A Check in on the Ethereum Roadmap at Devcon
The annual Ethereum developer conference kicked off on November 1, in Cancun, Mexico. The four-day Devcon3 event has gathered a host of Ethereum developers, investors, and enthusiasts while the featured speakers represent a who’s who of luminaries in the Ethereum ecosystem.
Developers such as Péter Szilágyi, Dr. Christian Reitwiessner, Yoichi Hirai, Alex Beregszaszi, and Fabian Vogesteller are all poised to give presentations and Ethereum’s head honcho Vitalik Buterin got things underway by giving a synopsis of the current state of the Ethereum blockchain in addition to updating attendees on the latest developments regarding the recent Byzantium upgrades.
Buterin Taking the Lead
Buterin outlined his vision for the blockchain’s near-term future and focused on the importance of sharding as a method of improving the network’s overall efficiency. The sharding process sees data partitioned off into subsets, and these smaller data packets can be stored on nodes that are no longer required to store the entire history of all the network’s transactions.
Buterin named enhancing scalability as “probably problem number one” for the platform and views this approach as the most likely option for addressing this issue as well as also reducing transaction costs and processing times. Whilst the software that will facilitate these upgrades is still being developed, Buterin hinted that the Ethereum team are close to completing a sharding proof of concept in the programming language Python. However, it will still be a while before the solution is actually deployable across the network.
He went on to elaborate on the problem of enabling trust between nodes that store some of the data that makes up the network’s distributed ledger and discussed a type of sharding which involves full nodes storing the entire ledger alongside other nodes storing sharded data. This system will enable developers to experiment with making changes on shards that won’t have any substantial impact on operations and processing times across the platform.
Buterin also touched upon future projects such as the Ethereum flavoured WebAssembly, or eWASM, which will allow web browsers to act as Ethereum nodes; and the “stateless clients” concept which will allow the process of syncing clients with the network to work more efficiently.
Updates on other Key Developments
The four-day conference sees a host of developers give talks regarding the following key developments and proposals:
- Zk-SNARK Implementation – This is one of the conference’s main areas of focus as Ethereum network developers are increasingly concerned with the issue of privacy. As a result, a number of presenters are lined up to discuss the issue with the topic being stretched across five talks.
- Casper –This presentation by Vlad Zamfir covers the Casper upgrade and how it will completely rework Ethereum’s mechanics. Zamfir leads Ethereum's research into the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and outlines his approach.
- Scaling Ethereum Smart Contracts – Joseph Poon discusses Plasma, an off-chain scaling solution that will allow the network to scale immensely with Poon drawing from his work as co-creator of the Lightning Network, the Bitcoin scaling solution.
- The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) – Developer Nick Johnson elaborates on the service that allows users to send money to a location using an abbreviated name. The name service can also be used to redirect to popular services, such as smart contracts and Dapps and helps provide a smoother user experience.
- The Mist Interface – Everton Fraga and Victor Maia go over the popular user interface sponsored by the Ethereum Foundation and discuss plans for future Ethereum Dapps that can compete with Google and mainstream centralized social media platforms.
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Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.