How to Inscribe Ordinals
Introduction to Ordinals
The Bitcoin community and wider crypto ecosystem have been buzzing with big news: Ordinals.
In 2021, the Taproot upgrade changed a few things in the Bitcoin protocol, affecting block space and how much data can be stored within a transaction. In January 2023, software engineer Casey Rodarmor found a loophole and launched the ordinals protocol, allowing users to inscribe 4MB of data on a Bitcoin block. Unlike traditional Bitcoin transactions, which simply involve sending and receiving value between parties, Ordinals enable the inclusion of data within a Bitcoin transaction, enable Bitcoin-based NFTs.
The smallest unit of Bitcoin is called a satoshi. Each Bitcoin (BTC) is broken into 100,000,000 sats. In an interview, Casey Rodarmor explains that in brief, the protocol allows users to send and receive sats that carry optional extra data in ordinal progression. Each sat is serially numbered, starting at 0. These numbers are "ordinal numbers" in the mathematical sense, giving an order to each sat in the total supply.
By inscribing a serial, or "ordinal" number to each satoshi on the Bitcoin network, the satoshi becomes a tracked and transferable Bitcoin NFT, or "digital artifact". Once the satoshi has been processed as any other BTC transaction, it is stored on the blockchain. As a result, their security, decentralization, and indestructibility are on par with those of the Bitcoin blockchain. Satoshi scarcity is cut in half every four years, making Ordinal NFTs all the more rare.
In 2016, the first Bitcoin NFT 'Rare Pepe' was mined, but because of Bitcoin's smart contract limitations, Bitcoin NFTs didn't really take off until now. Inscribing Ordinals brings many benefits to the Bitcoin ecosystem, including more utility, bigger block size, more transactions, more miner incentives and overall growth. Platforms such as Gamma.io and Ordinalsbot have provided an easy and user-friendly way of inscribing Ordinals.
How to Inscribe a Bitcoin Ordinal NFT
Despite the surge in interest in Ordinal inscriptions, the process of actually creating an inscription (also called inscribing) is highly technical, complex, and time consuming. In order to inscribe Ordinals, users must download Bitcoin core, install Ord and run a fully synced Bitcoin node, which is costly and requires advanced technical knowledge. After the sync is completed, the next step is to create an Ordinals wallet and send some satoshis to its address.
Gamma, the largest Bitcoin NFT platform, aims to break those barriers and has provided an easy, low-cost way to inscribe Bitcoin Ordinal NFTs. The Gamma no-code Ordinals launchpad allows users to inscribe their Ordinal NFTs in minutes, and gives them the option to choose or customize their transaction fees based on network congestion.
Prominent artists and projects such as the Megapont Ape Club are launching exciting NFT collections to leverage Bitcoin L1's rarity and immutability. Let's take a look at how to inscribe your own Ordinals with Gamma.
Bitcoin Ordinal Wallets
You will first need a Bitcoin Ordinal wallet with a taproot wallet address. That wallet will need "coin control" capabilities, in order to avoid spending your Ordinal NFT satoshis on network fees.
Ordinal inscriptions are a new technology, which means options for viewing and managing them are currently limited. It's a good idea to use a new and unused address to receive your ordinal. This way, you will know for sure that the ordinal containing your inscription will be the only satoshi associated with that address. This will help to ensure your wallet is "forward-compatible" with new developments for managing ordinal inscriptions.
Bitcoin wallets such as Sparrow (quick setup guide here) can be used to create new and unused Taproot addresses. Please note that if you use these options, you should not use the wallet you create to send BTC, unless you perform manual coin-selection to avoid sending ordinals as payment or fees. You should also be sure to set up your wallet with Taproot-based addresses. Taproot addresses can still receive bitcoin from other Bitcoin addresses, like more common Segwit addresses.
You can also use the specialized command line viewer if you have the technical knowledge to do so, which you can access from the Ordinal Theory Handbook.
Xverse Wallet quickly launched support for Ordinal functionality for iOs, Android and the Chrome Browser extension. You can easily process BTC payments to inscribe Ordinals and safely store them in a wallet, without risking accidentally sending them away as a satoshi payment. Hiro Wallet also added Ordinal support functionality, so you are able to choose which wallet you'd like to use.
Disclaimer: Please note that while we recommend using Xverse and/or Hiro, Gamma is not explicitly affiliated with either company or their products.
Inscribe your Ordinal on Gamma.io
Once your ordinal wallet is set up, visit Gamma's no-code Ordinals launchpad. Compatible wallets include Xverse, Hiro and Sparrow Wallet. Upload your preferred file from your device, keeping in mind that file sizes vary and affect the cost. Your inscription can be viewed by anyone and can never be changed or deleted.
Choose your transaction fee based on network congestion. The higher the fee, the more likely your inscription will be created sooner, though it can still take a few hours or a few days. The transaction fee amounts are estimated, and the Bitcoin network fees are needed to create your inscription.
To receive your Bitcoin NFT, you'll need a new and unused taproot BTC receiving address compatible with Ordinals. Copy your address to the recipient address field in Gamma. If the address you insert isn't compatible with Ordinals, it can't be guaranteed that you'll be able to transfer your ordinal.
Finally, you'll need to agree to the terms of service and pay the inscription fee by sending the requested amount to the wallet address. In order to pay the transaction, you'll need some BTC. You can purchase the cryptocurrency directly from your Xverse wallet, or on other crypto exchanges. Once the transaction is confirmed, your Ordinal is inscribed and you can view it on ordinals.com.
The difference between NFTs and Ordinals
The main difference is that non-fungible tokens, such as Ethereum NFTs or Stacks NFTs, generally point to off-chain data such as an image. This data can be kept on IPFS, a decentralized file storage system that can be changed using dynamic metadata, as well as other file storage systems, each with unique counterparty risk trade-offs. Metadata can also be refreshed on NFT marketplaces such as Gamma.io and OpenSea.
With Ordinal NFTs, however, all the data is inscribed directly on-chain. They are intended to reflect what these digital assets should be: true digital artifacts. NFTs also often have creator royalties attached to them, as is the case on NFT marketplaces such as Gamma.io, whereas digital artifacts don't always. However, Gamma.io puts creators first, and did implement opt-in creator earnings for inscriptions.
The web3 ecosystem has been buzzing and many new projects have been emerging. Dune Analytics recorded over twenty thousand new inscriptions on February 9th 2023 alone, and in May 2023, the total number of inscriptions reached over 3M.
Ordinal Punks is one of the most notable projects and pays homage to CryptoPunks. The collection is a set of 100 Bitcoin NFTs minted within the first 650 Inscriptions on the Bitcoin chain. Another example is Ethereum-based collection OCM (OnChainMonkey), which minted 10,000 Ordinals into a single Inscription, making it one of the first 10k collections on Bitcoin.
You can also explore the Ordinals Collections on Gamma, where you can also see Ordinal NFT projects created using Gamma's no-code platform. Gamma also offers an Ordinal marketplace where users can trade, sell and buy inscriptions.
It should be noted NFTs aren't the only use case for Ordinals. NFT marketplace Gamma.io used its no-code Ordinal inscription service to broadcast their press release directly to the Bitcoin blockchain, making it the world's first press release inscribed to Bitcoin. The Ordinals NFT market has already tremendously evolved over the past months, and it's only the beginning.
The Ordinals buzz has put Bitcoin NFTs at the centre of crypto news, with many collections hitting higher volume and floor prices than ever on the Gamma NFT marketplace. Ordinals Bitcoin NFTs are a breakthrough for Bitcoin, offering for the first time to ability to store data directly on the Bitcoin Layer 1.
Other scalable solutions for Bitcoin NFTs which could offer longterm affordable options include Stacks, a Layer 2 blockchain that uses a unique consensus mechanism, Proof of Transfer (PoX), to settle on Bitcoin. These NFTs are secured by Bitcoin via the Stacks blockchain, offering the highest security without making any changes to the Bitcoin anchor block. Gamma is Stacks' leading NFT marketplace, and offers three core products including a no-code NFT launchpad.