Holochain Previews Rust Client As It Seeks To Supplant Ethereum


November 8, 2018 12:32 AM

Holochain isn’t a blockchain, but it has its eye on attracting Dapp developers who might otherwise use Ethereum.

Holochain isn’t a blockchain protocol. Rather, it’s a decentralized data structure on which distributed ledger chains can be created by organizations. The chains can “merge, split, and interact in complex ways,” but the data contained in them still contains digital signatures and is collapsed via hashing.

Ethereum, currently the platform of choice for Dapp developers, is facing issues of speed and scalability. Holochain, which is creating a platform for Dapp and ecosystem creation, sees itself as a faster alternative. And it takes issue with Ethereum’s reliance on Solidity, claiming that developers with knowledge in that programming language are in “short supply.”

Holochain’s first protocol library was written in the programming language Go, but it never reached beta. Although its Go codebase received “very appreciative feedback” and was sufficient for a proof of concept, the team has shelved Holochain Go and decided to rewrite Holochain in Rust. This, says the preview release from Holochain developer Nicholas Luck, is “to enable Holochain to be compiled to WebAssembly, and thus, enable Holochain light clients running in the browser (which is needed for the Holo hosting app) to use the same source code as the Holochain core.”

Holochain was “excited” by the recent progression of WebAssembly (WASM). Furthermore, it found that Rust could deliver faster operating speeds. Luck says: “We think its rigorous compile-time checks and approach to memory management will put Holochain on a super-solid footing.”

Holochain has now officially released the “developer preview” of its Rust code base to get feedback on its new API. It says that building working applications with Holochain Go is already easier than building with Ethereum, and that Holochain Rust could be even easier still.

Rumours began to circulate earlier this year of a potential partnership for Holochain with web browser company Mozilla. These rumours may have stemmed from Holochain’s plans to move to Rust. Mozilla sponsored the development of Rust, which is used in many of its applications.

Holochain’s director of communications, Matthew Schutte, has previously hinted that Holochain was in “preliminary talks” with Mozilla and that any such partnership announcement would not come until after the full project launch in early 2019. A partnership between Holochain and Mozilla could be significant for Dapp development.

Holo is the first application being built on Holochain and aims to act as a bridge and host between new Holochain Dapps and the wider web. Holo believes that Holochain is superior to the Ethereum blockchain: “We reckon it will be at least 10,000 times more efficient than Ethereum.”

Melanie Kramer is a freelance FinTech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency writer based between France and Canada. Melanie has studied, and retains an avid interest in, global politics, business, and economics.

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