The most important parts of blockchain are its growth and adoption. These require blockchain’s core technologies to be easily accessible to developers. There are hundreds of use cases for blockchain that have yet to be discovered, and the only way they can come to life is via programmers willing to create them. By establishing solid general-use foundations, blockchain’s strengths can be showcased and appropriately encapsulated. This ensures that developers looking to solve a problem using blockchain won’t try to work around it and instead choose the appropriate tools for the job. The most important part of developing decentralized applications in particular (among other kinds) is gaining users. For a technology itself to gain users, it must be implemented in meaningful and readily accessible ways for the users.
There are countless projects tackling this issue across many levels, and I’ve chosen two illustrations of the full range. HyperLedger is the corporate-scale, fully modular system that allows developers to quickly implement blockchain without compromising enterprise-level compliance. It’s made up of almost a dozen sub projects that each focus on presenting a part of blockchain in a straightforward manner. Scores of big names from Intel to Cisco have donated to the project to become members with some becoming “Premier members.” It’s worth noting that the project is open source, so its progress is shared across the entire blockchain community. Lastly, the project has been very careful to distinguish itself from cryptocurrencies. This is an essential detail, showing that the project has focused itself a level above the majority of the ICOs and blockchain startups that are lured into forking the bitcoin source code or default to using ERC20 tokens. Note: for many projects the two previously mentioned approaches make sense, but frequently they don’t realize that starting within the cryptocurrency ecosystem is a choice instead of a requirement.
On the other side of the coin we have the CryptoZombies tutorials from the folks over at the Loom. Cryptozombies is a series of interactive tutorials for teaching solidity contract development on Ethereum, and they describe the Loom Network as
“a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum that is live in production… a network of DPoS sidechains, which allows for highly-scalable games and user-facing DApps while still being backed by the security of Ethereum.”
The Loom team developed a technology for games to create side chains that connect to the main Ethereum blockchain to reduce the currently molasses-tier data write rates on the main Ethereum network. The current Ethereum mainnet’s speed is fine for sending funds, but for frequently updated game data it’s a poor fit. The Loom network hopes to fix this, but on the way they created the Kahn-Academy of Solidity (Ethereum’s most active programming language for smart contracts). CryptoZombies is a crash course in integrating the Ethereum blockchain with a game, and the Loom team made it a logical, easy process. There is a full game that they Kickstarted called Zombie Battleground from which the tutorials’ thematic and style elements are borrowed.
CryptoZombies goes about doing the same thing as Hyperledger, but for the indie game developers and students of the world instead of the monolithic corporations. Neither solution is inherently better, they are two paths to the same goal: furthering blockchain by enabling access to the tools for content creation. The quiet heroes that make all the future disruptive startups possible are players like these, laying solid foundations for future developers to stand on. The concept of open source is the basis that makes this entire ecosystem possible. Focused teams creating development tools for the community are essential at the technology level, and as the space develops we will see who steps up to address this need.