Ethereum has been a game-changer since its launch in 2015. It revolutionized the way people think about blockchain technology and decentralization. For a quick refresher, Ethereum is a public, open-source, decentralized blockchain which can run smart-contracts and enable developers to build and deploy decentralized applications (DApps).
Many used to believe that blockchain was all about cryptocurrencies. And Ether is just another cryptocurrency like the well-known Bitcoin. However, Ethereum took the blockchain technology to new heights by shifting its concept from being just another digital currency to a new decentralized platform with endless applications and possibilities.
It gave birth to the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) wave, introduced a completely new programming language, supported the creation of DApps (decentralized applications), and, foremost, polarized the term “smart-contracts.” What makes all these possible is the heart of Ethereum’s success: the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the EVM, what it is and how it works. We’ll also give hints and tips on how to develop on EVM using Solidity. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Basics of Ethereum Virtual Machine
We’ve already mentioned that EVM makes Ethereum what it is today. But we should establish a stronger foundation for understanding EVM.
What is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)?
Ethereum Virtual Machine or EVM is a “world computer” that executes programs called “smart-contracts.” Smart-contracts are immutable computer programs intended to digitally facilitate, verify or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. These are applications that run precisely as programmed without the possibility of fraud or third-party interference.
Additionally, EVM is responsible for processing and executing all other transactions on the Ethereum network, such as handling DApps, and token transfers. It runs on every node in the Ethereum network and processes every transaction that goes through it. It is Turing-complete, meaning it can run any type of program as long as there are enough resources or “gas” to process it.
How does EVM work?
EVM works by executing a program called bytecode. This bytecode is generated from the high-level programming language Solidity (we will discuss this later in this article). The bytecode is then fed into the EVM, which processes and executes it.
To better understand this process, let’s compare it to how a traditional computer works. A desktop computer runs programs written in high-level coding languages like C++, Java, or Python. These programs are then converted into machine code, a low-level language the computer can understand. And the machine code is fed into the CPU (central processing unit), which processes and executes it.
Similarly, the bytecode generated from Solidity is fed into the EVM, which processes and executes it. The main difference here is that a traditional computer can only run one program at a time, while the EVM can run multiple programs simultaneously. This is because each program that runs on the EVM has its own isolated environment, which is called an “Ethereum Virtual Machine.”
Developing on EVM with Solidity
Solidity as Programming Language
As we’ve mentioned before, the EVM executes a program called bytecode. This bytecode is generated from the high-level programming language called Solidity. So, to develop on EVM, you will need to understand the use of Solidity.
First of all, Solidity is a statically typed language, which means you will need to declare the type of each variable before using it. For example, before using it, you must declare whether a variable is an integer or a string. Secondly, Solidity is case-sensitive, so you will need to be careful about the casing of your variables. For instance, the variable “MyVariable” differs from “myvariable.” Third, Solidity does not have a concept of “null,” meaning you will need to use the keyword “require” to check if a variable is null or not.
Tools to Get Started
You can use the following few tools to get started on EVM. The first tool that you will need is the Remix IDE. A Remix is a browser-based IDE that allows you to write, compile, and debug Solidity contracts. It also comes with a built-in debugger and an integrated testing environment.
The next tool you can use is Hardhat. Hardhat is a toolkit for Ethereum development that allows you to automate many of the tasks involved in smart contract development, such as compiling, testing, deploying, and upgrading contracts.
The last tool that you can check is Truffle. Truffle is a development environment, testing framework, and asset pipeline for Ethereum. It makes it easy to develop smart contracts and provides a suite of tools for testing, debugging, and deploying contracts.
After choosing the tools, you must decide which Ethereum network you want to deploy your contract to. You can choose from two main networks: the testnet and the mainnet. Testnet is a global testing environment in which developers can obtain and spend ether with no real-world value.” In other words, it is a test network where you can experiment with your contracts without worrying about losing any real money.
On the other hand, the mainnet is the “live” Ethereum network, where all transactions have real-world value. Contracts deployed on the mainnet are live and irreversible. Also, it is accessible to anyone in the world. Hence, ensure that your contracts are thoroughly tested before deploying them on the mainnet.
Lastly, once you have deployed your contract on either the testnet or the mainnet, you can view it on Etherscan. Etherscan is a block explorer and analytics platform for Ethereum that allows you to view all of the transactions you have made on the Ethereum network and information about individual addresses and contracts.
Tips on Developing on EVM
Here are some tips that you can use in developing on EVM:
- Make sure to test your contracts thoroughly before deploying them on the mainnet because once a contract is deployed on the mainnet, it cannot be changed or deleted.
- Secure your private keys and keep them safe. If someone gets ahold of your private keys, they can access all of your Ether.
- Consider using tools to automate the tasks involved in smart contract development to save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
- Be aware of the gas costs associated with each transaction. Every transaction on the Ethereum network costs a certain amount of Ether to execute.
- Keep your contract code simple and easy to understand. Complex contracts are more difficult to debug and likely to contain errors.
It’s safe to say that Ethereum is a disruptive innovation with the potential to change how we interact with the digital world. That’s why it’s no wonder Ethereum’s price today continuously rises. With its powerful smart contract functionality, Ethereum provides a whole new level of flexibility and control.
While it is still in its early stages, Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) has already established impactful changes, and its further development is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Sophia Young recently quit a non-writing job to finally be able to tell stories and paint the world through her words. She loves talking about fashion and weddings and travel, but she can also easily kick ass with a thousand-word article about the latest marketing and business trends, blockchain, cryptocurrency, finance-related topics, and can probably even whip up a nice heart-warming article about family life. She can totally go from fashion guru to your friendly neighbourhood cat lady with mean budgeting skills and home tips real quick.