Blockfrost: A Dominant Player Building Developer Tools for Mass Adoption

Charles Hoskinson once stated, Cardano is taking the island, the ocean, and the pond approach to attract developers into its ecosystem. He also mentioned that there’s over 22 million developers scattered across the globe, writing in various different programming languages.  The idea is not to influence all of these developers to ditch their language and begin learning Haskell, the native language of Cardano, but to build bridges for these developers to utilize the Cardano blockchain in the language of their choosing. A company by the name of Five Binaries is looking to take this challenge head on with a slew of proposals that the broader community may be overlooking. 

Who are Five Binaries?

Five Binaries is an infrastructure development company focused on creating customized highly reliable solutions for blockchain-powered industries. They design, build, and maintain highly reliable and reproduce infrastructure using declarative approach. Their solutions are based on Nix, which provides a myriad of advantages over other solutions such as reliable atomic upgrades, rollbacks and immutable system configurations. 

Five Binaries are also experts in software localization into different languages. They have experience building, running and supporting many Cardano-based projects such as stake pool operation or oracle nodes. They are part of the Cardano ecosystem, where they propose CIPs and contribute to related projects on GitHub. Five Binaries is operated by one of the most well-respected community members in the Cardano ecosystem, Marek Mahut. Mahut is also the Stakepool Operator of StakeNuts. These Cardano pioneers were one of the first stakepools on ITN,  one of first Shelly transactions on the mainnet, the first Cardano block minted on an aeroplane and the first native asset minted on Cardano. Their client base is diverse, with customers such as Trezor, Emurgo, Ergo Foundation and Holo.


One of Five Binaries projects is Blockfrost, which contributes to the creation of APIs for Cardano decentralized blockchain. It is an instant, public and freely Accessible API that removes infrastructure obstacles for developers so that they can build dapps for Cardano. It is a hosted API, meaning that developers don’t have to spend time building and setting up infrastructure needed to run their own API, but can focus on developing these apps.

Since accessing and processing information stored on the blockchain is not easy, Blockfrost provides a connection between users and the blockchain data, lessening the issue of complexity. Users therefore, have the chance to focus on developing their applications, which is more important. Blockfrost is looking to support development on the Cardano blockchain by providing  public APIs with varying pricing to serve its users. The first package is free, meant to target new developers whose main aim is to build apps and learn through the process. 

Blockfrost is already seeing an overwhelming demand as more than 500 developers have registered to utilize their developer tools. The Blockfrost tool kits are already gaining traction as it was recently identified the hottest Non-Fungible Token (NFT) project, Spacebudz, used Blockfrost APIs. In a back and forth exchange on Twitter between Blockfrost and Alessandro, the creator of Spacebudz, Alessandro stated:

“I do use it! I wanted to make a post about it soon which APIs I use, but now you know. It is extremely helpful and made stuff for me easier. Thank you! :)”

Blockfrost Fund 4 Proposals

On March 2nd, Five Binaries submitted 15 proposals to Project Catalyst’s IdeaScale. Most of the proposals seek to provide developers with the required tools to allow them to fully enjoy Blockfrost.  Blockfrost offers free Cardano APIs, lacking the right tools to use the service is counterproductive, as its full potential is not utilized. This is shortchanging the developers who would otherwise have more functional and innovative products under the Cardano platform, were the case different.

The general proposal is an open-source Software Development Kit (SDK) for different programming languages such that all developers have the same tools that allow them to fully enjoy Blockfrost and the services it offers. An SDK provides a set of tools, libraries, relevant documentation, code samples, processes, and guides that allow developers to create software applications on a specific platform. 

These proposals are; Python SDK, Java SDK, Rust SDK, Elixir SDK, PHP SDK, Golang SDK, Kotlin SDK, .NET SDK, JavaScript SDK, Arduino SDK, Ruby SDK, Scala SDK, Kaskel SDK, Swift SDK, and a Yoroi Blockfrost bridge.

Five Binaries plan is to deliver the first stable version of the SDK within a month of getting the funding. The amount requested is different for each SDK project. For example, for Swift, JavaScript and Scala the request is $9,500 while projects such as Java and Haskell are requesting $8,000. 

The differences in budget depends on the number of engineering hours needed. For instance, projects requesting $9,500 estimate that 80 engineering hours will be needed to complete the variables while those requesting $8,000 estimate 70 engineering hours. However, the standard pay rate per hour will be 100 EUR. This rate apart from settling engineers’ salaries, also caters for infrastructure costs, office rent, accounting and taxes. 

The first version of the SDK will include 100% coverage of all Blockfrost API endpoints including tests and documentation. Five Binaries will also continue working and maintaining each SDK through 2021. The main key performance indicator for these projects will be the number of downloads per month. The target is to have at least ten downloads in the first month after the release of a project, and maintain this number throughout the year.

Yoroi Blockfrost Bridge

This proposal is different from the rest. According to Five Binaries, Yoroi development often requires full stack Cardano node and DB sync, since Yoroi implements only a basic subset of available endpoints. The proposal is to build a bridge between Yoroi and Blockfrost so that developers can use extended endpoints set to develop advanced features more easily. 

Currently, developers who would like to run the local version of Yoroi backend are required to set up and maintain the full Cardano nodes as well as the Cardano DB sync. The process is very time and resource consuming. Therefore, with the bridge, Blockfrost will allow developers the freedom to use all the features and data within the Cardano blockchain without the need of setting up the entire infrastructure. 

The budget for this project is $6,500 and 55 engineering hours are estimated to be enough to complete the deliverables. The funds will be used to pay engineers’ salaries, office rent, infrastructure cost, accounting and taxes.

The Impact of proposals

The SDK proposals are meant to benefit all developers in the Cardano platform, especially those who use Blockfrost API. The lack of the right tools to develop apps on the ecosystem has diverse negative effects that can be tied down to the adaptability of Cardano to its market and the ability to attract users.

In the blockchain space, there needs to be constant innovation as the space is constantly changing. Failure to this, users migrate to the platforms that serve their needs and offer more applications that allow them to learn, trade, and earn. 

In the recent past, more and more open-source blockchains have been created allowing for developers to build their blockchains there. Cardano is one of the oldest blockchains, and has most of these features. However, it has not attracted these massive numbers and is losing out in users, growth and impact on the blockchain and society at large.

The creation of these tools will allow developers to explore the Cardano ecosystem and create dapps that serve the current needs of the market. It could prove to be one of the catalysts to attract more developers to the Cardano platform, seeing that the development process will be easier. These projects cover many programming languages, hence more developers will be targeted and empowered.

The Yoroi Blockfrost bridge on the other hand targets the popular Cardano wallet. The shortcomings of this wallet can limit the quality of developments when it comes to upgrades. If the developers are faced with these time consuming and resource needing challenges, many will not be inclined to try solve any issues that arise. The result is a wallet that is not serving the needs of its users and not at par to market standards. 

There is a serious need for these developments to be made in order for Cardano to compete at the next level. These developments could contribute to an influx of more developers who can introduce more dapps to the ecosystem, and increase the activities on the Cardano platform. If there are more dapps built on Cardano, more people in the blockchain space will realize the value it brings, and be more inclined to using the platform and the applications on it.

If you’d like to know more information or have questions/comments regarding the bundle of Blockfrost proposals, check out the link provided:

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