Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How To Access Blockchain Data

Explore How Blockchain Is Disrupting Different Industries

Blockchain or Database: Explained!

This is yet another key step in our how to get into blockchain guidelines. So, when learning about blockchain from scratch, you need to understand how its actually disrupting different sectors. In reality, disruption may seem like a bad thing, but actually, its not.

The world is running on legacy policies for a very long time, and in many cases, its not even working properly. So, its a need for a massive change, and blockchain can ensure that safety. But if you dont change your ways of conducting business even in the changing times, then you can suffer a lot from it.

Thus, understating how it can affect your own industry and how you can move on from that is essential. More so, how you can use this disruption for your benefit is necessary as well.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Blockchain

For all of its complexity, blockchains potential as a decentralized form of record-keeping is almost without limit. From greater user privacy and heightened security to lower processing fees and fewer errors, blockchain technology may very well see applications beyond those outlined above. But there are also some disadvantages.

  • Improved accuracy by removing human involvement in verification

  • Cost reductions by eliminating third-party verification

  • Transactions are secure, private, and efficient

  • Transparent technology

  • Provides a banking alternative and way to secure personal information for citizens of countries with unstable or underdeveloped governments

  • Significant technology cost associated with mining bitcoin

  • Low transactions per second

  • History of use in illicit activities

  • Regulation

Here are the selling points of blockchain for businesses on the market today in more detail.

Private And Public Keys

A key aspect of privacy in blockchains is the use of private and public keys. Blockchain systems use asymmetric cryptography to secure transactions between users.In these systems, each user has a public and private key. These keys are random strings of numbers and are cryptographically related. It is mathematically impossible for a user to guess another user’s private key from their public key. This provides an increase in security and protects users from hackers. Public keys can be shared with other users in the network because they give away no personal data. Each user has an address that is derived from the public key using a hash function. These addresses are used to send and receive assets on the blockchain, such as cryptocurrency. Because blockchain networks are shared to all participants, users can view past transactions and activity that has occurred on the blockchain.

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How Does Blockchain Work

Blockchain technology is an innovation ride on three major concepts. Public-key cryptography, peer-to-peer networks and distributed consensus all of which rely on an indiscriminate mathematical challenge. All these concepts arent entirely new as they have been around for quite some time. However, its the combination of all these concepts that is giving birth to the computing breakthrough.

Once a blockchain receives a new transaction request or an existing transaction edit, all the data blocks within it will execute algorithms to establish the authenticity and history of the individual proposed transaction. Once the data blocks establish that the signature is valid, the ledger accepts the proposed transactions creating a new data block creating a new chain of transactions.

On the other hand, if a majority of the data blocks dont grant the addition or modification, the ledger entry is denied. Its this distributed blockchain architecture that allows blockchain to run an endless list of distributed ledgers without the need of a unifying authority that determines what transactions will go through and those that arent valid.

Transactions And Their Receipts

how to access blockchain data

Now we can also look up single transactions in a block by their unique identifiers, i.e. transaction hashes.

As previously, web3py returns us an attribute dictionary. The table below summarizes what each key stands for.

Finally, we can also look into transaction receipts:

A transaction receipt contains a few repeated and new entries the new ones are explained below.

For the reference, I included various additional resources besides the Yellow Paper to compile these tables .

As you can see, with just a few simple commands you can already connect to the network and get basic info about the transactions, blocks, or states in the raw format. This opens a new window to what can be done with such data!

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Learn How Blockchain Technology Works

Next, comes the process of how the technology works. Getting started with blockchain will take you some time as you have to understand how the technology works beforehand. In reality, blockchain works in a very different way than any traditional centralized system.

Also, the unique process of this technology is what makes it different from other techs and increases the overall network security as well.

Usually, there are different ways a blockchain can work. More so, every blockchain ecosystem may have completely different working principles than the typical one.

So, make sure you learn about the different ones as well. Once you finish this stage, you can move on to the features of blockchain technology. But dont skip this stage in any case.

How Blockchain Data Is Stored And Secured

Understand how blockchain data is kept manageable and secure to accommodate a constantly growing database

Blockchain works by including the identifier of the last block into the identifier in the following block to create an unbreakable and immutable chain. But as more and more blocks are added, how does the data remain manageable?

The key to keeping blockchain data manageable and secure is through an algorithm called hashing in combination with a consolidating data structure known as a Merkle Tree.

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Turning The Question Fundamentally: Adding The Features Of A Blockchain To A Database

The team at BigchainDB thought of tackling the above-mentioned challenges by changing the fundamental assumptions. We talked about the challenges of using blockchain as a database. However, the BigchainDB team changed the question fundamentally.

The project team decided against using blockchain as the starting point and creating a database from it. Instead, the team chose to take a database solution to start with. The team added the relevant features of blockchain to this database.

Accuracy Of The Chain

In-Depth Access to Blockchain Data dfuse Ethereum API Tips and Tricks

Transactions on the blockchain network are approved by a network of thousands of computers. This removes almost all human involvement in the verification process, resulting in less human error and an accurate record of information. Even if a computer on the network were to make a computational mistake, the error would only be made to one copy of the blockchain. In order for that error to spread to the rest of the blockchain, it would need to be made by at least 51% of the networks computersa near impossibility for a large and growing network the size of Bitcoins.

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Blockchain As A Data Structure

The first use case for blockchain technology is digital money. To have a monetary system without central control, you must have a special and sophisticated way to handle all the data produced with each transfer. Imagine if every person could access and modify the databases kept by banks. It would be a disaster.

In order to make decentralized money a reality a method of accounting had to be developed – the UTXO model, also referred to as triple-entry accounting. You can compute every account balance at any time by storing all transactions in a digital ledger.

A digital ledger used for digital money requires a set of properties that were not achievable before blockchain came along. In this article, we will look at how the blockchain handles data and why blockchains special properties partly result from it.

Why Would You Want To Store Data On Blockchain

Now that we have learned where blockchain is stored, it is now time to learn weather data can be stored in blockchain? The question is best aimed at developers who may want to use blockchain to store data. After all, blockchain offers extensive features including better security, immutability, and transparency.

However, the blockchain is ideal for storing massive amounts of data. Yes, it cannot be a database if you want to build a video streaming platform similar to Twitch for Youtube.

However, it is ideal for storing small amounts of data, but in large numbers of transactions. Blockchain networks are highly scalable and there are many variants of blockchain that are highly efficient in accessibility as well.

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From Merkle Path To Transaction Index

To derive a transactions index, we follow its Merkle path from root to the leaf representing it. When a node on the path is on the left branch, we go right otherwise, we go left . It is easy to see that we can get a binary representation of its index this way. In the example below, we apply this rule to the last transaction, and we go all the way to the right and get 111 in binary, which is exactly its index 7 in decimal.

This code is shown below:

Start Using Blockchain Templates

Is blockchain the new database?

This is another key element in getting into blockchain development. If you are looking forward to becoming a developer, expert, or architect in blockchain, then using blockchain templates can help you get a long way.

In reality, these templates will help you develop blockchain solutions at a much faster rate. How? Well, thee templates are designed in a way to simplify any process of your blockchain software design cycle.

For example, you can use them to know whether your company even needs blockchain. More so, you can also use it to determine if your solution is ready to meet the standards you hoped for. These small steps help in refreshing your solutions and make it different from the rest.

So, just make sure you learn how to use these templates for your benefits.

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Block Explorers: Discovering A Blockchains Entire History

Block explorers are your entry point into seeing all transactions that have ever existed on a blockchain. From here, you can check the balance of each address, see the details of each transaction and more.

There are a lot of different block explorers out there, which makes sense: there are also a lot of different cryptocurrencies out there. Most often, a block explorer only caters to a single crypto asset. Some common block explorers include: XRP: Bithomp& XRP Charts

What these block explorers allow you to do is look up the balance of individual addresses that you enter, or transaction details of any Transaction ID that you fill in. Once entered, youll see all the details. For addresses, this includes every incoming and outgoing transaction that the specific address has ever seen. For Transactions, it shows you who sent the transaction, how much has been sent, its destination and the fees that were paid for it. In short, a block explorer is kind of like an encyclopedia for blockchain transactions and addresses its entire history can be looked up.

Know About The Key Features Of Blockchain

Want to know how to get into blockchain? Well, for starters, you have to know about the key features of blockchain. In reality, blockchain comes with six lucrative features that you cant just ignore. Furthermore, these features are extremely important in your blockchain journey.

Thus, you have to understand why and how the tech offers the features because you will have to offer them too in your blockchain solution. As these features are what make up blockchain, you cant skip these features in your own solutions.

I would recommend using a blockchain course to learn about them more thoroughly. Also, the courses are quite efficient in teaching you that, so going for a course would be the perfect call.

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What Is Blockchains Role In Security

Blockchain can also be a game changer when it comes to reducing security threats and preventing data leaks and hacks, helping organizations across various industries to:

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security started investigating blockchain solutions to enhance anti-forgery and counterfeiting capabilities with a new solicitation called Preventing Forgery and Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses. The goal of the initiative, says the department, is to ensure we are at least a step ahead of national security threats.

What Is The Difference Between Blockchain And Database

Part 9 – How to access Blockchain Network

The ultimate goal of a blockchain is to store information, which makes it a database. Blockchains only differ from other database types by the way they store data.

While blockchains can be considered a database, a database is typically not a blockchain. Databases generally dont use signed blocks to store the data.

Blockchain

Before building a blockchain database, there are some considerations to take into account. Each deployment scenario is described in deeper detail in the Building Enterprise-Grade Blockchain Databases with MongoDB whitepaper.

First is the database deployed in an enterprise or a consortium. Blockchains dont necessarily have to be decentralized. Sometimes, an enterprise can use a blockchain internally and act as the central authority controlling the data. In most cases, though, blockchains operate in a consortium. Cryptocurrencies use this consortium model to ensure that no single source owns the data. In this case, each validation node needs to have a copy of the data.

Secondly, how will the data be used? Data used directly by the clients connecting to the database is referred to as operational data. This is the case for cryptocurrencies. Anyone can query and perform actions on the blockchain. Non-operational, on the other hand, would be accessed via an intermediary.

The blockchain architecture depends on the deployment type and data type.

These two axes will decide which of the following four deployment models you will need to create.

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Find The Last Transaction

In the lastpost, we accessed the first coinbase transaction in a block. If we could also access the last transaction, we can deduce the total number of transactions. We can identify the first/leftmost transaction by verifying all the nodes on its Merkle path are on the right branch. It is tempting to find the last/rightmost transaction similarly by requiring all Merkle path nodes to be on the left branch. Unfortunately, this may not be always true.

If we have a perfect Merkle tree, all nodes on the Merkle path of the last transaction are indeed on the left branch, as shown below.

However, this is not the case when the tree is not perfect. For instance, the following tree has 5 leaves and the Merkle path for the last transaction consists of all nodes colored orange. Two of them lie on the right branch, only the top one on the left.

To overcome this issue, we notice that when there is an odd number of nodes in any single layer of the Merkle tree, the last node is duplicated. That implies, if any node on the Merkle path of the last transaction is on the right branch, it must be copied from the current left branch, as the graph below shows.

The following code implements the algorithm directly.

Access Blockchain Data From Bitcoin Smart Contracts Without Oracles

Tech

This post was first published on Medium.

Smart contracts have no knowledge of the outside world and have to rely on oracles to import external data in general. We have shown two ways to import data from oracles before, based on Rabin signature and ECDSA. In this article, we show it is possible to access a specific type of external data, i.e., data on the blockchain , in the absence of oracles, while still maintaining data integrity. By allowing smart contracts to access on-chain data with minimal trust, it opens endless opportunities for all new kinds of smart contracts on Bitcoin.

Access block headers

The Bitcoin blockchain consists of a chain of blocks, as the name suggest. A block has two parts: a block header and transactions.

It is worth noting that bitcoin headers are part of Bitcoins proof-of-work consensus algorithm. More specifically, the hash of a serialized block header should not exceed the difficulty target . Thanks to trustless nature of proof of work, it is extremely costly to produce a valid block header, especially when the difficulty is high. But it is very easy to check if a given block header is valid. This is exactly how we import a block header into a smart contract shown below, without relying on any oracles.

Blockchain Contract

Fake block headers

Access transactions

A case study: Using blockchain to generate random numbers

BlockchainPRNG Contract

Summary

Acknowledgements

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What Is Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is an example of distributed ledger technology, in which independent nodes record transactions and come to consensus about a shared state without a centralized authority. The name blockchain refers to a particular type of data structure where each block represents a group of digital transactions and the chain refers to how each block is linked to ensure that transactions are recorded in a specific, unalterable order.

A blockchain network operates as a decentralized database that consists of a network of computers or devices that come to an agreement on a single version of a shared ledger. In a permissionless, public blockchain like Bitcoin, that blockchain network could consist of thousands of computers or devices potentially even millions operating as nodes. In a permissioned chain, only a few trusted nodes would operate a network between organizations.

Additionally, each block includes a cryptographic pointer back to the previous block in the blockchain ledger, linking the blocks together. With every block, a new group of transactions are added to the ledger, and the chain of blocks grows continually in this fashion.

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