There is a lot of genuine interest in smart contract technology. While the possibilities are virtually limitless, there is a need for additional programming languages. Scilla may fill this gap in the future, as it is a new programming language proposed by a team of researchers. It is not only a more secure programming language, but it also addresses some of the development problems found in most smart contracts. With its blockchain-agnostic approach, Scilla is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Making Smart Contracts More Secure and Versatile
The idea of smart contracts has become a lot more popular thanks to Ethereum. In a perfect world, smart contracts would automate a lot of aspects of our daily lives. So far, the technology has yet to be put through its paces, as all attempts to do so have uncovered major security flaws. It is a worrisome trend, but there may be a solution on the horizon. Auditing these contracts is the logical answer, but using a different programming language can solve a lot of problems as well.
According to a recently-published research paper, the Scilla programming language for smart contracts can be of great help. More specifically, Scilla is capable of solving security and development problems in the smart contract ecosystem. Furthermore, this new language will allow for developers to build smart contract-based applications on any blockchain, regardless of whether it’s public or private. This means that Scilla will essentially be competing against Solidity for Ethereum, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Even though smart contracts are powerful pieces of code, there have been a fair few security issues associated with this technology already. More specifically, we have seen multiple Ethereum-based smart contracts cause major issues. The recent Parity smart contract bug is a clear example of how quickly things can go from bad to worse. There’s also the PoWHCoin/ShadowFork debacle, which has kept US$1 million worth of Ethereum locked away for good. Addressing the underlying issues before they turn into problems is the best course of action.
As of right now, a smart contract can be written in a wide variety of programming languages, of which Solidity is the most popular despite being rather complicated. Scilla, on the other hand, is more forgiving for newcomers and coding veterans alike. It is even possible to “convert” code written in Solidity to Scilla. With the new language providing multiple layers of separation for communication and operational aspects, it is certainly worth looking into. Compartmentalizing various components of smart contract coding will hopefully help thwart any attacks made against smart contracts in the future.
The research paper also presents a working use case for this new programming language. Scilla code has been used to create a crowdfunding campaign similar to how Kickstarter works. It is evident this concept can easily be modified for use with ICOs in the future, although it remains to be seen if any company will embrace this new option anytime soon. Giving developers more ways to write powerful smart contracts and applications can only be considered a good thing in this regard.
With its blockchain-agnostic approach, there is no reason why Scilla cannot succeed in the long run. Even though it was originally built for the Zilliqa ecosystem, it can easily be integrated into Bitcoin or Ethereum blockchains as well. It will be quite interesting to see what the future holds for smart contract technology in general. There is a dire need for more secure solutions as far as this technology is concerned. Especially given the DAO debacle, security improvements should never be overlooked.