Update: This article has been edited slightly to clarify that Ethereum's entire programming language has been ported to Counterparty
In a major development in the Bitcoin 2.0 race, Counterparty has added the open-sourced custom smart contract features of Ethereum by porting the programming language to the Counterparty platform.
While smart contracts have always been possible on Counterparty, they lacked the flexibility and ease of customization found in the Ethereum project. That extra functionality, previously only found in Ethereum, was often attributed by observers of only being possible because Ethereum used its own blockchain and protocol while Counterparty is built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. But, the perceived limitations of the Counterparty platform do not appear to have stopped it from adding Ethereum's smart contract features.
The two projects are often seen as competitors by the outside world; the two technologies already could be used to accomplish many of the same things. Both are designed to allow users to release their own tokens and essentially (but not legally) distribute ownership of a company.
Ethereum is open-sourced, meaning that anyone can view its code, suggest edits and borrow it for their own projects. Creating a project in an open-sourced environment has proven to be very powerful, because it expands the developer pool to anyone interested in the project. The downside of that is that it allows potential competitors to see and utilize your work.
Ethereum has yet to launch, so on some level it must sting to see Counterparty beat them to the punch by bringing Ethereum's features to the public before Ethereum managed to. Ethereum is set to launch in “Q1 2015”. We are in the process of contacting Ethereum for comment and will update this space when we get it. Counterparty's press release had celebratory undertones. In the press release, co-founder Robby Dermody explained the significance of the update.
“By introducing the same smart contract functionality on the Bitcoin blockchain, we’re demonstrating that Counterparty's native currency, XCP, can do everything that Ethereum’s coin can do, and more. With Counterparty, Bitcoin will be able to do anything that Ethereum ever could. The porting effort was focused around maximizing compatibility and security. Indeed, our own code passes 100% of pyethereum’s contract execution software tests.”
By the nature of its size, the Bitcoin blockchain is by far the most secure blockchain in existence. While instances of major coins being successfully affected by a 51 % attack, or other attacks that depend on taking over a significant part of the network are rare, it is nonetheless important for investor confidence that significant investments are protected with a secure as possible blockchain.
Co-founder Adam K described the advancement in layman's terms.
“The Counterparty platform has always had a number of basic smart contracts hard‐coded into its software, but up [until] now, the addition of new features has required manual intervention from the Counterparty team. With this new development, users can write their own smart contracts, or use those from the Ethereum ecosystem, and run them on Bitcoin's blockchain, by far the most established and secure of all.”
It should be pointed out however, that Ethereum is more than just Asset Exchange and smart contracts. As it is its own programming language and has its own blockchain, user end features not found in Counterparty could be added before Ethereum launches. The entire Ethereum programming language has been ported over to Counterparty. They believe that this means any and all user end Ethereum features should be compatible with Counterparty.
We will have more as it comes in.
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