Tom Clark

Writer, Blockchain Enthusiast, Student

Innovators of Interoperability: Three Solutions

Choosing a platform upon which to build your blockchain, token or smart contract can be difficult - and this is a problem which a range of pioneering projects are attempting to solve.
Ethereum once reigned supreme, however it is now widely considered something of a ‘legacy’ platform due to its age and outstanding flaws including slow transaction speeds, frequent network overload (resulting in high gas fees), and scalability issues.
Adoption growth for Ethereum has been recorded to have slowed month-on-month by the end of last year, and more and more people are looking to the newer alternative options that have entered the space.
As it becomes more cumbersome and less attractive to potential creators and developers, people have been looking to new blockchain infrastructure upon which to build their projects.
There’s a huge selection of alternative options now, however the community has become disparate as a result, split across a multitude of newer alternative chains. None of which are able to boast the wealth of dApps, support or tools available on Ethereum.
As a result, it grows increasingly difficult for anybody without significant development expertise to work with many of these newer infrastructures.

Links Between Chains

Imagine if having to choose between blockchains wasn’t so complicated. If decentralized applications, transactions and / or smart contracts developed by one team could be shared with another, regardless of the blockchain platform it was developed upon.
Whilst not a complete listing of projects, the following is a collection of what I personally believe to be some of the most interesting and noteworthy active projects. Some examples which push the bar with what you can do between discrete blockchains.
1. Ark Ecosystem
ARK is an open source all-in-one platform that provides services and infrastructure for creators. It also boasts an 8 second block time for transactions.
The motto of the company is “Point. Click. Blockchain” - an obvious reference to the operating principles behind organisations such as Squarespace: that technical capability should not stunt ambition.
This is achieved by providing users with a large set of tools and modular dApps with which developers can build their own blockchain platform. These user-created 'bridgechains' are interoperable with one another, enabling sharing between organisations and developers without boundaries.
ARK is open to anybody to use, and there are no fees or up-front costs to worry about when setting up your own blockchain and supports 12+ programming languages. Although it is supported by the ARK token, it is a utility coin used almost solely for staking in the DPoS system and voting for nodes.
Recently, nOS has joinEd the likes of Wolfram, Ledger and Changelly in partnering with ARK, choosing to employ ARK’s “flexible yet powerful” blockchain as a foundation - to power its virtual operating system.
ARK pro-actively supports the developers who contribute to the ecosystem and offer numerous opportunities to earn rewards; including a bounty rewards program, in which rewards distributed equally without arbitrary distinctions such as ‘size’ or ‘importance’ of problem solved.
Beyond bounties, the company offers a community fund which developers and community members can apply for to obtain funding for their projects. The ‘Powered by Ark’ program (of which nOS is a part) is also of note.
2. OneLedger
A decentralized cross-compatibility protocol which provides users the opportunity to access a range of what it calls “core [blockchain] infrastructures” in a “highly scalable manner”. This is achieved through the use of sharding and side-chains. Its advisors include Trevor Koverko (CEO of Polymath).
The open source project primarily targets the business sector, with the goal of delivering the opportunity to integrate blockchain with legacy systems - positioning itself as a gateway to the world of decentralized systems.
In fact, the OneLedger team even advertises its implementation of business integration APIs and smart contracts to simplify and streamline the process of on-boarding new business opportunities to distributed ledger technologies for the first time. Much of which via the OneLedger protocol.
Like with Ark, OneLedger offers a modular stack to developers - allowing to adopt from various ledgers and adapt their own applications easily. The primary purpose of this modularity is to enable scalability and maximise ease-of-use to creators of blockchain applications.
What’s quite different is that OneLedger proudly advertises that users can execute cross-chain atomic swaps within its protocol, alongside the development and use of interoperable dapps (on public and private blockchains). This makes it a suitable option for those seeking an interoperability for a project focusing on digital assets.
The economy is primarily supported through the OLT token - which runs the risk of overinflated prices as a result of being both a utility and form of investment.
3. Consensys (‘Atomic Crosschain Transactions for Ethereum Private Sidechains’)
Whilst Little is known about what exactly ConsenSys is planning with regards to cross-chain functionality and interoperability, however the organisation released a paper which describes a number of solutions to the problem in comprehensive technical detail.
This paper, entitled ‘Atomic Crosschain Transactions for Ethereum Private Sidechains’ (3rd May 2019) presents the case for what it calls ‘Ethereum Private Sidechains’, in addition to defining a set of requirements with which this technology should be delivered, and details the ‘Ethereum Private Sidechain’ concept in detail.
Primarily, it details a theoretical method of connecting public and private blockchains, specifically, side chains, using a so-called ‘Atomic Cross Chain Transaction Technology’ - utilising technologies such as HTLCs (Hash Time-Locked Contracts).
Ethereum Private Sidechains were first written about in June 2018 in the paper ‘Requirements for Ethereum Private Sidechains’ - which was written by Peter Robinson (who was also the primary author of the aforementioned paper on atomic cross chain transactions).
The term denotes a solution which offers multiple permissioned channels - as well as privacy and permissioning akin to its main inspirations: Hyperledger Fabric and Quorum.
ConsenSys was founded in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin. The company develops decentralized software and applications exclusively on the Ethereum blockchain, and is an active participant in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (with the likes of Microsoft and Cisco).
Other key projects of note from the company include Consensys Labs, Academy, and Capital
The size and influence of the ConsenSys means that, although there are no concrete announcements yet, they would make a big impact in the field.
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My name is Tom Clark. I am an avid blockchain enthusiast currently studying towards a BA in Journalism, and just getting started with the wonderful Hackernoon community.
For disclosure, I met the founders of the ARK project earlier this year and observed operations first-hand for a journalism project.
Do you believe that bridge-chains could be the solution to the current post-Ethereum developer displacement? 
I’d love to discuss in the comments below!

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