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Bitcoin Ordinals

How to Inscribe a Bitcoin Ordinal

Bitcoin Ordinal inscriptions are all the rage. But how do you inscribe a Bitcoin ordinal? Trust Machines explains the process, and what projects are out there to help you inscribe your own Ordinal NFTs.
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The excitement around Ordinals is undeniable.

The Bitcoin protocol hasn’t just revived interest in NFTs on Bitcoin. It has also driven builders to the Bitcoin ecosystem (many of whom have even returned to the community).

But those of you who are newer to the space might still be wondering: how do I inscribe an Ordinal to mint my own Bitcoin-based Ordinal NFT?

We’ll tackle three things in this post:

  • Briefly lay out what Ordinals and Ordinal inscriptions are
  • Illustrate the more technical way to inscribe an Ordinal
  • Highlight projects and platforms that make the inscription process easy

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

What are Ordinals and Ordinal inscriptions?

As we laid out in our Learn Center walkthrough on Ordinals, “Ordinals” and an “ordinal inscription” are related, but two different things.

“Ordinals” are a numbering scheme that ascribes a number to each satoshi – the smallest unit of bitcoin – on the Bitcoin network. “Ordinal theory” is the process of assigning those numbers to satoshis.

These satoshis (sats, for short) are numbered in the order that they’re mined. If a sat ends up moving to a different wallet, the ordinal number ascribed to the satoshi on the Bitcoin network stays the same.

“Ordinal inscriptions,” on the other hand, refers specifically to the creation of digital artifacts by inscribing sats with content. This content, by the way, can be anything: pictures, data, videos, and more can all be inscribed and made into digital artifacts. 

What’s more, all of this content is inscribed directly to the Bitcoin blockchain as Bitcoin transactions.

Our previous series entry elaborates on the differences between digital artifacts and NFTs more specifically, but it’s important to note that inscriptions are digital artifacts given that they’re immutable, decentralized, and directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. They do this without the involvement of smart contracts, leading some to say that they’re NFTs in their purest form.

Inscribing Bitcoin Ordinals: the long way around

Before builders jumped on the Ordinals bandwagon and created Ordinals-related services and platforms, the process for inscribing Ordinals was pretty technical.

It all starts with Bitcoin Core.

After installing Bitcoin Core, syncing a full node to a wallet (that you'll need to create), the next step is to install the “ord” client. 

This client basically allows users to track sats and create inscriptions. If you don’t have the ord client, then your Bitcoin Core wallet won’t actually be able to differentiate sats that are already inscribed from sats that haven’t been inscribed. 

You’ll need to run the contents of FILE, which is “ord wallet inscribe FILE.” Ord will then put out two transaction IDs: the commit transaction and reveal transaction. 

This commit transaction will commit to a tapscript – the scripting language used as part of the Taproot upgrade – that has the contents for the inscription. The reveal transaction unveils the contents on the chain and actually inscribes them on the first sat put out by the reveal transaction.

If your transaction is pending, you have the chance to check the mempool to determine whether the reveal transaction has been mined. Once that has occurred, you can then run “ord wallet inscriptions” to see the printed inscription ID.

Needless to say, you’ll also need to pay a fee. Because inscriptions are transactions by nature, the larger the content you’re trying to inscribe, the higher the fee will be.

A more thorough explanation of this process can be found in the handbook.

Inscribe Bitcoin Ordinal NFTs with inscription services

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for various projects to pop up dedicated to providing inscription services.

Most notably, these services remove the need for users to install, sync, and run a whole Bitcoin node. 

They carry out most of the steps for you, you’ll just need two things: a crypto wallet with a taproot address (given the use of the Bitcoin Taproot upgrade, this ensures that your wallet is compatible with Ordinals) and funds to carry out the process.

Later on in our series, we’ll dive more thoroughly into how Ordinals has influenced crypto wallets like Sparrow wallet and Bitcoin wallets, such as Xverse and Hiro. For now, we’ll highlight a few services that can help you get your first Ordinal Bitcoin NFT:

  • OrdinalsBot: created by Satoshibles, this was the first service that allowed users to inscribe an image, video, and more for a BTC Ordinal NFT
  • Gamma: the NFT platform also launched a popular inscription tool early in the Ordinals market
  • OrdSwap: the first and largest trustless Ordinals marketplace

All these services have been key in bringing Ordinal NFTs to the masses, as they have given users access to by taking care of the highly technical steps that could hinder users in the process.

The future of BTC thanks to Ordinals

Ordinals are continuing to change how we perceive the opportunities possible in crypto and the wider Web3 space. But most of all, support for Ordinal functionality has shown that the protocol is a breakthrough for Bitcoin.

This technology has since led to a myriad of other uses in the BTC network. This includes Rollkit’s recent move to bring sovereign rollups on Bitcoin, which was inspired by how Ordinals used the Taproot upgrade to inscribe data directly onto the Bitcoin blockchain.

In subsequent weeks, you’ll read about how aside from reviving conversations about Bitcoin NFTs, Ordinals have changed everything from NFT marketplaces to how we think about the Bitcoin block itself. 

We'll even go into how the biggest Ordinal NFT collections (like Ordinal Punks, a set of 100 Bitcoin NFTs minted within the first 650 inscriptions on the Bitcoin chain) has shifted how we view scalable solutions for Bitcoin NFTs, in additional to making NFTs all the more rare.

You’ll also see how the innovations that have come with Ordinals have further cemented Bitcoin as a blockchain that can rival even the likes of Ethereum in building an entire economy. 

Ordinals is just the first Bitcoin development that has really taken off in 2023. We’re just starting to see the potential that things in the Bitcoin protocol can bring to the entire network, and what can happen when you can read and write data directly on the Bitcoin blockchain.