Menu

Eight Blockchain platforms for rapid prototyping

By Shyam Purkayastha | Cloud Computing

Sep 06
blockchain-comparison

Blockchain, the brainchild of a person or a group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto, was developed as a secured distributed database in 2008. Since then, it has found many applications in securing and streamlining distributed ledger and transaction based applications across the world. In this post, we explore eight  popular Blockchain platforms that you can try out to quickly build a prototype application.   

More...

What is Blockchain ?

​Blockchain is a  database. 

Well, that is an interesting definition. So then, do we have yet another classification of databases, like the Relational and document database or SQL & NoSQL or maybe the row based and columnar databases ?

Blockchain does not really fall under any of these categories. It is unique because the essence of a Blockchain based system lies in ensuring the integrity of a data record based on the previous data records. This means that in a Blockchain database, a data record, once registered cannot be altered.   ​

This feature makes Blockchain ideal for decentralized and secure processing of events and transactions. ​Decentralization of a business process leads to faster processing and less overhead. Secured processing ensures that the transacting parties cannot hack the system and any attempt to do so can be easily detected along with the identity of the culprit. 

Key Use Cases of Blockchain


  • Organized Supply Chain
  • Multiparty financial transaction
  • Tracking of quantifiable or tangible assets
  • Decentralization of business processess

In this blog post, we are going to give you a brief feature overview of the following eight Blockchain platforms, that we believe can help you rapidly prototype your next big idea.

  • Ethereum
  • Hyperledger(Sawtooth Lake)
  • Multichain
  • HydraChain
  • Open Chain
  • IBM Bluemix Blockchain
  • Chain
  • IOTA

Basis of selecting the Blockchain platforms

Our criteria for selecting the above Blockchain platforms is purely based on the subjective assessment of their ease of prototyping. We have not tried all of them, however, We have made a qualitative analysis of all the platform based on the following parameters

  • Popularity – How popular is the platform based on its GitHub stats (stars, forks etc.)
  • Activity – How active is the development in GutHub
  • Type of network – Public, private or permissioned blockchain network
  • Pricing – Free, Paid Pricing tier information
  • Supported languages – Programming languages supported by the platform’s SDK
  • GitHub repo – Names of the GitHub repo for the SDKs

​These parameters are listed as Key Takeaways under each platform and we have grouped popularity  and activity together under one group for the sake of brevity as both are interrelated. 

We believe that to try out an application around Blockchain, the above parameters will allow any developer to quickly zero in on a Blockchain platform for a trial and PoC implementation. So lets dive in and check out what each of these platforms has to offer.

Ethereum

In 2014 Ethereum founders Vitalik Buterin, Gavin Wood and Jeffrey Wilcke began work on a next-generation blockchain and had the ambition to implement a general, fully trust less smart contract platform.

Ethereum is an open blockchain platform that lets anyone build and use decentralized applications that run on blockchain technology. Like Bitcoin no one controls or owns Ethereum. It is an open-source project build by many people around the world. Ethereum is adaptable and flexible unlike the Bitcoin protocol.​

Key Takeaways

Popularity & Activity

High, Actively followed in GitHub

Type of network

Public, Smart Contract based

Pricing

Ether for transaction and computational services

Supported Languages

Python, Go , C++

GitHub Repo

  • pyethereum (Python)
  • gpethereum (GoLang)
  • cpp-ethereum (C++)

Hyperledger

hyperledger

The Hyperledger is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry Blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration including industry leaders in fields of finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and technology. 

Hyperledger has many project under it, as submitted by the member companies. Check out their projects page for more details. ​Sawtooth Lake is one of the major project under Hyperledger that is submitted by Intel and supports a modular Blockchain suite. 

Key Takeaways

Popularity

High and actively updated in GitHub

Type of network

Both Private and Public

Pricing

Open Source

Supported Languages

Python (For Sawtooth Lake)

GitHub Repo

  • sawtooth-core (Python)

MultiChain

Multichain is a platform for the creation and deployment of private Blockchains (permissioned Blockchains) either within or between organizations. It aims to overcome a key obstacle to the deployment of blockchain technology in the institutional financial sector.  By providing privacy and control within a private peer-to-peer network it is an enhanced version of the Bitcoin core software for private financial transactions.

We are currently building a demo using Multichain for showcasing the ​application of Blockchain in agricultural supply chain. You can check out this post to understand the basis of using Blockchain in this scenario. 

Key Takeaways

Popularity

Medium but actively updated in GitHub

Type of network

Private, Permissioned

Pricing

Free, Open Source

Supported Languages

Python,  C#, JavaScript , PHP, Ruby

GitHub Repo

  • savior (Python)
  • c# MultichainLib (C#)
  • Multichain-Node (JavaScript)
  • libphp-multichain (PHP)
  • multichain-client (Ruby)

HydraChain

hydrachain

HydraChain is a joint development effort of brainbot technologies and the Ethereum project. According to their website, HydraChain is an extension of the Ethereum platform which supports the creation of scalable blockchain based applications that comply with organizational and regulatory requirements.

Key Takeaways

Popularity

Low but actively updated in GitHub

Type of network

Private / Permissioned

Pricing

Open Source

Supported Languages

Python

GitHub Repo

  • hydrachain (Python)


Openchain

openchain

Openchain is developed by Coinprism, the company behind the colored coins standard Open Assets. 

Openchain claims to be well suited for organizations wishing to issue and manage digital assets​. It takes a different approach than the standard Bitcoin approach on implementing Blockchain.  Thereby, it follows a partitioned consensus system in which every Openchain instance only has one authority for validating transactions, depending on the assets being exchanged. This, in  turn, leads to a client-server (centralized) architecture which they claim to be more efficient and reliable than a peer-to-peer architecture.

Key Takeaways

Popularity

Medium but actively updated in GitHub

Type of network

Private

Pricing

Open Source

Supported Languages

Javascript

GitHub Repo

  • openchain-js (Javascript)

IBM Blockchain

IBM has also released its Blockchain platform which is available as part of the Bluemix service catalog. It is also built on top of the HyperLedger project and offers additional security and infrastructure facilities for enterprises.  

Key Takeaways

Popularity

Medium but actively updated in GitHub

Type of network

Private/ Permissioned

Pricing

Limited free plan with paid upgrade to enterprise plan 

Supported Languages

Go, Javascript

GitHub Repo

  • learn-chaincode (Go)
  • ibm-blockchain-js (Javascript)

Chain

chain

Chain is yet another Blockchain platform that claims to be well suited for financial applications 

It is based on "Chain Core" which is an enterprise software product that implements the Chain Protocol. An open-source developer edition is also available freely.

Key Takeaways

Popularity

Medium but actively updated in GitHub

Type of network

Permissioned

Pricing

Enterprise Licensing

Supported Languages

Java, Ruby, Node.JS

GitHub Repo

  • sdk-Java (Java)
  • sdk-Ruby (Ruby)
  • sdk-Nodejs (Node.JS/Javascript)

IOTA

IOTA is the new kid in the block. It is yet another implementation of Blockchain, currently in beta. It deviates from the standard Blockchain. It is based on a concept of blockless distributed ledger called Tangle. It promises to be a key enabler for machine economy and supports infinitesimally small nanopayments without any fees. 

Key Takeaways

Popularity

Low but actively updated in GitHub

Type of network

Public, Permissioned

Pricing

Based on IOTA Token, Pricing not clear as yet

Supported Languages

Python , C, Javascript

GitHub Repo

  • iota.lib.py (Java)
  • ccurl (C)
  • iota.lib.js (Javascript)

[BONUS] Azure BaaS (Blockchain as a Service)

​Microsoft Azure Cloud also offers a Blockchain solution in the form of an assorted set of Blockchain platforms. These platforms are available as part of the Azure marketplace which offers a variety of options from building quick development prototypes to enterprise class applications. We haven't done extensive research but some of the platforms listed in Azure are already available as stand alone Blockchain platform and are covered in this post above. So take your pick, choose a pricing plan that suits your requirement and start building your next Blockchain powered app.

Get started on your next Blockchain powered app

We hope this post has give you enough information to be able to choose a Blockchain platform for your project. However, like any new technology, it is an initial dilemma about what to and what not to build. More specifically, you would want to avoid building over engineered solutions that could be achieved without Blockchain. And consecutively, you want to focus on how to improve existing systems using Blockchain.

We are also in the process of exploring a few of the above Blockchain platforms in details to figure out some applications use cases. Stay tuned for some more insights that will help you take advantage of  Blockchain in its truest potential. If you have any application idea that can leverage Blockchain then I would like to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below and we will catch up soon.  

Follow

About the Author

Shyam is the Creator-in-Chief at RadioStudio. He is a technology buff and is passionate about bringing forth emerging technologies to showcase their true potential to the world. Shyam guides the team at RadioStudio, a bunch of technoholiks, to imagine, conceptualize and build ideas around emerging trends in information and communication technologies.