Making Bitcoin contracts easier for developers, with sCrypt's Xiaohui Liu

sCrypt’s Xiaohui Liu is ‘super excited’ about Bitcoin in 2023

sCrypt had a big year in 2022, and founder Xiaohui Liu expects even bigger things this 2023. The tools he and his team have created for developers invite thousands of newcomers to try out Bitcoin and could eventually see Bitcoin SV (BSV) becoming like Amazon Web Services (AWS) for blockchain apps. He says his goal is to see developers bring ideas from concept to working applications in just a few months—or even weeks.

He said BSV has probably benefitted from the declining interest in other chains that happened “all of a sudden, out of nowhere.” The digital asset market remains in a big downturn, while individual companies and blockchains have suffered numerous glitches and scandals.

“For Bitcoin to succeed, we don’t have to do anything. We just have to survive long enough, and all the other blockchains, they just kind of implode, without us doing anything.”

Just build, show people what we can do

Xiaohui divides his highlights for 2022 into sections. There was the period leading up to the Global Blockchain Convention in Dubai, his first Bitcoin conference in years, and a chance to reconnect with many people he hadn’t seen in years.

In Dubai, Xiaohui introduced the sCrypt Transpiler (to a standing ovation). The Transpiler is a tool that converts Solidity contracts written for Ethereum into Bitcoin-compatible sCrypt code, allowing developers to port any application they wrote for Ethereum to the BSV blockchain. He also demonstrated that BSV has the capability to run entirely other blockchain networks on its own chain. There’s been an amount of interest in BSV from other blockchain developers interested in migrating their applications.

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Developers and users just want something that works, Xiaohui says, and as long as they’re not idealogues in favor of one network over another, just showing what Bitcoin can do is good enough for them.

Post-Dubai, the highlight was realizing that Bitcoin can also run Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs), providing cryptographic proof that data exists without revealing it. This is significant as it allows users to prove they own pieces of potentially private or sensitive information (like IDs, confidential or proprietary data) and use it without uploading the data itself to public blockchain records.

It’s like the difference between chess, where all players can see all the moves, and games like poker and Battleship, where the game only works if some existent information is hidden from the other player. You can’t put this hidden information on the public blockchain, but you still need some way to prove it’s true.

Xiaohui says ZKPs are “like a mathematical magical box.” It’s a fairly new concept, and running it on a blockchain network is difficult since it involves heavy computation work. But BSV can do it, and to Xiaohui that opens up a new universe of potential applications, even allowing Bitcoin to provide Amazon Web Services-level support for blockchain apps.

This way, if a developer wants to build an on-chain game, all they need to do is write the game logic itself. All the blockchain interactions, like wallet interactions and transaction broadcasting, can happen with sCrypt’s toolkits and APIs. The goal is to make this as simple as creating any “Web 2.0” application, the kind that dominates the internet today.

“I’m very bullish on games for Bitcoin,” he says, since they’re a medium that attracts a lot of attention from the outside world. Also, people should need to see that games can be trusted before sending their life savings to some blockchain DeFi platform.

sCrypt in 2022 also co-organized the Zero-Knowledge Hackathon, which encouraged developers to try something new and build working prototypes for a $45,000 prize pool. Xiaohui was impressed by the level of interest and hopes that the Hackathon can become an annual event.

One other highlight towards the end of 2022 was when sCrypt launched scryptTS, a tool that lets developers write contract code in the more familiar TypeScript language (which adds types to JavaScript). scryptTS integrates TypeScript/Javascript libraries seamlessly, making for easier creation and debugging. Xiaohui hopes this brings in even more newcomers than sCrypt’s Transpiler for Solidity.

In 2023, developing Bitcoin contracts will get easier

Xiaohui is optimistic about 2023 because he says it will mark Bitcoin’s transition from mostly technical and theoretical discussions about what’s possible to see the first usable applications appear.

One of the most depressing issues in Bitcoin until now has been the “so how do I do it?” question, he says. You can produce nuclear energy by applying Einstein’s theory of relativity, but there are still some large gaps between knowing that formula and building a working power plant. Providing building tools for BSV apps allows developers to come over and experiment without having to learn years of detail first.

Xiaohui’s biggest wish for 2023 is what you’d expect from a developer, and that’s to focus more on the tech, more people tinkering, building, and less focus on things like ideological controversies and court cases.

“That’s why I’m saying I’m super excited about 2023. We kind of handled things in previous years, but this year we’re going to make it ten times, even hundreds of times, bigger. If we’ve done our job right, there could be thousands of new people joining (BSV) in the next year or two.”

Watch: London Blockchain Conference 2023 – Bringing government and enterprise ono the blockchain

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