ICYMI (in case you missed it), Oracle is having a special live webcast on July 16, 2018. After several false expectations from the media, Oracle’s finally (probably) announcing the general availability of the Autonomous Blockchain service.
I have been longing for the day!
At Kscope18, I had the honour of presenting on how Blockchain technology could be relevant to an Oracle Application Express (APEX) developer. With huge leaps in how APEX supports REST services, especially in the recent 18.1 release (read Carsten Czarski’s blog post on how easy it is to integrate REST services in APEX), the APEX developer community is strongly positioned to capitalize on the potential that Blockchain brings to the applications we write.
My session focused on two popular Blockchain technologies: Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric (HF). They represent a “permissionless” and “permissioned” blockchain respectively, with the latter being more relevant to the industry and natively more secure.
Hyperledger Fabric is the Cornerstone
If you have been watching developments in the blockchain arena, you will know that HF is a front-runner and will be the cornerstone of their Autonomous Blockchain product offering. From the information I have gleaned, we can anticipate a comprehensive and easy to use user interface (UI) for managing a HF network. Aside from management tools, we can expect a UI for compiling and deploying chaincode, and REST APIs that developers can build against.
Unfortunately, there was so much to talk about during my presentation, that I ran out of time as anticipated. I was not able to demonstrate and explain how I created a proof-of-concept application using APEX and HF.
I will be repeating my Kscope18 presentation later in August. If you are interested to listen to the extended version of my session, please register your interest using this link, so that we can inform you when registrations are open.
A quick Overview of Hyperledger Fabric
Meanwhile, in anticipation of a launch announcement, I’d like to share a quick overview on how you could start looking at integrating HF with your applications.
The Hyperledger is a huge and growing consortium of large and small companies interested in developing next-generation frameworks for creating usable blockchains. It comes under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation and works very similarly to the more matured Apache Foundation.
There are many frameworks that the community has already developed, but the most prominent is Hyperledger Fabric. To make it easier for developers to create blockchain applications, the consortium created the Hyperledger Composer (Composer) tool.
Four Key Concepts
With Composer, developers, in collaboration with business owners, create a business network. It contains four key concepts:
- Model – a file that defines the assets, participants and transactions that are involved
- Access Control – a single ACL file that determines what participants can do on the business network
- Query – a file with query definitions.
These are packaged and deployed on a HF network using either command line interface (CLI) tools or the Composer Playground. The latter is an easy to deploy and use web application that helps developers create, test and deploy business networks. To get a feel of what it is, check out IBM’s demo playground. Note that using Playground, you can create blockchains that run entirely off your browser’s local storage. But, be sure to export and save your hard work!
You can simulate interactions with the blockchain using the Playground, but the real proof of the pudding is to have your APEX applications interact directly with the blockchain. And that’s where REST comes in. Along with Composer, a simple npm install supplies a utility to restify the business network. It even generates a Swagger document that provides all you need to know on making REST calls against the blockchain.
Autonomous Blockchain more Robust
A side note. At Kscope18, I attended Emmanuel Abiodun‘s session on an introduction to Hyperledger technologies. Emmanuel’s an expert in blockchains. I was grateful to have a brief discussion on how “production-ready” Composer is for prime time. It’s a useful POC tool, but I think we can expect Oracle to provide a more robust platform with their Autonomous Blockchain service.
APEX is future (and enterprise) ready! Be even more prepared by starting to look at emerging technologies like Blockchains. HF has gone through a few major releases now, and using Docker, you can stand up a HF network even on your laptop! I’ll share more on the development process in August. Or if you can’t wait, please look me up on Twitter or drop me a note below.
So, “See you” at Monday’s webcast!
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