It is an undeniable fact that Blockchains have disrupted every sector. At one time in history, it was difficult to imagine the disruption caused by the Internet and even more difficult to imagine the transformation of our daily lives with the inclusion of the Internet. Blockchain carries the same promise. We have already witnessed the powers of Blockchain through the disruption caused by cryptocurrency in the world of finance. However, this is just starting. Many people believe that Blockchain to be the new Internet. This blog will discuss the Polkadot substrate framework
Why do we need polkadot substrate?
The dark side of Blockchain
In the midst of all the hype, one significant fact has been ignored for too long which can be a major challenge for Blockchain in the near future.
Blockchains offer a secure network where parties, who are a part of that network, can communicate and transact. But, if someone from one Blockchain network wants to transact with a person in another Blockchain network, it is not possible. Why?
Every Blockchain is made with unique architecture. Some have a different consensus, some have different hashing and encryption algorithms, and so on. Therefore, it is impossible for one Blockchain to interact with other Blockchain directly.
In essence, the Blockchain world of today is isolated, not just from the world but from each other as well. All the blockchain applications being developed on different platforms are working in silos.
So, the world is moving towards a Blockchain-based system where all applications will be working in their own independent environment and would need an intermediary to communicate with each other. That would defeat the whole purpose of having Blockchain in the first place.
This is where platforms like Polkadot have emerged to our rescue.
Polkadot to the rescue
Polkadot is one of the few Blockchain protocols focused on connecting the siloed networks in a decentralised manner. In other terms, it provides cross-chain functionality wherein multiple blockchains can become a part of a single decentralised ecosystem and communicate with each other.
Facilitating a secure connection between different Blockchains is the primary application of Polkadot.
Before starting the development on Polkadot, you need to know about the available networks.
There are four, one Mainnet, one canary network called Kusama, and two testnets, Westend and Rococo. The Westend testnet is to test the working of an application as it would be on the mainnet while the Rococo network is used to test parachains. The Kusama network is where all the new functionalities for the Mainnet are tested before they can go to production and the Mainnet is the network where all real-world, production-grade applications are deployed.
Finally, you can start developing your own Blockchain. But wait, Polkadot has another surprise for you. The Substrate framework.
What is Polkadot Substrate
If you ask a Blockchain developer about the most difficult part of his job, the answer would most likely be the actual development of the entire Blockchain application, not just a dapp. There are just too many things to take care of while developing a Blockchain application.
This is where Polkadot brings Substrate into the picture.
Substrate is a framework which facilitates seamless and easy development of a Blockchain application. The Substrate framework consists of all the basic and essential components of a Blockchain such as a network protocol, the consensus algorithm, and more.
While Substrate allows you to develop decentralised applications, what truly makes them decentralised is the possibility of connecting them with Polkadot through Cumulus, which is nothing but an extension to Substrate, turning Substrate-based applications into parachains.
You might be wondering what exactly are parachains. Well, parachains are the chains that are connected to the Polkadot Blockchain and can leverage the cross-chain functionality through the Polkadot Relay chain.
Now that we understand the purpose of building a Blockchain application in the Polkadot ecosystem, let’s look at how to proceed with its development with Substrate.
Get started with Substrate
It is essential to consider that application development on Substrate and application development on other Blockchain platforms such as Ethereum is quite different. Rather than having to work with restricted network characteristics, you can build your own custom Blockchain using Substrate. Moreover, Substrate is the underlying framework for Polkadot itself so it carries a lot of credibility.
There are three ways in which you can leverage the Substrate framework for your Blockchain application development.
- Running a Substrate node is the first and easiest possible way. A Substrate node comes with some pre-defined configurations that can be used to develop a Blockchain in no time. All you need to do is provide the user-specific information to the node through a JSON file. To learn more about how to run a node, you can visit this link.
- Next is the Substrate FRAME or Framework for Runtime Aggregation of Modularized Entities. For developers looking for flexibility in terms of network configuration, Substrate FRAME is the best option. You can add your own custom libraries(pallets) to experience more customization.
- The third possible way is Substrate Core. This is for the developers who like to code from scratch. Essentially, a developer can target the WebAssembly part of the Blockchain through any language supported and create his own Blockchain. This is for the hardcore coders who want complete freedom in developing their Blockchain.
Therefore, the path to developing a Blockchain application on Polkadot using Substrate framework depends on your requirements. If you want to get things moving quickly, running a Substrate node will make your development journey as smooth as possible.
In any case, one thing that you need to understand is that Substrate is not the part of Polkadot. While Polkadot is a Blockchain that accommodates the cross-chain functionality, Substrate is just a framework to develop Blockchains that can be later integrated into the Polkadot network. Moreover, the projects built with Substrate will have better compatibility with Polkadot as the Blockchain itself is built on Substrate.
Coming to the development part and not going into the actual technical implementations, setting up of environments, and downloading a number of softwares, there some other modules that have to be defined before the development can take place.
Note: Do not leave this task for a later stage as clearly defining the various essential modules helps in defining the architecture of the whole application and ensures that all elements are in sync before they are even developed.
Let’s have a look at these modules:
- Consensus: Consensus is the heart of Blockchain. Every use-case on Blockchain requires a suitable consensus algorithm to facilitate the mutual agreement between non-trusting parties on the network. The consensus protocol is responsible for transaction finality, Block addition, and incentivisation model of the network.
- WebAssembly to run smart contracts or integrate other projects based on Substrate. For a developer looking to add more customization to his Blockchain application, he can even develop his own virtual machine interpreter instead of this WebAssembly.
- Setting up a Substrate Client which runs the Substrate node. A client needs its own set of elements and modules such as RPC, runtime logic, and storage.
There are other modules too that need to be figured out beforehand but the aforementioned modules are the top three which hold the utmost significance. Most of these modules are available for free which allows you to quickly get started with your Blockchain development.
Blockchain has been gaining unparalleled attention over the past few years and this tremendous growth has resulted in various assumptions. One such assumption is that Blockchain development is extremely important and that you need to know about the Consensus algorithms and cryptographic techniques.
However, with new innovative platforms such as Polkadot and Substrate framework, the development of Blockchain is now a piece of cake. While you still need to understand the different components of Blockchain and their role, you do not have to build them from scratch.
Parallelly, building on Substrate is not just easy but future-ready too. An application built using Substrate framework will be compatible with the Polkadot network which means that it will be a part of an “interoperable” network.
With Polkadot and Substrate, everyone can be a part of a truly decentralised network.
Reach out to QuillHash
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