Casper Network first Layer-1 blockchain to enable native smart contract debugging

Casper Network first Layer-1 blockchain to enable native smart contract debugging Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

The Casper Association, the Swiss-based organisation that oversees the Casper blockchain and supports its continued decentralisation, has announced the successful 1.5 protocol upgrade.

This upgrade introduced a host of new and improved features, making Casper the only Layer-1 blockchain to enable the debugging of live,  composable smart contracts on mainnet.

“The 1.5 upgrade is a major landmark in our path to creating a blockchain environment that fosters innovation and paves the way for sustainable and impactful solutions to real-world challenges,” said Ralf Kubli, board member at the Casper Association.

The Casper blockchain was designed from the ground up with the ability to be natively upgradeable without network halts or maintenance time. This foundational emphasis on adaptability is evident in the latest upgrade, which introduced features that enable the debugging of smart contracts in production, enhance the developer experience and accelerate time to market. The upgrade also streamlines the node joining process on the network, enhances the chain’s security features, improves the efficiency of redelegating tokens, and allows developers to run transactions against an active blockchain without committing to the results.

First of all, the 1.5 upgrade has introduced the Speculative Execution Endpoint, a new Casper-exclusive feature tailored specifically to the needs of enterprises. By allowing developers to “test against production,” the new “speculative_exec” endpoint can help ensure that contracts are reliable and cost-effective before actual deployment. 

Unique to the Casper Network, the feature could be invaluable to enterprises looking to commit to large-scale deployments on the blockchain. Among them is IPwe, a global financial technology company revolutionising the IP space, that has recently enacted the largest deployment of assets to a blockchain network in history by logging millions of its patent assets as dynamic NFTs on Casper.

Further, the new endpoint also allows developers to calculate an estimate of the amount of gas a transaction will cost as well as execute their transactions against the mainnet to debug contracts — all without committing these changes to the blockchain.

Another significant part of the Casper 1.5 upgrade is a number of enhancements in smart contract security and flexibility aimed at ensuring that the Casper network can support a wider variety of applications and use cases. As a result, smart contracts can now access the list of authorised keys, which is beneficial for multi-signature contracts and role-based security. The maximum stack height, which impacts how contracts run, has also been increased, providing more flexibility and compatibility with certain software packages.

On its part, the new Fast Sync feature allows nodes to join and participate in the Casper network more swiftly. Traditionally, nodes had to store all data from the beginning of the blockchain, but now they can join closer to the most recent block — or the “tip” of the chain.

Fast Sync makes the network more robust and decentralised, addressing challenges faced by chains like Ethereum, including long node synchronisation times and state bloat. The fast sync feature also reduces the time to live (TTL) period from 24 hours to 18 hours, enhancing the network’s sustainability and making it more efficient. This functionality can also considerably reduce the time required to set up a new node as well as allows operators to reduce the disk space needed for a node. It also introduces a much more powerful disaster recovery functionality, ensuring that critical work is not lost due to outages.

Following the upgrade to Casper 1.5, the delegator limit per validator — the number of users who can stake their coins with a node operator — has also been increased from 952 to 1200, and the process of re-delegating from one validator to another has been simplified. In particular, this removes the need for two separate calls to the blockchain, further increasing efficiency and making it easier for users to participate in the network and manage their stakes.

Finally, a series of miscellaneous updates, including the release of Casper-Client v2.0.0, Casper-types (v3.0.0), and JS SDK – 2.13.3, now allows developers and node operators to access the latest tools and features to build on and maintain the Casper network. These updates have also enhanced security, functionality, and overall performance.

Casper’s focus on the need to provide unique controls and data sensitivity around enterprise-level data drove the push to v1.5 and will continue to evolve the blockchain network over time as it enters into a state of constant upgradeability, unhampered by any maintenance periods. Recently, Casper has also secured a number of major partnerships with IBM, the Indian State of Telangana, Smart Media Labs, and many others.

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