Flow was founded by Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties - the first NFT play-to-earn game on the Ethereum network. The NFT specific blockchain is built as an alternative to Ethereum.
Years before NFTs became mainstream, many crypto enthusiasts and blockchain developers were introduced to the technology through a blockchain-based game called CryptoKitties. Dapper Labs built the project on the Ethereum network, where players could mint NFT Kitties and also earn rewards for playing the game.
As CryptoKitties gained popularity, more players flocked in to play the game and this led to network congestion and higher transaction fees on the blockchain. At this point Dapper labs began development of a new blockchain network that would be able to suit the needs of the ever-growing crypto adoption.
WHAT IS FLOW?
Flow’s is designed to be a faster and developer friendly blockchain network for next generation games, apps and virtual assets. The blockchain uses a revolutionary scaling solution known as multi-role architecture, that allows the network to scale without sharding.
Sharding is a blockchain’s solution to reducing network congestion by splitting the entire network into smaller data partitions called ‘shards’. The process helps reduce latency in processing transactions on the blockchain, making the network faster. It is regarded as a security concern because the shards can be prone to attacks.
Flow’s multi-role architecture mechanism can achieve higher thorough-put while maintaining a secure environment for investors and developers. The blockchain is built on four pillars:
Flow’s unique design allows the network to scale to serve billions of users without sharding or reducing decentralization of consensus.
Smart contracts on Flow are written in Cadence, an easier and safer programming language of consensus.
The network is built with upgradable smart contracts which has a built-in logging support. This gives developers the freedom to build their applications and be incentivized by the chain.
Flow is designed for mainstream consumers to make efficient, frictionless and secure fiat to crypto transactions.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The process of executing transactions added to the block (objective) before requiring a consensus for forming the block (subjective), was the single biggest bottleneck to blockchain performance. This is what Flow’s network architecture solves by separating Consensus and Compute, thus improving transaction speeds and scaling capabilities of the blockchain.
The blockchain’s working mechanism is focussed on assigning tasks to different nodes based on their technical capabilities. Tasks within the Flow blockchain is divided into two types:
-Non-deterministic or subjective tasks
These tasks determine the presence and order of transactions on the blockchain. This is achieved by combining PoW and PoS consensus.
-Deterministic or objective tasks
These tasks compute results of the ordered transactions once it has been determined.
This drastically improves the network’s throughput and helps solve several issues that users and developers experience with consensus mechanisms on existing blockchains.
Miner and Validators on the Flow network are divided into four categories that all require staking:
They decide the presence and order of transactions on the blockchain
They are responsible for keeping the Execution Nodes in order
They perform computation associated with each transaction
They make sure Flow’s decentralized applications can connect to the network and
make data available to them
Consensus and Verification Nodes create blocks on the network, and are optimized for security and decentralization of the blockchain. Execution and Collection Nodes conduct transactions on the blocks, and are optimized for security and scalability of the blockchain. The work done by scalability nodes are verified and held accountable by the other nodes.
Flow is designed such that even a single honest node, of any role, can punish and trigger recovery from invalid data introduced by dishonest Collection or Execution Nodes.
DEVELOPER FRIENDLY PROTOCOLS
While most blockchains focus on being more user friendly, Flow is focused on making its blockchain more developer friendly.
1.Resource oriented Programming
Developers can build their DApps on Flow’s Cadence programming language.
The resource oriented programming language enables developers to create
unique digital assets with ownership tracking features.
Cadence has an easy-to-read syntax and static type system which reduces runtime
errors. This helps developers learn the language faster and create smart-contracts that
are easier to audit while achieving more productivity.
The network provides developers with a number of open-source tools to get started with:
-Flow Go SDK
-Visual Studio Code Extension
-Flow Playground GUI
2.Upgradable Smart Contracts
Smart contracts are self-executing programs that are trustless and immutable. Due to its immutability, no changes can be made to a smart contract once it has been deployed on the network, even with the consensus of all nodes involved.
In the case where terms within a smart contract need to be changed, the contract authors have to create and deploy another smart contract with updated terms. This results in a hard fork on the blockchain.
On Flow, developers can deploy their smart contracts on the main net in a beta state. Users will be alerted if the smart contract is unfinished and can choose to wait until the code is finalized. This allows developers to thoroughly test the contract for bugs and also make updates before releasing the final version, which will be truly immutable.
3.Built-in Logging Support
A software program requires logging information to record the functioning of its code over a long period. Since keeping blockchain log records requires more storage and can potentially slow down the network, smart contracts do not have log support
Flow recognizes that there is no need to store logs for all transactions on a network, instead the network’s smart contracts mark transactions that produce log messages. If a developer wants to examine the logs, they can request a transaction of the block that produced the log message. This technique makes logging more efficient.
CONSUMER FRIENDLY PROTOCOLS
No blockchain is complete without it being user friendly. Flow’s network is consumer-friendly and provides users with rewards for using the blockchain.
1.Human Readable Security
Applications on blockchain networks do not provide readable security messages outlining what permissions they give when authorizing a transaction.
Flow’s transaction format guarantees human-readable messages outlining what kind of changes can or cannot be made in a transaction. This ensures that users can make informed decisions about permissions they approve when using an application on the network.
2.Smart User Accounts
Even though the private key features provided by blockchain wallets are secure, losing seed words and private keys can lead to users losing access to their digital assets.
Dapper Labs has made a variety of usability enhancements to Ethereum’s account model to create the Dapper Smart Contract Wallet. The enhancements include:
Optional, Modular and Smart Contract functionality built into every Flow Wallet.
Provides secure account recovery flows with sophisticated authorization controls, making sure consumers never lose access to their assets.
Optional multi-signature support with the ability to regularly cycle old keys to avoid security risks.
Flow blockchain is powered by the $FLOW token. The token can be used as:
-Payment for transactions
-Medium of exchange
-Deposit for storage data
-Collateral for secondary tokens
-Participation in governance of the network
FLOW tokens are distributed in the following manner:
Organizations or individuals elected by FLOW holders to operate Validator Nodes.
Developers, infrastructure partners and other ecosystem participants who support the network in its early stages.
-Decentralized Reputation and Incentive Protocol (DRIP)
DRIP distributes FLOW tokens to stakers, delegators and users who actively participate in the ecosystem.
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