With the advent of Web3.0 and the metaverse, the industry faces a pressing need to develop Web3.0-compatible blockchain solutions more efficiently and quickly.
Substrate and Polkadot are open source blockchain development frameworks that modularize blockchain systems while integrating better consensus protocols, on-chain and off-chain interaction modules, and interoperability protocols among different chains, providing an efficient blockchain system development platform for Web3.0 and metaverse.
In this article, we invited Mr. Jia Yaoqi, technical director of Parity Asia and co-founder of Zilliqa, to share his view on blockchain development and the cross-chain framework for Web3.0. During the talk, he shared his fresh point of view on Substrate and Polkadot's core modules and projects that took place within the ecosystem.
The upcoming Web 3.0
Over the past few years, we have developed a more robust infrastructure for Web 3.0's underlying components. But what distinguishes it from its predecessors?
Web 1.0 is the Internet for reading only. As early as the yellow pages and portals, the first web pages were read-only, meaning users could only search for information and browse content but could not share it.
As part of Web 2.0, users can create their own content, publish it on the Internet, and share it on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The most notable change is that information is no longer presented in an official or personal manner, but somewhat interactive.
As for Web 3.0, different individuals may interpret it differently depending on their industry and position. Rather than focusing on the blockchain or the emergence of a new metaverse, we are more interested in defining Web 3.0 as an era of digital assets, and data return to individuals and communities. In the event that a user does not wish to share data, they may use private keys to protect ownership and usage rights.
With Web 3.0 on the horizon, how to construct highly customized and efficient applications or systems using existing blockchain development and cross-chain frameworks has become increasingly urgent.
Building a Blockchain From Zero
Developing a blockchain system from the ground up, especially a custom one, is a challenging undertaking. As a result, it requires the database layer, the network layer, and numerous control protocols. On average, it takes dozens of senior engineers two to three years to design an optimal custom system.
We developed the Substrate blockchain development framework, which includes key blockchain components, such as the database layer, pluggable consensus mechanisms, off-chain working machines, etc., enabling developers to customize system and application operations better.
In the context of smart contract deployment, there are many benefits to constructing a Substrate application chain on top of the existing blockchains. Solidity smart contracts for specific asset operations can be created with reasonable ease, but the language's present opcodes and intrinsic constraints prevent greater customization. Compared to this, the runtime environment of an application chain based on Substrate can be highly tailored. Logic and security, for example, are entirely within developers' realm of responsibility since they have access to the complete state of the blockchain and can perform on-chain and off-chain interoperability to provide better support for federated chain or private chain scenarios.
Custom blockchains and smart contracts are directly deployed and do not clash since both can be utilized within the Polkadot ecosystem. It is feasible to construct an independent Substrate chain, a parachain linked to Polkadot, or even a lightweight parathread to access Polkadot and routinely communicate data with the Polkadot ecosystem. Moreover, several similar chains already in operation enable smart contract technologies such as Solidity and WASM, allowing developers to deploy smart contracts on them.
During the deployment or development process, Substrate can be used to construct Polkadot parachains, which offer a variety of features such as the ability to combine many modules, seamless chain upgrading, etc. Updating chains is always a problematic issue in conventional blockchain development. However, Substrate enables users to construct unique blockchains with maximum freedom and control. Its highly scalable and composable characteristics allow users to benefit from saving time and resources.
Shared security is another advantage of developing parachains directly in Polkadot utilizing Substrate. For instance, occasionally, developers must run additional nodes to assure the security of their chain. Yet, in Polkadot's environment, if users get the corresponding slots and access to Polkadot's relay model, Polkadot will eventually match certain relay chain nodes to help parachain verification. This design approach will ensure horizontal sharding of the entire blockchain system without compromising the security of a single slice. Similarly, a parachain is supported by the relay chain, requiring only it to focus on its own blockchain business, thereby simplifying the creation of blockchain businesses and reducing the additional expenditures associated with parachain security.
As mentioned above, parachains or parathreads can obtain outstanding security and functional completeness outcomes. However, specific applications, such as smart wallets and lightweight smart contract apps, do not require a separate chain, and it may be more efficient to implement them on an existing parachain.
Devs can select the appropriate development paradigm when constructing Web 3.0 applications or metaverse applications. The Polkadot rental model is quite intriguing, as it will periodically release corresponding slots, encouraging participants to compete for them and benefit from shared security and cross-chain capabilities. Ultimately, as a powerful blockchain framework and multichain network, Substrate and Polkadot can assist developers in designing an application system tailored to their own metaverse applications and customized scenarios.
The Cross-Chain Dilemma
In the future, there may be thousands of blockchains or metaverse worlds, but we will soon find that cross-chain is also an exceedingly tricky concept when we attempt to improve data exchange and communication between worlds.
In a conventional Web 2.0 application, services are highly interconnected. However, blockchain is still siloed at the moment, and chains do not communicate well with each other.
The critical feature of blockchain is its determinism, in which every node in the network must reach the same result, requiring neither external data nor external side effects. In practice, however, we need effective communication and interaction between chains and within and outside the chains. In a world where there are several chains, we must be able to verify the accuracy of incoming data and have interactions that are entirely untrusted.
Polkadot is an excellent cross-chain framework. Developers may utilize Substrate to build many bespoke blockchain systems and metaverse applications, including identity chains, IoT networks, and payment chains. Multiple chains can exchange and transfer assets and information via Polkadot using cross-chain messaging protocols. These specialized blockchains include value transfer chains, smart contract chains, and privacy chains.
For current blockchain platforms or systems that do not utilize Substrate, developers can connect the existing chains to the Polkadot ecosystem to support future parachains. In addition to the contacts across chains, each chain must also have improved connections with the Web 2.0 environment, which involves off-chain working machines.
Traditional blockchain systems, such as Ethereum, require centralized prophecy machine systems to transmit data from off-chain to on-chain smart contracts. In addition to being expensive, this process is also relatively slow. In the Polkadot ecosystem, parachains can transfer off-chain data directly to the chain via an off-chain working machine, making it simpler to confirm the off-chain data's accuracy on the chain.
In addition, we have created some bridge toolkits to handle the messaging and asset transfer concerns between Polkadot's ecosystem and the existing diverse blockchains outside of it.
Collectively developing an open Web 3.0 ecosystem
Parity has been working to improve Polkadot's ecosystem—from the blockchain development framework to cross-chain data transfer. Right now, there are more than 400 projects that are integrated into Polkadot.
Based on the adaptability of Polkadot's development environment, the ecosystem's diversity of projects differs significantly from other blockchain ecosystems. Different development teams can construct more diverse products and systems, including increased scalability, privacy protection, decentralized storage, decentralized identity, and various bridges, enabling multiple applications to obtain better data and asset interactions and enhancing the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Parity has been conducting several operations throughout Asia, particularly in China, including organizing courses for developers, services for entrepreneurial teams, and Web 3.0 boot camps hosted in partnership with Wanxiang Blockchain.
Additionally, Parity is recruiting new startup teams to assist in the customization of their technological, marketing, and business application development. The firm, which focuses on R&D, also plans to attract more open source community members and Web3.0 developers in order to create a more diverse and accessible Web3.0 environment in the future.