How do you build your first blockchain on Substrate?


When Ethereum launched in July 2015, the world was introduced to the concept of smart contracts that hoped to revolutionize the blockchain space and allow anyone from developers to enthusiasts to run decentralized applications (DApps) on the Ethereum mainnet. implement.

With several DApps currently in use in various blockchains such as Ethereum, they offer many usage scenarios including banking, gaming, finance, online shopping and social media with an ever-growing user base around the world.

However, because Ethereum has provided the infrastructure developers need to create innovative digital applications, it has limitations such as limited scalability and high gas costs, factors that are now preventing developers from building specialized solutions that can rival popular centralized platforms like Twitter. , Facebook and Netflix .

To overcome these challenges and explore the possibilities of blockchain technology, Ethereum co-founder and its first chief technology officer Gavin Wood left the Ethereum Foundation and founded Parity Technologies to build blockchain infrastructure that can help create the based on a decentralized web, or Web3 as it is known.

Related: Five major challenges in the blockchain industry

Armed with vast industry experience and a deep understanding of blockchain creation, he went on to build Substrate as an open-source and future-proof blockchain framework for developers to build upon, enabling them to design the architecture of their blockchain. adapt to changing customer preferences.

Substrate-based blockchains can be integrated as parachains in networks such as Polkadot or Kusama and offer a high degree of interoperability, enabling the marketing of truly decentralized real-world solutions that are faster, cheaper and more secure than ever before.

What is substrate blockchain and how does it work?

The vision that Web3 is a decentralized blockchain-based version of the internet relies on developers being able to create various blockchain applications that can communicate with each other and with networks such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.

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Typically, a blockchain framework is used by blockchain developers to create such applications and by using built-in templates, they can save a lot of development time at the cost of limited customization options.

This is where Substrate, an open source blockchain framework for building custom blockchains, enables developers to quickly build blockchains based on field-tested code that powers a large ecosystem of blockchain projects around the world.

Encompassing a sizable collection of tools and libraries, Substrate is the primary blockchain software development kit (SDK) used to build the Polkadot layer-0 protocol and can be used by developers to create any type of blockchain.

Related: What is the difference between blockchain layers L0 and L1?

The primary block of any blockchain is the node and relies on a decentralized network of these nodes or computers communicating with each other to keep the current ledger with the latest transactions. Each node in a blockchain network serves as both the client and the server, requesting and responding to requests for data as per its requirements.

What makes a Substrate node unique is the way these operational responsibilities are divided horizontally to provide a modular framework for building blockchains. Each Substrate node uses two main elements: an outer node that handles network activity and a runtime that determines the validity of the transaction and is responsible for handling changes to the blockchain’s state transition function.

The outer node is responsible for communicating with other nodes, managing the transaction pool, peer discovery, and responding to remote procedure calls (RPC) or browser requests using Substrate’s RPC Application Programming Interface (API). By querying or providing information to the Substrate runtime, the outer node uses specialized runtime APIs to handle this communication.

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With the Substrate runtime handling everything that happens in the chain, it is the core component of the blockchain building node and determines how transactions are included in blocks, how blocks are returned to the outer node or how the chain state is displayed. changed in response to transactions.

By using host functions to communicate with the outer node, the Substrate runtime enables runtime validity checking and cross-platform compatibility, providing validation evidence for relay chain consensus mechanisms and supporting forkless upgrades of the node architecture.

How does Substrate enable you to create a custom blockchain?

Substrate offers more freedom, flexibility and more optimization possibilities than building on a general smart contract blockchain such as Ethereum. In addition, substrate-based blockchains can exist as “solo chains” or integrate into Polkadot or Kusama to become parachains.

Developers can choose to start with a Substrate node template first, which is the basic unit when building a blockchain with Substrate and offers a lot of pre-built functionality with standard implementations for aspects such as account management, consensus, privileged access and peer-to-peer ( P2P) networks.

These Substrate node templates are maintained in the Substrate Developer Hub and developers also have access to Substrate’s large, active and helpful builder community that constantly contributes to the ecosystem.

However, for more complex projects, developers would want a higher degree of freedom to define the logic of their blockchain and this is where Substrate’s Framework for Runtime Aggregation of Modularized Entities (FRAME) comes into play.

FRAME is one of Substrate’s most powerful tools and includes a number of modules and supporting libraries to simplify runtime development. Also known as Substrate Pallets, these modules represent customizable business logic for use cases such as staking, governance, consensus, and other key activities developers may want to include in the runtime.

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In addition, developers can leverage their system, support, and execution pallets to provide a wide variety of services for the runtime environment. While one can build a Substrate-based blockchain without using FRAME, the various pallets and libraries allow developers to build a custom runtime logic by using the predefined components as a starting point.

By combining pre-built and custom pallets to infinitely manage the features and functionality of the Substrate blockchain, developers can achieve specific results with a high degree of flexibility and convenience.

How to make your first blockchain on substrate?

Whether you are a newbie developer or someone with previous experience in using a blockchain framework, Substrate offers tutorials that focus on providing hands-on experience and the Substrate Playground for those who want to experiment without much guidance.

Substrate tutorials are suitable even for absolute beginners and cover all the steps without going too much into the coding details. In addition to these tutorials, Substrate provides a number of how-to guides on specific topics and also gives access to many open source projects built with Substrate.

However, it is important to understand how to work with pallets on Substrate to modify the logic of each node so that it can be used in conjunction with smart contracts to incorporate even more functionality into the resulting blockchain.

So Substrate provides all the necessary support from installation to successfully running your own custom blockchain. While it does not have a native crypto token, the Polkadot (DOT) token is most widely used given that it is compatible with other parachains in the Substrate and Polkadot ecosystem, reflecting its focus on interoperability and scalability.