A Complete Guide to Blockchain Programming
A Complete Guide to Blockchain Programming
Here's everything you need to know about the types of blockchains, platforms, and programming languages for blockchain development.
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Blockchain is the way of the future. It is not farfetched to think that the future will be built around this emerging technology. Blockchain started off as a public, permissionless technology, and later, another type of blockchain was introduced, each for its own specific set of use cases. Public/permissionless blockchains are open, decentralized, and slow, whereas private/permissioned blockchains are closed and centralized, either partially or completely.
In this article, I am going to discuss what you need to learn in order to start building apps that use blockchain technology. When I first started learning blockchain, a lot of questions popped into my head. What are the different types of blockchains? Which programming languages should I use to program efficiently? And what are the platforms for blockchain development?
In this article, I’ll be discussing the different programming languages you should learn to start up developing apps that use blockchain technology.
Types of Blockchain Programming
Blockchain Architecture Programming
Before a blockchain can be released, important features that comprise its architecture and protocols must be settled. This must be written in code. For example, before Bitcoin was released back in 2009, the rules and regulations governing that situation were coded in C++. This kind of coding is generally done using languages like C and Java, which work closer to the machine.
Building a Smart Contract, or Decentralized App (DApp)
In a normal centralized application, the backend code is running on centralized servers, whereas a Dapp has its backend code running on a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Like an app, a DApp can have its frontend code written in any language and user interfaces that can make calls to the backend.
Popular Blockchain Programming Platforms
Hyperledger is an umbrella project of open-source blockchains to help advance the technology, and through leadership, it provides related tools, training, and events to support the collaborative development of blockchain-based distributed ledgers. Its goal is to provide modular blockchain technology that contains a rich, easy-to-use application programming interface (API). Hyperledger reduces the security risks and ensures that only parties that want to transact are the ones that are part of the transaction. So, hyperledger provides all the capabilities of blockchain architecture, data privacy, information sharing, and immutability.
Ethereum is an open-source blockchain platform for developing decentralized apps or DApps that run on blockchain technology. Ethereum blockchain platform facilitates scripting or smart contracts, which are run through the nodes in the network. It not only tracks the transactions but also programs them. Ethereum offers numerous programming choices, including C++, Go, Python, Java, and more. Smart contracts are built using Solidity, a contract-oriented, high-level programming language.
Top 5 Blockchain Programming Languages
Let’s kick start with the oldest and most admired language on the list, the evergreen C++. Almost all of us know that it is an extension of the C language. In C++, a package of data, functions, and objects are created, which can easily be called and reused in other programs, greatly reducing coding time.
But there are many advanced languages now, so why C++?
Well, C++ has certain features that make it very appealing. Thinking about the challenges in blockchain development, blockchain should be like a secured fortress that also has effective resource management. A blockchain is supposed to interact with a lot of untrusted nodes while still giving quick service to any and all of them. This prompt service is very critical for the success of a cryptocurrency. To compete for all these demands and perform at the highest level, you need complete control over CPU and memory usage. C++ gives this to its users.
Another interesting aspect of C++ is move semantics. Move semantics provides a way to move the contents between objects rather than be copied. The advantage of move semantics is that you can get copies of certain data only when you need them, giving a huge performance boost by decreasing code redundancy. Hence, efficient memory management and high performance are both desirable for blockchain.
Another challenge I can think of with regards to blockchain programming is the integration of tasks that parallelize well and the tasks that don’t parallelize. Most languages specialize in one, however, C++’s threading ability can handle both parallel and non-parallel tasks. C++ allows multithreading facilities with effective inter-thread communication and also optimizes single-thread performance.
Pros and Cons of C++
|Independent and Multiplatform||complex and often difficult to debug|
|Statically types||Not very easy to learn|
|High Speed||garbage collection not supported|
C++ Blockchain Use Cases
C++ is mostly used in cryptocurrencies and important blockchain projects like Bitcoin, Ripple, Bitcoin cash, Litecoin, Stellar, and Monero.
|Prototype-based||interpretation depends on the browser|
|Supports functional programming||anyone can view code|
A relatively-modern programming language, Python is often the favorite for new coders as it has a simple syntax similar to the English language. Python code can be used on a server to create web-based applications. It is also used to connect to database systems. It can handle big data and perform complex mathematics. The most appealing aspect of Python is that it uses new lines to complete a command, as opposed to other programming languages, which often use semicolons or parentheses.
Whatever you try, you cannot leave Python out of this list as almost every single blockchain ecosystem has one or more public tools written in Python. Python is becoming a more popular language than ever before.
Pros and Cons of Python
|Works on different platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Raspberry, others)||Mostly used as a server language|
|The syntax allows developers to write programs with fewer lines compared to some other programming languages.||Not so smart context|
|Runs on an interpreter system. Meaning, prototyping can be very quick.||Libraries are not always documented in enough way|
Python Use Cases in Blockchain
In the blockchain arena, Python is used to write smart contracts for Hyperledger. There are many other good projects likes Ethereum(pyethereum), which has their own implementation. Python has also been used to create contracts for NEO.
In Go, methods called Goroutines provide the ability to run several programs or several parts of a program asynchronously or in parallel, which is an important feature required for blockchain projects. Usually, Threads are used to achieve this in languages, such as Java and others.
Pros and Cons of Go
|Compilation time is fast||Not very easy to learn|
|Super strongly typed, Scalable||For some developers, the syntax is not clear|
|Garbage collection||Very young language and the community is not that big like other popular languages|
Go Use Cases in Blockchain
There is an endless list of Golang-related projects, but here, I am going to mention a few of the popular ones. Go-Ethereum is one of the most important projects written in Golang. Another important project that is written in Go is the Hyperledger Fabric. This is one of the most popular blockchain solutions for big companies. Another exciting project targeting decentralized online games is the Loom Network, which has chaincode written in Go.
To try out code examples of Solidity, you could use the Remix IDE. Remix is a web-browser-based IDE with integrated compiler and Solidity runtime environment without server-side components. It that allows you to write Solidity code and deploy and run smart contracts.
Pros and Cons of Solidity
|Provides inheritance properties in contracts||Very young language, the community is not big yet, so support is smaller.|
|Statically typed||Usage is very complicated due to the unavailability ofStandard Library|
|Easy to learn||Not universal; usable in Ethereum ecosystem only|
Solidity Use Cases in Blockchain
Solidity language is used to develop Ethereum smart contracts. I do not see any other project using solidity, but Ethereum development ecosystem is enormous and is one of the most important parts of blockchain development as of now. And solidity is one of the most popular languages used in smart contract development.
Blockchain technology is expected to have a massive impact on every sector and industry. In the coming months and years, as the world becomes more and more decentralized and blockchain is adopted as the mainstream, the future is limitless.
Published at DZone with permission of Ankur Goyal , DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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