September 27, 2018
Blockchain is a buzzword in every sector of the business world and its popularity has increased exponentially since Bitcoin. Its quick adoption can be attributed to the fact that its centralized application can make data transactions fast, secure, traceable and transparent.
This blog discusses the steps for blockchain development companies to follow to get started, by helping them understand the fundamental requirements and the decisions to be made during various stages of blockchain development.
In order to craft a solution, you first need to understand what the problem is and how the solution appears to address it. Blockchain development requires a considerable investment of time, efforts and money, and you may want to ascertain whether it can serve your business purpose, or if it’s required at all.
Research to prepare a business case and determine the costs and risk involved. Understand the implications if you go ahead with a traditional approach instead of a blockchain solution. Also, consider if your existing application can be leveraged to the blockchain network to avoid raising a blockchain structure from scratch.
Blockchain has a lot of potentials. But it’s important to realize that if this asset doesn’t fit the bill, it’ll end up becoming an unnecessary liability.
The next step is to figure out which consensus mechanism is right for you. Let’s first understand what consensus mechanism is.
In a centralized system, the ultimate approval comes from the highest authority. However, since blockchain is a peer-to-peer system with no centralized authority, how do members reach an agreement on authenticating a transaction? They do it through a consensus which involves making a decision that can benefit the entire group. Therefore, there needs to be a consensus among members and that’s why a consensus mechanism is required.
Although there is no comprehensive consensus mechanism, each of the mechanisms comes with its unique advantages so you can follow an approach which suits your business objectives the best. Some of the most popular consensus algorithms are Proof of Work (PoW), Proof of Stake (PoS), Proof of Activity (PoS), Proof of Capacity (PoC).
After finalizing a consensus mechanism, think about which platform you would want to build your blockchain application on. Run a research on the existing platforms, their features, including security and stability, and how they will be able to contribute to your blockchain objectives. Besides, it is also important to know advantages and disadvantages of each platform, how they compare with each other, and what kind and range of support is available for them as you move ahead with blockchain development.
To build a prototype application, your research also includes their adoption, activity, price, network type etc. Since most platforms are open source, your selection largely depends on the consensus mechanism you zeroed in on and the issues you look to address through blockchain.
A few popular platforms are Ethereum, Openchain, Hyperledger Fabric, HydraChain, BigChainDB etc.
Once you’ve ascertained which platform to go ahead with, you should start planning for the infrastructure of your blockchain application. While this may seem like a basic task, designing an infrastructure is complex, and takes careful planning and implementation.
To go ahead with configuration, think about all the required hardware and software the application will require. You may also want to finalize on what kind of blockchain network you want to have for the members to share and process data. Determine whether you want a public or private architecture. You always have the flexibility of choosing an on-premise, cloud or a hybrid environment to host your blockchain solutions.
Like architecture, configuring blockchain also requires careful planning. Many blockchain development companies often run into time-consuming coding efforts in the absence of a properly laid roadmap. Some of the crucial aspects calling for due consideration are user permissions, management, structure, signatures etc, and it’s critical to pay careful attention to them. With coding done, it can be quite challenging to undo or tweak it.
First of all, make sure that there is a basic development environment in place and your machine has the required configuration capabilities.
Since this is the step where you can’t afford to compromise, if it doesn’t fall into your area of specialization, it’s advisable to seek the help of an expert who can guide you.
APIs have an irreplaceable role in the functioning of the blockchain. They are responsible for encrypting, authentication and adding the transactions. Although there are several API developers creating a big pool of pre-built APIs to choose from, you’ll need ones that address your blockchain development objectives the best and hence, you’ll have to create a few new APIs for the requirements specific to your business case.
Your business case parameters may differ from the technology used and your budget. You may also take into account the API performance. For example, depending on your requirements, you may want to choose or build the APIs that can perform a high or average number of transactions in a time unit.
With this step, you almost reach the last stage of blockchain development. At this stage, you will have to finalize which front-end programming languages, external databases, and servers your blockchain application will require.
It’s evident that user experience is the key to any application’s success. So if you are a blockchain development company, you should put in efforts to research and understand your target audience and what their needs and preferences are.
There is a growing awareness about blockchain across industries and business verticals. Depending on which field your audience or end-users are from, you should aim to define the user experience and craft an appropriate admin and user interface for them.
After your blockchain application is ready, take it through beta testing to detect any anomalies or glitches while it’s at work and fix them. This will not only prepare the app to perform smoothly at real work but also help you prevent spending your highly useful resources on a futile solution later.
Besides, you should take into account that the business landscape is always evolving and its needs will continue to change. Hence, you should ensure that the app is scalable to address the changing business needs in the future. You can also boost its efficacy by adding machine learning, big data, IoT etc. to keep pace with advancing technologies.
It’s true that blockchain development is a multi-stage, complex process and requires a detailed planning. If you have a clear vision of the end-goal and an appropriate strategy in place, the steps listed above provide you a well-laid roadmap. So if you have identified a use case and figured out how blockchain is the ultimate solution for it, these steps will be helpful for you in developing a promising blockchain application.