2018 was a big year for improving the capabilities of blockchain technology. Even with a bear market, several project teams launched useful ERC20 tokens and moved user adoption of the Ethereum blockchain forward. Here’s the story of how the term BUIDL emerged as a result.
From HODL to BUIDL
For the past few years, the term ‘HODL’ has grown in its usage. It has become a familiar part of the blockchain/cryptocurrency lexicon and remains so to this day. How popular is HODL? As of December 19, 2018, you’ll find 4.91 million search results on Google. You won’t even receive the question, “Did you mean HOLD?” In comparison, BUIDL yields only 291, 000 results. You’ll also receive the question, “Did you mean BUILD?”. Yes, the number of results changes on a constant basis, but this is an effective way to gauge the popularity of both terms.
From this perspective, there is still a lot of work to be done for BUIDL to reach the popularity of HODL. Nevertheless, the term is gaining traction not only as a slogan but as a standard for what we should expect from cryptocurrency project teams. There are numerous, tangible examples of BUIDLing that took place throughout 2018. Heading into the year, one of the biggest problems that the industry faced was a lack of functional applications. This is still true to some extent by the end of 2018, but this is continuing to change.
More Developers, Better Documentation
Yes, a lot goes into developing a flourishing blockchain ecosystem. Most would agree that there are at least two main steps that make BUIDL possible.
First, developers around the globe have to be willing to build on top of existing blockchain infrastructures and dapp platforms as well as utilize established development and testing frameworks. How can we expect user adoption of applications to take place when developers aren’t using a common programming language or blockchains aren’t interoperable? Part of this is understanding the issues with the current infrastructures and working to improve upon them. In the case of Solidity as a programming language for Ethereum-based projects, we saw more available information regarding what issues to try to avoid. In September 2018, Ethereum also released version 0.4.25 of Solidity, a crucial update to fix two known bugs.
Second, documentation is an essential element of helping developers overcome a steep learning curve. Of course, going into the year, there were some resources available. However, the number and quality of resources for developers greatly expanded throughout 2018. Developers can now test and launch applications via command line interfaces thanks to documentation guides, video tutorials, and developer tools. Whether you’re a beginning programmer trying to learn the basics of Solidity or someone trying to launch dapps to online marketplaces, you’re more likely to accomplish these goals today vs. one year ago.
Developing Accessible Applications for All
While onboarding developers and having development resources are crucial factors of BUIDLing, there should also be an emphasis on creating applications that are user-friendly for everyone. Just a few short years ago, the availability of blockchain projects with useful tokens and technologies was virtually non-existent. Flashforward to the end of 2018, and we have a mixed bag of projects at various stages of development and deployment.
Even today, many of the top projects in the space still only have applications that are easily accessible to highly technical users. Making technologies and tokens easy to use for non-technical users is the next step of BUIDL. Of course, for almost every project, this remains a work in progress.
As mentioned in my article on Ethereum and ERC20 technical challenges, teams have to deal with a number of complex issues. Security vulnerabilities, scalability limitations, lack of interoperability, and other factors have to be addressed.
#BUIDL: The Theme of Devcon4
Devcon has become an important event not only for the Ethereum ecosystem but also the entire blockchain space. This conference not only allows developers to share their latest work but also sets the tone from what we should expect for the next year from both Ethereum core developers and various project teams. This year’s message at Devcon4 was clear, #BUIDL is now in full effect. Thus far, the interest in blockchain development appears to be increasing and isn’t dependent on cryptocurrency market trends.
Significant User Adoption from Useful Tokens and Technologies in 2018
The number of useful projects built on top of the Ethereum blockchain continues to grow. It’s hard to narrow down the list of which ones have the best potential to become the go-to applications of the future. Still, it’s essential to highlight the progress and accomplishments of some of these projects from the past year.
Before its public release in July 2018, Belacam had 3,000 beta users. As of December 19, 2018, the Instagram clone for Web 3.0 surpassed 47,700 users.
This platform allows cryptocurrency project teams to find and hire talent for all sorts of tasks: marketing, software development, and creative.
In May 2018, Bounty0x surpassed 20,000 active bounty hunters and over $6 million in bounty rewards. As a comparison, Bounty0x launched in October 2017 with 0 users and had only around 5,000 active users in January 2018.
Augur provides a decentralized betting platform for all sorts of events: sports, politics, economic trends, and more. In late October and early November 2018, Augur’s U.S. election market helped it reach an all-time high for the amount of staked funds on the platform. At one point, the daily volume of staked funds reached nearly $650,000. Total staked funds reached $2.8 million.
What to Expect in 2019
#BUIDL gained a lot of momentum in 2018. The focus on improving blockchain technology and the foundations for user adoption of applications should only ramp up in 2019. A lot of projects have already launched amazing use cases and gained strong followings. Still, it will be even more exciting to see additional projects move from testnet to mainnet, beta to alpha, and more.
We should expect the number of viable use cases for tokens to grow and that ecosystems will evolve. First and foremost, though, this requires a continued commitment to the ideals of BUIDL to drive innovation forward.