The MetaChain Layer is now in its 12th beta iteration! In the past few weeks, MetaChain Layer performed impeccably with no glitches. This is all thanks to the team prioritizing stability and security over new product launches since beta 9.
A Peek Behind the Development Veil
In software development, the conventional progression roadmap is as follows:
Alpha -> Beta -> Release Candidate (RC) -> Stable Node
While most projects typically begin with an alpha stage, DeFiChain went with a different tack by cycling through a series of beta phases to emphasize new feature rollouts. However, as beta iterations occasionally encounter rollback challenges, DeFiChain launched the Changi test network to bypass the conventional testnet.
By building a testnet, DeFiChain empowers its developers by protecting their digital assets with throughout the experimental phase. In light of the previous rollback instances with other beta versions, DeFiChain has also prioritized the construction and maintenance of a stable environment.
We have received feedback informing us that Beta 11 has been considerably stable. The community looks forward to future developments further down the road.
As for release candidates (RC), they’re designed to resemble their final versions, primed for deployment without needing further modifications. As exchanges and affiliated programs need sufficient time for updates, an RC should ideally perform optimally over a span of 10 to 14 days. Should any version not meet these standards, it must be left in the beta domain.
This trajectory was what set the gears of DeFiChain into motion. When stability is confirmed, the roadmap projects the launch of the release candidate before releasing a testnet enhancement within 2-3 days. Once stability is confirmed across all integrated systems and services, DeFiChain will switch gears and focus on the launch of the stable node, culminating in a hard fork after a predefined waiting period.
During this testing phase, active community participation is essential. While enthusiasts and developers employ bespoke testing methods like integrating services and monitoring system resources, the DeFiChain team takes one step further to explore structured testing avenues.
Interested in exploring MetaChain Layer? Join our Developer Discord Channel today!
Navigating the Complexities of MetaChain Layer Integration
Tracing its roots to Ethereum’s inception in 2014, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) has made its mark in the crypto world for nearly a decade. Over its long lifespan, the EVM has encountered its fair share of challenges.
The EVM is home to a rich repository of libraries. As the EVM is designed to be very stable, developers are able to tap into its libraries reliably with few to no delays. Complications can, however, emerge when new EVM opcodes are introduced or when library updates are delayed.
The standardized nature of the EVM and its associated integrations means they must adhere to specific operational guidelines. This becomes cumbersome when attempting to dovetail it with pre-existing systems, such as those rooted in Bitcoin.
This is comparable to the evolution of browser engines, where the inception of the World Wide Web 30 years ago spurned the birth of different browsers like Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Opera - all of which operate on different engines.
When the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) established standards for HTML and CSS, creating new browser engines became complex, which led to the dominance of prevailing systems like Chromium.
The MetaChain Layer's journey echoes these complexities, where the goal is to assimilate a raw-space virtual machine with DeFiChain. Popular external tools, such as Metamask, anticipated EVM-integrated blockchains to function in a standardized manner.
However, the reality isn’t so straightforward. DeFiChain’s EVM’s behavior isn’t always congruent with these expectations. This brought forth a pivotal question: Should the team prioritize a streamlined version or opt for comprehensive compatibility? Given Metamask’s widespread acceptance, the team ultimately went for the latter option, with a focus on aligning with Metamask’s standards.
Obstacles abound when attempting to integrate the EVM with a UTXO-centric blockchain. These include varying hash generation techniques or state alterations beyond typical transactions.
Additionally, the DeFi Virtual Machine (DVM) presents a unique set of challenges. While having a pristine codebase as the starting point is ideal, the reality is that DVM, derived from a Bitcoin-centric codebase, has evolved with multiple layers over time.
The blockchain's dynamics shift with every hard fork, and certain exchanges opt out of chronicling these shifts, mandating synchronization from the inaugural block. Each node release must, therefore, be backward-compatible with all historical features and hard forks. The need to accommodate historical issues can potentially slow down progress.
The potential of implementing side chains has also been a topic of debate. Even though some blockchains have adopted this strategy, DeFiChain chose a different path. Embracing side chains would compromise the advantages of a single block compatible with multiple virtual machines. Direct communication with both Bitcoin and Ethereum offers distinct benefits. Incorporating side chains could entail introducing bridges, which come with their own sets of challenges. Throughout this journey, DeFiChain's focus remains unwavering, with Bitcoin and Ethereum compatibility at its core.
Strengthening the MetaChain Layer: A Focus on Security & Stability
To achieve stability in the crypto world, several factors must be considered. While DeFiChain’s feature set is complete, its current phase prioritizes reinforcing stability and security over adding more features.
One technical aspect the team often alludes to is "endianness." This computer science concept dictates how integers are represented in binary format. Generally, numbers are encapsulated in an 8-bit word, and if exceeded, the operating system or its libraries manage the representation.
But when delved deeper, representation methods differ at the chip level—for instance, between ARM and Intel chips. This distinction has become increasingly crucial as both Bitcoin and Ethereum blocks account for endianness in their hashes. Ensuring the hash adheres to a predefined standard is vital. Any misalignment can introduce high-risk situations, potentially misrepresenting cryptocurrency values.
DeFiChain’s codebase harnesses the power of two primary languages: C++ and Rust. While Rust boasts compile-time safety to flag potential errors before compilation, integrating it with C++ presents obstacles. These challenges also spill over into "endianness" and system-level data storage.
Furthermore, the team is also grappling with ongoing unit tests, which failed to pass for the past quarter. A stable and safe base that clears all test benchmarks is imperative.
Another dimension under evaluation is the "transfer domain." Traditional blockchain transactions operate on a "push" mechanism, verifying asset ownership and transferring it. However, the stringent architecture of the EVM doesn't facilitate a direct push from EVM to DVM. An alternate "pull" method is under exploration, demanding new ways to prove ownership without exposing private keys.
The primary challenges are:
- Addressing endianness and aligning hashes with standards.
- Seamlessly merging Rust and C++ without compromising stability.
- Achieving success in all unit tests.
- Instituting secure "pull" transactions
- Developing blockchain explorers tailored for Ethereum Virtual Machines (EVMs).
Diving deeper into the fifth challenge, various blockchain explorers like etherscan are prevalent. These explorers must be able to track distinct tokens, essentially functioning as individual smart contracts within the EVM. Contrary to popular belief, a token within the EVM isn't a standalone entity but represents a state within the associated smart contract.
Given this structure, querying an EVM blockchain for balance differs significantly from DeFiChain. Instead, specific smart contracts are interrogated for balance pertaining to an address. However, this process isn't devoid of hurdles. Discrepancies can arise when using tools like etherscan and comparing results to tools like Metamask, leading to ongoing discussions in the community.
To fortify the system, the introduction of a secondary layer of accounting checks is being proposed. This will validate token balances consistency across platforms, acting as a buffer to maintain blockchain integrity.
Additionally, while integrating with EVM tools like Metamask has been a priority, internal tools like the Ocean Jellyfish Light Wallet demand rigorous validation, especially in the face of a looming hard fork. The goal remains to avoid a developer-restricted blockchain scenario.
Furthermore, considering EVM states primarily operate in-memory, precautions are necessary. Crashes could lead to data losses, underscoring the importance of ensuring recovery capabilities without data inconsistencies.
The MetaChain Layer Journey: A Glimpse into the Future
The MetaChain Layer is an ambitious project that aims to establish a seamless connection with Bitcoin and Ethereum. In particular, the MetaChain Layer’s potential to connect DeFiChain to Bitcoin and other virtual machines will prove to be a game-changer.
The MetaChain Layer has been the birthplace of many innovative dApps. Take "Monday 20" as an example. Its inclusion signifies progress, enabling the main blockchain brigade to channel their energy into feature development and outreach to other blockchains.
This shift ensures that complexities like tokenomics are seamlessly managed at the DApp layer. With this momentum, we anticipate greater efficiency in the blockchain and community dApp sectors as they are freed from frequent hard forks or foundational blockchain alterations. This streamlined approach promises accelerated progress.
Given the dynamic shift in Bitcoin's developer culture, the team envisions DeFiChain becoming the second layer for Bitcoin smart contracts. This transformation will enable DeFi-built smart contracts to facilitate interactions with Bitcoin.
Looking ahead, more innovative propositions are already underway in the Bitcoin ecosystem. We aim to pivot towards a direct alliance with Bitcoin, bolstered with fortified smart contract security.