All You Need to Know About the Tools for Blockchain De­vel­op­ers

De­vel­op­ers need to arm them­selves with spe­cial tools when work­ing on blockchain tech­nol­ogy. Let us ex­plore some of these tools that are use­ful for de­vel­op­ers work­ing on the Bit­coin or Ethereum net­works.

OpenSource For You - - Contents - By: Pra­gati Ag­gar­wal The au­thor is a tech­nol­ogy jour­nal­ist at OSFY.

Blockchain tech­nol­ogy en­vi­sions a fu­ture of mak­ing every cen­tralised process, ac­tiv­ity and or­gan­i­sa­tion fully au­ton­o­mous. It is im­mutable, en­crypted, de­cen­tralised and has the po­ten­tial to elim­i­nate in­ter­me­di­aries, au­thor­i­ties and any third-party in­ter­ven­tion in all ap­pli­ca­tions. No won­der blockchain de­vel­op­ers are con­sid­ered as real uni­corns in the in­dus­try right now as a lot of com­pa­nies, es­pe­cially star­tups, are look­ing for their ex­per­tise. How­ever, only a hand­ful of them work on this tech­nol­ogy to­day.

To work with blockchain tech­nol­ogy you do not need to build a blockchain from scratch. You can use the al­ready ex­ist­ing net­works like Bit­coin, Ethereum or Hyper­ledger. While Bit­coin and Ethereum are both de­cen­tralised, open source and pub­lic, Hyper­ledger is pri­vate but open source. Both Bit­coin and Ethereum are dif­fer­ent and you must choose be­tween them based on your ap­pli­ca­tion. Ethereum is suit­able for build­ing de­cen­tralised ap­pli­ca­tions (DApps) while Bit­coin is not re­ally a good choice for DApps as it was de­signed for peer-to-peer trans­ac­tions.

Blockchain as a Ser­vice

The main goal of Blockchain as a Ser­vice (BaaS) is to of­fer the back­end ca­pa­bil­i­ties needed by blockchain so­lu­tions. The BaaS of­fered by dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies sup­ports sev­eral chains in­clud­ing Mul­tiChain, Eris, Storj and Augur. One of the ad­van­tages of BaaS is that users can lever­age the lessons learned by the ser­vice provider to make their sys­tem more se­cure. The key play­ers of­fer­ing BaaS are Mi­crosoft, IBM, HP and Or­a­cle.

Plat­forms for writ­ing smart con­tracts

One of the most com­mon lan­guages used for writ­ing smart con­tracts is So­lid­ity, for which Solc is the com­piler. Most of the Ethereum nodes na­tively in­clude a Solc im­ple­men­ta­tion but the lat­ter is avail­able as a sep­a­rate mod­ule for off­line com­pil­ing.

An­other pro­gram­ming lan­guage used to write smart con­tracts is Ser­pent, for which the Ether scripter helps you to write the script or code. The lat­est ver­sion of the Ser­pent com­piler is avail­able on GitHub.

Test­net

Test­net is an al­ter­na­tive blockchain, the coins of which do not carry any value and are easy to ob­tain. These al­low ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ers to test their cre­ations be­fore tak­ing

them to pro­duc­tion. Test­net of­fers de­vel­op­ers a sand­box en­vi­ron­ment to ex­per­i­ment in with­out hav­ing to use real cryp­tocur­rency or wor­ry­ing about breaking the main chain. Both Ethereum and Bit­coin have dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria for the blockchain Test­net.

To work on the Bit­coin Test­net, you must gen­er­ate a dif­fer­ently for­mat­ted Test­net Bit­coin ad­dress which al­ways be­gins with ‘m’ or ‘n’. For Ethereum, the same ad­dress can work on both the Test­net and main net; hence, you need to be care­ful to not to mix them.

Among the two com­mon ways to ob­tain Test­net coins eas­ily, the first is by solv­ing cryp­to­graphic puz­zles. These Test­net chains have fewer min­ers and the level of dif­fi­culty is low, which makes it eas­ier to find the so­lu­tion for a hash puzzle to ob­tain a block re­ward. The other way to get these Test­net coins is by us­ing faucets. These are the web­sites that dis­pense a small amount of Test­net coins in ex­change for com­plet­ing some task for their web­site.

Mist

Most peo­ple get con­fused as there are two terms re­lated to Mist in Ethereum. The Mist-Ethereum wal­let is the one that is most com­monly used. The name, Mist, is also used for the browser. The Mist-Ethereum wal­let al­lows you to store and send your ether. It is dif­fer­ent from the Ethereum wal­let, which is on­line. Whereas Mist runs from your com­puter and must be down­loaded to be used.

The Mist browser is a spe­cial-pur­pose browser that of­fers an over­all view of the Ethereum blockchain and all the tools that are needed to in­ter­act in blockchain com­po­nents like ether, DAO and smart con­tracts. How­ever, it is still at the beta stage.

The Mist browser was in­tro­duced to build the third­gen­er­a­tion Web (3.0), which en­vis­ages erad­i­cat­ing cen­tralised servers and us­ing Ethereum, Whis­per and Swarm as their re­place­ments.

Coin­base API

Coin­base API al­lows you to build new Bit­coin apps as well as in­te­grate Bit­coin into al­ready ex­ist­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. The sys­tem pro­vides a wide range of ca­pa­bil­i­ties — from gather­ing read-only data to build­ing some­thing com­pletely new. It also of­fers a sys­tem to cre­ate Bit­coin wal­lets and ad­dresses, as well as to buy, sell, send and re­ceive Bit­coins world­wide. It pro­vides sev­eral client li­braries and mo­bile soft­ware de­vel­op­ment kits (SDK) for de­vel­op­ers. It al­lows de­vel­op­ers to ac­cess and in­te­grate the func­tion­al­ity of Coin­base with other ap­pli­ca­tions.

Tierion

Tierion is used by de­vel­op­ers to an­chor data to the blockchain to prove the in­tegrity and pro­vide the time­stamp of any data. It of­fers de­vel­oper tools and APIs to add data to a dis­trib­uted ledger. It also has an open stan­dard called ChainPoint, which al­lows the user to record and gen­er­ate re­ceipts that con­tain all the in­for­ma­tion needed to ver­ify data and avoids the need to rely on in­ter­me­di­aries.

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