June 02, 2019

How the test version of Telegram blockchain platform works

Last week, Telegram sent investors a letter in which they told about the testing progress of the TON blockchain platform. A limited number of companies received access to it in April.

The platform is preparing to launch in the third quarter of 2019. This is dangerously close to the deadline - if the platform does not start before October 31, Durov will have to return $ 1.7 billion to investors.

Here are conclusions about the future of the Durov brothers' blockchain platform drawn from TON's technical documentation:

Main findings

  • Ecosystem. TON aims to become an ecosystem that replaces the usual web. It provides not only its own services and applications, but also something similar to sites, and with them something similar to a web with browsers.
    External services can be accessed through special gateways in TON. At the same time, TON will be easy to integrate into existing applications.
  • Services. TON will have a lot of services, but the TON Payments payment system and the associated cryptographic network will be the key service for the end users. Together with TON DNS (a system that helps convert addresses of a blockchain platform to a readable form), these are the most thoughtful services in the overview file.
    TON file storage will almost certainly be running. There will be bots running in TON without human intervention. TON services will be integrated into Telegram, but the instant messenger will not be the only mass application. The documentation provides a “hypothetical” example of a Facebook counterpart on the TON platform.
  • Speed. The TON architecture allows for unprecedented transaction speed — millions of transactions per second. Such volumes and speeds make sense only in the case of simultaneous use of a cryptoplatform by hundreds of millions of people.
  • Security. All data will be encrypted using modern elliptical cryptography schemes. Encryption is also provided by the programming language "Fift" specially created for TON.
  • Willingness. Low-level procedures (creating a smart contract, viewing existing, transfer of funds) are ready. But it is unlikely that TON has already written a lot of services and products of a high or even medium level - for example, typical smart contracts of varying complexity, marketplace or payment systems and cloud storage.

What will the platform look like for the end user?

The technical description is devoting only six pages to the TON service part. According to them, one gets the impression of a deep infrastructure forethought:

  • it is assumed that external applications will be able to work through TON, for this purpose special gateways will be created between the TON ecosystem and the outside world;
  • hybrid applications that can work both in TON and outside of it (so-called fog services or fog services) can appear.
  • Telegram will technically become a TON-service, the TON Payments payment system and the TON Proxy proxy are “foggy services”;

What is the state of development?

As far as can be judged, a virtual machine is almost ready - a software simulation of a computer implementing the necessary platform. All low level procedures are ready or almost ready. The basis for the blockchain client is also ready, although it has yet to be integrated into the instant messenger.

The technical documentation does not list the types of standard smart contracts - from deposits to auctions. It seems that this is the main concern of TON developers at the moment - without this, the cryptoeconomics of the product is impossible.

Why is the programming language called Fift?

As far as can be judged, the name of the TON virtual machine control language is a joke. It is similar to the FORTH programming language , which is so called because of the need to shorten the word fourth, because of the limitations of the operating system. Fift, obviously, means “fifth”, but in a shortened form according to the same principle.

What is this based on?

On 495 pages of technical documentation and more than 20-page instructions for creating contracts. All four big documents are signed in the name of Nikolay Durov - the brother of Pavel Durov. At the end of April on the site test.ton.org were posted:

  • the source code of the preliminary version of the “easy” client TON with the necessary parts of the library (the source code occupies 27 megabytes, the lion's share falls on the RocksDB database and the Abseil library; the programming language is C ++);
  • client configuration file;
  • step-by-step instructions for creating smart contracts in TON;
  • TON virtual machine and Fift programming language descriptions (used to manage smart contracts);
  • A brief description of the TON features and a full description of the blockchain.

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