Blockchain, explained simply, is a form of distributed records spread out across participating devices known as nodes which are not owned by any single person/entity.
Blockchain platforms thrive on the distributed nature of blockchain technology which allows for more transparent interactions and control of data.
Blockchain, like any other software, requires a source code as its foundation. Now, different platforms use either ‘open’ or ‘closed/restricted’ source codes to build their platform. Blockchain developers also utilize the same formats available while developing their platforms.
For open source platforms, the source code is left available for the public to modify, improve or inspect. The enhancement, modification or inspection of restricted source code is granted only to approved developers.
Blockchain technology is an evolving technology. Improvements are made frequently to try and make the technology as user-friendly as possible. In light of the evolving nature of blockchain technology, this article will focus on why open source is essential for blockchain projects.
When Satoshi Nakamoto created blockchain technology, its service was majorly on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. However, as more studies on blockchain were carried out, more applications on blockchain technology were discovered. This resulted in the release of several decentralized applications meant to demonstrate the power held by blockchain technology.
The decentralized applications were only made possible through the innovation of a vast pool of developers. Representing different regions, developers working on blockchain applications understood the products and services the population demands and tailored their d’Apps to meet these demands.
Developers also had to be innovative to compete with centralized applications. The TPS rates for centralized applications such as PayPal were in their tens of thousands while blockchain TPS remained in mere hundreds.
Blockchain is in constant need of modifications and improvements. The same goes for decentralized applications as well. The technological burden on blockchain technology necessitates the need for blockchain projects to be open source.
The creation and interaction of complementary aspects of the same technology are also a key advantage of open source blockchain platforms. Blockchain is comprised of different technologies such as smart contracts which can be built uniquely for every d’App. With open source platforms, these smart contracts and other supportive technologies can interact and work harmoniously to produce the best results.
Smart contracts can be made in a manner that their use cuts across all d’Apps based on the same platform. Open source platforms help create harmony in the blockchain space by allowing unique aspects of technology to act in synergy.
Blockchain projects require all the help they can get intellectually. The technology may have passed its infancy stage; however, there is still a lot that is evolving. Keeping up with the innovation, modifications, and improvements that occur in the blockchain space requires more than a select group of developers.
By having an open source blockchain application, developers can contribute their fair share of knowledge to the platform. Major improvements in the technology could come from the pool of innovators that can easily access the source code.
Bitcoin is a perfect example of how an open source project can benefit from an innovative pool. It would have been difficult for a team of developers to create a platform as robust as Bitcoin. However, the creative pool that was made possible through the open source code made Bitcoin possible. Bitcoin is made up of over 15,000 contributions from 450 different developers located in different parts of the world. With open source codes, there are no limits in terms of location or any other discriminating factor.
As a result of the open source code, Bitcoin maintained, several innovative applications came up. Applications such as Zcash used part of the base codes supporting Bitcoin which Zcash still uses. The problems these applications encountered resulted in further modification and innovation of new codes to deliver effective and efficient platforms. For blockchain to keep on improving, the open source blockchain project is crucial.
Open source projects also act as important platforms for developers to improve their skills in the blockchain space.
A key advantage of having a supportive, innovative pool is the dedication the community has to the blockchain project.
Increasing Demand for Privacy and Security
The 2016 United States election will forever be ingrained in history as one rocked with numerous scandals. At the core of these scandals was the unethical nature in which user data was obtained and applied to deliver a set outcome.
Blockchain technology is incredibly useful when it comes to privacy and security. This, however, did not happen overnight. The secure nature that blockchain users are experiencing resulted from the keen eye of several developers globally.
Finding several bugs on recently released technology is common. Part of the reason why bugs are familiar is the inadequacy of ‘testers’ or contributors in this case. With an open source, more people can test out the platform and discover bugs that may be present. With more people scouring the platform, bugs drastically become shallow as different developers have different methods of locating bugs.
The open source initiative if the lifeblood of several prominent applications | Source
These bugs are the reason why some platforms are not as secure as they claim to be. The recent Apple bug scared the world as people discovered how their conversations could be heard and even recorded. Such insecurities must not exist in platforms that take pride in privacy and security. Open Source platforms benefit a lot from the early discovery of these bugs.
As reported by Coin Telegraph, over 40 bugs were recently discovered in several blockchain platforms. The discoveries were made by white hackers who specialize in determining points of weakness within a platform. During the last quarter of 2018, an Ethereum planned update had to be delayed after a security bug was discovered. With open source platforms, these numbers can reduce drastically.
With the unpredictable nature of the current world economy, the cost has become an influencing factor in any innovation. Blockchain is no different as some of its application claim to reduce the number of frictional costs that people have to meet daily.
Open source blockchain platforms help reduce the number of costs. The services provided by the blockchain community backing the project are worth more than investors may be willing to pay. Consider the cost of hiring white hat hackers to discover weak points or hiring developers to update a system in an ever-changing technology space regularly. Open source blockchains save a lot as most of the technological services are performed by supporters of the project.
Blockchain is arguably the most exciting technology of the 2010s so far. It has attracted much attention from the media and is responsible for the creating of a billion-dollar industry that did not exist before. Blockchain’s rise to its current status is no mean feat.
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Disclaimer: Please only take this information as my OWN opinion and should not be regarded as financial advice in any situation. Please remember to DYOR before making any decisions.
This article was originally published on Medium.