Things to know when Building Blockchain

The ideas around blockchain are significant because they’re the engine that enables cryptocurrency to be so secure and cohesive. It’s crucial for us to differentiate their value from the actual data they usually contain, like Bitcoin transactions. Blockchain technology isn’t only for cryptocurrency; cryptocurrency is just what helped it break into the mainstream.

The ideas around blockchain are significant because they’re the engine that enables cryptocurrency to be so secure and cohesive. It’s crucial for us to differentiate their value from the actual data they usually contain, like Bitcoin transactions. Blockchain technology isn’t only for cryptocurrency; cryptocurrency is just what helped it break into the mainstream.

With all of this said, how do we sort through all of the buzz? I believe that by asking three questions, we’ll be able to understand the value of blockchains much more clearly:

  1. What exactly makes up a blockchain?
  2. How would we implement our own version of blockchain?
  3. Is using blockchain right for my company?
Dissecting a Blockchain

At a high level, a blockchain is a series of decentralized databases that are connected to a large, distributed network. Each database contains and generates records known as blocks. These blocks can contain literally anything, but they do have a few constant attributes:

  • An encrypted hash of the previous block
  • A timestamp
  • Payload data, eg, transaction data

Each of these pieces plays a crucial part in making the blockchain unique and secure. Most implementations use the encrypted hash of the previous block and timestamps to check the validity of a new block. No previous block can be modified without the complete change of every other block in the chain.

In other words, every block must be in chronological order and have the previous block referenced to it. Any modification of blocks outside of this wouldn’t be accepted by the blockchain at large.

Another thing that makes this architecture unique is its emphasis on decentralization. This means that an entire blockchain isn’t located on just one main machine or database. Individual blocks are distributed in numerous computers around the world.

In order for someone to maliciously control and alter a blockchain, they would have to control all blocks across all of its networked computers!

While this is certainly possible on smaller blockchains, the probability of achieving total ownership of a blockchain diminishes with each new computer added to the chain.

Reading about all of these higher-level ideas might seem like a satisfactory business pitch, but how would you actually build one from a technical perspective?

Creating a Blockchain

Bitcoin is actually a wonderful place to start on this subject. The entire framework of the cryptocurrency is open source and available online. Looking at Bitcoin’s implementation, we can see a few common themes:

  • We need something to store.
  • We need a distributed network of computers to power the transfer, creation, and verification of blocks.
  • We need a means of incentivizing other computers to join our blockchain.

Stored records

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a difference between a blockchain and the valuable things it stores. There is technical importance around what exactly is stored in each block. Historically, blocks have stored information that has a record-like format. For example, Bitcoin transactions are what Bitcoin’s blockchain stores.

However, one could argue that, due to the open-source nature of blockchain’s design, it could be extended and modified to store anything. We just need to make sure that whatever is being stored within a block can interact with previous copies or iterations of itself. This is why records tend to be the natural choice for storage on a blockchain. They’re unaffected by whatever comes before or after them; they’re simply a recording of something that occurred at a specific time.

Chained computers

Another thing we’ll need is a series of computers to power the entire chain. These computers will need to be constantly connected to each other and actively contributing computing power to the chain.

Many implementations encourage computers to help “mine” or create and verify new blocks as well as store existing ones. However, incentivizing other computers to invest all of this computing power can be tricky.

Participation incentives

This is where mining incentives come in. We need a means for our computing power to not only participate once, but also continue to participate in our blockchain.

The reason that cryptocurrency has been so popular in the past is because they’ve rewarded users with Bitcoin and the like in exchange for helping power various blockchains.

Now that we’ve explored what makes up a blockchain, why would we actually want to build one for ourselves or others? Furthermore, why would we choose this implementation over other solution architectures?


Understanding When to Utilize Blockchain

Blockchains are complex and expensive pieces of technology to build and maintain. They require a lot of computing power and the willing participation of networked computers. So, it’s safe to assume that they aren’t a solution for every problem we may have.

Public record

Furthermore, companies must ask themselves whether they want the information stored in the blockchain to be of public record or of private record. Depending on the answer, you would either have a public or private blockchain.

Both have their pros and cons, though it’s worth noting that the blockchain was designed from the public point of view, so private ones are somewhat new.

Public blockchains are chains that have a focus on incentivizing and enlisting the general public into joining their mining pools. They must not only have something valuable to the public at large, but also a valuable means to incentivize folks to help power it (again, why cryptocurrencies are so popular).

Private record

On the other hand, private blockchains are private networks that power decentralized databases. These chains are able to store information in a private and somewhat secure matter (since not everyone can join), but they increase the effort it takes to compromise a data set by quite a bit. It might be useful to store confidential transaction data, secure plans, or even simple assets like movies on these chains. These private blockchains might be able to prevent things like massive hacks of major companies in the future.

Both of these approaches come at different costs. You’ll be spending extra computing power and storage to simply verify and create the means for storing this information. Sure, technologies and methodologies for each of these aspects are getting better constantly, but whenever you jump into developing a blockchain, you’ll be committing to the current specs of the technology you’re using.

Its really important to ensure that the information you’re storing is valuable and worth putting all this effort into scattering and securing. Financial data makes a lot of sense — like many things we exchange, it has a value, and we often accumulate it privately. Yet, it would be quite costly if I just stored something like random cooking notes on a blockchain.

The computing costs are pretty high to secure pieces of information that aren’t really the valuable.
Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, the ideas behind cryptocurrency and the blockchain are very interesting. It’s just really difficult to see them at the moment because of the massive amount of attention around the value of cryptocurrency right now. If we can see through the hype and find the right use case, implementing a blockchain may very well change how many core technologies are structured and created.



What is in a block? - Blockchain

In my previous article, I tried to described the concept of a blockchain with code. This time, I'll try to describe the structure of a single block. I will use the Bitcoin blockchain to explain blocks, but keep in mind that the concepts will remain more or less the same. It could be useful to read my&nbsp;<a href="https://dev.to/damcosset/trying-to-understand-blockchain-by-making-one-ce4" target="_blank">last article</a>to understand a few things first.

Introduction

In my previous article, I tried to described the concept of a blockchain with code. This time, I'll try to describe the structure of a single block. I will use the Bitcoin blockchain to explain blocks, but keep in mind that the concepts will remain more or less the same. It could be useful to read my last articleto understand a few things first.

Structure of a block

A block is a container data structure. In the Bitcoin world, a block contains more than 500 transactions on average. The average size of a block seems to be 1MB (source). In Bitcoin Cash ( a hard fork from the Bitcoin blockchain ), the size of a block can go up to 8MB. This enables more transactions to be processed per second.

Anyway, a block is composed of a header and a long list of transactions. Let's start with the header.

Block Header

The header contains metadata about a block. There are three different sets of metadata:

  • The previous block hash. Remember that in a blockchain, every block is inherits from the previous block because we use the previous block's hash to create the new block's hash. For every block N, we feed it the hash of the block N-1.
  • Mining competition. For a block to be part of the blockchain, it needs to be given a valid hash. This contains the timestamp, the nonce and the difficulty. Mining is another crucial part of the blockchain technology, but it is outside the scope of this article.
  • The third part is a merkle tree root. This is a data structure to summarize the transactions in the block. And we will leave it at that for now. More on this later.
Block identifiers

To identify a block, you have a cryptographic hash, a digital signature if you will. This is created by hashing the block header twice with the SHA256 algorithm. For example, this is a block. I will refer to this block as an example for this article.

The block header hash for this particular block is (right column): 000000000000000000301fcfeb141088a93b77dc0d52571a1185b425256ae2fb

We also can see the previous block's hash (right column): 0000000000000000004b1ef0105dc1275b3adfd067aed63a43324929bed64fd7

Remember that we used the second hash to create the first. Every block uses the previous block's hash to construct its own hash. The block hash is a unique identifier. You won't find two blocks with the same hash.

The other way to identify a specific block is the block height. The is the position of the block in the blockchain. Our example's block is in the 500312 position. This means that there are 500311 blocks before this one. Since the creation of the Bitcoin blockchain in 2009, 500312 blocks have been created ( at the time of writing obviously ).

A block height is not unique. Several blocks can compete for the same position in the case of a fork, like Bitcoin Cash for example.

Merkle Trees

The transactions in a block are contained in a structure called a merkle tree or binary hash tree.

I feel that topics like that are easier to understand with actual examples. So we'll go coding for this. A merkle tree is constructed by recursively hashing pairs of nodes ( in this case, transactions ), until there is only one hash, called the root or merkle root. If we stay in the Bitcoin world, the cryptographic hash algorithm used is SHA256. This is applied twice each time.

An example: We have a block with 4 transactions. For the sake of simplicity, each transaction is a string:

const tA = 'Hello'
const tB = 'How are you?'
const tC = 'This is Thursday'
const tD = 'Happy new Year'

To construct our merkle tree, we start from the bottom. We take each transaction and double-hash them. I'll use the js-sha256 package here.

const sha256 = require('js-sha256').sha256

// Double-hashing here
const hA = sha256(sha256(tA))
const hB = sha256(sha256(tB))
const hC = sha256(sha256(tC))
const hD = sha256(sha256(tD))

//Results
52c87cd40ccfbd7873af4180fced6d38803d4c3684ed60f6513e8d16077e5b8e //hA
426436adcaca92d2f41d221e0dd48d1518b524c56e4e93fd324d10cb4ff8bfb9 //hB
6eeb307fb7fbc0b0fdb8bcfdcd2d455e4f6f347ff8007ed47475481a462e1aeb //hC
fd0df328a806a6517e2eafeaacea72964f689d29560185294b4e99ca16c63f8f //hD

Ok, great. Now remember that I wrote a merkle tree is constructed hashing pairs of nodes. So, we will pair our transactions and concatenate their hashes. Then, we will double hash them too. We will create a hash using the hashes hA and hB, and another for hC and hD. Then, we repeat that process until we have only one hash left and no more pairs to work with. The last hash will be our merkle root.

With only four transactions, this will be rather quick:

//Pairing hA and hB

const hAB = sha256(sha256(hA + hB))
//5dc23d1a2151665e2ac258340aa9a11ed227a4cc235e142a3e1738333575590b

//Pairing hC and hD

const hCD = sha256(sha256(hC + hD))
//ff220daefda29821435691a9aa07dd2c47ca1d2574b8b77344aa783142bae330

// We do it again. We pair hAB and hCD
// This is our root!
const hABCD = sha256(sha256(hAB + hCD))
//301faf21178234b04e1746ee43e126e7b2ecd2188e3fe6986356cc1dd7aa1377

The node at the top of the merkle tree is called the root. This is the information that is stored in the block header in each block on the blockchain. This is how transactions are summarized in each block. In our example block given earlier, the merkle root can be found in the right column: 

a89769d0487a29c73057e14d89afafa0c01e02782cba6c89b7018e5129d475cc

It doesn't matter how many transactions are contained in a block, they always will be summarized by a 32 bytes hash.

Note: The merkle tree is a binary tree. If there is an odd number of transactions, the last one will be duplicated so we can construct our tree.

Because all the leaves in our tree depends on other leaves, it is impossible to alter one leaf without altering others. If you change only one leaf ( one transaction ), the hash changes, therefore the hash you constructed by pairing it with another leaf changes, therefore the merkle root will be different.

You can prove that any transaction is included in a block by creating a authentification path or merkle path. You only need to know log base 2(N) 32-byte hashes. For example:

-For my 4 transactions merkle tree:

log base 2( 4 ) = 2 => If I have a path of 2 hashes for a tree of 4 transactions, I can manage to prove if a transaction belongs to this merkle tree.

For a 16 transactions merkle tree:

log base 2( 16 ) = 4 => If I have a path of 4 hashes for a tree of 16 transactions, I can manage to prove if a transaction belongs to this merkle tree.

log base 2( 1500 ) = 10.55 => If I have a path of 11 hashes for a tree of 1500 transactions, I can manage to prove if a transaction belongs to this merkle tree.

Perhaps a little diagram will help.

There are 16 leaves in this tree. We construct our tree from the bottom up by pairing each leaf. Now, anybody can prove that the leaf I ( in orange ) is part of this block by having the path given in green. We have only 4 hashes, but that is enough to know if the leaf I belongs here. That is because with those informations, we are able to construct every single leaf we need( in yellow ). We can create IJIJKLIJKLMNOP and the root and check if those hashes correspond. This is why it is very complicated to cheat a blockchain. To change one thing means you must change everything.

Well, that's pretty much what a block contains in the Bitcoin blockchain. Hope it helped!


Top 10 Best Blockchain Programming Language for Blockchain Programmer

Top 10 Best Blockchain Programming Language for Blockchain Programmer

We aim at equipping you with every necessary knowledge of the best programming languages for blockchain and you'll learn more 10 Best Blockchain Programming Language for Programmer: C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Solidity, Go, JavaScript...

We aim at equipping you with every necessary knowledge of the best programming languages for blockchain and you'll learn more 10 Best Blockchain Programming Language for Programmer: C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Solidity, Go, JavaScript...

If you’re a tech-oriented person like me, chances are you’ve wondered at least once about all those latest fusses regarding blockchain and cryptocurrencies. So, what is this blockchain and why’d you be tempted to learn more about it? Blockchain, as the name suggests, is a chain of blocks; connected sequentially using complex cryptographic logic.

This technology was implemented first by Satoshi Nakamoto and was first used in the implementation of the popular BitCoin cryptocurrency. The blockchain technology is being used heavily in the industry, thanks to the high-level of security it provides in business transactions. From corporate firms to industrial banks, blockchain developers are sought everywhere equally. So, wielding this modern-day skill by learning the best blockchain programming language guarantee you an edge over your fellow developers.

Which are the best programming languages for blockchain? Developers are presently utilizing prevalent programming languages like C++ and Java to manufacture custom blockchain programs. What’s more, digital money specialists have made languages like Simplicity and Solidity that are explicitly intended for blockchain improvement.

The worldwide Blockchain market is right now worth an expected $1.2 billion and specialists foresee that it will arrive at a $57 billion valuation by 2025, developing at over 69% every year.

Significant enterprises and investors are teaming up with Blockchain counseling organizations to grow new digital currency innovation, savvy contracts, conveyed records for customary banks, gaming tokens, and inventory network the executives frameworks.

What Is Blockchain?

Customary financial uses a bank as the record and mediator. To move cash to a companion, an individual should initially contact their own bank and request that they move cash to a particular record number. The bank checks the sender’s record for assets, moves those assets to the goal, and records the exchange on the sender’s record. The accepting bank must accomplish something very similar.

In any case, the issue with this customary financial framework is that records are put away inside and are defenseless against hacking and control.

Blockchain disposes of this hazard by putting away all records online in a decentralized, unknown record that can be gotten to by anybody. Blockchain uses squares, or accumulations of information, like spreadsheet lines and segments, to store information. Squares are added to the “chain” in successive request.

In contrast to conventional bank records, which are put away inside, each blockchain client has a total record of the whole blockchain on their PC. This implies they can rapidly discover any exchange that has ever happened in the event that they have the comparing hash code. Since that information is put away freely, it can never be changed or erased — giving clients genuine feelings of serenity and trust in the framework.

Organizations keen on exploiting the blockchain upset should scan for up-and-comers with skill in the accompanying programming languages.

Here are the best programming languages for Blockchain

1. C++

C++ keeps on being one of the most famous programming languages in the tech world and is a prevailing power in the blockchain business also. The article arranged language is ideal for blockchain improvement, since it utilizes similar standards, for example, epitome, deliberation, polymorphism, and information covering up, as blockchain to avoid incidental alters to information.

Engineers additionally prize C++ in view of its memory control abilities. The language helps keep squares secure and deal with an enormous number of asset demands by enabling each system hub to acknowledge or dismiss individual squares.

C++ is additionally utilized broadly by blockchain advancement administrations due to the manner in which it handles parallel undertakings and stringing. The language is equipped for taking care of both parallel and non-parallel assignments, notwithstanding improving single-string execution.

EOS is an awesome case of a blockchain program worked with C++. The open source programming was discharged by Square in 2018 and is intended to process exchanges more rapidly than choices by restricting the product to only 21 square creating hubs. This enables the product to affirm an exchange in under a second and settle it in only two minutes.

2. JavaScript

GitHub as of late positioned JavaScript as the most mainstream language for developers — with a fantastic 95% of sites utilizing it here and there. Be that as it may, JavaScript isn’t just the lord of web advancement; the adaptable programming language is additionally utilized broadly for blockchain improvement.

One reason why blockchain designers prize JavaScript is a direct result of the manner in which it handles offbeat code. This is significant in blockchain, as thousands or even a great many exchanges might be started simultaneously. Offbeat, parallel programming empowers a program to finish numerous activities all the while. Standard, synchronous programming just can’t deal with that volume.

By running numerous activities on the double, offbeat code can improve programming responsiveness and application execution. This empowers blockchain projects to deal with the enormous volume of activities without hindering execution and disappointing clients.

You may also like: How to Build a Blockchain in JavaScript.

3. Java

The only language that can challenge the reign of C++ in the industry is Java, and for good reasons so. Java is in many ways similar to C++ regarding its object-oriented approach and a vast community of third-party applications and platforms. The main reason to use Java as the de-facto blockchain programming language in the industry is, however, its highly-capable portability.

Programs written in Java are portable across any computational device, as they don’t rely on system-specific architecture, instead uses the universal JVM(Java Virtual Machine) for execution. This makes Java one of the best programming languages for blockchain.

4. Python

Python is probably THE most trending programming language you can learn these days!

It's very popular because it's easy to learn and use, runs on all operating systems and allows you to build a broad variety of programs: Be that web applications, desktop applications, utility scripts or using it for data science and machine learning.

You'll do so whilst building your own Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. These are of course also highly trending topics and not a lot of people understand what a Blockchain really is, you'll learn a lot about the core concepts of the Blockchain and you'll see how Python can be used for the many aspects that make up a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.

You may also like: Building a Blockchain with Python.

5. Solidity

Solidity is a savvy contract and blockchain improvement language that is utilized broadly by Ethereum designers. The area explicit language utilizes a significant number of indistinguishable standards and punctuation from JavaScript to make high-caliber, decentralized applications.

Engineers lean toward the language since it enables them to compose elevated level code for the Ethereum blockchain arrange, the second-most famous blockchain digital currency, which can be assembled into low-level machine code. It additionally enables people to use the Ethereum advanced exchange record to make brilliant agreements between organizations.

The agreement situated language utilizes invariants, preconditions, and post-conditions to streamline the advancement procedure and to make the agreement age process easier for clients.

Solidity is at present accessible on a scope of blockchain stages, including Ethereum, Ethereum Great, Tendermint, and Counterparty. It’s utilized for a scope of utilizations, including business contracts, barters, crowdfunding, and that’s just the beginning.

6. Ruby

Although quite old and tested by the industry, Ruby gained momentum as a blockchain programming language in the last couple of years or so. Ruby, an interpreted high-level language with object-oriented features, much like Python, can be a viable blockchain coding language for uncountable reasons. It offers developers the ability to prototype their vision rapidly using open source third-party APIs and plugins.

The Ruby ecosystem is thriving with loyal contributors since its inception as the de-facto web language starting from the first half of this millennium. It’s especially prevalent within the Asian developers, the most substantial fraction of open source blockchain developers.

7. Simplicity

Simplicity is a fresh out of the plastic new programming language that was discharged in November 2017 and planned explicitly for shrewd agreements and blockchain improvement. The language conceals low-level consistent parts from architects so as to expand efficiency and stay away from engineer interruptions, which is one motivation behind why it is quickly winding up well known in the network.

Like C++, Effortlessness is an item arranged language that uses indistinguishable standards from blockchain to forestall blunders and changes to information. It additionally utilizes Merklized Theoretical Sentence structure Trees to sort out the projects into trees — along these lines taking into account littler exchange sizes and lessening square space prerequisites.

The language’s makers, Blockstream, are as yet extending the language and its abilities. Designers can hope to see Simplicity being utilized in more applications towards mid-2020 once the language is incorporated into Bitcoin and its highlights are concluded.

8. Go

The brainchild of Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson, pioneer of modern programming languages, Go is the best blockchain programming language for building hyper ledger fabric. The statically-typed yet compiled language is on par the performance level needed by a blockchain coding language. Go comes with every advanced feature you’d need when building your first blockchain, namely classes and inheritance, generics, annotations, constructors, and exceptions.

Go offers top-notch concurrency support in blockchain applications, thanks to its smart implementation of channels and interfaces. So, it’s one of the best programming languages for blockchain when it comes to developing a system that is not only efficient but also lightning fast.

9. Rust

The newest blockchain programming language on the block currently, Rust aims at providing open source devs the capability to build fast and efficient blockchain systems. We found Rust to be exceptionally good when it comes to CPU-bound tasks. You can take either a functional approach or an imperative one with Rust for developing your blockchain.

It’s one of the best programming languages for blockchain due to its highly-capable mechanism of handling mutable states. The Rust compiler provides awe-inspiring optimization of your blockchain. The fast, memory safe, and exclusively concurrent nature of this blockchain coding language makes it most suitable for developing real-world blockchains.

10. PHP

Although dimmed not suitable for modern web anymore, PHP still covers the majority of web systems. It can be utilized to build simple to complex blockchain systems as well, thanks to its object-oriented features and a vast active open source community.

If you’re a new programmer looking for getting your hands dirty at blockchain coding, PHP might turn out to be the best option for you. A considerable number of PHP developers will guarantee a ready workforce in case you develop something highly capable and intend on going corporate.

Summary

Blockchain is here to stay. The popular record-keeping technology is what makes cryptocurrency exchanges possible and is widely used by corporations, individuals, and blockchain consulting services for software development.

Developers can easily use popular programming languages like C++ and Java for blockchain development. Alternatively, the community has recently created blockchain-specific languages like Solidity and Simplicity which make cryptocurrency development a smooth process.

Expect to see more original languages spring up over the next several years, as the blockchain market continues to grow rapidly and cryptocurrency begins to be used by ever-larger numbers of people.

Thank for reading!