There are many blockchain networks out there, each considers themselves the best in terms of scalability, unique features, or capabilities. But let’s look beyond all these buzzwords, rebrandings, and marketing hype. What characteristics do truly matter when choosing a blockchain platform to develop with? To be honest, it’s not a very straightforward question to answer. This decision is influenced by many external factors such as the quality of the documentation and strength of the community. This article will talk you through the most important criteria for selecting a blockchain platform. In addition, we explore three projects to check out when choosing a platform to develop with: Ethereum, Bitcoin via RSK, and Ardor. Firstly, let’s take a look at different criteria.
Criteria for selecting a blockchain platform
When deciding which blockchain platform to use, you as a developer should consider the following criteria:
- Scalability and throughput of the platform.
- Structure of information: quality of documentation, structure, and availability of external tutorials or guides.
- Adoption rate: evaluate the strength of the community.
- Required dev experience: how easy is it for a novice developer to get started with a particular blockchain platform?
- Availability of bug bounties or incentivization programs.
- Availability of supporting developer tools to increase the developer experience.
The above six criteria should help you make a more informed decision when picking a blockchain platform.
3 Interesting Projects to Consider Developing On
Let’s first analyze if Ethereum is the right project to get started with. For a beginner who has recently joined the blockchain space, getting started might feel overwhelming at first. There is literally tons of information out there in various locations. To sum up a few great resources:
- Ethereum wiki on GitHub
- CryptoZombies learns you to code games on Ethereum
- Ethereum developer docs
- Ethereum Stack Exchange
In addition, the accuracy of the information you find by official and unofficial sources is of high quality. Ethereum is still one of the most actively used projects who has gained a lot of attention over recent years. Therefore, many amazing tutorials and websites exist dedicated to providing information about Ethereum.To give an example, you can find very deep technical pieces that try to answer questions related to Solidity programming.
The following piece helps you with random number generation in a deterministic and safe way. It’s important information for developers who want to design a lottery or raffle smart contract. However, this abundance of information might feel overwhelming or even frustrating. It’s not always clear where you should look for information about a particular problem. Next, the tooling provided by Ethereum and third-party tools is very good. One of the best tools for developers to get started with smart contract development is the Truffle Suite. Truffle acts as an IDE for smart contract development but also as a testing framework that can directly deploy contracts.
The Truffle Suite also comes with Ganache which is a one-click blockchain you can use to try out smart contracts in a safe environment or run tests. Lastly, it’s important to know that Ethereum comes with quite a steep learning curve. You have to learn many things such as Ethereum’s mechanics, smart contract development using a new language Solidity, fee calculation, determinism, and many new tools. As you can see, this list might be overwhelming for new developers. For more experienced developers, this is still a tough dev journey. Conclusion? Ethereum is a good option if you are a more experienced developer. However, the abundance of information makes it a great product to quickly gain knowledge and start experimenting. In addition, this great set of development tools should ease development with Ethereum.
Bitcoin via RSK
RSK is a smart contract platform connected to Bitcoin via sidechain technology. The RSK chain uses a 2-way peg to maintain the link with the Bitcoin blockchain. The advantage of using RSK is that it enables developers to use smart contract logic on top of the Bitcoin network which is not possible natively. Internally, RSK uses SmartBitcoins (SBTC) which is the native currency for its sidechain. Users who want to get access to SBTC need to lock up an equivalent amount of BTC. The interesting part of using RSK is the performance gains. As the platform uses its own chain for settling the smart contracts, it can scale up to 300 transactions per second. Besides, the RSK Infrastructure Framework (RIF) team has been working on their long-awaited “third-layer solution”. The RIF team has completed the Lumino project which can handle up to 5000 transactions per second. The concept of Lumino is based upon the Bitcoin Lightning Network which also uses state channels to transact off-chain. Therefore, much higher throughput can be reached as only the end balances are shared with the network. RIF third layer solutions like Lumino and RIF Storage are expected to be integrated into Taringa!, a Latin-America oriented social media with over 30 million users, a key milestone to look for, which is expected to increase Bitcoin adoption.
When looking at RSK’s website, they immediately put the focus on developers providing them with the most essential documentation. You can learn how to acquire SmartBitcoins, set up a node, or get started with smart contract development. When performing a Google search for RSK smart contract, we can’t find any technical third-party tutorials. However, the documentation provides plenty of tutorials to get started. If we look further, we can find a separate Telegram channel dedicated to RSK smart contract development with almost 3000 members. Also, Gitter is actively used for answering technical questions with 400 members. These support channels should be sufficient for answering technical questions in a timely manner. Also, RSK has launched a bug bounty program on the popular website Hackerone since February 2018. The bug bounty program is still open to report issues. Currently, eight reports have been resolved with an average bounty payment of $2000.Lastly, the RSK ecosystem fund aims to assist founders in building innovative business models on top of Bitcoin. On average, a new project receives between $50.000 and $200.000 for building their business idea. It’s a great initiative to spread awareness about the project and stimulate individuals to build with RSK.Conclusion? It would be nice to see more websites reporting technical tutorials about RSK as their website and Github is the only source of information. However, the active technical community is very helpful for a novice developer who wants to get started with RSK. Still, the adoption rate of RSK looks fairly low at this point.
First of all, the Ardor project has been created by a blockchain software company called Jelurida. This company maintains both the Nxt and Ardor blockchains. To take away any confusion, here’s the difference between both.NXT was created in November 2013 by an anonymous organization that tried to be a faster and more versatile form of Bitcoin. It’s considered to be one of the most stable and well-tested blockchains, and among the first Proof of Stake blockchains. The community of NXT and its developers realized it was facing some challenges, such as a single token. Therefore, Ardor was created based on its codebase, with crucial alterations. To be specific, it’s the first platform that introduced the concept of “child chains”, explained below. Therefore, Ardor can be seen as a fresh start in an attempt to build a more scalable and feature-rich blockchain. The Ardor project consists of a unique parent-child chain architecture, with a single security chain and multiple transactional chains. This architecture enables three fundamental advantages – reducing blockchain bloat, providing multiple transactional tokens, and hosting ready-to-use interconnected blockchains. Now we have clarified the difference, let’s take a look at the project’s documentation and availability of information. First of all, the documentation helps you to get started with Ardor for different platforms. Next, you end up at the tutorials section. Although the documentation website doesn’t look very fancy, the team managed to introduce a nice flow into the documentation which is very helpful for a novice developer to find its way. If you are a more advanced developer, there’s even an “advanced tutorials” section which tells you, for example, how to launch your Security Token Offering on Ardor. Also, if you do a Google search for “Ardor tutorial”, you’ll find a couple of tutorials and videos. However, Ardor spent a lot of effort creating two video courses for Udemy. The first course “Ardor Blockchain Bootcamp” teaches you the basic concepts of the Ardor blockchain. More than 2300 students have been enrolled in this course with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. The second course focuses on programming your first smart contract with Ardor. You might notice that both courses are paid. However, Ardor has been handing out free vouchers to access the course for free as the goal is to attract more developers to the platform. When talking about the capabilities of the platform, it’s fair to say Ardor comes with quite some interesting capabilities. The most important capability is the ability to easily create new child chains. The security of the child chain is guaranteed by the parent Ardor chain. You don’t have to worry about anything which allows you to solely focus on your child chain. Lastly, let’s review the community. The most active channel is Ardor’s Telegram channel. The channel is used for asking all sorts of questions, technical and non-technical. In addition, you can also find an active community on Ardor’s Slack.
Conclusion? Ardor is a great platform to learn and experiment with interesting concepts such as child chains. The concept of child or side chains is still growing and might become mainstream in the future to reach higher scalability and throughput. Finally, Ardor offers great documentation with a lot of guides, tutorials, and advanced guides. It’s definitely a big plus that they also spend time creating two video courses accessible on Udemy.