Aptos onboarding strategy for Web2 to Web3
Aptos might seem to be a bit of an odd choice to jump on the current blockchain bandwagon. This is because Aptos is a monolithic blockchain that attempts to handle all transactions with a single shard, as opposed to the rollups and layer 2 solutions that are prevalent in the market today. However, it's hard to characterize Aptos as a blockchain that's lagging behind the market. Just as the modular blockchain teams are coming up with various solutions, the monolithic blockchain teams are also implementing various innovations in their consensus and infrastructure to optimize and scale a single shard. If you want to understand Aptos in advance of the session by Mo Shaikh, Co-Founder of Aptos, who will be presenting at KBW, you should read this article.
Since Aptos has been focusing a lot on onboarding Web 2 companies and users to Web 3, this article focuses on the question, "Can Aptos be a bridge between Web 2 and Web 3?".
First of all, in my opinion, for Aptos to successfully onboard Web2 users and developers, it has to be: 1) fast, 2) reliable, and 3) developer-friendly infrastructure, but how is Aptos doing on these three fronts?
First and formost, what is Aptos?
1. What is Aptos?
As many people know, Aptos is the team that came out of the meta (Facebook) blockchain team (DIEM team) and made a big splash in the market. This is because DIEM was the first case where a large IT company in Silicon Valley, which had been silent until now, built a blockchain directly. The key people who played a role in it came out and started building Aptos and Sui blockchains. Considering that DIEM's predecessor, Project Libra, was launched in June 2019, the DIEM project has been working on blockchain for three years by 2022 alone. That is a considerable amount of time for a blockchain that has been in development for a long time, especially coming from a company that has been building some of the best products in the world. In a way, Aptos may have been the blockchain that had to be successful from the start, but what does Aptos stand for and what is its purpose?
The word ‘Aptos’ comes from the Ohlone language, which means "people," and the Aptos blockchain came into existence with the goal of giving everyone fair and equitable access to crypto assets. It may sound obvious, but in order to achieve this goal, it's important to have a very fast and user-friendly(as well as developer friendly infrastructure) UIUX. But how fast is Aptos and how user/developer friendly is it?
1.1 Aptos’ Consensus - Aptos BFT
(How QC(Quorum Certificate) is confriemd | Source: Aptos)
First of all, consensus in Aptos is not really new, it's a consensus algorithm based on a paper called Jolteon (https://arxiv.org/abs/2106.10362) published in June 2021 by Meta's blockchain team and external researchers. The Jolteon consensus was later renamed DiemBFT V4, and now it has been renamed Aptos BFT. However, in the broader picture, Jolteon can be seen as an iteration of HotStuff BFT, so I recommend starting with HotStuff BFT to see the history of the consensus.
Aptos BFT has evolved in a number of ways compared to Hotstuff, which we'll discuss below:
1. Adopt an Active Peacemaker instead of a Passive Peacemaker
(Compare Passtive and Active Peacemaker when view failed| Source: Flow)
- In the case of HotStuff, the peacemaker that decides whether to skip or proceed with a round takes a long time because the peacemaker cannot communicate with other nodes when there is a problem with the network (the leader who was selected for the round did not propose a block, or the block was not received due to a network error) (this is called Passive Peacemaker).
- However, in Aptos BFT's Active Peacemaker, even when faced with the above situation, the timeout message is propagated to the nodes to decide whether to skip the failed round (when the round is successful, the communication between nodes is Linear, but when the round fails, the timeout message is propagated to the nodes to reach a consensus, just like PBFT). This ensures that all nodes are on the same page as the network progresses.
2. Faster Finality
- Both Hotstuff and AptosBFT have a pipelined block production/confirmation algorithm, meaning that confirmations for the previous block are made as the next block is created and proposed. While these production/confirmation methods are similar, they differ in the number of confirmations it takes for a block to be finalized: Hotstuff requires three, while Aptos BFT only requires two confirmations. This is possible because Aptos BFT uses an Active Peacemaker. The fast and accurate communication of failed rounds allows each node to take the finalization of the consensus one block faster.
The improved consensus on Aptos actually contributes to the industry as well as the Aptos blockchain. For example. Flow Blockchain, which was using Hotstuff-based consensus, adopted Jolteon consensus, the parent of Aptos BFT, to improve performance. By doing so, Flow Blockchain achieved technical improvements such as a 20% increase in block finality time.
1.2. Safe and Fast Programming Language: Move
Aptos also differs from existing blockchains in the programming language it uses, which is Move, a different programming language than Solidity (used primarily on EVM blockchains) and Rust (used primarily on Solana and Cosmos), which have dominated the blockchain industry to date. Move is still based on Rust, so it's similar in that it's optimized for memory management. However, the interesting thing about Move is that it has its own development verification tool called Move Prover.
(Move Prover Architecture | source: Move Prover Whitepaper)
As the name suggests, Move Prover is a tool used to verify code written in the Move language. Of course, a verification tool isn't efficient if it takes a long time to verify, but Move Probe takes no more than 30 seconds to verify most code, so it's a very fast and efficient way to check the stability of your code.
Given these characteristics, we can say that Move is a programming language focused on stability and speed. It's a language that fits very well with Aptos' vision of getting as many people as possible onboarded to the Web3 scene.
1.3 Growth of Aptos Network
(Network’s Activity has surged after Chingari’s launch | Source: Vinay Kumar)
The growth of the Aptos network has been slow until recently, but with the launch of web3 social platform Chingari on Aptos in July, the network seems to be growing rapidly. Of course, it's unclear whether the growth will be sustained since Chingari launched on Aptos, but the current user numbers on Aptos are about 500% higher than last month (and the tracked transaction volume is about 150% higher than last month). Of course, it remains to be seen whether Web3 social media, which adds token incentives to the existing social platform model, can sustain over time. Moreover, since Chingari currently holds a significant share on Aptos’ overall network activities, it's crucial for Aptos to onboard a wider variety of applications.
2. Aptos SDK
(SDK for Unity Developers | source: Aptos)
Onboarding users and developers with a fast and stable programming language is a great strategy, but ultimately, a software development kit (SDK) for easy programming is essential to onboarding a wide range of developers. That's why Aptos has released the Aptos SDK for Unity developers. The SDK not only makes the Aptos blockchain more accessible, but it also lowers the hurdles for transactions running on the Aptos blockchain, makes it easier to issue assets like NFTs, and provides an environment to easily test their products through the Devnet Faucet Client.
The launch of the Aptos SDK will make it easier for existing web2 gaming companies to implement games on top of the Aptos blockchain. Aptos also fulfills the requirements for existing web2 companies to onboard to Aptos, as it provides a developer-friendly environment, not just fast and secure transactions.
Aptos is a blockchain that launched in October 2022, making it just over a year old as of KBW2023. Infrastructurally, there are many things that are not yet in place compared to other older blockchains, and the new Move language can be a big hurdle for developers, but the speed and security-focused infrastructure development of Aptos will eventually play a big role in onboarding various Web 2 players to Web 3 through Aptos. Of course, Aptos is not alone in this endeavor, so there will be stiff competition, but as always, competition in the marketplace is good for us as consumers. More competition will produce better results. I highly recommend reading this article before watching Mo's session at KBW, it will make your time there more informative.
Four Pillars is a global crypto research firm based in Seoul, consisting of the most influential blockchain researchers in Korea. Through robust research and governance skills, it helps various market players easily onboard to the blockchain industry by offering high-quality research articles while supporting protocols in their expansion into Korean and global markets.
Writer: Steve Kim, Co-Founder and CEO at Four Pillars
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