Earlier, we reported that Telegram developers sent a letter to investors telling about the testing process of the TON blockchain platform. A limited number of companies received access to it in April. At the same time, Telegram laid out in open access a set for TON developers. A full launch of the platform is scheduled for the third quarter of this year.
The Bell has examined the TON technical documentation and structured all available information.
- 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 Storage 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.
- Safety All data will be encrypted using modern elliptical cryptography schemes. Encryption is also provided by the Fift programming language 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. Not ready and interface solutions. About how it all will look at the end of the year in the Telegram messenger, not a word is said.
HOW WILL THE PLATFORM LOOK 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”;
- TON Payments will provide an opportunity not to activate the wallet, but not to lose the funds being transferred. The translation will simply find the user after activation, and until then it will hang in the blockchain. This technical detail in theory allows you to run TON parts in different markets, including the ability to activate selectively.
HOW A TON NETWORK IS DESIGNED?
- To transfer funds, a blockchain and a smart contract are involved in it.
- Typically, a blockchain is a list of related blocks, but in TON it is something more. Nikolai Durov calls TON “blockchain blockchains” – in addition to the main chain, up to 2 ^ 32 working blockchains (workchains) are possible, each of which can be divided into 2 ^ 60 “fragments” (shardchains). This complexity is needed to secure millions of transactions per second. For comparison, in February 2019, the Bitcoin blockchain approached a record 4.7 transactions per second.
- A smart contract is a self-executing contract. Technically, in TON a smart contract is a program with executable code in a specially created for TON Fift language and data. The smart contract is necessarily secured with Gram cryptocurrency.
- Smart contract does not work without cryptocurrency. While in TON there are no real people with money, so the test giver special entity operates in the test network, issuing up to 20 Gram to anyone who wants to write and test their smart contract.
- The smart contract file is sent to the Telegram Open Network Virtual Machine (TON VM or TVM) virtual machine, which then monitors its execution.
- Everything happens as quickly as possible. The smart contract is written in the Fift stack language, but the program itself inside the TVM virtual machine also compiles, turning into an even faster machine code (TVM is a stack machine that works particularly well with small similar tasks).
- All this is very well encrypted using elliptical cryptography. More precisely, according to two schemes. The first is EdDSA25519, which allows you to issue tens and hundreds of thousands of signatures per second, which is important for network speed (the well-known secure mail service ProtonMail recently wrote about elliptical cryptography as a synonym for the latest achievements in this area). The second scheme is Curve25519 for asymmetric cryptography (more or less the principles of operation are set forth here).
- Fift has built-in support for strong cryptography and the ability to work with the TON blockchain platform. And thanks to the use of a virtual machine, a scalable system is obtained that can be infinitely expanded and varied.
IN WHAT CONDITION IS THE 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 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, the fourth, because of the limitations of the operating system. Fift, obviously, means “fifth” (fifth), but in a shortened form according to the same principle.
WHAT DO WE 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;
- May 23, TON virtual machine and Fift programming language descriptions (used to manage smart contracts);
- March dated a brief description of the TON features and a full description of the blockchain.