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Blockchain Semantics Blog What is Solidity for Ethereum Blockchain?

What is Solidity for Ethereum Blockchain?

Aug. 1, 2018, 2:02 p.m. GMT

The most popular programming language used currently to write smart contracts is Solidity. Solidity is an object-oriented high-level programming language. Its syntax is similar to that of ECMAScript, the standard script for JavaScript. This makes it easier to understand and implement for Ethereum Blockchain programmers. Codes written in Solidity are designed keeping in mind the rules of the Ethereum Virtual Machine or EVM. It is a compiler for the “Ethereum World Computer”. 

Compared to the other Ethereum Blockchain languages which compile on the EVM, Solidity contains a number of important advantages:

  1. Complex member variables for contracts are supported. For example, hierarchical mappings and structures.
  2. Contracts support inheritance, including multiple inheritances.
  3. An Application Binary Interface (ABI) facilitating multiple type-safe functions within a single contract is supported in Solidity. Type safety means that the compiler will validate datatypes while compiling, and throw an error if you try to assign the wrong datatype to a variable. This feature is now supported by the Serpent as well.

An Application Binary Interface (ABI) is the interface between two Ethereum Blockchain program modules, one of which is often at the level of machine code. The interface is the de facto method for encoding/decoding data into/out of the machine code. 

Limitations of Solidity 

Since the programs that we make on Solidity and similar languages for making smart contracts are transactions, they come with their own set of limitations. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Shifting to Ethereum Blockchain from languages like Python and Javascript, developing in Solidity is definitely a step back in terms of what the language allows the programmer to do and the expressiveness of the language. 
  2. standard library hasn’t really been developed yet. Arrays and strings are especially difficult. For example, we need to write algorithms for even simple tasks like converting a string to lowercase. We never had to even think about these tasks in other languages/platforms.
  3. We cannot get data from outside the Ethereum Blockchain unless it gets in via a transaction. Data from outside the blockchain means any data from the real world such as say, the current price of gold, cricket scores etc.

Interaction with such data is done using an oracle, details of which will be discussed later.

  1. Once a contract is deployed it is not upgradable. We can plan for migrations or pure storage contracts, though.

Some of these limitations are needed for the existence of the Ethereum computing platform. For example, we will never be able to store a backup of your Google Photos and perform image recognition purely on-chain, and that is just fine. Other limitations are here just because it is a really young technology. It is evolving blazingly fast though and it will keep improving over time.
That being said, it is very possible to build interesting projects on top of Ethereum Blockchain today. 

To learn how to write smart contract and develop a DApp on Ethereum Blockchain using solidity, visit Blockchain Semantics Ethereum Developer Certification.


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