Shifting from alpha to beta: CryptoNote with smart contracts

When you hear a development team wrote a brand new blockchain technology fresh from the ground up, based on the CryptoNote protocol with smart contracts, and written in a different language (golang), the Dero Project team may not be the team that comes to mind.

A complete rewrite of the CryptoNote protocol was not the only thing this team has been up to though. They have, for example, successfully added for the first time on any blockchain network, a complete SSL/TLS solution. This is a very significant accomplishment for any blockchain network, and I discuss that in more detail here: Dero: a new blockchain technology.

Dero is a truly private blockchain that maintains all the current privacy features from the CryptoNote protocol, while building on those existing strengths, and adding many new robust privacy features (like SSL/TLS). On the Dero blockchain, nobody may see your transactions, balances, smart contract information, or any other data.

Why haven’t I heard about this already?

The Dero Project is still young, even in the world of cryptocurrency. The Dero team takes a quiet approach, and likes to prove developments are passed the basic proof-of-concept stages before speaking about them. Let me use a variant of NASA’s Technology Readiness Level scale (below) to help explain.

Adapted from NASA by EC

While the Dero Project was in its inception stages, all of Dero’s roadmap goals were proven to be, at least theoretically, possible. If Dero’s development team is working on an idea, or concept that hasn’t reached TRL-3 or above, they don’t talk about it outside of the research and development team.

What do you mean you’re moving from “alpha to beta”?

Dero’s development team wrote a new blockchain technology from the ground up, completely fresh, with all of their roadmap goals in mind. The new network, and daemon, are moving out of the alpha stage and into beta in the next few days.

So why does any of that matter?

It means that the basic foundation for smart contracts with CryptoNote privacy has been successfully developed, built, and is more than theoretically possible. Essentially, the hardest part of truly private smart contract development on a native blockchain, with no need for second layer or off-chain solutions is done.

Okay, why hasn’t this been done previously?

There are a number of major obstacles that had to be overcome, but two stand out specifically. These challenges necessitated a complete rewrite of the CryptoNote protocol from C++ to a new language (golang) This required a very deep understanding of the CryptoNote protocol, smart contracts, and cryptography in general.

  • The two largest obstacles before smart contracts could be implemented were:
    1.) Creating a more stable, reliable and secure blockchain
    2.) Significantly faster transactions per second (TX/sec) without the issues commonly seen in fast chains

How did Dero solve these major challenges?

For the network stability, reliability, and security improvements, the Dero development team will be releasing their source code soon, and when they do, the information will be publicly available for peer-review.

Regarding the most important problem, TX/sec and scalability, the Dero team is working to implement another technology never before used in the blockchain. This technology is around TRL-5 in the development process with Dero’s research and development team.

Once the new technology is implemented in the blockchain, the Dero research and development team anticipate around 500 TX/second on Dero’s native chain while simultaneously addressing scalability issues. This same solution should address transaction speed, scalability, forking issues, and network reliability.

There will be a new article that specifically discusses the TX/second changes because the implications are simple: Aside from all of Dero’s unique features, the TX/second and scalability solution alone make Dero suitable for enterprise scale solutions.

When does the actual smart contract development start then?

Looking back for a moment, Dero completed their Q1 2018 roadmap almost 4 weeks ahead of schedule. Their stated goal sounded simple: implementation of a new CryptoNote Protocol in Golang. This actually involved a complete rewrite of the CryptoNote protocol, in a new language, and all the associated algorithms, features, and details, in less than 3 months, while factoring in new features, like smart contracts.

In a way, you could say smart contract development started months before the project, during the TRL-1/2 stages. Another way to look at it again, you could consider that smart contract development started when the foundation for it was built recently by Dero.

Either way you look at it, the coding work for the smart contracts specifically is due to start in the next month or so, with a solid foundation, and the knowledge that they’re more than just theoretically possible.

Relevant links:

Website

Bitcointalk announcement thread

Code repository (github)

Dero’s official Twitter

Dero’s official Reddit