This is the first in a series of articles that will help explain our motivation, what Valence is, how it fits in with NavCoin, and why we’re so excited about the potential this platform offers our project, and the wider vision of blockchain.
We’ve been designing this platform for nearly a year, so there’s a lot to digest. We want you to take the time to see the scope of what we’re trying to achieve. It’s going to be a process, but this article is the first piece of the puzzle which we’re excited to share with you.
At a very high level: Valence is a platform that will allow ourselves and other developers to build applications that leverage blockchain in a way that hasn’t been done before. The idea for the platform grew from necessity as the NavCoin Core Developers planned more NavCoin applications which use blockchain to store and share decentralised data. It quickly became apparent we would require a platform like Valence to make these applications possible.
The current paradigm of building blockchain applications means you need to be highly skilled in multiple fields — Math, Economics, Cryptography and Computer Science — to build even the most basic of applications. On top of which there’s countless hours of research needed to understand how to correctly apply blockchain and smart contracts effectively within your application or business. This high barrier to entry severely limits adoption and slows down innovation. Our goal is to create a simplified platform that enables businesses and developers focus on what they do best — building great software, while letting Valence handle the complexities.
How the NavTech Subchain works
One of NavCoin’s flagship features is optional private payments, using an application that the NavCoin Core Developers created called ‘NavTech’.
Here’s how it works. When you choose to send a private transaction, it goes through the following steps:
- Your NAV gets sent to a NavTech server instead of the address you entered.
- This server runs the NavTech application as well as our second blockchain — called the ‘Subchain’ — and forwards the payment information to a second server for fulfilment.
- This payment information gets from one NavTech server to another by sending a Subchain Coin with the encrypted payment information attached.
- This second server then reads the encrypted instruction sent to it on the Subchain and authorises NAV to be sent from its wallet to the intended recipient, knowing there is the equivalent NAV received already into the pool by a different server.
Sending a transaction through NavTech completely disconnects the sender and receiver by relaying encrypted data on the Subchain. Anyone can create a NavTech server, it’s open source, and it’s powered by a decentralised blockchain.
Figure 1: Existing mono-purpose Subchain
For a more in-depth explainer on the technology behind the NavTech private payments, see the article: A Guide to NavTech.
The Subchain’s Evolution: Valence
This second blockchain has been successfully running for a while now, since 2015, but the scope of what it can do is currently somewhat limited. It’s only designed for storing and broadcasting NavTech’s encrypted payment information.
To build additional applications which store encrypted data on the NavTech Subchain — like NavMorph, NavChange and NavDelta — the NavCoin Core Developers realised we would need to fundamentally re-engineer the NavTech Subchain.
We need to extend our second blockchain’s capabilities in a way that makes it open and flexible for a range of applications and data beyond the scope of NavTech’s private payments. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as just writing additional data to the existing Subchain. To achieve a scalable and sustainable solution we need to completely rework the blockchain and network architecture to optimise for performance while managing large amounts of distributed application data.
We have spent a lot of time researching the best way to do this and also how to open it up for uses beyond the NavCoin family of apps. The result is Valence.
Figure 2: Proposed Valence multipurpose blockchain
In this new model, Valence forms the data layer of each application and can accept a range of data types. Unlike other application blockchains (e.g. Ethereum and EOS) which use virtual machines to execute your Dapp’s logic, Valence allows you to build your app however you want, with no need for a virtual machine. Instead, new models of smart contracts will be baked in to the core software, creating safe but innovative ways to apply conditional payments based on the distributed ledger.
When we looked at the future use cases of blockchain we saw that the majority of applications simply won’t need all of their logic to be stored on the blockchain. Doing so has its purpose, but blockchain has many more possibilities beyond running DAOs and ICOs. Using these models to fund and manage an organisation has proven to be a risky affair for both businesses and investors, and it’s often not the best way to incorporate blockchain into existing business models.
With Valence, you don’t need to put all of your app onto the blockchain. It’s more about putting the important parts on the blockchain then having the platform provide safe and tested ways to interact with the blockchain and smart contracts.
The goal here is to increase the ways blockchain and smart contracts can be applied to real life use cases, making all the benefits that blockchain technology can offer easily accessible to application developers, businesses, and their clients.
You can build whatever you want, however you want, and Valence will offer a range of tools that provide extended functionality to your application — crowdfunding mechanisms, user data management, privacy methods, and much more. As an open source project, Valence will be able to integrate additional features based on the needs of app developers and the community, test them to ensure they are robust, and then make it available to everyone who builds on the platform.
Why does Valence run its own blockchain?
We don’t believe that there will be one blockchain to rule them all. A blockchain that tries to do everything ends up doing nothing well. The NavCoin Core Developers remain focused on making NavCoin the best payment platform on the planet, and Valence is being built to facilitate the next generation of blockchain driven applications and websites. While these two purposes share some of the same requirements, their optimal architecture will always remain fundamentally different.
A fitting analogy can be drawn using cars — you might ask yourself, why isn’t there only one type of car? Aren’t they all designed to get us from A to B? In reality, people need vehicles for different purposes which is why there are so many makes and models.
NavCoin is designed to be like a sports car — fast, agile and sleek. While Valence is more like a freight truck — it’s designed specifically to be a powerhouse that manages large amounts of application data.
We hope after reading this you have started to understand our vision for Valence and where we’re heading this year. In our next article of this introduction series — we plan to talk about how Valence enables advanced NavCoin Applications, and how they will work together.
You can check out our second article in the series on Valence here: https://valenceplatform.org/learn/building-smarter-blockchain-apps/