The Technical Side of Tezos: Interview with Apps Engineer Martin Pospěch
The governance woes of the Tezos Foundation have been heavily covered in the cryptoverse in recent weeks, but little has been said about the practical technical aspects of the Tezos platform. Bitsonline chatted with software engineer Martin Pospěch to learn about what it’s like building apps on the fledgling platform.
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Pospěch: Emphasis on “Correctness and Security”
Pospěch — a software engineer by trade and a smart contracts consultant — came to Tezos with a background in building systems through Golang.
He’s become a strong fan of the smart contracts platform ever since his shift into the cryptocurrency space, and he’s spent the ensuing months building demo apps and writing starter guides for those also interested in making the leap into Tezos.
What attracted Pospěch to this particular platform? It’s precision, he says:
“For the last few years, I’ve been watching the Bitcoin space from afar and was initially suspicious of new projects like Ethereum. Later on I realized that was a mistake, and there are a lot of use cases for smart contracts. I first heard of Tezos at the beginning of 2017, and was intrigued by the focus on correctness and security.”
Pospěch went further, explaining why he felt Tezos’ Michelson language provides streamlined precision:
“Some of the issues with Ethereum (Solidity) arise from the fact that its type system is not robust enough. This is addressed by the Tezos smart contract language, Michelson. It’s very simple and limited in certain ways, which makes it harder to go wrong. Even though Michelson is a bit hard to write by hand, it’s also meant as a compile target. There are several high-level languages that compile to Michelson being developed, the most polished of them being Liquidity.”
On Tezos’ Technical Community
A potent dynamic in the current cryptocurrency ecosystem is the drastic scarcity of available developers and engineers. BitGo engineer Jameson Lopp described the scarcity well earlier this week.
I'm told that there are 14 open blockchain developer jobs for every currently employed blockchain developer. The salary premium on this skill set is at all-time highs.
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) February 7, 2018
To that end, we asked Pospěch about Tezos’ technical community — whether it was scarce like its macro-community, or if it was thriving in its own right.
The software engineer noted:
“The community is still very small, but there’s high degree of competence. There are a few groups of people building delegation services — the people who don’t want to take part in the consensus algorithm on their own can decide to delegate that responsibility and share the gains with the delegate. Other people are building block explorers, wallets, and even extensions that enable browser interaction (similar to MetaMask).
It’s true that blockchain developers are in high demand. Most of the Tezos codebase is written in OCaml, which is somewhat exotic to most people. On the other hand, functional languages like OCaml allow devs to be very productive, and there is the existing OCaml community to draw on. It’s not for everyone, but I would urge people to explore it anyway. They might find that functional programming is just what they were missing.”
Looking Ahead for Tezos
We also asked Pospěch what trends he projects might occur in the smart contract applications ecosystem over the next five years.
“There is some infrastructure that needs to be in place first, before the full potential of smart contracts can be realized,” Pospěch said. “Good APIs are a must. I’d expect smart contracts to be used with increasing frequency in the insurance sector and also in banking.”
He added, “The customers wouldn’t even necessarily realize that something changed, except that many services would just be faster and more reliable. This applies especially to well defined repetitive processes, where paper trail needs to be maintained.”
When asked whether Tezos could become a premier platform for such applications, the young engineer was bullish:
“I think Tezos can absolutely become the standard for systems where correctness is required.”
Pospěch’s Current Project an Example
Pospěch’s current project has entailed building a proof-of-concept automated insurance system through Tezos that “lets people hedge against rainy weather.”
The demo is an interactive web-based application allowing users to easily purchase an insurance policy, similar to AXA’s fizzy.
It’s a clear example of the application possibilities that Tezos, like its smart contract competitors, opens up.
What do you think? Have you considered learning a smart contracts language? Would you work on the Tezos platform? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via Martin Pospech, LinkedIn, Venture Beat