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Holochain

What Is Holochain, Anyway?

Holochain Dev Pulse 95

That might be a funny question to ask right now. If you’ve been reading the Dev Pulse for the last couple years, you probably already know what Holochain is.

But for those of you who are new to Holochain, or who want to share it with your friends, we’ve just publicly released a video, What Is Holochain?. It’s based on a talk I gave at this year’s FOSDEM conference, and it gives a quick overview of what Holochain is all about at a level that’ll help devs understand whether it’s a good fit for them.

What is Holochain?

We’re busy building a new holochain.org website and this video will be featured there. It is fairly technical, but we hope it will build understanding for some folks even if it doesn’t quite get there for everyone. All sorts of people are interested in Holochain — builders, crypto fans, change agents, and business people. And that’s great. But it’s challenging to speak to them all at once! That’s why we’re trying to create materials that focus on specific audiences.

We’re releasing this one first because, ultimately, Holochain is a developer’s toolkit, and developers are the foundation of our adoption strategy. If developers get it, they’ll get excited about it. That means more hApps in the world, which means more hAppy users whose power over their online lives just got a bit stronger.

(Keen eyes will notice that this video has been around for a while. It was actually an unlisted video in my personal YouTube account, but people seemed to love it so much — even non-devs — that we decided it’s good enough to put on the website for now. Expect shorter, more accessible explainer videos in the coming months.)

I know I haven’t shared a lot of updates on Holochain and Holo development lately. That’s partly been because of more important content, and partly because it’s mostly been a continuation of the same work I reported last time. Here’s what’s fresh:

  • The new proxy server is finished, support has been integrated into Holochain, and we’ve moved it into QA testing on HoloPorts.
  • Gossip is getting some performance tuning to reduce load on the proxy server and make data propagate through the network more quickly.
  • The core dev team are changing various components:
  • Updated versions of low-level libraries (1.x releases of tokio and wasmer)
  • Replacing the LMDB database engine with SQLite
  • DeepKey has been ported to Holochain RSM! Its complex data integrity rules have prompted productive discussions about validation, particularly the developer usability of validation callbacks.
  • Holochain finally runs on the HoloPort Nano! We’ve been able to compile it for a while, but it crashed on hApp startup. The Holo team did some experiments with wasmer 1.x and a different WASM-to-bytecode compiler, and they’re now demoing Elemental Chat on a Nano test unit. Once Holochain has officially upgraded to wasmer 1.x we’ll have regular OS builds for the Nano, and we’ll begin testing it along with the two larger HoloPorts. (If the hardware is ready before the software, we’ll ship the hardware first and the auto-updater will take care of the software when it’s ready.)
  • If you’re using the admin API, there are breaking changes coming to the app installation calls.

Cover photo by Benoit Beaumatin on Unsplash

Originally published at https://blog.holochain.org on April 30, 2021.

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Holochain enables a distributed web with user autonomy built directly into its architecture and protocols. Data is about remembering our lived and shared experiences. Distributing the storage and processing of that data can change how we coordinate and interact. www.holochain.org

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