Career in IT: Blockchain Developer

Career in IT: Blockchain Developer


Blockchain is a continuous sequential linked list built according to certain rules. At the same time, copies of such block chains are usually stored on many different computers independently of each other. For the first time, this technology was used in cryptocurrencies, but there are many areas of application: fintech, banks, identification cards, any kind of data reliability monitoring. Accordingly, the Blockchain developer creates software applications that will be executed by nodes in the blockchain. He also sets up the interaction of "classic" software, or DApp (Distributed application), with these applications.

The fate of a particular code depends on the type of blockchain with which it is necessary to interact. For example, the scripting language that Bitcoin supports greatly limits the maximum allowable complexity of the implemented algorithms. And therefore, in terms of developer friendliness, it is more like an assembler than a high-level language. Therefore, in such cases, using the Blockchain, they record the results of the work of client programs and arbitration between them.

At the same time, Ethereum technology allows implementing fairly complex algorithms and smart contracts written in the high-level Solidity language. It supports the principles of OOP and allows solving significant computational problems, although the maximum complexity of the implemented algorithms remains limited. The high cost of errors and vulnerabilities requires a cyber security programmer. It is also important for the Blockchain developer to optimize the code. 

Tasks and Responsibilities

The main task of the Blockchain developer is the development of digital "agreements" (smart contracts). The conditions in them are described programmatically, and the resulting smart contract is located in a chain of blocks. This prevents interference with its work or alteration of its content. So, the possibility of deviation from the rules laid down in the "agreement" is also rejected.

The subject area of ​​products depends on the direction of the project. For example, it could be:

  • software to simplify the process of user interaction with Blockchain;

  • trusted arbiters in tenders where it is necessary to exclude the influence of the human factor on the choice of a winner;

  • programs to ensure the transparency of e-government systems or charitable foundations;

  • cryptocurrency-based settlement support programs;

  • security review of third-party smart contracts;

  • computer games.

In addition to smart contracts, Blockchain developer also develops web pages or mobile applications for interaction with Blockchain, using JavaScript, Java and Swift. 

A typical working day of a Blockchain developer may differ depending on the stage of product development. At the design stage, developer focuses on the architecture, participates in the brainstorming sessions, identifies development tools and techniques, identifies and distributes tasks. At the development stage, development takes 6-7 hours in an 8-hour working day. In the remaining time, developer would research new technologies, participate in meetings with the team, attend educational seminars. During testing, we create unit tests for smart contracts and do manual testing of the interaction interface. 

Advantages and disadvantages

The professional development of Blockchain developers is guided by the opportunities that technology offers.

Blockchain is about transparency and immutability of data. With open source code and full access to the server on which it is running, it cannot be hacked. Of course, provided that the programmer does not make a mistake. Among the shortcomings of the profession are the immaturity of the technology and the high cost of error.

A significant part of technology and tools have not even reached production and are in testing phases. Firstly, this gives rise to errors in product architectures. Secondly, due to periodic changes in the tools, educational material or instruction to some library often does not correspond to the actual state of things at all. This increases stress during development and jeopardizes the timing of the assignment.

Also, development requires constant attention to the requirements of information security. In the case of Blockchain, the product can no longer be changed after launch. This means that it will not work to fix the error or eliminate the vulnerability with a patch. Since the technology is young, the tools that are used to develop it are not yet fully debugged. Therefore, sometimes problems may arise and solutions are not obvious. Also, since not all customers understand the limitation and specifics of this technology, it is sometimes difficult to explain why it works anyway. 

In addition, the disadvantage is the acquired skills are difficult or impossible to apply in other areas of tech. 

How to become a Blockchain Developer

To work with Blockchain, you need to know some programming language. And also have skills in the field of information protection, understanding of the principles of OOP, data structures, knowledge of the basic design patterns, experience in optimizing and refactoring native code. In addition, web programming skills will be useful, since programs that interact with Blockchain most often have a web interface. An understanding of asymmetric cryptography based on elliptic curves will be a plus.

The article “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” by Satoshi Nakamoto, as well as works by Nick Szabo “Advances in Distributed Security” and “Formalizing and Securing Relationships on Public Networks” will help to understand the essence of Blockchain technology. On the “cryptocurrency” side of technology, you can read “Cryptocash, cryptocurrencies, and cryptocontracts” by Neal Koblitz and Alfred Menezes.

It is advisable to choose the platform for which you’d be interested to develop code (EOS, Ethereum, Neo, Nem). Then read the White Paper, Yellow Paper of the chosen platform, understand how smart contracts work in it (for Ethereum, for example, deal with EVM). Finally, learn the programming language for the chosen platform (for example, for Ethereum -- Solidity, for EOS -- C ++). 

You can start with Solidity, the programming language for Ethereum. Write a test project that will contain Blockchain code and connect to it through a web page. As for the sources of information, study the collections of The Crowdsourced Ethereum Reading List and Crypto Canon. 

Groups and channels in messengers will help to keep track of new products and educational materials, try the Solidity Club and Cryptology Club.

13:45 Sunday, 6 October 2019


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