Trends in Blockchain and Bitcoin App Development

April 6, 2017 Premayogan Mahesh

Trends in Blockchain and Bitcoin App Development

We can now easily store and retrieve JSONs from distributed ledger blockchain technologies Easy for developers to deploy and configure Technology is now ready for the practitioners as well as pioneers https://www.multichain.com/developers/multichain-2-0-preview-releases/ You really need to get yourself involved! Technical guide here: https://medium.com/@theline_digital/a-blockchain-distributed-ledger-as-an-api-step-1-create-your-node-and-join-the-chain-3ed005db9428 Further reading here: https://codeburst.io/a-blockchain-distributed-ledger-as-an-api-proof-of-concept-part-1-8319970e9778

1. Blockchain sauce

We all want a bit of blockchain. It is hard to think of any digital project in 2017 where you can’t add a bit of blockchain on top and it suddenly becomes the tastiest tech on the menu. Share it with your friends, tell your investors! Why? That is the million dollar question (in some cases quite literally). We all realise that blockchain technology has massive potential, and we all know that we definitely HAVE to be using it because it is going to be revolutionary; but we haven’t quite figured out exactly how just yet. This is especially true in my sector. From a web development perspective, we all want to be working with blockchain technologies, but we are still a little bit green as to how it will add value to our day to day projects. Massive corporations are integrating blockchain technology into their business processes; we already know that it adds tremendous value for auditing data and that it could eventually become a neutral arbitrator of all our processes. A referee with no hidden motives. This is great for commerce, and useful for creating distributed ledgers of information that belong to everyone and no-one, public voting records for example. Or in the case of a bank or giant multinational, incorruptible transaction records. But how… How in the name of all that we hold sacred can this technology possibly be useful for a humble website. In 2017 something happened. You may not have noticed it, you may not have the slightest clue. But it happened all the same. Like most things with Open Source the significance of it escaped most of us, and it certainly didn’t happen with a launch party. It just slowly came to be. What has happened in 2017 is that Open Source technology became mature enough for us to quickly and easily deploy our own distributed ledger using blockchain technology. Although the quickly and easily is quite exciting, there doesn’t seem to be anything revolutionary about this, until we look at the detail. Or rather, instead of looking at the detail, we’ll look at the JSON.

 

2. It’s all about the JSON!

So why am I excited? I’ve been been keeping tabs on distributed ledger and blockchain technology for quite some time. I will happily admit that the intimidating learning curve of blockchain / ether and smart contracts rather curbed my enthusiasm for taking on client projects, as simply put from a web development perspective I found it hard to come up with a use case that justified the time it would take to get up to speed. I understand the use case for a bank, a conglomerate or a massive supply chain operator; but I make websites for a living! I’m far more interested in web applications of blockchain technology, and to me this centers more around distributed, secure ledgers rather than the asset management / contract executing aspects of blockchain. Until recently, the tools I’ve been using to explore blockchain technology are all focused around assets and ownership. It comes down to cash, contracts, big business. https://blockgeeks.com/guides/smart-contracts/. All this stuff is important and a good use of the technology, but doesn’t really have much of an influence on how I build websites or what type of websites I would build. I’ve recently discovered one Open Source blockchain based distributed ledger called https://www.multichain.com/. This for me was a ground-breaking moment as finally the penny dropped and I had a tool where I could use blockchain technology to actually do useful things online! Let me explain… Like most modern web developers, I work almost exclusively with JSONs. This is basically a uniform way of providing and consuming data so that your data can be adapted the technology of your choice. What I’ve just realized (and maybe I’m behind the curve, but I don’t see anyone shouting about this yet!), but what I’ve just realized is… We can now easily store and retrieve JSON objects from distributed ledger blockchain technology. This whole JSON detail basically means that blockchain now speaks MY language. I can do anything with a JSON (within reason!). So, let’s think about the advantages of ‘blockchain’ technology and change our thinking hat from banks and supply chains, and simply apply it to a JSON instead of to a transaction / ownership structure. I’ll borrow a list from here: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-advantages-of-blockchain-technology.

Blockchain advantages:

Security of data and transactions Safe data storage and exchange There is no central authority or a single administrator There is no intermediaries (banks, financial institutions, etc.). transactions are direct Each network participant has access to data There is a variety of Blockchain use cases: while the tool is the same, it can be applied in many situations and solve a wide range of tasks.

3. Why?

So, the whole point of blockchain is that it is a neutral, ultimate proof of data. This is why we use it for contracts, ownership, resolution disputes etc. Well, now let’s think of some of the biggest problems on the internet. Off the top of my head I can come up with another hot topic of 2017, ‘Fake news’. Let’s take fake news as an example. So, the problem with ‘fake’ news is that people invent information and sources and distribute that content. We as consumers lap it up with our tiny attentions spans, and being so shocked by this unpleasant fiction, we share it with our friends and family. Well that doesn’t have to be a problem anymore. We can use blockchain technology to create a blockchain of ‘trusted’ news referees, transparent to everyone. Every reputable news outlet (could be 1000’s) has permission to access this blockchain, and when a news story is submitted it will instantly get peer review from every member of this blockchain (or whoever has time in any moment). Every time we want to distribute a news article, we simply put the JSON on the blockchain. In 2017 this is a trivial automation task. This feed we’ve just created can hook up to an API, and through this API any member of blockchain can have a cursory glance to see if it is fake news. The API will return a permalink or ‘stamp’ that this news has been published to an official news network and has been subject to peer review. Any consumer of this news can now see an immutable record of whom has published the content, when, and whether there were any concerns raised by verified networks. Should there be a high proportion of ‘negative’ reviews on the article, the information can be flagged and then reputable news networks would have an opportunity to not distribute this particular article. Simply by referring to the blockchain stamp prior to sharing or redistributing. Why is a blockchain helpful for this? Because it can be a transparent, public incorruptible record of this data. We can see exactly who created / approved / disapproved this content, when, and why. Without even exploring the potential in great detail we’ve just created a blockchain peer-review arbitration system to address fake news… What we end up with is a permanent immutable record of news from source to distribution. Much like the supply chain ‘field to fork’ principal, but applied to our news sources instead of our food sources! Blockchain verified JSON. The immutable self-certified data to rule them all.

4. The ramblings of a lunatic

Your suspicious! I know you are. I read about my first blockchain this morning right? Well, that’s why I made a proof of concept, because if you don’t believe me, you’d better believe the blockchain… https://theline.digital/blockchain So, the potential of what I’ve mocked up above is simple to see — A. It was really easy. B. it is a webpage working off JSONs embedded in blockchains as the data source. Now before you accuse me of creating the worlds most pointless blockchain (although it can’t be far off!), I would like to point out that this simple blockchain could be easily adapted in terms of permissions, data storage, workflow, owners etc. As it feeds off the JSONs that we define through the front-end (in this case Angular 5), we have the potential to define the datatypes that will be immortalized in our blockchain. While we are simply saving pointless tags and messages (because why not!), this could just as easily be an immutable series of JSONs reviewing our fake news, or referencing the change history of our recently for sale bungalow. Blockchain ledger is the data source, JSON is the data, which means that whatever technology we want to use can power the front-end. All the data on the page is being fed from blockchain streams. The tags can be integrated into Angular and filtered like any other tags from any other data source. We have an interface to interact with our blockchain data. The only difference to any other API interface, is that we have no control over the underlying data because it belongs to all members of the blockchain. Define your data, define your blockchain, then everyone who is part of your network can build and verify their applications with one datasource to rule them all… And that is why websites could be on the verge of changing forever…

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