Lisk Renewed: the Alpha SDK release.

The SDK ushers in a new era for the Lisk project.

EliteX Exchange
Aug 17 · 10 min read

By Arjuna @ EliteX Media

The Current State of Affairs

The long awaited release of the Alpha SDK (Software Developers Kit) on the 25th of last month was an important achievement and milestone for the Lisk project. It has come at a time when Lisk, along with pretty much the entire cryptocurrency market, continues to endure a phase of extreme price depression. Stifled under a lingering hangover from a long bear market, and compounded by the recent bullish turn and resurgent market dominance of Bitcoin. It’s fair to surmise that from here on out the future of cryptocurrency projects will depend on whether they sink or swim on actual, real world fundamentals and the development of genuine, actionable use cases. This makes Lisk’s release of the Alpha SDK all the more timely.

To that end, despite the depressed cryptocurrency market, the argument can be made that Lisk indeed possesses the ideal fundamentals to weather the bloody aftermath of the bear cycle. Well funded, with a very professional development team in Lightcurve who are highly product-focussed, and a dedicated international community of supporting developers, delegates and users with support centers and incubators including: Lisk Center Utrecht (www.liskcenter.io), Elite Center in Tokyo (www.elitecenter.tokyo) and Xiamen, as well as EliteX Exchange. While flying somewhat under the radar, it’s a project that stands to silence some of the crypto critics, who seem unable to see the woods for the trees. It’s still early days for what remains a nascent industry; new paradigms inevitably entail growing pains. But of course, this sort of claim cannot be made without some kind of justification. So, what is the Lisk project? And what is the SDK?

A Brief Overview of Lisk.

Lisk was inaugurated in May 2016 by founders Max Kordek and Oliver Beddows, and started life as a fork of the Crypti project. While Crypti was developed with the intention of being a blockchain based application platform, Kordek and Beddows had larger plans and a vision to create a modular, accessible and easy-to-use blockchain platform on which developers can create their own decentralised blockchain applications, or DAPPs. With regard to the question of fundamentals, the fact that the Lisk ecosystem has been built to enable developers to create and deploy DAPPs using JavaScript — one of the the most widely adopted an popular programming languages currently in use — is alone a standout feature, opening up the creative potential of blockchain to the largest possible community of developers around the world, and facilitating its widespread adoption.

Node.js 10.14.3 is installed before installing Lisk Alpha SDK

Aside from using JavaScript, the basic proposition the Lisk ecosystem as a platform and marketplace for the development of new blockchain projects is the utilisation of sidechains, a crucial innovation that helps to bypass the speed and scalability issues that have proven to be difficult roadblocks for blockchain development and growth to date. New sidechain projects developed and hosted on the platform will function freely as wholly independent and customised blockchains, that connect with and run in parallel to the Lisk mainchain, which acts to facilitate cross-token transactions and maintain smooth interoperability across the whole network of sidechains, thereby mitigating against getting bogged down under a heavy transaction workload.

However, in order to realise this vision; to create fully interoperable, peer-to-peer multi-blockchain platform, which in essence amounts to an entirely new, digitally realised democratic model for a decentralised economy, the Lisk team was under quite a bit of pressure from the wider community, investors, and pundits to produce something tangible to show for all their work. In other words a functioning SDK to show that Lisk could deliver on the promise that its fundamentals inarguably display on paper.

The SDK.

Enter the rollout of the Alpha SDK (2.1.0 since updated to 2.2.0, with 2.3.0 in the works). As implied above, with a team focussed on producing a quality product over the usual hype expected from some corners of the crypto-sphere, Lisk’s fundamentals remain solidly intact. In summary, the long awaited Lisk SDK promised to offer a set of tools and libraries to facilitate quick and easy development of blockchain projects, without the burden of starting from scratch, nor the learning curve involved in familiarising oneself with a whole new coding language. The launch of the Alpha SDK has finally delivered on that promise, at least as a first step, releasing the pressure valve and unleashing a flurry of creative activity, with developers wasting no time setting about building PoC (Proof of Concept) sidechain DAPPs, and presenting keynotes at recent Lisk meetups for fully featured token-driven applications, including work on the EliteX EDEX exchange, a sidechain-based decentralised exchange that will be integrated into the Lisk ecosystem.

A simple schematic of the Lisk network architecture

The above ecosystem diagram provides a schematic overview of the basic architecture of Lisk, written entirely in JavaScript. Lisk Core (current version 2.0.0), which was in fact developed using the SDK in house before its public release, forms the foundation of the network. It is installed on network nodes, is configurable to specific requirements, and runs the Lisk DPoS (Delegated Proof of Stake) consensus protocol, which functions to validate blocks, and for delegates running a node who are voted in to one of 101 forging positions, forge and distribute block rewards.

The Lisk Framework layer handles interaction between Lisk applications, containing chain, API, and network modules which handle system events and actions of the blockchain, provide online endpoints that interface with users and other programs so they can interact with the blockchain, and manage peer-to-peer network communication respectively. Custom modules can be added to the core for new, expanded or updated functionality. Lisk Elements is basically library of packages, which can be configured and installed according to the functions required by any one particular application, with for example, API, cryptography and transaction packages, all of which can be managed at a low level via a set of command lines in Lisk Commander.

Hello World & SDK Proof of Concept.

Installing the Alpha SDK

The comprehensive documentation at the www.lisk.io site includes a simple “Hello World” app tutorial demonstrating the SDK following time honoured developer tradition. However in much the same spirit, Rachel Black from LiskHQ presented a somewhat more relevant tutorial with regards to building a DAPP complete with a basic custom transaction type, most recently at the Lisk Center Utrecht (LCU) meetup convened together with EliteX Exchange during the same week as the SDK release. To get your own Blockchain up and running in a couple of minutes is as easy as installing the relevant dependencies, followed by the Alpha SDK.

Having conjured your blockchain into being, it’s a very simple matter to configure the basic parameters such as block time, block size, and block rewards. Here you can see in Black’s demo how she sets the block time of her new app to 5 seconds:

Setting the block time to 5 seconds

and the result here in the block explorer:

The block explorer shows block time set to 5 seconds

In a similar fashion, it is a relatively simple affair to set up a custom transaction for your new blockchain project, as Black demonstrates by creating a 50% cash-back transaction type, which is similar to the kind you might encounter when using a credit card. If only they were as generous as this!

Creating custom transactions in the SDK covers a wide array of use cases, including what one might expect from a smart contract type system, constituting a much more streamlined and simplified approach, especially given the fact that knowledge of JavaScript is the only main requirement. In addition to the standard modules that function with a TransferTransaction provided by the SDK, the class ‘Cashback’ is added as an extension to its operation, the logic of which credits 50% of the initial transaction, from the network back to the sender:

Creating the class ‘Cashback’ as customised extension to standard TransferTransaction

The result as seen in a block explorer will look something like this:

50% of the transaction is credited back to the sender.

You can see Black’s presentation of the cash back transaction code in full detail in the first video below. Furthermore, Lisk recently held an online SDK seminar for developers, with more scheduled to come, which demonstrates Lisk’s in house PoC blockchain DAPP; a business invoicing app Lisk Bills, which you can view in the second video posted below:

Rachel Black from Lisk HQ introduces the Lisk Alpha SDK
The Lisk Alpha SDK Webinar

Lisk Directory.

Among the new DAPPs in development as PoC of the SDK at work, LCU partner, Lisk delegate and moosecoin.io founder, Moosty group has wasted no time releasing a preview of its whitepaper for a new sidechain PoC DAPP, Lisk Directory Blockchain. It’s here that we see the way that Lisk’s well established extended community is making invaluable contributions to the Lisk ecosystem, with what may be a vital element to its core infrastructure

Overview schematic for the Lisk Directory Blockchain

and governance moving into the future. One of the challenges to address for Lisk, which will host an ever burgeoning number of sidechain projects, is maintaining trust and security within its DPoS governance system. There have been some early efforts to help answer the questions that arise for Lisk users so far such as: which delegate do I vote for? How do I know I can trust this delegate?

Why the Directory is important

However, there remains a lack of accessible information and no standard for the selection of delegates; these early efforts are by no means complete long term solutions for determining what value a delegate might bring to the ecosystem. Lisk Directory, created using the Lisk SDK, introduces a Proof of Motivation and Delegate Proposal Protocol (DPP), providing a systematic, easy and accessible way for community members to view information on the credentials and merits of delegates, to select them for new sidechain projects and vote for them on various networks. The project enhances security and trust by demanding a required degree of transparency and proof of skill.

Lisk Bike.

Lisk Bike is another project to come from the Lisk community at the LCU, focussed on one of the most common modes of transport in the Netherlands: cycling. In fact they offer the statistic that 36% of people in the Netherlands report that riding a bike is their most frequent means of transport. Lisk Bike is a PoC sidechain project applied to the bike sharing concept, linking up the blockchain with a GPS lock on the bike and coordinating information on who is riding, when, and where.

Developing a blockchain for bikesharing.

This project is a Proof of Concept in the most literal sense, in that it is stated explicitly that it was not created to showcase a top level blockchain application, nor start a company with valid business model, and neither to earn a profit. Rather the aim is quite simple: to learn how building a sidechain app is done, gain first hand experience developing with the Lisk SDK, and inspire more developers to get involved with their own projects.

EDEX: EliteX Decentralised Exchange.

Though not strictly a PoC project, EliteX’s EDEX is nonetheless slated to be a token-driven sidechain project. A crypto asset exchange and financial services hub built on the Lisk ecosystem, with the aim to serve as the launching pad and marketplace for new Lisk-based projects, adding liquidity as the ecosystem grows. In anticipation of this, EliteX is the only exchange that offers Lisk as the quote currency in its exchange pairs. The development of the EliteX EDEX will be entirely open source and most crucially, trustless. That is, it will be a secure, peer-to-peer, on chain, fully auditable trading platform, enabling traders to buy and sell digital assets without third party mediation or oversight. A decentralised exchange also has the added advantage of giving users full control and ownership over their assets, and thus greater security.

A schematic of EliteX’s EDEX

SDK Roadmap.

Lisk SDK roadmap

The current Alpha rollout of the SDK constitutes a first step towards full release, to kick start community involvement, interaction, and to gain valuable feedback on its use. Future iterations of the Lisk SDK will soon include updates to the process of consensus and security (Byzantine Fault Tolerance) for sidechains, and in the future custom tokens and trustless token transfers.

In his recent Keynote at the Elite Center in Tokyo, Haidong Liu, CTO of EliteX Exchange collated some of the data on what is happening in the crypto market with regard to DAPPs on other platforms, such as Ethereum and EOS.

Stats on the current state of DAPP development and usage

He found that the vast majority of DAPPs currently on the market were either high risk casino type gambling apps or games that amounts to little more than ephemeral novelty. Conversely, as a platform that provides an out-of-the-box, one-stop-shop and marketplace for blockchain applications, Lisk utilises existing skill sets and is designed to make a difference to real world industries, including finance, AI and machine learning (if you have not yet read our feature on GNY and their complementary project LML or Lisk Machine Learning, another Lisk sidechain project in the works click here), intellectual property, education, and more.

Lisk can cater to a the needs of a broad range of industries

Concluding Note.

As Max Kordek noted in a recent tweet announcing the Alpha SDK rollout: “Today, Lisk changed. With the release of the Lisk SDK we are entering a new era for the project.”

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, and does not constitute investment or trading advice.


Arjuna is Community Head at EliteX Exchange www.elitex.io, email: media@elitex.io.

Join the official EliteX Exchange telegram: https://t.me/EliteX_official. Follow us on twitter and reddit.

EliteX Exchange

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Digital asset exchange & decentralised exchange built on the Lisk eco-system. Our official telegram: t.me/EliteX_official

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