Technology

How Hard is it to Develop Smart Contracts?

In a simplified form, the operational logic of smart contracts can be represented in the form of a language construct “if-then”, that is, it interprets some input data and performs the corresponding action. Actually, this is the basic operator of any programming language, and this logic alone is not enough to build a full-fledged App (computer or network). But even with this construct, it is quite possible to develop smart contracts with simple functionality:

smart contracts

  • For crypto exchanging. In this case, SC receives one object at the input (for instance, 1 BTC), and as a result of executing the algorithm embedded in it, it gives 16 units of ETH. In this example, the conditional operator will be engaged several times, for example, to check the availability of the required number of tokens for exchange;
  • For NFT trading (checking whether the object requested by the user is available, and whether there is enough coins on his wallet account to buy it).

But even here it is clear that in addition to the operation logic, many other things need to be implemented. First of all, it is necessary to consider the features and requirements of a particular blockchain for the development and implementation of smart contracts. And these requirements can vary greatly: a smart contract compatible with the Ethereum network will not work on the Hyperledger Fabric or Cardano blockchain.

Like a computer program, a smart contract consists of two components: the actual code and a set of data (constants, variables, etc.). At the same time, it is coding that allows developers to implement all the functions assigned to the SC. Why do SCs depend so much on blockchain? Simply because they have different structures, and the code of the smart contract and the results of its work are entered directly into the blocks and are checked and approved in the same way as any other transactions.

But, unlike transactions controlled by system users, a smart contract operates autonomously, guided by the logic embedded in its code.

Ways to Develop Smart Contracts

Let’s say you decide to make your business more efficient by implementing a smart contract. You have several ways to achieve your goal.

Independent Development

It means to implement a project with the help of your programmers. It is the most tempting one, and it promises cost savings at the development stage. But it only looks simple and promising at first glance. In reality, your programmers should have relevant experience: most of the specialized programming languages used within a particular blockchain are significantly different from traditional PL.

If there is no such experience, there is a high risk of making mistakes, which is fraught with serious consequences. There is also a high probability that such development will stretch beyond the established deadlines, often with uncertain prospects for the successful completion of the project.

Outsourced Development

In most cases, there are no or insufficient own resources for the implementation of such projects. A way to solve the problem is obvious: find a professional developer and delegate this task to him. Аnding such developers on the Internet is not a problem, as cryptocurrencies are trending now. But even here there are a number of pitfalls that can complicate the choice:

  • As a rule, the cost of executing such projects is high, much higher than the cost of developing ordinary programs or applications with a comparable amount of code;
  • Not all developers have a sufficient number of qualified programmers, and you are unlikely to be able to assess the degree of their skills  in this field;
  • Besides development, testing the smart contract is essential. It is also advisable to have a third party conduct a smart contract audit before deploying it on the blockchain. These audits incur additional costs, often comparable to the development expenses.

To get a cleqar understanding of what amounts we are talking about, we should note that a typical smart contract development project may have a price tag with 5 or even 6 zeros.

Using Contract Constructors

It turns out that if there you`ve found no experienced and qualified specialists, and the available budget is clearly not enough to attract a third-party developer, then does it mean you should forget your dreams?

Well, it is not that bad.

Holy places are never empty – the law of market relations is still working. Do you remember how, at the dawn of the Internet, site-building services began to grow like mushrooms after rain? And now the trend has reached the SC field: smart contract designers have already begun to appear. In essence, these are libraries of ready-made, thoroughly tested contracts that provide the ability to set user parameters.

Being clothed in a graphical interface, they allow ordinary unskilled users to create their own smart contracts, even if they have no programming skills.

Among the advantages of this approach, we can note the acceptable cost and reliability, since the templates, as noted above, are 100% tested and audited.

The list of such constructors is still small, but it will definitely expand. So, the most famous projects that provide the opportunity to create your own smart contracts:

  • Etherparty, BlockCAT, EasyChain, Furucombo. These are famous and popular products. They are easy to use, have a friendly interface, do not require special knowledge;
  •  MyWish. Currently, it is the only open source project for creating your own SC. The easy-to-learn interface is captivating, there is no need to use third-party software. There are not very many templates, and the cost of deploying a contract is 1 ETH;
  • Token Wizard, although it is a constructor, is difficult to master, requires certain skills and installation of additional software.

Let’s consider for example the specifics of the Etherparty constructor, which promises to become a very popular product.

EasyChain Smart Contract Wizard

It offers a visual interface, a library with a large number of ready-made and sufficiently functional smart contracts, the ability to use different versions of SC with their subsequent storage in Git – this is not a complete list of the capabilities and advantages of the constructor.

In general, the development of a smart contract via this platform consists of three stages:

  • Studying the business process, for which the UML state diagram is used, and the process itself consists in building logic and increasing functionality by dragging and dropping template elements;
  • Testing a smart contract by simulation using a test dataset;
  • Placing the project in the blockchain.

We should mention the ease of integration of ready-made solutions into external systems, there is also the possibility of integration into the web interface. The scope of use is quite extensive, from organising voting to monitoring business processes.

As you can see, you can become a smart contract developer even without being a programmer. At the moment, some of the listed designers are working in beta mode, but the good news is that the number of such services is constantly growing. So, we can expect the appearance of solutions with a large number of templates and advanced functionality.