Technology Friday: BlockApps

Welcome to Technology Fridays! Every Friday, I try to cover software products or platforms that are bringing innovation to hot technology areas while still flying under the radar of mainstream media. today, I would like to cover one of my favorite frameworks in the blockchain technology ecosystem: BlockApps.

BlockApps addresses the challenges of streamlining the implementation of blockchain based solutions. Specifically, BlockApps provides a series of high level building blocks for implementing Ethereum applications. From the market standpoint, BlockApps is trying to address one of the biggest challenges in the blockchain ecosystem: simplifying the implementation of mainstream applications.

If you are confused about the role of BlockApps in relationship to platforms such as Etehreum, think about the comparison between Ruby on Rails and Ruby. Just like Ruby, Ethereum provides the main building blocks for the implementation of blockchain applications such as Smart Contracts, DApps, Oracles, scripting languages such as Solidity and many others. However, most developers can find Ethereum too “low level” for the implementation of mainstream applications such as websites or mobile apps. This is where BlockApps comes in.

Originally implemented in Haskell, BlockApps provides APIs, runtimes and tools that simplify the implementation of blockchain applications. The platform expands Ethereum’s core capabilities with a stack that includes components ranging from basic management APIs to plug-in to popular IDEs.

Strato is one of the main components of the BlockApps platform. From a functional standpoint, Strato exposes many of the capabilities of the Ethereum blockchain via a simple set of REST APIs. This model allows developers to perform typical Ethereum tasks such as accessing blocks, deploying smart contracts, querying users and dozens of others via simple HTTP calls. The model of simplifying access to complex platforms via APIs has proven successful before; just think about Elasticsearch in relationship to Solr-Lucene.

BlockApps also enables the prototyping of blockchain application in local environments using the Bloc Server. Developers can install the Block Server as a NodeJS module and point it to a Strato instance used for development and testing as well as to an Ethereum instance used for production.

Now you have Strato and the Bloc Server up and running, how do you interact with them? The Block CLI is a command line interface that automates the lifecycle of BlockApp solutions. Additionally, blockApps has been building SDKs and frameworks that lower the entry point for developers across different platforms. Among those, BlockAppsJS enables the implementation of Smart Contracts using JavaScript and the Xamarin and Ionic SDKs abstract the implementation of blockchain based mobile apps.

BlockApps is technically platform agnostic but tithe current version has been obviously optimized for Microsoft environments. The current version of BlockApps includes a Visual Studio plug-in and a native Azure instance that allow developers to get up and running with the platform in no time.

Competition?

BlockApps is part of the fast growing ecosystem of platforms trying to bring blockchain technologies to mainstream developers. ErisTech is a well known platform in the space. Similarly, blockchain PaaS such as Nxt or BlockStack can be seen as competitors of BlockApps in some scenarios.

Written by

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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