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Up Next For Developers: Coding The Blockchain

Coding skills offer a wide variety of career options today, but one of the most cutting edge sectors that mainstream web development professionals now play a key role in is decentralized finance (DeFi) and affiliated technologies like blockchain. What’s the key point of connection between these fields? Simply put, it all hinges on traditional coding languages, which are being used to develop these new tools.

In the most basic formulation, blockchain developers are really just web developers with a particularly deep fluency in languages like Java, Python, Go, and C++. While there are also new languages being used in blockchain, such as Solidity (which is used by the Ethereum platform for smart contracts), Java, in particular, has proven to have a powerful blockchain-coding language. Given predictions about the many ways blockchain will be used in the next several years, for security and tracking sensitive consumer goods, among other functions, there’s likely to be substantial demand for skilled coders beyond standard web design.

Those who began on the blockchain side of the coding question had a lot of options at their disposal, and while Ethereum uses a new language for some of its contracts, as noted above, many others use more conventional languages. Bitcoin’s system, for example, is written in C++, one of several major object-oriented coding languages. The rest of the Ethereum system uses a combination of C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and Go, and Aergo’s Coinstack platform uses SQL for its smart contracts.

These currency platforms are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to DeFi and blockchain, but it’s clear that the landscape relies on a true mix of tools, with plenty of room for innovation. That’s not to say that there aren’t some frontrunners in the race to lead new development efforts. In particular, Java seems to dominate many recent conversations.

To understand why Java is so dominant in the conversations around new blockchain development, it’s important to take a closer look at Java in its more general applications. Java is an independent language that allows for agile development and is historically related to C++; it’s also one of the most widely used programming languages in the world, and likely only because it’s newer than the leader, C.

Another one of Java’s major advantages in the blockchain coding debates is that there is already at least one blockchain built exclusively using Java: Takamaka. According to Takamaka’s CEO, the company chose Java because it fit easily into their existing business ecosystem, but other platforms use Java because its roots in C-syntax mean it works well for smart contracts.

In addition to developing a blockchain using Java in the form of Takamaka, Aion built the first blockchain virtual machine on top of Java last year. The company framed its goal with this project as creating a tool that would promote the wider use of blockchain, specifically for those who aren’t familiar with cryptocurrencies. Their hope is also that, given widespread interest in blockchain, doing this development in a familiar coding language would open up these tools to businesses who don’t want to invest in an unfamiliar framework.

At its core, blockchain is nothing more than a ledger — it’s how any given application makes use of it that sets it apart. By emphasizing its development outside the DeFi sector, using familiar coding languages, and thereby opening up new development to experts from outside the crypto-world, blockchain proponents encourage expanded participation. What these new end-users will create from blockchain remains to be seen, but its functionality is extensive. Letting new minds explore the space using traditional tools can only yield exciting results.

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