This post provides a quick overview to beginners planning to learn Solana smart contract development. If you were hiding below the hood and didn’t realize alternative blockchain platforms to Ethereum then you too must read it.
To understand the basics, the developers must ensure the following pre-requisites to install Solana:
· The latest stable Rust build
· Solana CLI v1.7.11 or later
Solana’s mission is to support all high-growth and high-frequency blockchain applications and to democratize the world’s financial systems.
First things first — what is a smart contract?
To put it simply, a digital transaction protocol monitors, validates and executes the transactions as per the pre-determined conditions in the contract. While Ethereum deserves the credit to introduce the feature, Solana provides a better approach.
Just like Ethereum, a smart contract over Solana is completely authored on the blockchain with scope of customization as per varying business logics.
As we know, Solana is a high performing blockchain that claims to process thousands of transactions per second and has block times lesser than Ethereum. It achieves this feat with a Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus technique that uses Proof-of-History (PoH) cryptographic function.
→ Makes it immensely user-friendly and safe to perform end-to-end deployment.
→Because Solana-based smart contract development assures customers’ trust in your platform, it’s simple to grow your user base.
→A platform on the Solana Blockchain has no Gas pricing or limit. As a result, platform owners should expect better returns on each transaction.
→The Solana smart contract software can be customized by owners to meet their own requirements
→There is no Gas price or restriction in a platform. As a result, owners can expect larger profits from each transaction on the platform.
→Owners can tailor the Solana smart contract software to their specific requirements.
→Users can participate actively and refer others to the platform will earn a lot of money.
→Not only rewards but also several other schemes are included for users
Proof of History (PoH)
Solana has a strong foundation in its consensus mechanism. Unlike, Ethereum and most other Tier-1 blockchain networks, Solana uses a unique Proof-of-History (PoH) algorithm. Here, it uses a high-frequency delay function (VDF) to develop a cryptographically verifiable order of occurrences over the period-of-time. Moreover, these functions work as a cryptographic clock that requires the network to validate based on the timing and order of events. That too, without having to wait for responses from all nodes.
Therefore, the continuous outputs of a hashed blockchain provide a validation of events across time. To better understand this, consider an antique water clock that records the passage of time as per the rising water levels.
Unlike previous blockchains, Solana processes multiple order events in parallel thereby enhancing the network’s overall speed and efficiency. Previously, a single process verified and bundled all the transactions for the next block and at times clogged the network.
Since the blockchain processes the ordered events in parallel, it assures superlative end user experience. Here’s a quick run through of the benefits:
· Fast confirmation times (0.4 second blocks)
· Scalable to 50k tps
· Low cost transactions (opportunity to grow due to Ethereum gas fees)
· Early stage opportunities to grow with the network
· Built in programs for common tasks
Architecture for Smart Contracts
As far as the architecture is concerned, Solana uses distinct smart contract logic. Here, the ‘states’ are bundled into a single contract (deployed on the chain). Moreover, it is read-only and contains only the programme logic.
Once implemented, external accounts and platforms can seamlessly interact with Solana smart contracts. The program interaction data is stored in their respective accounts.
Solana has a command-pine-interface (CLI). It also uses a JSON RPC API to connect dApps with the blockchain network. External applications can make use of the readily available SDKs to connect immediately with the blockchain and communicate.
Programs (Smart Contracts)
The core software release includes two sets of programs, Solana Program Library (SPL) and Native Programs. It is not incorrect to say that Native programs account for the core of the Solana blockchain and are one of the most common in the System programs. These programs are meant for activities such as creating accounts and transferring the SOL. Other important Native programs include the Staking Program and the Voting Program.
As far as the Solana Program Library (SPL) is concerned, it constitutes Solana’s Ethereum equivalent of the ER-20 standard followed by a Token program. The Token program provides interaction with tokens on the Solana blockchain and the highly popular NFTs. Subsequently, the developer can perform multiple actions using SPL such as minting, transferring, burning and querying of tokens. The developers can use both program types to build dApps instantly.
Solana Development Workflows
Solana comes with a lot of pre-packaged content that simplifies the job of a developer. For example, to build and deploy dApps on Solana, you don’t require any expert knowledge of Rust or any other on-chain programs. That being said, for greater customization, developers can still use these skills to deploy business centric applications. Like most Tier-1 blockchains, Solana too supports two types of development workflows.
The Solana smart contract development (Program) is done in C, C++ and Rust. Built on the chain, the Solana runtime executes these programs forever. So anyone who understands submitting transactions to the network via APIs (JSON RPC) or a SDK can easily use these. Likewise, the JSON RPC API can be used to run multiple other on-chain programs.
Developers, those who have fair experience in Web 3.0 technologies need no introduction about dapp development. Here, the application development is focused at sending transactions attached with instructions to on-chain programs. This is somewhat similar to web/mobility app development that interacts with a centralized API. In Solana, the JSON RPC API acts as the communication layer with the blockchain. Needless to say, it is the foundation of app development in the Solana ecosystem.
Given the stiff competition with other blockchains such as Ethereum and Cardano, Solana is emphasizing upon ease of development. The parent company, Solana Labs has released an easy-to-use Solana-web3.js SDK that simplifies communication with APIs. Moreover, several 3rd party SDKs are also built on top of the JSON RPC API such as Java, C# Python, Swift, GO, Dart-Flutter etc.
Deploying first Smart Contract
The ecosystem of DeFi apps on Solana is growing at an accelerating rate. In order to power basic DeFi mechanisms and execute key on-chain functions, such as issuing loans at fair market prices or liquidating under collateralized positions, these dApps need access to highly reliable and high-quality market data.
Now that you know how smart contracts work on Solana, and you’ve seen the pros and cons. You might consider getting started with it yourself. So, if you’re looking to build an application or something else with the help of smart contracts, we suggest you take a look at the developer documentation first.
Solana Smart Contract Development with Antier Solutions
Smart Contract networks such as Solana have been among the hottest topics in the blockchain and specifically the Proof-of-Stake blockchain world. Many platforms are competing with each other. And while all platforms have some shortcomings, we’re interested to see how Solana is going to develop the smart contracts for the future.