Ripple’s former CTO, Stefan Thomas has launched a new smart contracts platform called Codius and its pretty much going against Ethereum.
Codius was released in beta by Ripple in 2014 and was later discontinued in 2015. After his departure from Ripple in May this year, Thomas started his own company Coil and has now launched Codius as its technical backbone.
Basically, with Codius, Coil aims to change the way websites monetize their content. The process of monetizing web content had always relied on ads, paywalls and user data harvesting however, Codius by using Interledger is changing the game completely.
Interledger is an open protocol suite that was created inside Ripple for sending payments across different ledgers. Interledger is not connected to any specific blockchain, cryptocurrency or company.
With Interledger, Coil plans to allow users’ browsers to make micropayments to the websites they visit which would make developers collect revenue little by little from all the users.
Codius was released on Wednesday along with a number of tutorials to help developers with uploading and hosting the smart contracts and to persuade them to start using the platform.
Reportedly, many developers have already revealed that they will be using the Codius smart contracts platform.
Thomas Scherer, chief architect at Telindus, a Luxembourg-based IT solutions subsidiary of the state-owned Belgian telecom Proximus Group says that Telindus will use Codius to “push forward novel direct e-commerce models.”
Josh William an investor in popular game platforms Unity, Zynga and Kabam says he will be using Codius in new ventures.
“Teams in games and elsewhere are building on Ethereum and running into the cost and scalability issues we’re all familiar with. Codius has great potential in addressing these concerns, and we are eager to work with it,” said William.
Thomas shared similar views saying that Ethereum has demonstrated viability in smart contracts use cases and has let the world see its vulnerabilities as Ethereum-based apps continuously face scaling difficulties.
In contrast to Ethereum, Codius solves scalability issues by allowing developers to write smart contracts in traditional programming languages and have the smart contracts work as “smart oracles”, communicating with outside data sources.
Thomas targeted Ethereum by saying:
“The people that are reaching out to us are saying, ‘Hey, we’re experimenting on Ethereum. We’re running into scalability issues. It’s too expensive, too slow. It’s not flexible enough. We don’t like writing in this awkward language,”’ he said.
Why did Ripple discontinue Codius?
Codius was operating in 2015 even before the Ethereum mainnet was live and at that time the idea seemed premature, according to Thomas. At that time, the Ripple platform was touted as an interoperability model, a platform that could handle not just XRP but other cryptocurrencies too like Bitcoin, Ether and fiat currencies.
The addition of smart contracts misbalanced the technical architecture. Thomas says that building smart contracts in a blockchain was like writing software directly into a database, very difficult.
The Ripple team then realized that the problem could be solved by the “three-tier architecture” which holds a “logic layer” between the database and user interface layers.
It was settled that Codius would serve as that middle layer.
“You would have a bit of code that’s accessing some assets on XRP ledger, that’s accessing some data that’s in Ethereum, and maybe it’s making an HTTP call and so you have a much more flexible architecture. And most importantly you can have those kinds of contracts call other contracts as well,” Thomas added.
However building such platform required an efficient communication between different ledgers, something which was unavailable at that time. So Ripple started working on the open-sourced Interledger Protocol that could allow interoperability between the ledgers.
“We just didn’t feel like smart contracts was a very mature industry at that point…. Frankly, the use cases seemed somewhat dubious in value,’ said Thomas.
For that reason, the Codius smart contacts remained shelved for three years until now when Thomas realized the value of the platform.
Now, he is confident enough to believe that the scaling issues that Ethereum runs into like expensive transaction fees, high latency and lack of scalability are signs that smart contracts are ready “to move away from the mainframes, move away from Ethereum and go over to a more flexible architecture that involves multiple different ledgers.”
Codius is the only platform to emerge over the past few years that could end Ethereum.
Although a number of other projects have offered faster and cheaper transactions, they all involve some kind of trade off, either in the form of security or decentralization.
Thomas believes that developers should be given the option to balance their own priorities rather than complying with the network’s needs. And Codius is giving the developers this freedom.
“You can choose the level of decentralization,” he said. “If you upload it to four or five hosts, you’ll have a decentralization level that’s similar to Ethereum [and] you’ll have a cost that’s still orders of magnitude lower. Or you can upload it to 100 hosts, and you’ll have a much greater level of decentralization than you can get with Ethereum.”
Speaking of security, Thomas argues that Codius is way better than Ethereum and other smart contracts blockchains.
Firstly, the Codius network is made on HyperContainer, an open-source project that uses Docker’s containers to isolate a contract’s code hence minimizing the risks of attacks. And Secondly, Codius developers can use simple programming languages rather than difficult and nascent ones which they are unlikely to know.
“I think that a lot of the issues and compromises, big hacks and so on have been directly related to the fact that these are all new languages whose security’s not very well understood,” said Thomas.
For transaction costs, Thomas compared Ethereum’s price which exceeds 60 cents and even a dollar with that of Amazon Web Services’ Lambda platform’s which costs 20 cents per million requests. Thomas expects Codius’ transaction cost to fall “between those two extremes,” though AWS is centralized.
Codius is the first step towards developing a standard protocol for monetizing web content. It can also make the blockchain technology more mainstream by solving the issue of interoperability between blockchains.
Thomas is optimistic that Codius would solve today’s business problems for developers writing smart contracts.
“From a cost, scalability and security standpoint, as well as the flexibility … it’s orders of magnitude more viable for mainstream use cases.”