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On the 5th and 12th of September, IBM will host a hackathon in Rotterdam, Netherlands entitled “Unfolding Blockchain with Hyperledger Fabric.” In this blog, the author interviews IBM developer advocate and event host Edward Ciggaar, who explains what you can expect from this two-day workshop.

Let’s start with an introduction. Edward is an IBM developer advocate based in Amsterdam. His passion is to personally interact with developers and to show them the possibilities of our latest technologies. He likes to build fun demos and sample code that support developer productivity. His focus areas are blockchain, IBM Cloud, and the Watson APIs. In his spare time, Edward loves to play soccer, both in real-life as well as online.

What is Blockchain summer school about?

Edward Ciggaar: The Blockchain summer school is a two-day event, a kind of mini-hackathon in which we work together with the Rotterdam Blockchain Community and a group of enthusiastic developers on solving their own use cases and building blockchain applications using Hyperledger Fabric. The idea is that everyone will get the same concept about permissioned blockchains, how Fabric works and what the role of a developer is. We will do this through a brief explanation with interactive game elements and with the help of live coding demos.

The first day is mainly hands-on to build the necessary experience. Then the idea is that groups will be formed to brainstorm about which use cases you would like to solve with blockchain. The second day, the groups will work on their use cases and prepare a demo that will be presented at the end of the day.

What is the role of the developer in a blockchain project?

EC: In a typical blockchain project, you see various roles such as the architect, the network operator, end user, regulator, and of course the developer. He / she has an important role and is responsible for writing both the application and the smart contract. A smart contract contains the business logic that must be met before the transaction can be added to the blockchain. It is important that this contract remain deterministic at all times. This means if multiple nodes in the blockchain network execute the contract with the same input for validation, the result must always be the same.

Furthermore, the developer is responsible for building the business application that communicates with the smart contract via the Fabric SDK. This business application also includes integration with pre-existing systems and defines a set of business APIs that can be invoked by client applications. This client application is also a deliverable from the developer and can be built by a separate front-end developer. These are all parts that we will be working on during summer school. We will have less focus on the consensus algorithm used, the number of peers, and the security aspects of the blockchain network, because this is typically the responsibility of the network operator in a blockchain project.

Why do you focus on Hyperledger Fabric?

EC: Hyperledger Fabric is one of the many open source projects that fall under the Hyperledger umbrella. Hyperledger itself is a Linux Foundation project and consists of several so-called blockchain frameworks and tools. Fabric is one of the available frameworks, and is particularly interesting because IBM has made a significant contribution to this. It is ideally suited for building enterprise blockchains solutions because of the modular structure of Fabric and the fact that it provides for key requirements such as having a shared ledger, identity, endorsement, and confidentiality. Take, for example, a business network with 10 companies that are in a supply chain. If you set up this network with the help of Fabric, then all nodes in the network have a replica of the ledger (shared ledger), the participants in the network know which other parties they are doing business with (identity), and the participants are able to communicate confidentially with each other via specially designed channels (confidentiality). The latter then forms a kind of sub-network within the larger blockchain network.

Because of the modular and generic structure, Fabric is therefore ideally suited for application to many different business scenarios, from supply chains to supporting financial processes. This feature, and the fact that IBM has been involved with this project from the outset, is the reason that this event focuses on Fabric.

Who is the target audience for this workshop?

EC: Everyone is welcome. Although it is preferred to have technical affinity, such as a developer. The languages you can work with to build smart contracts are JavaScript/TypeScript, Java, and Go. It is useful if you are already a bit familiar with these. Regarding permissioned blockchains, we start from the beginning. So as a beginner but also as an experienced developer, there is plenty to get out of it. If you are fully experienced in Fabric, then you are also very welcome to support other participants and share your knowledge.

Looking forward meeting you on the 5th and 12th of September. Let’s have some fun coding together!

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