Smart Contract Programming Languages
With the creation of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency in 2009, Blockchain technology appeared, a distributed database containing records of all transactions that were made on the network. A few years later, a much more powerful Ethereum project appeared with greater potential than the payment system and the decentralized digital currency Bitcoin. The big advantage of the Ethereum platform in this regard is the so-called smart contracts.
In smart contracts, which are computer programs, agreements are made between two or more parties. That is, these are contracts that are executed and enforced automatically and autonomously. Smart contracts are a way for people all over the world to do business with each other, even if they do not speak the same language and do not use the same currency. For smart contracts that need to be executed, you need instructions written in specific code.
There are many programming languages in the computer world. One of them is the Solidity language (a key moment for the future of the Ethereum system, since the more people recognize this language, the more they will be able to create smart contracts and control them from possible failures in writing code).
Solidity is the Turing Complete language
In less technical terms, Solidity is used to create “smart contracts” that allow many parts of the business to work independently and also track them. When it is said that Solidity is a high-level programming language, it means that it is the Turing Complete language.
This concept, developed by Alan Turing, refers to the computer science of a language that has the computing power equivalent to what is called the “universal Turing machine”. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is considered a universal Turing machine (a term that refers to software that is qualified enough to execute any code defined by the developer).
In other words, the term Turing Complete, applied to Blockchain technology and especially to smart contracts, refers to the ability of a computer language to solve any computer problem and add complex rules such as loops. A computer cycle is a repeat instruction that allows programs to perform, as the name suggests, repetitive tasks by code.
To understand this, consider an example: Imagine that we want to create a reasonable contract to program payroll for 50 employees of the company and, in turn, increase the salary by 2% for each of them. Two variables (salary and a 2% increase) will be placed in a cycle that runs 50 times (one for each member of the company), without the need to write the same code 50 times to perform the same operation.
This type of language “Turing Complete” was one of the reasons that prompted Vitalik Buterin to create the Ethereum project, since Bitcoin was not intended to comply with the properties of this language. Vitalik believed that the language in which the Bitcoin network works (called “BTL Bitcoin Transaction Language”) is not enough for the development of a full-fledged network.
Vitalik suggested including the Turing Complete language in the program for improving the Bitcoin protocol, but the fact that there was no response from the community of developers of the Bitcoin system forced him to create his own project called Ethereum.
IDE (integrated development environment)
To develop a smart contract, you need to create an environment conducive to certain tasks. The IDE is a computer application that has tools for programmers and smart contract developers. That is, it is the IDE that facilitates the creation of other programs. Typically, an IDE consists of:
1. Source code editor.
2. Several automatic building tools.
3. The debugger used to check and fix errors.
These IDEs may also have a compiler and interpreter. The compiler is a computer program whose function is to translate what was written in a programming language and transfer this information to a machine language.
A translator is a computer program that can analyze and run other programs. Translators differ from compilers in that while the compiler translates all the cumulative information written, the interpreter analyzes and translates what is needed, that is, a specific instruction.
Interpreted programs, as a rule, are somewhat slower than compiled ones due to the need to translate the program during its operation. However, they are more flexible, allowing the interpreted program to offer an environment that is independent of the physical machine. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is considered the interpreter of the various IDEs available for the Solidity programming language. In other words, EVM interprets both the smart contract development environment and the language in which they are written (Solidity).
Remix: Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
Remix (Browser Solidity) provides an integrated development environment (IDE) that allows you to write smart contracts based on Solidity. This is the perfect solution to:
1. Create smart contracts and debug their implementation.
2. Get access to the status and properties of intellectual contracts that were previously created.
3. Reduce the number of coding errors.
4. Apply the best previous code analysis.
Remix can be used either on your own computer or on the Internet. If you need to download this program, you need to find the last link package, unzip the ZIP file and download the index.html file in the browser. For those who prefer to work on the Internet, you must visit remix.ethereum.org.
Other IDEs and Solidity Integration
Although Remix is the official Ethereum IDE, there are other IDEs that are also compatible with the Solidity programming language. Here are some of them:
1. Ethereum Studio: This is another development environment, which is characterized by the presence of specialization, providing full access to the Ethereum network. This is achieved through a kind of command interpreter. You can download this program in PDF format (in English). You can also access the short video via YouTube to learn in seconds how to work with Ethereum Studio and perform a single test to help you understand how to develop a web interface and how to start the debugger.
2. Solidity plugin for IntelliJ IDEA (and other JetBrains IDE platform): Before downloading the plugin, you need to download the IntelliJ IDEA IDE program.
3. Atom: This is a modern text editor. In other words, it is an editable tool that you can customize and use productively without having to touch the configuration file. You can download Etheratom from the Internet, a package for the Atom IDE that uses the web3.js library to interact with the Ethereum node.
4. Plugin Visual Studio, which is designed to develop smart contracts Solidity. To work with the plugin, you must first purchase the Visual Studio program, and then proceed to install the extension. The integration of Visual Studio with Solidity offers developers to facilitate the creation of smart contracts.