In this article, we will cover our experience at the Interchain Academy, an initiative by the Interchain Foundation in which seasoned developers can learn and develop skills using the Interchain Stack.
First of all, let’s start by explaining what the Interchain Academy is. The name might give you a hint as it is a hands-on, instructor-led program in which every developer can learn about the Interchain Stack at their own rhythm with the objective of preparing the developer to build application-specific blockchains or learn skills for jobs in the industry. And best of all? It’s free for all participants as it is funded by the Interchain Foundation.
With over 800 developers to date, the program has received an outstanding 95% approval from its participants.
At Zondax, we are one of the core contributors to the Cosmos SDK — dedicated to enhancing various key aspects of the SDK, including cryptography and core design. Our focus extends across hardware wallet support, advancements in cryptography, integration of Rosetta within the Cosmos SDK, and the continual incorporation of the latest technologies and standards. Our ongoing efforts center around modularizing and modernizing the security aspects of the Cosmos SDK.
In the past couple of weeks one Zondax team member who has been actively contributing to the Cosmos-SDK repository for about a year in isolated modules, started following the Interchain Academy and shared his experience (so far).
And while he has extensive knowledge of the ecosystem, he states the course is a comprehensive introduction to all major Interchain Stack concepts, as well as core blockchain concepts which is beneficial if you are just getting started on Cosmos but it also provides an opportunity to understand how the core layers of the stack work together seamlessly. It offers a well-constructed stack to developers (or non-developers too!), allowing them to delve deeper into the intricacies of the system
For him, these concepts were very familiar but it provided him with another context that helps to reinforce the foundation of how Cosmos works.
One of the standout features of the course is how it places you right at the heart of the Interchain ecosystem. It immerses you in complex and important key concepts like CometBFT (the consensus layer), IBC (Inter-Blockchain Communication), and the interactions between modules.
It is dense with information, yet it is presented in a way that is digestible and engaging. The blockchain industry is evolving as we speak. You turn away for a minute and you will see new developments, new projects, coins and terms. Being part of the core SDK developers is our priority to being at the forefront of innovation and being able to provide innovative solutions to teams and developers looking to implement the Cosmos SDK into their developments.
In conclusion, The Interchain Academy, supported by the Interchain Foundation, stands as a transformative educational platform for developers delving into the Interchain Stack. With overwhelmingly positive feedback from over 800 participants, this hands-on program offers comprehensive insights into the Cosmos SDK and interchain ecosystem. Through the experience of one Zondax’s engineers, the Academy’s structured curriculum illuminates intricate Cosmos layers, fostering expertise crucial for staying at the forefront of blockchain innovation. It remains an invaluable resource, empowering developers to navigate the dynamic industry landscape and contribute cutting-edge solutions to decentralized ecosystems.
Join us on this thrilling journey into the world of Cosmos. For more updates, visit www.zondax.ch, follow us on X, and LinkedIn.
The interchain is an ecosystem designed to address various challenges in the context of blockchain and offer specific benefits that make it an attractive choice for developers and blockchain-based projects.
Before 2018, when the ecosystem became the pioneer in the concept of Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) with the Cosmos Hub, blockchains were siloed and unable to communicate with each other. They were hard to build and could only handle a small number of transactions per second. Cosmos solves some of the hardest blockchain problems of scalability, usability and interoperability.
At Zondax, we contribute to the development and maintenance of the Cosmos SDK. We collaborate on different SDK modules such as Keys on Keybase, KMS and HSMs, also on the Cryptography module of the SDK and on the Rosetta project that implements the Coinbase Rosetta API.
Interoperability & Customizability
Both, interoperability and customizability within the interchain ecosystem can be likened to the human body where various organs (blockchains) harmoniously communicate through the IBC protocol (the nervous system), creating a fully functional organism with diverse applications. Just as the nervous system guides the organs, using the Interchain Stack, developers can run their own chains, each as unique as an organ. These Zones work at their own pace, have distinct functionalities (consensus mechanisms), and follow their own working system (governance models), enabling the creation of a fine-tuned blockchain.
The interchain was initially envisaged to employ a hub-and-spoke architecture, that allows standalone blockchains to expand horizontally. The approach makes them benefit from the security and consensus features of the Cosmos Hub. It’s a useful solution for addressing scalability challenges often faced by single-chain platforms.
However, by modularising and open-sourcing the Interchain Stack, developers can launch independent, wholly sovereign blockchains using the CometBFT and Cosmos SDK, and securely connecting with other blockchains via the IBC Protocol.
The concept of hub-and-spoke architecture has made a comeback recently, with the launch of Interchain Security — a way to utilize the economic security of one chain, to secure another.
What about Security?
You can think of the security model as a gated community, where each chain acts as its own homeowner’s association. In this neighborhood, security is maintained through a vigilant selection process. Just as homeowners in a gated community can choose their own security providers and customize their protection, each chain in the interchain ecosystem handpicks its validators to guard its blockchain and ensure consensus.
Unlike a conventional neighborhood with a single, uniform security team, where a one-size-fits-all approach might leave some homeowners feeling vulnerable, Cosmos’s approach is more like each homeowner having their own personalized security detail. This allows each chain to tailor its defenses to its unique needs, fostering a sense of trust and security. By decentralizing the security landscape, chains not only bolster the protection but also maintain adaptability, standing as a fortress of innovation compared to other, less flexible security models.
Ease of Development
This number has grown in recent years, as the modularity of the Interchain Security gained traction and more developers have built on the Cosmos SDK. In 2019, there were only around 10 active zones in the Cosmos ecosystem. This number grew to around 50 in 2020, and then to over 100 in 2021. The rapid growth of the interchain in recent years is due to the factors we point to in this blog.
The on-chain governance system built-in by default in all Cosmos SDK app chains can be likened to a grand parliament of token holders, where every token is a vote, and each decision is a piece of legislation. This legislative assembly operates in a transparent, auditable, and decentralized manner, akin to an open forum in a grand hall where the echoes of each debate reverberate through the ages.
In this hallowed chamber, the Cosmos Hub’s governance system plays the role of a central parliament, where key decisions resonate like the heartbeat of the ecosystem. This is not a technical implementation — every appchain in the ecosystem has its own independent governance. However, being one of the first chains in the ecosystem, the Cosmos Hub has become the defacto social capital of the ecosystem — and has overseen crucial matters such as adjusting the inflation rate of ATOM, allocating funds for diverse projects, and introducing innovating features to the ecosystem, by virtue of developing the functionality for the Cosmos Hub.
Beyond this “central parliament”, each appchain is a microcosm of democracy, with its own governance system. For example, the Osmosis zone functions like a town hall meeting, allowing OSMO token holders to submit proposals and cast their votes, shaping the destiny of the Osmosis DEX. In this way, the interchain embraces a decentralized, all-inclusive governance system where the voice of every token holder is a precious thread in the tapestry of decision-making that impacts their blockchain.
Thanks to IBC, developers can create cross-chain applications that have the strengths of multiple blockchains. This innovation allows possibilities in decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and other cutting-edge applications spanning multiple chains.
Community and Support
At Zondax, as part of the core SDK developers, we are dedicated to enhancing various key domains. Our focus extends across hardware wallet support, advancements in cryptography, integration of Rosetta within the Cosmos SDK, and the continual incorporation of the latest technologies and standards. Our ongoing efforts center around modularizing and modernizing the security aspects of the SDK.
Looking ahead, our commitment involves the continuous maintenance of the Cosmos SDK. We are dedicated to addressing any reported issues from contributors in the repository. Additionally, we plan to submit a proposal to refactor the crypto module within the Cosmos SDK in the near future. The primary objectives of this initiative are to enhance modularity, reusability, and maintainability. Throughout this process, we prioritize improving the developer experience and adhering to security best practices.
The proposal provides a comprehensive framework, delineating clear scopes for each component, refining interfaces, enhancing test coverage, and establishing a single source of truth. This strategic approach empowers developers to concentrate on essential tasks while ensuring the secure handling of sensitive data.
The Interchain Foundation serves as the custodian of this expansive decentralized ecosystem. Its primary objectives involve the development and maintenance of foundational protocols for building secure and customized appchains — the free and open-source Interchain Stack.
The interchain enjoys an engaged and active community made by developers, validators, and users. The support and collaboration opportunities inside this community is invaluable for new projects seeking guidance and partnership. You can always find support in their Discord, Telegram, or find useful info in the Cosmos Forum.
To wrap up, Cosmos offers a diverse set of features and advantages that make it an attractive option for blockchain developers and projects. These include flexibility and user-friendliness for application development, the ability to govern your own blockchain, and interoperability.
Whether your goal is to build a blockchain, develop cross-chain applications, or use interchain’s interoperable ecosystem, it provides a robust platform to explore and bring your blockchain ideas to a real project.