Taylor’s summer time replace

Hi everyone, I’ve been spending some time with our Canadian friends in Toronto after presenting Ethereum: The World Computer at the Blockchain Training Conference last month and I wanted a quick update on some of the exciting happenings in the Ethereum developer give ecosystem. Lots of things are brewing behind the scenes, so let’s jump in!

projects

fog

The Ethereum wallet has been significantly refined over the past few months, adding support for arbitrary contract interactions via the Custom Contracts tab. This is a massive improvement over sending transactions from the command line, as was often required in Frontier. With several new team members working with the Ethereum Foundation, new versions of Mist are rolling out now and will include improvements to geth and eth as they are integrated. If you are using an old version, update to Mist 0.8.0 to get the latest goodies.

Screenshot crap 0.8.0

remix

After all the hard work that went into reorganizing the C++ code base, the CPP team has switched from Mix to Remix as the IDE is now targeting the web. Remix has reached its first alpha and released it online with a demo. For more information, see his repository at https://github.com/ethereum/remix. In general, EVM IDEs are not very popular yet, so this could be a big step forward in terms of accessibility like the online compiler Solidity has been. New security tools like EVMDIS are expected to be released to the community. Work is also being done to ensure that formal verification can recognize recursive call patterns. See Christian’s C++ DEV Update for more details.

ENS

ENS example diagram Diagram of an example ENS hierarchy with multiple records

Nick Johnson is not an official project but is closely associated with many projects. He has started work on Ethereum’s naming service. This includes smart contract-based resolvers with standard API. The specification supports delegation by name component (separated by “.”) and multiple types of records. It is possible to build gateways to plug into existing systems such as DNS. A draft specification with a reference implementation in solidity is currently available and discussion on lattices is ongoing. This could have major implications for the overall usability of many services on the Ethereum network, from wallet aliases to friendly swarm node names.

logs

light client

Something to watch closely is the light client functionality entering public testing. Zsolt has been working on this code for months and the team seems poised to add it to the main repo soon. The new code cuts the chain sync time to under 30 minutes from the Genesis block and under a minute with weekly use. This builds on the work Peter did for the quick sync feature, which is now the default feature in Mist (–quickly). Work continues to improve log/receipt retrieval and multiple iterations of the log are expected over time. So this won’t be the last you’ll hear from LES!

Light client running on an embedded device Tweet from the light client running on an embedded device

swarm

Swarm is also being extensively tested as PoC2, demonstrating economically self-sustaining storage and distribution tiers. Viktor, Dani, and Aaron have worked hard to ensure the code is as bug-free as possible before releasing it to the testnet. Nick has developed a simulation script for network and communications verification that will greatly contribute to this effort. One of the exciting features of their work is the accounting and incentive systems that allow for long-term storage and retrieval of data. If you want to know more, the Swarm team has been featured in several YouTube videos that explain how everything works.

Data storage and retrieval on Swarm Data storage and retrieval on Swarm

Although many other names are mentioned, this allows for a vision for decentralized storage where you own your own data. Although there are currently some blockchain-based apps, Swarm’s full availability allows these blockchain-backed apps to become full DApps and run 100% decentralized in Mist.

IPFS & Raiden

In terms of collaboration, the continued discussion between the IPFS and Ethereum teams could allow them to share a protocol in the future, allowing both ecosystems to benefit from their respective network effects. In addition, the work on Raiden and Swarm turned out to be complementary, as solutions worked towards solving similar problems. I was told that the Raiden network can be used as a payment channel for the Swarm incentive system, which would help address some privacy and scalability concerns while multiplying their own efforts. Knowing that they are stepping up makes me even more excited for the future!

Wrap up

Devcon2 is just around the corner, with sessions scheduled for September 19, 20, and 21 during the Global Blockchain Summit in Shanghai, China. The Ethereum Foundation informational website is now online at ethereumfoundation.org/devcon and more information about the summit can be found at blockchainweek2016.org. Despite a larger venue, space will still be limited, so register now!

I hope that 2016 will prove to be a pivotal year for blockchains. UI/UX is rapidly improving from what was available a few years ago, and with solutions like Raiden for government/payment channels, some of blockchain’s privacy and scalability issues are being eased. Combined with research advances aimed at Serenity, we’re well on our way to overcoming many of the obstacles Vitalik once listed as difficult problems.

Keep calm and keep coding Keep calm and keep coding


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