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Solidity Blockchain for Dummies: All the Basics Explained

Reading time 3 min
Published Jan 4, 2016
Updated Sep 25, 2019

Before you start learning Solidity, blockchain basics should be covered as well. Understanding how its concepts and processes is crucial for working with smart contracts.

So how does blockchain work? This blockchain for dummies tutorial covers the very basic concepts that you must know before you start to learn blockchain development.

Solidity Blockchain: Main Tips

  • Blockchain is a transactional database. As the name implies, it holds data blocks secured to each other (a chain).
  • Blockchain offers global public access to the information but uses cryptography to make it secure.
  • Blockchain is transparent and democratized: there is no authority of any kind. Everyone has equal opportunities to access the information.
  • With Solidity, blockchain-based Ethereum platform can be used.

The Idea of Blockchain

Blockchain has been around since 2008. It was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. However, this is not their real name. The creator (or a group of them) is actually anonymous, known only by a code name - just like blockchain users.

The technology itself was developed for Bitcoin as a way to manage without a central server or superior authority. However, the principles of decentralization and transparency were appreciated by other sectors as well. Blockchain is now used everywhere from financial to agricultural companies.

Speaking of Blockchain basics, there are a few fundamental concepts to understand:

  • The process of changing anything in the blockchain is a transaction. After it’s done, you cannot edit or delete the record.
  • Blocks are data that enters the chain in intervals. Each block has to be verified and time stamped.

How Transactions Work

When a transaction takes place, it is signed by its creator. This signature is cryptographically secured, so there is no risk of revealing any identities. Users especially appreciate this functionality in money-related transactions.

If you are familiar with blockchain basics, you know transactions must be verified. This process is called consensus. During it, blockchain nodes compare different chains together to validate transactions. A verified transaction means at least 51 percent of the nodes found it valid.

After the transaction is verified, it is run through a hashing algorithm to produce a unique code called a hash.

Blocks that Build the Chain

Finished transactions are stored in the blockchain database. The files used for that are called blocks. Blockchain tutorials often compare them to pages of a record-keeping book (which would be the blockchain itself).

Blocks create a linear sequence, as they are added to the chain regularly. In Ethereum, it happens once every 17 seconds. One block holds data for a few transactions and a link to the previous block. That’s how these records make up the chain. The first block in the chain is called the Genesis Block.

Because each block replicates the data from its forerunner, blockchain is virtually unhackable. To perform an attack successfully, you would need to attack all the blocks at once.

Solidity Blockchain: Summary

  • Blockchain is a public transactional database with global access.
  • Its main principle is decentralization. There are no central servers or superior authorities.
  • While transactional data is transparent, blockchain uses cryptography to protect the identity of its users.
  • With knowledge in Solidity, blockchain-based Ethereum platform can be used to make decentralized applications.