Having come out of stealth mode earlier this year , Swirlds is widely releasing its hashgraph distributed consensus platform for broad use in the form of a Software Development Kit (SDK).
Leemon Baird, founder and CEO of Swirlds, said the SDK contains the Swirlds browser, example apps with source code that can run in that browser, and documentation for installing, running and writing new apps using Eclipse. The SDK release also includes a detailed report that outlining the hashgraph, consensus algorithm, and math proofs that power the platform.
For all intents and purposes, the SDK is the Swirlds platform that allows developers of all stripes to build applications on top of it, said Baird. Previously, it had only been available to customers. “People can play with it, people can experiment, people can write apps and people can use it.”
He said Swirlds has worked closely with one of its earliest customers, Ping Identity, to create the SDK. Ping has been using the Swirlds platform since January. “We’ve been going back and for with them. It’s gone through many revisions to make it simple and elegant in how it works.” Baird said a great deal of effort has gone into making it simple for developers to understand and build applications on the Swirlds platform. “We have redesigned and streamlined the API repeatedly. I think people will find it intuitive.”
This is just the beginning, however, for the Swirlds SDK. “This is an early alpha version,” said Baird. The company has a number of features in the pipeline slated for near-term release, including a file system and a database. In the Swirlds environment, if a programmer wants to react to a transaction quickly, even if it doesn’t know the order, they have to copy data often, he said, and they don’t want to have to copy large data often. The file system will allow for an application to only make a copy of the data that has changed, rather than an entire database that could be as large as 1TB, but just moving pointers.
There’s been a lot of chatter about the disruptive benefits of blockchain, but it really represents the early stages of new paradigm for managing transactions and needs to go further to support enterprise-grade applications.
Swirlds came out of stealth mode in March at the Cloud Identity Summit in New Orleans, when Ping Identity announced its seed investment in the company. While distributed consensus networks such as Blockchain have gained recognition for the ability to create trust within peer-to-peer networks and led to the Bitcoin payment system that facilitates transactions through distributed trust, it’s still inefficient.
Baird said Swirlds removes the obstacles inherent in blockchain technology, including the inefficiency, while also enforcing fairness. He said it can be challenged with high latency and probabilistic consensus, which often requires costly and wasteful mining.
Swirlds is positing itself as an alternative to blockchain by not relying on miners, as well as ensuring the actual order of transactions is the consensus order, and all transactions are included. And unlike blockchain, said Baird, Swirlds does not require “proof–of-work.” Transactions happen in milliseconds, instead of minutes or hours without the need of high performance computing; a laptop is sufficient, he said. “We go up right up to the bandwidth limit.”