While many of us immediately think of digital currencies such as bitcoin when it comes to blockchain, the technology can actually be applied to any transaction to improve trustworthiness; it achieves this by chaining and distributing blocks of data to improve transparency and immutability. As such, blockchain is being explored across many industries for many applications, in everything from finance to healthcare.
Blockchain has gained a lot of traction with the public in the context of cryptocurrencies and as it becomes more popular and widely accepted, we will see it used for a more complex range of applications. Bitcoin wouldn’t exist without blockchain; it solves the fundamental issue of creating a distributed database. The same will be said for other solutions and systems that are developed in the future. Blockchain is the building block that provides a formidable alternative to classic technology, offering the potential to transform how processes work. Moreover, the significant security and transparent imperative of blockchain align perfectly with the needs of the software development industry.
What is Blockchain?
In simple terms, a blockchain is a distributed database that stores data in blocks. These blocks are then chained together, hence the name blockchain. It’s incredibly difficult to tamper with data stored on a blockchain because each block is based on the cryptographically hashed value of the previous block. By handling data in this way, blockchain delivers increased security and transparent transactions. In fact, blockchain offers many business benefits, including:
- Increased transparency – all network members share the same ledger, which is validated by the consensus in the network, making it more transparent, accurate and secure.
- Increased speed – blockchain enables users to execute transactions securely and quickly, automating and simplifying paper-based processes.
- Enhanced traceability – the entire lifecycle of products can be traced, improving supply chains and bolstering credibility and safety.
- Reduced costs – there’s no need for third parties or intermediates to establish trust, instead data is validated by network participants, with everyone having access to an immutable version.
How Can Blockchain Improve Software Engineering?
The incredibly secure nature of blockchain makes it the perfect solution for data storage in transparent ledgers and data traversal in peer-to-peer networks. As such, the combination of blockchain and software engineering is powerful; it can create trustless systems, reduce costs, increase speed, improve transparency and improve accountability. As mobile applications have needed to improve security and quality, blockchain-oriented applications have surged in popularity.
Blockchain has some unique features that are proving to be invaluable to innovation with software engineering and are leading to significant software engineering breakthroughs. Some of the key features of blockchain-oriented software systems that work to ensure the security and integrity of data include:
- Data Replication – as blockchain is based on a distributed and decentralised ledger of records, consistency is assured across the network and security is improved; each node has a copy of the blockchain code.
- Data Integrity – blockchain-based software verifies the integrity of transactions before they’re recorded and creates a trustless system in which everything has been verified.
- Transaction Recording – transactions are recorded in a sequential log of interlinked blocks created by a consensus algorithm and the process is both immediate and permanent.
- Public-Key and Private-Key Cryptography – the public key is used to locate assets, whereas the private key is used to sign and access transactions. Meanwhile, cryptography ensures that each block carries the hash of the previous one.
- Peer-to-Peer Technology – users can transact directly with each other without the need for intermediaries.
Ultimately, with blockchain technology, data is intrinsically safe, there is no chance of a single point of failure being exploited by hackers, changes are prevented and human error is removed. The result is systems that are safe, secure and trustworthy. There is increased transparency across the whole software development process, with every transaction able to be traced back to its source.
Applications of Blockchain in Software Development
Blockchain technology is able to record every aspect of the software development lifecycle, from code development to contract signing. Moreover, it delivers transparency throughout. Everyone involved in the software development project has a full picture of what changes have been made, when and by who. This removes uncertainty and avoids disputes and disagreements along the way.
The fact is that there are many use cases of blockchain technology in software development, including smart contracts, distributed apps, IoT applications and more. The technology helps with everything from planning and creating software to testing and maintenance. It enables development costs to be reduced and, more importantly, it enhances accountability and transparency. The technology has led to many breakthroughs in software development, such as peer-to-peer transactions, data integrity and well-established transaction records.
How is Blockchain Changing the Business Landscape?
Blockchain is transforming the way we interact with the digital world and is reshaping the business landscape. The use of blockchain within software engineering is becoming vital to the development of secure, decentralised software applications. As a safe and trusted technology, it is being used increasingly to create code deployments that have a secure and transparent record. Developers can ensure their code is safe and users can have confidence that they are dealing with trustworthy, immutable records. What’s more, the reduced paperwork and increased accuracy result in faster turnaround on projects and speeds up time to market for software development projects.
As the use of blockchain increases further within the field of software development, software engineers will need to devise specific tools and techniques for blockchain-oriented development. Some of the factors that will be key moving forward are effective testing activities, enhanced collaboration and smart contract development. What is certain, however, is that the technology will have a significant impact on how we develop the software of the future.