.
We are starting this initiative because the ecosystem is beginning to crystalise in a more definitive shape. There are vital parts of the infrastructure being built right now (the decentralized gateway or the swap feature). Still, this year will probably represent the boom in PSTs (profit-sharing tokens) and Arweave native dApps. So, because there are a lot of projects, we are trying to cover as many as possible before the need for these tutorials becomes stringent.
This edition will focus on the gateway for the entire Arweave ecosystem: the web browser wallet extension — ArConnect.
If you are new to Web3, imagine that ArConnect represents your credentials to any Arweave native dApp. Here companies don’t ask you for your email address, your personal information – none of this. Instead, they ask to connect with you via ArConnect.
You won’t pay for services with $ from your credit card; you will pay with $AR (Arweave’s token) that will be stored in, yes, you guessed it, ArConnect.
If you are new only to the Arweave ecosystem, imagine that ArConnect is for Arweave what Metamask is for Ethereum or other EVM chains. There are different wallets compatible with Arweave, too: there is Finnie (we’ll cover it when we reach Koi Network; for the moment, just keep in mind that whenever a dApp asks you for ArConnect there is a 99% chance to work for Finnie wallets too), and then there are mobile wallets like BitKeep and Math5, but the OG from the pack is ArConnect.
How to set up ArConnect
First of all, access https://www.arconnect.io/. I made the link visible because who knows what phishing attempts may occur in the future.
As you may see, there are two download buttons. You cannot miss it. By the way, let me stress it again, ArConnect is a web browser extension, so install it on your PC, not on your mobile device.
After you hit the download button, you’ll be directed to your webstore, depending on your browser. Click “add extension,” and after the download, you’ll be guided here:
You have to choose a password and hit the “create” button at this step. Keep in mind that this password does not represent your seed phrase. It means only a way to quickly connect to your wallet after installing it on your PC. If you want to connect on another PC or access your funds through a different wallet, let’s say, Finnie, you’ll manage to do so by entering your seed phrase or your key file.
The button under “Create”, respectively “Load config file” represents a unique function for ArConnect users to translate wallets between browsers quickly.
I know, “password”,“seed phrase”, “key file”, “config file”, you’ll be tempted to say, “Whatever just get the damn thing done!”. Still, it is vital to fully understand the nuances between those concepts. If not, there is a high probability of you getting burned – only because you rushed through the process without paying enough attention to the boring stuff.
I hope that all those terms will become clearer while we continue this little tutorial.
The following view will offer you two options “Load wallet” and the one above, “New wallet” (I was so excited about it that I pressed it before making the screenshot). So, yeah, press the second button.
You are almost there. Your wallet is now already generated. ArConnect will offer you a 12-word seed phrase and the capacity to download a JSON file that represents your key file. Those are both crucial. The recommended way to store the seed phrase is to write it down on paper. Please don’t take a screenshot out of it (like I did) or paste it into your notepad. Don’t make life easy for the black hats out there. The key file would be recommended to be stored on a memory stick, again, away from potential internet breaches.
Here things become a little foggy. You will be redirected to almost the same view as step 2. You have to click the “Load Wallet” button this time. Just to be thorough, look at the green box from above, it shows the web extensions (in the case of the Chrome browser, on other browsers, the location and looks may vary). The idea is to make sure you pinned ArConnect, and it will become visible in the box because you’ll use it quite often.
At this point, you can choose between entering the 12-word seed phrase with spaces between each word or just using the key file that you downloaded. In my case, I used the key file. No particular reason involved, anyway, just go with the flow here. Then you’ll need to click on “Load.”
You will be directed to the same view as step 4, without any message that you are good to go. So I checked my extensions, pin ArConnect (the icon inside the red box), and saw that all was set.
Now you can congratulate yourself. You have your Arweave passport to the Permaweb. Unfortunately, it has zero balance. To address this issue, you will have to buy some $AR from a centralized exchange (like Binance or Huobi) and send it to your ArConnect wallet. The CEX will ask for the address where you want to withdraw your coins. The address is the one inside the blue box. Don’t worry, you don’t have to write it down by hand. You can just use the button highlighted inside the green box, and it will copy it instantly.
As opposed to your seed phrase or key file, a quick reminder, your address is meant to be shared with anyone, so it is OK to throw it at whatever shady airdrop you’ll encounter and hope that it sticks.
You may be wondering – why all the hassle? If you can procure $AR from a CEX, why not leave it there? Well, first of all, you can’t connect to any dApp. You can’t do anything meaningful with your coins, like buying permanent storage. Secondly, “not your keys, not your coins.” ArConnect is a noncustodial wallet to which only you have access to your funds. No centralized authority can freeze them. You have to be extra careful with your seed phrase and your key file. Being your own master comes with being responsible for your little horde.
Not a particular step
Remember that config file asked in step 1? You can download it from the settings section. If you initially configured your ArConnect on Chrome, you could just upload it in Brave, for example, and you’ll be good to go, having the same password and configuration as in the Chrome browser.
I assume that for an average Web3 user, the experience is pretty straightforward. Maybe the issue identified above, about the same view in steps 4 and 6, could create some misunderstandings, but you could easily see that your wallet is already active.
Still, signaling that all is good and you are ready to go at step 6 would be nice and is something we would encourage in the UX.
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