Devcon2: Day 2 Recap
The crowd roared with today’s major announcement of the public launch of Ether.camp’s “Cash Eth,” in conjunction with Santander bank. This is a major development, not just for Ethereum, but for the blockchain as a whole.
Cash ETH is a major step towards facilitating an exchange of fiat for tokens on the blockchain. It’s currently live on the Morden (test) network and there’s a fully functional sandbox available on Ether.camp where developers can go and build their own products. Ether.camp understands that Cash Eth can very easily be flipped over to the live network, but there are still a lot of regulatory, compliance, and legal hurdles to wade through before bank accounts can be connected to an address on the Ethereum blockchain. The important part of today’s announcement is that the capability is there, and Santander is enthusiastic about blockchain/smart contract technology. Ethereum is committed to addressing all forthcoming regulatory and compliance challenges in every major global jurisdiction.
Attendees were excited about seeing Ether.camp’s on-screen demo linking an Ethereum address with a bank account, but there was even more tempered enthusiasm for how we authorize addresses in practice so that everything is compliant in the user’s local jurisdiction.
This is just the beginning of a long and exciting journey.
Aside from the Santander announcement, the prevailing theme of this morning’s session was smart contract security. Given all that has transpired over the last six months, (most notably “the DAO” incident and the emergence of a breakaway “Classic” chain), the session was of particular interest to a large number of developers. In some ways, the steps taken by the Foundation to halt the “the DAO” and offer a choice to the community regarding which fork to use, has had the effect of making Dapp developers a lot more security conscious and aware of the need to write software in a mission-critical way. Arguably, the Ethereum community has grown even stronger, and new security and analysis tools are available a lot sooner than we previously could have anticipated.
This morning kicked off with a panel discussion called, "Smart Contract Security in Ethereum," presented by Martin Swende, Vitalik Buterin, Dr. Christian Reitwiessner, Raine Revere and Philip Daian. With the Solidity language now the primary abstraction layer above the EVM, there was talk about encouraging the use of new languages, and the advantages of having just one (or a small number) of languages. The shared goal is to avoid bugs and make writing secure code easier and faster, but how this can be achieved is still a question and a common problem that’s not unique to Ethereum. There was broad agreement that the EVM works, and we’re realizing its design goals, and will see further incremental additions rather than redesigns as we move forward.
Later on, Joseph Chow gave a panel discussion to developers about practical advice on contract security, best practices for standard software development, how Dapp developers should prepare for failure, keeping contracts simple, and rolling out carefully and understanding the EVM. A concise collection of security tips for Dapp developers is available here.
The most interesting presentation of the day was from the NY-based crew at MetaMask – a project which brings Ethereum straight into your browser. The fun, high tempo presentation featured a rap piece followed by a slick overview highlighting how easy it is for users to adopt MetaMask and get it up-and-running quickly.
Péter Szilágyi gave us a little taste of all the cool features of the Go-ethereum project. Right now quick sync (on Go-ethereum) takes under a minute on a standard desktop machine, uses under 100MB of database storage and under 500MB RAM. It can even run on a Raspberry Pi with room for further optimization. Client-side account management will simplify development and make it even easier for developers to secure the system they’re working on. The Go Ethereum client (Geth) supports native contracts and the ability to run in-process nodes with Android and iOS libraries. It’s a huge amount of work and it’s very reassuring for the community to know that Geth is in such good hands.
Stay tuned for more updates.