Understanding the Cosmos Blockchains Ecosystem and How it Will Impact Blockchain technology
The term blockchain is not a new word in the world of tech, and a lot of industries and organizations are buying into the idea of implementing this technology as it provides a secure and decentralized way of carrying out transactions.
But today we are going to focus more on the cosmos network and what it intends to introduce to the blockchain ecosystem. This article will explain the Cosmos ecosystem, some of the problems it solves, and also explains briefly what blockchain technology is, so the following sections can be found in this article:
- A brief explanation of Blockchain technology
- What is Cosmos ecosystem?
- How the Cosmos ecosystem work
A brief explanation of Blockchain technology
By definition, we can say that Blockchain is a decentralized distributed digital ledger. By decentralized we are simply saying that Blockchains do not require a third party to verify transactions between parties, verification in a blockchain is done in a decentralized manner.
Since blockchain transactions are not verified by third-party agents, how then do transactions get verified? Well, blockchain transactions are verified by a mechanism called a consensus algorithm. These algorithms make sure that every transaction that is added to the chain is approved and correct. There are different types of consensus algorithms and you can learn about them here in my article on blockchain consensus algorithms. All you need to understand is that before a transaction is added to the blockchain it has to be verified by the consensus algorithm.
Another point you need to understand is that blockchain operates as a distributed ledger, where each party within the blockchain has a copy of all the transactions that take place in the system from the first transaction to the last transaction that took place. This helps in preventing a total loss of data because even if one party in the chain loses its ledger other parties will still have and maintain their ledger, thereby transaction validation will still be done properly.
One of the famous applications of blockchain is in cryptocurrencies, which include the likes of bitcoin. So blockchains solve the problem of centralized authority which can lead to slowing transaction processes down, it also makes transactions secure and transparent. Now that we have a good understanding of what a blockchain is, let us try to get a better understanding of what the Cosmos ecosystem is all about and how it fits in the world of blockchain
What is Cosmos ecosystem?
Cosmos is a decentralized network of independent blockchains powered by theBFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerance) consensus algorithm.
In simple words, we can define Cosmos as an ecosystem of scalable blockchains that can work together without the requirement of further programming. So Cosmos ecosystem introduced an easier way to ensure communication between blockchains and increase the number of transactions that can be concluded per second.
Before the introduction of Cosmos and other decentralized Blockchain applications like the Ethereum, developers only had two options that they can use in developing decentralized applications, they either have to fork the bitcoin codebase or build directly on top of it. Well these options were not so satisfying as the bitcoin codebase was monolithic and all three layers of the system (application, networking, and consensus layers) were all mixed, and the scripting was also not user-friendly. This and other issues that I really won’t be able to talk more about here was the reason why the Ethereum blockchain application was introduced in 2014.
Ethereum came with a new proposition for building decentralized applications, in which developers are allowed to deploy programs to a single blockchain. This was possible due to the introduction of a Virtual machine known as Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), thereby scrapping or replacing the application layer of a blockchain system, so instead of having an application, consensus, and networking layers, the Ethereum blockchain has the virtual, consensus and networking layers. This brought a huge success to blockchain development as it allowed a lot of developers to build more decentralized applications (also known as dApps).
However, the Ethereum blockchain has its limitations that range from scalability and low flexibility, and also it is limited to a few sets of programming languages. This is where we have the Cosmos ecosystem. With the Cosmos blockchain ecosystem, developers can now build blockchains that communicate with each other in a decentralized way. Cosmos introduces a system that maintains sovereignty which allows transaction processing easy and quick.
This is achievable because of tools like Tendermint, and Cosmos SDK. So we are going to take a look at these tools and other important tools in the next section and how the Cosmos ecosystem works.
How the Cosmos ecosystem work
From the previous section we learned why the Cosmos blockchain system was introduced and the limitations it intends to conquer, so in this section, we need to take a look at how it can be used.
Cosmos makes use of three important tools in making the job of blockchain developers easy, before 2014 when the Ethereum Virtual Machine was introduced, developers needed to build from scratch, but with the introduction of EVM, developers were given a Virtual platform where they could deploy custom logic also known as smart contracts, thereby eliminating the need to build the application layer.
With Cosmos blockchain things became, even more, easier with the use of Tendermint, Tendermint also preferably referred to as Tendermint BFT packages the networking and consensus layer of a blockchain into a generic engine, now instead of focusing on building both the consensus and networking layer or all three layers developers get to focus on building just the application layer, now this makes building a decentralized application even faster.
Tendermint gets connected to the application via a socket protocol known as Application Blockchain Interface (ABCI for short ), and this protocol can be wrapped with any programming language, thereby eliminating the need to know a particular language to work with it. Developers can build a public or private blockchain with the Tendermint engine, this is possible because Tendermint only focuses on the consensus and networking layer of the blockchain the application layer is been handled by the developer. It increases the rate of performance and is also secure
Another tool that is used by Cosmos is the Cosmos SDK of Software Development Kit for building the application layer.
Cosmos SDK is a framework that makes the process of building secure blockchain applications on Tendermint BFT a more simple process, although Tendermint takes care of the consensus and networking layer developers still needs to create the application layer this is where Cosmos SDK comes in. Cosmos SDK is based on two major principles, which are
Modularity: With Cosmos SDK anyone can easily create modules and use readily built modules in their blockchain by importing them into their application. There is still room for more development as the SDK modules ecosystem expands and this will make it even easier to build complex blockchain applications
Capabilities-based security: The security boundaries between modules is being compiled by capabilities, with this feature developers get to focus more on the composability of modules, and also the scope of malicious and unexpected interactions is been limited.
Now that developers can quickly build blockchains, there is a need to connect these blockchains and this is achievable through a protocol called Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC). IBC allows heterogeneous chains to transfer values or data to each other, heterogenous chains are simply chains that with different layers and sovereignty, this means they can differ in how they implement networking, consensus, and application layer. For an application to be compatible with IBC the consensus layer has to implement fast finality, so it can work with an application built with the Tendermint consensus or any other fast-finality blockchain engine. The bitcoin and Ethereum engines unfortunately do not fall under this category.
The principles of IBC are very simple, each chain in a transaction tracks the validator set of each other and gets locked when the transfer is initiated, then a proof that the bonding was successful is relayed from the chain that was to transfer the data or value to the chain that wants to receive it, finally, the proof get verified on chain B, if it is valid then the transaction is concluded. With these simple tools, the Cosmos ecosystem is designed to be a powerful and scalable system of blockchain.
Cosmos ecosystem makes it easier to build and connect blockchains.
Before the introduction of Cosmos building blockchain applications was something that could take months and years and it was a very hard task for developers. But with Cosmos developers can now build blockchain applications very quickly.
In this tutorial, we saw what a blockchain application is, we discussed the benefits that a blockchain application brings and also we looked at what the Cosmos ecosystem of blockchain is all about and the reason for its existence. We also looked at how it works and I explained three main tools that are used in building a decentralized application with Cosmos.
Thank you very much for following to this point see you next time