Contracts — a term filled with complexity, some doubt, and many questions. Contracts are supposed to mitigate the trust issues between two parties and establish an agreement, but in reality, we see example after example of one party violating the trust and breaking the terms of a contract. How many times have you wished for a contract that is self-executing and dissolves the necessity of a third party for approval?
Luckily, a user-friendly solution is already available. Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-Canadian genius who co-founded Ethereum, introduced a new kind of contract — a smart contract.
When Bitcoin started in 2008, experts believed it was just the tip of the iceberg — the revolution was coming! Blockchain technology is so fascinating by nature since it voids the necessity of third parties. Smart contracts help two parties be in a contract without the approval of a third party or middleman.
If you’re plugged into the tech industry — like as an engineer or developer — this could revolutionize the high-level aspects of your work. Today, we will discuss smart contracts — what they are, how they could influence the future, and how you can start utilizing them all by yourself.
What are the Smart Contracts?
Smart contracts are digital contracts between two parties that have certain agreed elements and conditions of validation which are stored in a distributed ledger. Upon meeting all terms of the contract, it self-executes! Contracts are immutable by nature, and you don’t need a third party (i.e., a lawyer) for approval.
Consider a vending machine — it doesn’t need a shopkeeper when someone pays money, it just distributes the purchased item.
Since this process is autonomous and automated, a smart contract is not time-consuming and leaves little room for conflict. These contracts are written in a unique coding language called Solidity (for the Ethereum platform only).
Smart contracts use a blockchain platform for storing the contract documents. The most common platform to develop a smart contract is Ethereum, but there are some great alternatives too. For example, NEO, Stratis, Lisk, EOS, and Cardano are some other successful platforms for smart contract development.
How Will Smart Contracts Shape Our Future?
Unbreakable Business Deals
Business deals shape our future since they are the essence of the economy. Now we can hope for immutable business deals where both parties will have to stick to the terms with little room for error. Such acts bring forth commitment and order.
We have already seen big companies adopting this technology. Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation has already processed over 345 million transactions that are worth $1.5 quadrillion!
Supply Chains Without Bottlenecks
The traditional supply chain methodology is slow and hindered by outdated paperwork. We can expect some drastic changes if we can implement smart contracts in the supply chain. The “if this, then that” logic speeds up the supply chain scenario.
Barclays Corporate Bank is already using smart contracts for automatic payment transfers to their partners.
Yes, the technology can boon the property game too! This industry is currently filled with too many middlemen. A smart contract between the property owner and the rent payer can dissolve the need of all the middlemen, making things more profitable and streamlined for both parties.
Suppose one’s health records are stored on a blockchain. Now the doctors, drug manufacturers, wholesalers, retail pharmacists, and insurance agencies could all be on the same page. This promises a better healthcare experience for a patient and medical professionals without any information loss or miscommunication digitally.
Tools to Get Started: Smart Contract Development
Whether you work with freelancers or contractors regularly, you should start creating your own smart contracts. If you are a freelancing engineer or developer, look for companies that are using smart contracts to establish project clarity and simply expectations. Here are a few selected tools that companies and individuals are using to develop their own smart contracts.
Remix is a great tool to begin with. It’s not an individual tool, but rather a suite of tools. It interacts with Ethereum platform to debug transactions. It has both the IDE and online version. With Remix, you get these tools:
- Solidity Compiler
- Injected Web3 RTE
- Web3 Provider RTE
Web3 on TestRPC
TestRPC is an Ethereum simulator. With ten pre-defined accounts and supporting mnemonics, this tool is pretty handy. As TestRPC doesn’t have a UI like Remix, you will need a node console and the Web3 library.
Truffle could be the most versatile command line development tool for smart contracts. Truffle has a built-in compiler specifically for them. You will also have Mocha and Chai for contract testing. It even has TestRPC.
You surely didn’t expect a browser extension in this list, did you? It enables the users to get data from Ethereum blockchain in your ordinary Chrome, Firefox, or Opera web browser! You don’t have to run the whole Ethereum node to run a decentralized app (dApp).
So, are you ready to develop your very first smart contract? Try out Solidity with Remix IDE. Currently, this is the best approach to developing a contract. With so many use cases within and outside of the tech industry, it’s almost assured that smart contracts will be a commonplace tool in a variety of work and personal matters very soon.