Since our last update in Q4 2022, there have been several important developments. Just last month, L2 Rollup heavy-weight Matter Labs changed the landscape of L2 Rollups by open sourcing the latest version of their zkRollup tech. Meanwhile, a lot of mind blowing work has been done by big and small tech companies alike to bring AI to the masses, it’s everywhere!
We’re looking forward to sharing our roadmap for the rest of 2023, but before we dive into all the exciting things we’re working on right now let’s take a brief look at what we’ve accomplished in the last few months.
Last year we launched CryptoZombies Live events. These are instructor-led online classes covering an assortment of blockchain related topics such as Solidity, Ethereum, Layer 2, and more! During these events the instructors build a simple web3 project in real-time, and answer questions from the participants as they go along. The participants also have the opportunity to network and collaborate before and after the coding session in the CryptoZombies Metaverse.
In the past six months, CryptoZombies Live has hosted several successful events covering a variety of topics such as:
- Building a Trust Fund in Solidity to run on Ethereum, presented by Ed Zynda.
- Building CryptoZombies using Scrypto — a framework built on Rust, to run on the Radix DLT blockchain, presented by Omar Abdulla.
- Building an NFT Gallery using Alchemy — a powerful set of web3 development tools, with a React + NextJS frontend, presented by Vitto Rivabella.
- Building a token balance & transaction history app using Quicknode, presented by Radek Sienkiewicz.
These events have seen a fair bit of engagement from the participants, so we’ll be looking to host more of them in the CryptoZombies Metaverse in the coming months.
Aside from the live events, the CryptoZombies team has been gradually improving the UX of the online coding school. They just shipped an update last week to improve navigation through the course curriculum. This update is part of a larger overhaul to make it easier to navigate the ever expanding curriculum!
Our research and development of zkRollup based scaling solutions began in earnest around two and a half years ago when the first practical applications of zero knowledge proofs started to appear in the Ethereum ecosystem. zkSync by Matter Labs, and LoopRing, were some of the first to launch a zkRollup, though their initial capabilities were quite limited.
At the time, we already had a fair bit of in-house experience in building Ethereum scaling tech. We launched one of the first Plasma Cash capable side-chains, which was a precursor to today’s optimistic rollups that underpin well known projects like Optimism and Arbitrum. With much enthusiasm, we set out to integrate zkRollup into the Loom protocol based on existing research.
Our time estimates for building our own zkRollup based protocol from scratch were off by quite a bit, forcing us to delay launching our new EVM-compatible testnet multiple times.
Throughout this time, we’ve been keeping a close eye on Matter Labs’ zkRollup development. Last month they officially released zkSync Era, an EVM-compatible zkRollup for scaling Ethereum. They also open sourced their smart contracts, sequencer, prover, and GPU accelerator, basically everything needed to spin up your own zkRollup.
zkSync Era is quite a game changer. Matter Labs have been laser focused on building zkRollups for years now, and by open sourcing their work they’ve solidified their commitment to decentralization. We’ve been reviewing and experimenting with the code for the last few weeks to figure out if it could serve as the foundation of our new testnet.
Loom SDK Update
The Road Ahead
The CryptoZombies team is currently working on finishing the overhaul of the UX on CryptoZombies.io so the long awaited updates to the existing Ethereum and Solidity courses to take advantage of the latest and greatest APIs and tools in the Ethereum ecosystem are expected to roll out on May 8th 2023.
The content team has also been busy this quarter working out the details of new courses that will introduce developers to even more blockchain protocols outside Ethereum, expect announcements in Q2 2023 🙂
The team is always on the lookout for projects that are interested in running an online study session on the CryptoZombies Live event platform, so we expect to see more events in the near future!
Earlier this week, following a month-long evaluation of the zkSync Era project the blockchain engineering team made the decision to use it as the foundation of the new Loom testnet. While zkSync Era is still in alpha, and a few important features are yet to be implemented, we believe it’s the most promising path forward for a number of reasons:
- zkSync has permissive licensing (dual licensed under Apache and MIT open source licenses), which allows anyone to modify and optimize zkSync for their needs.
- Most Solidity smart contract should work on zkSync with no code changes. Client-side some of the existing Ethereum tooling must be adapted to submit transactions, but Matter Labs have already done so to a large extent.
- zkSync has a built-in ability to charge transaction fees in a any token, not just ETH.
- Matter Labs has opted to make similar tradeoffs to Loom Network in terms of EVM compatibility, protocol throughput, security, and decentralization.
We expect to launch our public zkSync based testnet on June 5th 2023, our testnet (L2) will be connected to Ethereum’s Goerli testnet (L1). Shortly after the initial launch we’ll deploy a few demo applications including a DEX, an NFT marketplace, and a token bridge, in order to allow developers to test out the network.
The testnet launch will be followed by a 3-month evaluation period where we’ll onboard a limited number of third-party developers while analyzing the stability, performance, and resiliency of the protocol.
During the evaluation period we’ll also be working out how to properly decentralize the new protocol to support DPoS, this will be a key requirement for upgrading our mainnet to the new protocol. There are still a lot of unknows that make it difficult to accurately estimate when the testnet will be feature complete, but for now we’re aiming for Q4 of this year.
Mark Zuckerberg might be regretting rebranding his company to Meta now that he seems to have lost interest in building out his own Metaverse. But Tim Sweeney from Epic Games thinks the Metaverse is more than just hype, and we believe he makes a good case for it.
Not everyone agrees on what exactly constitutes the Metaverse, but as an infrastructure provider our goal is not to create some narrow definition of the Metaverse. Rather, we aim to provide the substrate on which third-party developers can grow their own little worlds filled with digital assets that can be used or traded across the Metaverse.
The Loom Metaverse platform leverages cross-chain NFTs to ensure that virtual items are not trapped in small enclaves within the Metaverse, and makes it dead simple to integrate blockchain-backed digital assets and NFT-based privilege systems into tailored Metaverse experiences. The platform will provide high level APIs that are easy to integrate into games, apps, and low-code/no-code app builders so artists and developers don’t have to concern themselves with the nitty gritty details of smart contracts.
We’re building the initial set of platform APIs to support the CryptoZombies Metaverse, once those APIs have stabilized on the new zkRollup testnet we’ll start inviting third-party developers to help us refine the platform further.
Everyone is talking about AI this year, some see it as the beginning of the end of human civilization, others see it as a boon to productivity. Here at Loom Network our developers have already spent a bit of time trying out GitHub’s Copilot, a tool designed to help developers write code faster by leveraging AI, initial reports from the team are very positive!
The great thing about this AI wave is that it’s all quite accessible, the online LLM like ChatGPT can be integrated with other tools and data using libraries like LangChain to build some very neat stuff in short amount of time, even if you don’t have your own GPU cluster/warehouse on site.
Here are just some of the ways we’ll be looking to leverage AI tooling in-house:
- AI powered monitoring and troubleshooting tools to help detect and resolve issues with our mainnet and testnets.
- AI assistant to answer questions about the content of any course in the CryptoZombies curriculum, in real-time.
- AI powered code reviewer to detect errors in student code and suggest improvements as they work they way through the CryptoZombies courses.
This year is shaping up to be quite a memorable one. Our very own zkRollup testnet slated for launch in June, Metaverse platform APIs going public soon after, and more CryptoZombies content for everyone!
Loom Network is building a Metaverse platform backed by an ecosystem of public blockchains to allow developers to create unique Metaverse experiences with blockchain-backed digital assets, virtual items and NFT-based privilege systems. A key part of this platform is our Basechain network — already live in production, audited, and battle-tested.
New to Loom? Start here.
Want to stake your LOOM tokens so you can earn rewards while helping secure Basechain? Find out how. You can also save a bunch in transactions fees by staking LOOM from Binance Smart Chain, more on that here.
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