This book has one goal. To teach the theory and practice of distributed ledger technology to anyone interested in learning this fascinating new subject. Whether a seasoned technologist, student, business executive or merely an enthusiast; anyone with an interest in blockchain technology can benefit from this book. To this end, I aim to provide a comprehensive and in-depth reference of distributed ledger technology that not only serves the expert, but is also accessible for beginners. I especially focus on describing the core characteristics of blockchain, so that readers can establish a strong foundation on which to build further knowledge and expertise. I also envisage that with this approach, the book will remain useful in the future despite constant advancements. Some of these core topics include core blockchain principles, cryptography, consensus algorithms, distributed systems theory, and smart contracts. In addition, practical topics such as programming smart contracts in Solidity, building blockchain networks, using blockchain development frameworks such as Truffle, and writing decentralized applications, also constitute a significant part of this book. Moreover, many different types of blockchain, related use cases and cross-industry applications of blockchain technology have been discussed in detail.
This approach makes this book a unique blend of theoretical principles and hands-on applications. After reading this book, readers will not only be able to understand the technical underpinnings of this technology, but will also be empowered to write smart contract code and build blockchain networks themselves. Practitioners can use this book as a reference, and it can also serve as a textbook for students wishing to learn this technology. Indeed, some institutions have adopted the second edition of this book as a primary textbook for their courses on blockchain technology.
Soon after the advent of blockchain technology, several texts were written on the subject. However, they mostly concentrated on a specific aspect of blockchain technology, such as cryptocurrencies. Especially between 2015 and 2017, no single text was available that could provide a detailed account of the whole picture of blockchain technology.
To fill this gap, the first edition of this book was written in 2017. In 2018, due to rapid development in the area of blockchain technology, the need was felt to update the book. As a result, the second edition of the book was published in early 2018 with some important updates. Inevitably, since the publication of the second edition, blockchain technology has evolved quite significantly. Some of the ideas that contributed to the evolution of blockchain technology include novel cryptographic protocols, new consensus algorithms, new privacy techniques, and extensive work on scalability. Moreover, innovative types of blockchain, developed to address limitations in the underlying technology, have emerged, along with a deep interest in the adoption of blockchain technology in enterprise settings. Each of these changes inspired us to update the book again with the latest industry developments.
This book has four new chapters on some of the latest topics, including consensus algorithms, Ethereum 2.0, tokenization, and enterprise blockchains.
Moreover, all chapters have been thoroughly revised, and various new topics, including a discussion on new blockchains or cryptocurrencies, such as Tezos, EOS, and Quorum, are now part of the book package. Also, many additional details on oracles, cryptography, scalability, and privacy techniques have been added. Some of the older material that is not quite so relevant today has been removed. We have also created a bonus online content pack, which contains academic slides and review questions and answers, which will enable teachers to use this book readily as an academic textbook. In addition, the bonus content includes advanced material on alternative coins, full end to end decentralized application development using Solidity, Truffle and Drizzle, and an exploration of various alternative blockchain platforms. I encourage the readers to read this book in conjunction with the online content, which can be found here: https://static.packt-cdn.com/downloads/Altcoins_Ethereum_Projects_and_More_Bonus_Content.pdf. This will enable them to fully benefit from this book.
I hope that this book will serve technologists, teachers, students, scientists, developers, business executives, and indeed anyone who wants to learn about this fascinating technology well for many years to come.