With the sudden and explosive rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into the financial mainstream, many users are more aware than ever about all things crypto. Ethereum, smart contracts and Blockchain technology are fast becoming household words.
The problem for smart contracts lies in the fact that there is a fundamental difference of formats. Blockchain programming for smart contracts is deterministic – a series of events which take place one after another in sequential order (series of transactions).
Accessing information outside of the chain in order to cue the smart contract would require data points that are not sequential, and would therefore be impossible for Blockchain to make sense of or use. This aspect of Blockchain gives it immutability, but reduces flexibility. Enter the oracle.
While it may seem that smart contracts and Ðapps hold the future of every major industry, what many new users in the field don’t know are the internal workings of smart contracts. For a smart contract to function properly, it must make use of an ‘oracle,’ or an external data point that allows the smart contract to function properly. This data point may be something simple, like a stock price or an interest rate, or it may be something far more complex, like weather conditions, rental agreement payments, and so forth.
Getting data right
Currently there is no simple way to find and access oracle data and, therefore, there is no simple way to build a smart contract or Ðapp that uses outside data. Some companies have provided methods for creating oracles, but finding the data points has proven painstaking and slow. A new company, Zap.Store, is seeking to solve the problem by monetizing data feeds for creating oracles. Rather than scouring the Internet, developers can go to the Zap Store, find and create oracles, and access data for them with a single searchable database.
Consider how simple and quick the process could be if developers were able to simply search for oracles. They could then, with a click of the mouse, gain access to the code and begin using it, rather than building each oracle from scratch. Zap could become the birthplace of many future Ðapps because everyone can now easily connect off-chain data to a smart contract in order to build a Ðapp.
The system also allows data providers a way to monetize their existing data in a decentralized way. When a Zap subscriber is seeking data from an oracle, he uses the ZapMarket smart contract to bond ZAP tokens to the oracle. The subscriber then receives “DOTs” which can be utilized to pay for searches for that oracle. The ZapMarket smart contract then allows the exchange of public keys between the two parties of the smart contract when the subscriber starts a query using the DOT. At that point, the oracle can push data to the subscriber through a private IPFS pubsub room, which is all handled by smart contracts.
Simplifying the developer tool kit
The old adage KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) isimportant when it comes to user interfaces. The Zap team has been careful to create a system where users are not forced to navigate their way through complex processes in order to create and access data for an oracle. Rather, users can, with a few clicks of the mouse, accomplish what would’ve taken hours without the platform.
The Zap platform adds a stunning degree of fine tuning to the smart contract system, making oracles simple and easy to work with, while greatly reducing the time commitment from developers. A system like this seems sure to catch on. Zap is positioned to be the next layer of Ethereum.