Blockchain Platforms & Tech to Watch in 2019

Eric Elliott
Dec 29, 2018 · 14 min read
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no.thisispatrick — “Electric Water” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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Ethereum bounces: This ain’t over yet!
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Top 24 hour gainers, December 28, 2018

Dominant Themes

The dominant crypto theme in 2017 was the ICO big bang: The dawn of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). That explosion continued to expand through the first half of 2018, before regulatory concerns cast a chilling effect over the crypto industry.

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Monthly ICO funding: 2014–2018 source: CoinDesk
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Bitcoin price (log): Each new red arrow is 10x higher than the last

What will be the themes in 2019?

If 2017 was about ICOs, and 2018 was about survival, what will be the primary crypto themes of 2019?

User Traction

dApps had a tiny audience in 2018, but 2019 may be the year that we see the first multi-million user dApps, and non-crypto geeks will finally begin transacting in cryptocurrencies.

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Screenshot: Brave browser integrated BAT wallet
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Screenshot Left: Tencent Games’ Ring of Elysium live stream on Sliver. Right: Sliver.tv’s integrated Theta wallet.
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Cent screenshot

Ethereum Challengers

Ethereum challengers are rolling into production and community building phases in 2019. Ethereum has a huge head start, but 2019 may be the year that the competitive pressure really begins to squeeze. Ethereum challengers come primarily in two shapes: ICO platforms and dApp platforms.

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Screenshot: Waves token generation tool

dApps

The promise of the crypto space is to build the internet of value, and you might say decentralized applications play a central role. But what exactly is a dApp? Why are they important, and which dApp platforms will reshape the game in 2019?

dApp UX

The dApp user experience is getting better. There are now two popular browsers with integrated dApp support , so there’s no need for confusing browser extensions: Trust (recently acquired by Binance) and Coinbase Wallet (which was Toshi until Coinbase acquired it shortly after the Trust acquisition). Both have much better UX than alternatives like Metamask, and provide integrations with the Web3 API, which helps dApps integrate with the Ethereum blockchain.

Smart Contract Platforms

Solidity has ruled the smart contract programming language ecosystem since it became available. It’s ubiquitous for smart contract programming on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). But Solidity has some serious issues, including arithmetic overflows and underflows, type errors, and the delegatecall vulnerability which froze $300 million. All of these vulnerabilities are examples of issues which exist at the programming language level. In other words, a better programming language could create more secure smart contracts.

  • Plutus (Cardano) is another Haskell-inspired functional programming language, this time for the Cardano blockchain. Cardano is planning two big releases in 2019: Shelley, which provides full decentralization and staking, and Cardano-CL, the virtual machines that will support programmable smart contracts.
  • Scilla (Zilliqa) is a formally verified smart contract language designed with separation of computation and effects in mind. This means that calculations and communication of state transitions are strictly isolated, which makes Scilla smart contracts easier to test and statically validate to minimize the chances that something will go wrong. Zilliqa’s mainnet is scheduled to launch at the end of January, 2019.
  • ewasm (Ethereum) is not a smart contract language per say, but a compiler target which will allow Ethereum programmers to program in other languages (like Rust, C++, maybe one day smart-contract specific languages like Simplicity), and compile to Ethereum flavored WebAssembly. ewasm is a safer subset of WebAssembly, which is the relatively new low-level compile target for the web platform. Conveniently, wasm (and thus ewasm) modules are usable from any JavaScript project. For most blockchain code, typically more than 75% of the code isn’t in smart contracts at all — it’s in JavaScript which must communicate with the smart contracts. ewasm and JavaScript share a common foundation of bindings and module support.
  • JavaScript (Lisk) Lisk is a blockchain development platform that allows developers to code in JavaScript and create custom blockchains for specific applications, avoiding Ethereum’s big scaling challenge. Lisk allows developers to create their own sidechains to manage all of a specific application’s blockchain operations, so it doesn’t have to compete with all the other applications for the compute resources of the main chain. Currently, Lisk is not working on a smart contract programming language or VM, and blockchain transaction capabilities are similar to Bitcoin’s.
  • Rust (via ewasm, Cardano client) is a lower level language (like C) with some of the safety features of languages like Haskell. Rust features guaranteed constant references to avoid accidental mutations, static prevention of null pointer exceptions (options must be explicitly declared), stateful types which only provide access to operations meaningful to the current state, pattern matching is analyzed to guarantee function completeness (an unmatched pattern will result in a compile-time error), etc. Basically, it’s like C++ and Haskell had a baby that inherited none of the scary stuff. Rust can compile to ewasm, or be used to build client code for blockchains like Cardano. Modules for Lisk can be built in Rust and compiled to wasm to import in Lisk projects.

You Might Not Need Smart Contracts

You might not need a smart contract programming language to produce a production dApp in 2019.

The List

OK, that was a lot. Let’s review the tech you should pay close attention to in 2019:

Cryptocurrencies

Crypto Apps

Wallets & dApp Browsers

dApp Platforms

Smart Contract Languages

Decentralized Compute Services (AWS for dApps)

Related Technologies


We’re BUIDLing the future of celebrity digital collectables: cryptobling.


The Challenge

Our goal is to build a world that democratizes opportunity…

Thanks to JS_Cheerleader

Eric Elliott

Written by

Make some magic. #JavaScript

The Challenge

Our goal is to build a world that democratizes opportunity, where people control their own privacy and property, and all people participate in processes that are transparent, trustworthy and inclusive. Join us. #crypto #blockchain #bitcoin #technology

Eric Elliott

Written by

Make some magic. #JavaScript

The Challenge

Our goal is to build a world that democratizes opportunity, where people control their own privacy and property, and all people participate in processes that are transparent, trustworthy and inclusive. Join us. #crypto #blockchain #bitcoin #technology

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