What is Polkadot Substrate?

If you’ve ever read any articles or official documentation of Polkadot substrate, you might have noticed that “substrate” is used a lot. It is a crucial component of the Polkadot project, but information regarding it is limited.

This article on Polkadot substrate app is neither a whitepaper paper nor official documentation. Instead, we want to give our readers meaningful insights on this topic.

At its core, the substrate is a framework that can be used for creating crypto coins and other decentralized applications leveraging the recent developments in the blockchain arena.

It is imperative to know that Parity substrate has no direct relationship with Polkadot. However, Polkadot is built at the top of the substrate, and those projects that are built on substrate run smoothly on Polkadot.

Furthermore, you can build new blockchains by harnessing the power of the substrate.

To start working on the blockchain using this framework, you don’t have to wait till the execution of Polkadot or even the release of proof of concept.

Therein the question arises what basically is the substrate? It is similar to Laravel or other web application frameworks that are used to create dynamic web apps. Similarly, the substrate is a framework used for building distributive or decentralized systems like cryptocurrencies.

Since web developers do not have to re-implement HTTP from scratch, similarly, all the blockchain developers do not have to implement all the networking and consensus code from scratch. From the business perspective, DevOps engineers, network architects, security researchers, and data analytics are only hired when business logic is required.

If you want to create a new Substrate-oriented project, all you have to do is to incorporate a small number of the hood in your code. 

As a result, what you’ll get:

  • Consensus and finality. In case you are not building cryptocurrency from scratch or working on a blockchain-oriented project. You’ll get a byzantine fault; therefore, your whole system will continue working properly even if some of the nodes are corrupted or disabled.
  • An efficient and deterministic WebAssembly runtime can then be used to run smart contracts or other Substrate-oriented projects. You don’t necessarily have to use WebAssembly. Instead, you can write a virtual machine interpreter on your own. However, we strongly recommend you reap the benefits of WebAssembly as it enables you to harness the tools developed by others.
  • It can effectively run a node in the browser that can seamlessly communicate with other nodes and cloud natives.
  • A cross-platform data/file storage system that can work in your browser.

What else are you expecting from the substrate? To make the substrate more generic, its developers do not include transactions in it. Contrary to that, it has binary blobs that you can use to store any amount of data you want.

For most chains, these extrinsic come with transactions, but you don’t need to implement them in that particular way.

You are allowed to remove the concept of currency from the network and use substrate to create a decentralized concurrent system with a set of trusted authorities. Let’ say you want currency and transactions, but implementing transactions is not very important. You may think of it as an interchange format or a library to access data from your preferred language.

It is relatively simpler than other distributive architectures like microservices since the code and data it requires to operate are in the same place. Moreover, you don’t have to implement a backward compatibility guarantee to store transactions.

For a chain with private transactions, implementation could be more complex. The name of everything isn’t finalized yet. Therefore, you are likely to use different languages in different places. Here is a complete explanation of all you need to establish a full blockchain.

  • A function with a new pending block based on the previous block’s header

The header includes:

  • The block height
  • A ‘’cryptographic commitment” that is insanely important for the light clients to validate the block. Cryptographic commitment has the same role as a hash. You are not allowed to change the state unless you invalidate the commitment.
  • A cryptographic commitment to all extrinsic which prevents the extrinsic from being tampered
  • A hash of the block’s parent  
  • A function that can add extrinsic, which in most of the cases is the transaction to a pending block. Thus, you’ll end up with a new chain state.
  • A function takes a pending block as an input and provides us finished block. We can thus distribute this finished block to all the participants of the network.
  • A function is crucial for the execution of an existing block. This is run by full nodes to ensure that all the nodes that we accept are valid. Try to widen your understanding with this example. Suppose that you are working with a value-bearing chain. Your job is to check that no one tries to send beyond their balance.

You may be interested in: Crypto Payments – An Overview of the Procedure