Ethereum DevCon1: Expert View of the Third Day

Ethereum Devcon1 zoomed in to the Ethereum protocols underlying the blockchain platform. The presentations of the low-level mechanics were alternated with same presentations of concrete DApps.

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Ethereum DevCon1: Expert View of the Third Day

Aron van Ammers, Chief Technology Officer and Founder of BlockStars.io, continues his exclusive report of the third day of the Ethereum Devcon1. It’s his exclusive experts’ vision, reserved only for the readers of the Cointelegraph media outlet. We give you his text as it is.

Theme: Deep dive into the Ethereum protocols

On the third day, Ethereum Devcon1 zoomed in to the Ethereum protocols underlying the blockchain platform. The presentations of the low-level mechanics were alternated with same presentations of concrete DApps.

Under the hood

For a developer of Ethereum DApps, it's not absolutely necessary to know how the blockchain itself works, but it is very useful to have an understanding. Compare it to driving a car: you can drive it without ever knowing about the inner workings of a combustion engine or a gear box, but knowing about it does help to drive it without letting the engine die at every signal. Today we got a look under the hood of the "car" that is Ethereum.

The audience was introduced to the devp2p protocol, underpinning the peer-to-peer communication between Ethereum nodes. Vitalik Buterin continued with an enlightening overview of the mechanics of the Ethereum blockchain. Jutta Steiner and Gustav Simonsson explained the challenges in securing a newly built blockchain and how they are approached by ETHDEV through extensive testing and auditing.

Later in the day participants were informed about the work towards an Ethereum Light Client by Zsolt Felvoldi and to the Whisper protocol for secure messaging by lead developer of the Ethereum C++ client Gavin Wood. In a panel discussion the different Ethereum clients were presented and discussed by their authors. As there are now at least six fully different implementations of Ethereum, the building blocks for a diverse and therefore resilient network are in place. The challenge is to translate this diversity to the live node ecosystem which is now completely dominated by the Go implementation.

Developer tools

Besides the deep dive under the hood, there was some attention for DApp development tools as well. The Embark Framework was presented by Konstantin Kudryavtsev on behalf of lead developer Iuri Matias. With basic properties similar to the frameworks discussed yesterday like quickly bootstrapping a new DApp and deploying it to the blockchain, Embark stands out for its Test Driven Development features.

HydraChain, an extension of the Ethereumplatform which supports the creation of scalable blockchain-based applications that comply with organizational and regulatory requirements, was introduced by its creator Heiko Hees. Operating in a similar space as solutions like Eris it offers a structure for building smart contract systems in a private environment. HydraChain has advanced features for interoperability between different private blockchains and the public Ethereumblockchain.

DApp spotlight

Nick Dodson of ConsenSys demonstrated his two projects Weifund, for decentralized crowdfunding, and Boardroom, a blockchain governance suite. Together they can be applied to first fund a new business in a decentralized fashon, then govern it on the blockchain as well, through such functionalities as decentralized voting for proposals by board members.

Kai Cheng Chng of Digix presented their platform to work with physical assets on the Ethereum blockchain, currently supporting gold bullion. Digix has developed a protocol called Proof of Asset to give physical assets like gold bullion a presence on a blockchain, after which they can be traded on a marketplace in whole or divided in parts.

Piotr Janiuk presented the Golem Project, a decentralized cloud computing platform. Specifically he explained the challenges of using nano-payments on the Ethereum blockchain. Concepts like payment channels can be used. Access to good random data from within the blockchain is an open challenge for nano-payments to be widely accessible.

Wrapping up

Day three was a varied day ranging from deep insights into the low-level workings of the Ethereum platform to finished, concrete applications. Day four is entirely dedicated to the DApps already available.

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