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The Challenge: blockchain in 5 days. Stratis vs Ethereum
Blockchain is a chain of blocks that creates a decentralized and distributed data base, connects the areas of gaming theory, including a consensus mechanism and extraction of distributed networks (peer-to-peer), as well as cryptography. It’s a theoretical assumption, a concept not connected to any specific programming language. It may change the face of many areas of everyday life in the future, providing a new level of security and trust towards information systems due to a change in the way we design them and verify data.
So, is it possible to teach that revolutionary technology within a week, 5 business days? It’s surely not easy, but we gave it a try.
The general overview of blockchain
The general operating principle of blockchain is simple and intuitive. It’s a chain of blocks, which include sequentially saved transactions. If one of the blocks is fully filled with transactions, the blockchain network ensures a creation of a new block, compatible with the previous one. In order to ensure continuity and immutability of data, next blocks are connected due to cryptography. A signature is added to every transaction. It’s generated by the sender’s private key, the public sender’s and recipient’s key, as well as the message’s contents. On the basis of the signature and both public keys, the recipient may verify the sender and the information authenticity.
Each transaction also has its hash, generated on the basis of the data it contains. A change introduced to any of the data would lead to a change in the hash function’s result (a function which assigns to any big number a short, always fixed in size, non-specific, quasi-random value, so-called non-invertible shortcut), so it would be very easily detectable. Any network user may add his own transaction to the chain. The only condition is that he owns enough tokens, the cryptocurrency used in a specific network. They are necessary because the operations in blockchain are not free and they require a confirmation from over a half of its users. The fee for each transaction is shared among users who have contributed to the calculation and confirmation of a block. Despite a chain being public, only the owner has access to a transaction’s content thanks to encryption.
The blockchain technology’s enormous potential was soon noticed. Since 2016, we have been observing a trend of creating new chains which compete with the original ones.
During those 5 days we decided to take a look into two of them: Ethereum and Stratis. Ethereum is a global giant in the field of cryptocurrency, while Stratis is a rising star of business solutions based on blockchains. Each of these platforms has both merits and flaws.
The beginning of this system goes to year 2013 and is connected to a man named Vitalik Buterin. Being involved in Bitcoin (the first cryptocurrency), he noticed some flaws in it and decided to create a new platform based on the blockchain technology. Ethereum debuted in 2015. Although the idea was a right one, the platform didn’t receive the expected popularity in the first two years of its existence. Only the Bitcoin crisis led to an increase in Ethereum popularity. Today it’s the second most frequently used blockchain platform in the world.
One of its main advantages are: a significant functionality, which allows one to create applications and establish smart contracts; quick extraction of blocks; changeable size of a block determined by the user. A vast and public technological documentation is also very useful, and it allowed us to, during those 5 days, connect to the network, send out and receive our own smart contract and create an API with the user’s interface. What is more, the tools shared by Ethereum allow one to easily and quickly use the network, without a complex knowledge of its inner workings. A blend of those merits, a large number of users and reliability proves that Ethereum’s second place in the world is fully justified.
Stratis is a blockchain platform used for designing and testing applications. In theory, it’s directed at customers and business sector organizations. It was created in 2016 by a British company Stratis Group Ltd. It can be used to design and run applications based on C# programming language. According to the assumptions of its producers, the platform is supposed to give one an option to create personal block chains, thus relieving the main blockchain network. It also offers a space for the development of internal projects, which realize business goals and recreate real-life cases.
A programmer has an e-learning platform https://academy.stratisplatform.com/ at his disposal, through which he can learn the basics of the blockchain technology and get familiar with its basic elements, such as Full Node, private blockchain networks, smart contracts, virtual wallets and other. By running Full Node one can connect to the main Stratis network, operating on a real currency, or to a testing channel for programmers with the STRAT currency, which can be generated free of charge. The access to the functions offered by the Stratis system is given by an issued API, outlined in an interactive form through Swagger UI.
Ethereum vs Stratis
When comparing the Stratis and Ethereum platforms, one can distinguish the areas they have in common. It’s, among others, the language in which they were created (C#), as well as the running platform .Net, or the basic range of functionalities.
On the current level of development progress Ethereum makes a decisively better impression, since it’s range of functionalities fulfils the assumptions described in the documentation. One can easily create his first application based on the blockchain technology using the methods shared via the Nethereum library.
Stratis is still considered an early beta version, which has an impact on the system’s stability and operation. Some functions described in the e-learning platform don’t work properly. It means that configuring one’s wallet or blockchain network causes many problems. It has an advantage of a dynamic community of programmers co-creating the project, with whom one can get into a live contact via forum. As a result, some of the problems encountered can be quickly solved by receiving proper help and support from the creators themselves. Additionally, the future vision of Stratis seems to be more extensive than the range of functionalities offered by Ethereum, especially considering the options for creating private blockchain networks. Unfortunately, in its current version Stratis doesn’t offer such an option.
Today a useful scenario for the blockchain may be, for example, a system of document circulation and signing. Thanks to cryptography, the sender can be sure that the recipient receives the exact content he had in mind. Moreover, thanks to a digital signature the process of document circulation can be shortened from a few weeks to just a few hours, because every person logging into the system is able to make a signature with her own private key.
Blockchain is a developing technology with an enormous potential. Taking into consideration the use of cryptocurrency, data storing in a permanent and unchanging form, a high level of security, or implementation of smart contracts, blockchain opens many new possibilities to us. One hears more and more about that technology in the context of using it in business and it is worth to keep an eye on it in the process of digital transformation.