Three Types of Smart Contracts. How to Develop a Smart Contract?
Smart contracts are a dream that came true since they guarantee to fulfill a contract by all parties without intermediaries or guarantors. This article will detail smart contracts, their types, and how to develop them.
A computer scientist, cryptographer, and lawyer, Nick Szabo (many people believe that his acts under the Satoshi Nakamoto nickname, who created Bitcoin), in 1994 understood that the decentralized register could provide self-fulfilling contracts; also known as smart contracts. ‘’I name these contracts ‘’smart’’ since they are more functional than their paper ancestors. A smart contract is a set of agreements in a digital form that includes protocols within which the parties follow the agreement’’, — says Nick Szabo when he was describing the concept of smart contracts.
According to the dictionary, a smart contract is a self-executable computer algorithm where all conditions are coded in computer codes stored in a distributed network like a blockchain. The code includes data and instructions that execute all conditions and transactions and make them traceable and irreversible. Smart contracts do not require banks, governments, or intermediaries to guarantee contract adherence.
If not considering technical details, smart contracts are necessary for automatic value exchange. For example, to exchange fiat for bitcoins, video games, gold, or access to a website. In addition, their working principle is similar to a coffee vendor mechanism that exchanges a client’s money for a cup of coffee without a seller. The valuables, in this case, are coffee and money, while the condition is giving enough money equal to the coffee price or other beverages. The vendor’s mechanism accepts and links the value and then does the automatic exchange.
Smart contracts function according to an analog principle, yet the mechanism is computer code that launches particular actions (functions, operations, transactions, algorithms) if certain conditions and instructions are met. The instructions and requirements function according to the following logic ‘’if → then’’:
It’s worth mentioning that smart contracts are regularly an account variation with the same rights as a user account. Yet, in the case of smart contracts, users do not control their accounts since the smart contract code manages the account within the contract.
It’s essential since smart contracts are accounts; we, as blockchain or DApps users, can interact with smart contracts. For example, we can send tokens to smart contracts, so it exchanges them for other tokens (likewise to trading with a person), or we can command the smart contract to follow an instruction or do a function.
Many smart contracts are Smart Legal Contracts. They are fundamental for cryptocurrency exchange, DeFi projects, Game-Fi projects, and various platforms on the blockchain, from NFT marketplaces to metaverses, tokenization platforms, and trading real estate.
Decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAO, are communities managed via a set of rules accepted and codified by smart contracts. Once these rules are adopted, the job of DAO smart contracts will be to enforce them and provide mechanisms for legal protection and punish violators. In other words, DAO smart contracts are laws and digital bureaucracies.
DAO examples are the Decentraland, Uniswap, Polkadot, and MakerDAO management protocols. According to the rules of these projects, they are managed by their native token holders, who can make various proposals (e.g., determine the structure of commissions, change blockchain code, add and remove parachains) and vote on them. The DAO smart contracts here are responsible for voting and counting the votes.
These smart contracts function according to an application. Their task is to provide interaction between the blockchain and programs. For example, ALC is responsible for IoT integrations with blockchain or being able to employ an NFT as a game character in the Spider Tanks game. Moreover, ALC can also process the connection between blockchain and oracles.
Now, as you understand blockchain solutions' concept, target, and advantages, let’s explain how to develop smart contracts for your application or business.
The first decision to make while developing a smart contract is defining the blockchain platform to employ. Earlier, the choice was Ethereum and several other little-known platforms. Currently, the choice is wide and unambiguous. Still, Ethereum is the leader in launching smart contracts and DApps, yet the platform is slow, expansive, and hard to scale; therefore, more and more startups choose Polygon, Polkadot, Cardano, Solana, BSC, Tezos, Hyperledger, or other blockchains.
Here are the six most popular platforms for developing smart contracts:
There are numerous instruments that a developer can use to create a smart contract. They all have categories and groups according to their target. Some technologies are necessary (for instance, you can’t make a smart contract without a programming language), while others are optional. We tried to mention all popular and widely-used instruments developers employ for smart contracts.
At this step, the developers write the smart contract code. They can do it from scratch, yet it is unnecessary since you can employ a template or an open-source library. Each blockchain offers a set of development tools. For example, OpenZeppelin frequently helps to launch smart contracts on Ethereum. Hyperledger also has its toolkit.
Given the number of smart contract hacks we see, testing is probably the most important stage of smart contract development. The fact is that smart contracts are open-source software, which means that any hacker can study its code and find gaps to use to hack a smart contract. In addition, once you create your smart contract and deploy it, you can't change it, so testing is the developer's last chance to fix possible flaws and bugs.
To simplify testing, blockchains usually have test networks that allow you to test a smart contract without any risk of losing money, data, or reputation. The choice of test network depends on the blockchain. For example, Ropsten or Rinkeby work with Ethereum, while Hyperledger Fabric, based on permissions, requires Hyperledger Umbra.
The last step in developing a smart contract is to deploy it in a blockchain environment. After that, your smart contract becomes available to users and cannot be changed. After that, to improve your smart contract, you will need to create and launch a new version, and the old version will continue to exist on the blockchain network as long as it works. Therefore, there are now three versions of Uniswap on the Ethereum network that run in parallel.
Anyone can develop and implement smart contracts. Everything required for it is just proper skills. However, even if you don’t have the right talent, you can always hire a team of experienced blockchain developers like Merehead. We can develop, test, and deploy a smart contract you require.