Originally devised to serve as the nerve-center of bitcoin, blockchain programming has come a long way. The brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto (the pseudonym used for the person or people who developed bitcoin), the technology has today expanded into something bigger, accomplished enough to be put to use in a gamut of potential applications.
But before we dig into varied applications of the blockchain, let’s understand what it exactly is.
What is blockchain technology and how does it work?
A blockchain is an advancing chain of records termed as ‘blocks,’ linked using cartography. Each block is constituted of transaction data, a timestamp, and a cryptographic hash of the previous block. To understand it better, you may consider it an open, distributed ledger that keeps stock of transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable manner.
View blockchain as a spreadsheet cloned numerous times across a network of computers. The concept envisages a spreadsheet that can be updated on any of these computers by anyone with access. Understand this, and you have a basic idea of blockchain programming.
Having a network that can be reconciled continually has obvious advantages. As the database isn’t stored in a single location, the records are really public and easily verifiable. Thanks to the absence of a centralized version, it’s practically impossible for a hacker to corrupt. Yet, data is available with ease, as the data is hosted by a legion of computers concurrently.
The conventional way of sharing documents has a demerit – two people cannot work on the same record simultaneously. Even banks block account access briefly when executing money balances and transfers. Compare it to Google Docs that gives access to all parties to the same documents at the same time. Banking blockchain and other systems work like a shared ledger.
Suppose there’re several legal documents that various parties are working on. Passing them to each other after every modification will make keeping track of version even harder. Blockchain programming provides a solution by providing simultaneous access to everyone involved, thus seamlessly streamlining the workflow.
Companies are taking additional steps to ensure robustness, security, and auditability in their code when writing blockchain protocols. Cardano Foundation, a Switzerland-based blockchain and cryptocurrency organization, worked with FP Complete to have an independent audit of Cardano blockchain protocol. The objective of this collaboration is to standardize, protect and promote the Cardano Protocol technology.
Blockchain Programming Languages
Several programming languages are used in the making of blockchain – Haskell, C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and more. Haskell is considered the hottest language these days for building blockchain applications. Designed for safety, Haskell provides for mandatory automated checks, ensuring the elimination of certain kind of mistakes in the code. You get an entire programming toolchain that enables you to create easy-to-maintain and safe code.
Prominent features of Haskell include memory safety, ease of understanding code, and absence of unwanted side-effects. The language facilitates code creation that is explicit and covers all corner cases.
FP Complete is the world's top supplier of commercial-grade tools and engineering for Haskell.
Blockchain and Cybersecurity
Blockchain technology has two prominent features –
These features provide it with a built-in robustness regarding cybersecurity. Like a self-auditing ecosystem, the network stays in a state of consensus, automatically checking in with itself after a set interval, thus making it impossible for anyone to sneak in.
Companies have embarked on innovative measures to enhance cybersecurity. Here's some of these:
Keyless signature infrastructure (KSI):
Blockchains are used to create a Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI), replacing the traditional Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that uses asymmetric encryption and a repository of public keys maintained by a centralized Certificate Authority (CA).
REMME’s blockchain eliminates human factor from authentication, enabling businesses to validate users and devices without a password. This is achieved by decentralizing the system and leveraging a distributed public key infrastructure for verification purposes.
Scattering of communication metadata throughout the distributed ledger reduces the risk of surveillance. Users aren’t required to link to their email addresses or telephone numbers, which enhances privacy.
Blockchain Programming Applications Beyond Cryptocurrency
Blockchain powers digital currencies to keep an ongoing and continually growing record of monetary transactions, and does more.
Here’re five blockchain programming applications used for purposes other than cryptocurrency:
Secure medical records
Incompatible back-end systems and fragmented data trails have been the norm in Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). Blockchain facilitates smart contracts that lead to a decentralized content management system (CMS) for your healthcare data. Convenient and adaptable decentralized systems conceives an authentication log to govern medical record access and provides auditability. The system can be seamlessly integrated with a healthcare service providers’ existing solution, enabling interoperability.
Make smart contracts
In smart contracts, the code is recorded on the blockchain. When a triggering event occurs, such as the start date of a clause, the contract automatically executes the obligations according to the coded terms. Smart contracts, powered by decentralized blockchain, can be a major disruption in various industries.
Fraud prevention in elections
Blockchain can be effectively used for allaying fears regarding voting machine fraud. This technology combines with elliptic curve cryptography to create an open-source, secure platform that is verifiable from end to end.
Aid of refugees
Being a refugee can be a scary experience. They can rejoice now as blockchain has been successfully employed for a charitable cause for refugees. The United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP) ran a project designed to direct resources to about 10,000 individuals when redeemable cryptocurrency-based vouchers were issued to them. Refugees used the funds for purchasing necessities like olive oil, pasta, and lentils.
Implementation of IoT
Blockchain can help build a new standard for the emerging Internet of Things (IoT). The platform can register the identities of Bluetooth low energy (BLE) and near-field communication (NFC) chips, two core components of IoT that enable smartphones to interact with other devices.
Use of blockchain extends cryptocurrency. The technology carries a lot of promise for an array of useful applications that can transform the world for the better. It’ll be interesting to watch how the technology evolves in the future. Why not explore FP Complete’s experience with Blockchain?
Posted by Robert Bobbett - 20 February, 2019