How to program blockchain
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How to program blockchain
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- A Beginner’s Guide to Blockchain Programming
- Why Programmers Need to be Learning about Blockchain
- How to Build a Blockchain in Python (Get Pre-built Runtime)
- Top Blockchain Programming Languages: Choose the Best One for Your Business
- 7 tips on how to become a blockchain developer
- Top 5 Blockchain programming books for developers
- Top 15 programming languages for Blockchain app development
A Beginner’s Guide to Blockchain Programming
Secure Development. Billions of dollars in venture capital, industry investments, and government investments are going into the technology known as blockchain. It is being investigated in domains as diverse as finance, healthcare, defense, and communications. As blockchain technology has become more popular, programming-language security issues have emerged that pose a risk to the adoption of cryptocurrencies and other blockchain applications.
In this post, I describe a new programming language, Obsidian, which we at the SEI are developing in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University CMU writing secure smart contracts in blockchain platforms. In an earlier blog post, What Is Bitcoin? What Is Blockchain? Its appeal lies in its fundamental properties, which apply to every transaction:. This combination of properties results in a system that, by design, timestamps and records all transactions in a secure and permanent manner and is easily auditable in the future.
In addition, due to its distributed nature, the system is highly resilient to downtime and is unlikely to crash. All these properties combined make blockchain an appealing system for a wide variety of applications, and explain much of the interest in the technology.
The best-known application for blockchain to date is its use in a cryptocurrency called Bitcoin. Bitcoin relies on blockchain technology, but it is important to appreciate that not all blockchains are Bitcoin; blockchain is the underlying technology, not a specific end-user application.
Moreover, many companies have created altcoins and are using initial coin offerings ICOs as a method of raising capital, but this is also not a requirement for blockchain technologies. Fundamentally, you can think of a blockchain like a computer: a piece of infrastructure on which software can run.
This infrastructure can be public-facing, like computers hosting websites, or private, such as servers hosting proprietary software. Following the Bitcoin example, the Bitcoin software is fairly limited in its capability, being able to do only two tasks: send transactions and create blocks.
Other blockchains such as Ethereum are more sophisticated in that they can run virtually any program that a developer can create.
Instead of tracking only account balances, Ethereum makes it possible to install fully-functional programs on the blockchain, which enables much broader applicability. While the blockchain properties of transparency, resiliency, and forgery resistance are highly desirable in finance and currency applications, many other areas are attracting government attention, as well. One specific area of intense focus has been supply chain management.
The auditability of blockchain lends itself to tracking elements in a supply chain so that they can easily be tracked, even multiple layers deep in the chains.
Moreover, the identity aspect of blockchain makes it possible to tell, for example, that one supplier bought from another supplier, who bought from that supplier, etc. Such " chain of custody " information would usually be hard to find and track, but blockchain technology makes this tracking much more transparent.
We are also seeing applications in simple automation where people are using blockchain for standard processes. One of the well-touted adopters is the General Services Administration GSA , which took its standard process for onboarding new government contractors, put a component of it on a blockchain, and released it. That is one of the first real government applications of a blockchain technology. As experimentation proceeds, many government agencies are approaching blockchain with caution after having learned hard lessons from previous attempts to bring new technology into government.
Blockchain failures have been public and visible, and these failures underscore the need for caution in mission-critical applications. Despite all the above, blockchain is still a technology in its infancy. The tools available to develop blockchain applications are widely regarded as being hard to use and easy to use incorrectly.
Probably the most notorious example was the blockchain-based venture capital fund known as the DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization. Individuals joined this group simply by adding cryptocurrency to the DAO's "pot," so to speak.
Distribution of money was then accomplished through voting on a blockchain. Famously, because of a programming error, someone was able to siphon the money out, and the DAO lost tens of millions of dollars.
After that incident, it became evident that the programming language the programmer had used was hard for developers and made it too easy to make such a critical mistake. In addition to the DAO theft, there have been others. People have a hard time writing correct programs in the languages that are currently in common use.
One such language is Solidity , which has been shown to be insecure by the DAO example and others. While other blockchain platforms use more standard languages, such as Go or Java , the development of blockchain-based applications requires programmers to use different design patterns than are typically used in programming.
It is easy to make a critical mistake simply through lack of knowledge. In our work , we looked at the set of application domains that people are interested in using for blockchain, and we observed some commonalities.
We seek to design a language to provide stronger guarantees than would be available when writing these same applications in Solidity, Go, or Java. Our work was motivated by two general principles:. The current standard practice for programming in Solidity is to provide an escape hatch for an error condition. A third-party that all participants trust is designated with access to all of the resources in the contract, and, in the event of an error that was unanticipated by the author of the code, all the money is transferred to that third-party.
The rationale is that transferring to the third-party is better than losing the money altogether if that trusted third-party acts in a trustworthy way, and if the author of the code remembers to insert this trap door in every appropriate place.
However, that is a lot of ifs for developers to remember and add to their applications. We observed that many of these applications are typically stateful at a high level. To take one example, think of financial insurance for a bond.
A company issues a bond available for sale, and then eventually somebody can buy the bond. The bond changes state from being available for sale to having been purchased. As soon as the bond has been purchased, it makes no sense to purchase it again. If you were to implement this in a standard object-oriented language, such as Java, you would have a method that allowed any caller to buy the bond, and it would do a runtime check to see whether the state was valid for the transaction that was being evoked.
While this approach works, it would rely on this dynamic check. Instead, we would like to provide that kind of guarantee at compile-time rather than at run-time. By moving the guarantee earlier, we could catch the potential bug earlier. Research shows that it is cheaper to fix bugs if they are discovered earlier rather than later.
In the context of blockchain, this is especially important because blockchain programs are immutable. After a defective program is published on the blockchain, it can't be fixed directly: a new program must be coded and added to the blockchain and then all users must be convinced to migrate to the new version. This sort of permanence is one of the attributes of blockchain, i. One reason we are seeing so many bugs in blockchain applications is that programmers are coming from web-development, game-development, and finance-development backgrounds.
They are not used to thinking in terms of exchanging money and the need to treat it differently. Moreover, in traditional programming, bugs are easily fixed through patches. For example, web developers specifically never have to worry about users updating their applications, because each time users visit the website they receive the most up-to-date version of code. The correctness of web programs is thus a function of their developer's diligence and their ability to recognize atypical cases.
We are trying to make a language that explicitly embeds knowledge of atypical cases so that even if programmers don't catch potential problems themselves, they need not think about all the contingencies. We are embedding this kind of domain knowledge into the constructs of the Obsidian language. Obsidian includes two features largely absent from current languages, including those used for blockchain development:. Obsidian specifically forces the programmer to consider matters that they wouldn't necessarily consider in existing languages because they have to type them all out.
More is made explicit and less is implicit. There is a type of computer-program analysis called typestate that allows a computer to determine what parts of the program can be run based on what else has already happened.
Continuing the finance analogy from earlier, once a bond has been sold, we can't sell it again. Typestate analysis helps us determine this kind of information on a computer. In Obsidian, we use typestate to represent high-level states of software interfaces and to reason statically--that is, at compile-time--about the states that are available and what operations are available in each state.
We can therefore provide compile-time guarantees about available states. The other observation we made is that many blockchain programs are based on some sort of resource. Think of money for example, a virtual currency or some other kind of resource. These quantities are different from the kinds of objects that you might typically pass around in object-oriented programming languages.
For example, if I construct a color object to represent the color of a pixel on the screen, and I pass it to some interface, we will both have a reference to that color object. If I modify it, maybe we should have established some kind of agreement--a service-level agreement or some kind of application programming interface specification--regarding what the modifications were going to be in case I am violating anybody's invariants. This approach is different from money. If I give you money, I don't have that money anymore; it is no longer my money, it is yours.
I can talk about how much money it was, but I cannot give it to you and then also give it to someone else, because I already gave it away once and cannot give it away again. In the context of programming, you could easily imagine a bug in which I accidently give away money twice. You could also imagine a bug in which I take some money and then forget to do anything with it.
I assign it to a variable, which is in some scope, then there is a bug in which that variable goes out of scope, and that reference to the money is lost and the money is gone and unable to be retrieved. There are many different quantities in blockchain applications that have this kind of property; for example, votes in a voting system work the same way.
Anytime you have a static resource pool where the change of the state of the resource changes where the resource is located, you want to be able to guarantee that that transaction can actually occur--that it is appropriate, that it can occur, and that it actually has occurred-- before you get to run-time. After you get to run-time, if you took my money and the variable goes away, the money may be lost forever.
The term we are using in Obsidian to think about this concept is "ownership. If I give you the money, you own it and I don't. Obsidian makes it much easier to track what is going on with resources such as money.
In programs written in one of the existing languages, if I as a user am trying to track resources, I am doing it manually; I have to keep counts to make sure that I have spent all the money, and it is up to me to make sure I didn't forget to spend it.
It is also up to me to make sure I don't try to spend it twice. With Obsidian, if I try to spend it twice, as soon as I hit the save button, it warns me that I am doing something I can't do. If I try to spend the money before I have it, the program will also warn me. If I have money and forget to use it, I'll get a warning, "You are in an area where you have money to spend. In addition to reasoning about these things in a type-oriented way, in the future, we would like to think about enabling static analysis.
We're a place where coders share, stay up-to-date and grow their careers. Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links; I may receive compensation if you purchase products or services from the different links provided in this article. Hello Devs, If you want to learn Blockchain in and looking for best resources to learn Blockchain then you have come to the right place. Earlier, I have shared best websites to learn Blockchain in , best blockchain certifications as well as best free Blockchain courses and in this article I am going to share the best blockchain courses for beginners to learn in If you're involved in the cryptocurrency space then you've probably heard about blockchain.
Why Programmers Need to be Learning about Blockchain
Unless you are living under the rocks, it is likely that you would be familiar with what is Blockchain and what its potential is when it comes to reforming the tech world. Over the years, this technology has helped mitigate the traditional challenges that a myriad of industries face, helping them grab better opportunities. Blockchain has also proven to hold the potential to revamp the whole economy — be it healthcare, travel, education, or legal domain. Between and , the demand for Blockchain rose by nearly percent, and it became one of the most highly-valued technologies to have in the industry. As blockchain is dominating its presence in fields unheard of, any technology enthusiast needs to be familiar with the top programming languages which are best suited for Blockchain development services. Especially when you want to develop dApps or are looking to get into the ICO development game. The Solidity blockchain programming language was developed by Vitalik Buterin , the mastermind behind Ethereum.
How to Build a Blockchain in Python (Get Pre-built Runtime)
Offered by the University of Buffalo, this is a series of four courses:. As this is a technical course, the recommended prerequisite is knowledge of at least one modern, high-level programming language. It is split into four modules:. It does not, however, dive deeply into blockchain development.
Top Blockchain Programming Languages: Choose the Best One for Your Business
Is Blockchain development is really hard? Inevitably, Blockchain developers seem to be a limited breed of programmers. Numerous organizations are attempting to headhunt them down. Therefore, if you anticipate yourself as a Blockchain Developer , we have prepared a few quick observations into the exhaust path of becoming one. Yes, it not so easy. These are some key things to prepare yourself.
7 tips on how to become a blockchain developer
This technology has blown up so many markets, and while some people consider it a bubble, I believe that blockchains will soon be as common as the web. DApps are decentralized applications. A blockchain has no server that plays the role of an intermediary between users that exchange messages, money, or data. A blockchain is a network that shares all data among its peers, storing this data chronologically in blocks. This makes a blockchain extremely hard to violate and steal data from. A permissionless blockchain is accessible to all members of the network and is available on any device. Every user can access the code, verify transactions, interact with others, and stay anonymous. Bitcoin, for example, is permissionless.
Top 5 Blockchain programming books for developers
This document explains what application-specific blockchains are, and why developers would want to build one as opposed to writing Smart Contracts. Application-specific blockchains are blockchains customized to operate a single application. Instead of building a decentralised application on top of an underlying blockchain like Ethereum, developers build their own blockchain from the ground up.
You have likely heard about blockchain technology through its association with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. However, while cryptocurrency remains an important application of blockchain technology, it is only one example. Blockchain has emerged from the once-shadowy world of cryptocurrency to become a transformational technology for many businesses. Companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and JP Morgan Chase are making huge investments in blockchain that they hope will make operations more efficient and give them a competitive advantage. With many companies seeking talented blockchain professionals, there has never been a better time to pursue a career in the field.
As you might have deduced from the name, a blockchain is a type of digital ledger that stores blocks of data in an interconnected fashion. New data is added to the blockchain from a theoretically limitless number of nodes that a blockchain can support. As the digital ledger is also decentralized, these nodes can be located anywhere in the world. Being decentralized also means that there does not need to be a single controlling authority telling the blockchain how to operate; it will go through the motions of taking in data, offloading the verification process, adding new blocks to the chain, and updating the nodes with the newest version of the chain, all automatically. Aside from storing a wide variety of data, each block also includes a timestamp about its generation along with other classification data to ensure the chain easily knows how to sort the data.
Blockchain has become a billion-dollar industry where more organizations are looking for new ways to include it in their offerings. Blockchain is safe, secure, and a terrific way to unify the way we send and receive money. Blockchain came into prominence way back in , when there was a massive interest in creating P2P money without the interference of banking institutions. Blockchain solved an important problem that is often associated with transactions — trust.