Python and the blockchain ecosystem
Most know blockchain as a solution for safely sending and receiving money, which will remain a core use case for the technology. The more advanced versions of blockchain can also be used for the deployment of applications, which enable crucial code to be stored and shared in an immutable way. Applications written in the native language of a blockchain’s virtual machine are referred to as smart contracts, the most notable current example of which is the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Once a smart contract has been written, it can easily be redeployed.
The language typically used to write these applications is called Solidity, and although it is unlike Python, the same task can be achieved by using one called Vyper. This language is based on Python but tends to fall behind Solidity on important updates and enhancements. Developers can also learn Solidity itself quickly via a course, which should also be supplemented by learning how the components of a decentralised application (dApp) fit together.
Starting to write applications for blockchain will require developers to discover and learn a Python interface library called Web3.py, which will enable the reading of blocks, the posting of application code, and making transactions. Ultimately, this will equip developers to identify and build key bridges between existing systems and blockchain technology, with Python serving as the route between these two worlds.
Achieving true high performance for clients
Once a Python developer is armed with the knowledge and skills to apply their capabilities in a blockchain context, it is important for them to know where they can have the greatest impact. In my experience, identifying the industries that are not at the cutting-edge of technology provides opportunities to make a transformational difference. It is also valuable to gain an understanding of what clients need and actively help to drive progress, rather than simply delivering on requests that will yield limited solutions.
Having an impact also requires developers to know what high performance and scalability means for different clients. For example, in the Open Banking ecosystem there are likely to be millions of API requests per month, this intensity is also common at the front ends of e-commerce businesses. In contrast, a global shipping organisation may experience just tens of thousands of API requests per month. This serves as a reminder that developers should always understand a client’s business processes before taking steps to optimise raw system performance.
Solving real problems
To provide a current example of a blockchain solution in action, there is one based on the Oracle clone of the Ethereum blockchain that has been made available to the global shipping market. The innovative solution stores transaction data relating to shipping orders, assigns numbers to individual boxes, links them to the ID of a group of boxes, and then to the ID of the shipping container.
The chain of information also includes port IDs, and then links all the information back to the shipping order itself. This creates fully transparent, paperless tracking and logistics, which is further enhanced by connecting the relevant IDs to tax and compliance requirements, automating what was traditionally a highly complex auditing task. The intricacy of the process requires the solution to connect a range of existing systems with the blockchain, making this a prime example of a use case where Python developers could have a major role to play.
Calling all Python developers
As Python developers, we are uniquely positioned to help clients create game changing blockchain solutions. On the one hand, this is because of the rich and extensive ecosystem of modules and solutions we can tap into, with many considering the language a library of real-world solutions. Above all, it is because of Python’s special ability to connect disparate existing systems, which will be crucial for weaving blockchain into vast, outdated processes and delivering disruption at scale.
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