AMA Recap: Ishan Tiwari w/FMFW.io
On Wednesday, September 7th, Ishan Tiwari, Lead Backend Developer at Lisk, attended a Twitter Space AMA with FMFW.io. Ishan answered questions from both FMFW.io and the community regarding the history of Lisk, the status of its development, and applications within the Lisk Ecosystem.
This blog post is a transcript of the entire AMA session.
FMFW.io: Hi, everyone. Welcome to today's AMA that is powered by FMFW.io, where we discuss the ins and outs of crypto, bringing you meaningful and mission driven conversation based on truth and growth. I am Bogdan Popa, I'm your host today and I'm very excited to get into today's episode.
Before we get into the episode, it's important to mention the following disclaimer. This AMA is not for financial advice, nor any offer or solicitation to purchase an interest in any entity or investment vehicle. This AMA is for the purpose of informing users of activities occurring on FMFW.io and for educational purposes only.
Without further ado, welcome to today's episode. It's a pleasure to be joined by no other than Ishan Tiwari Lisk's Lead SDK Developer, and he's here to talk to us about Lisk's latest growth on the development site, bringing builders together on the Lisk blockchain and a lot more. Ishawn, how are you doing?
Ishan Tiwari: Hey, yeah, doing good. Congratulations for your anniversary today. Thanks for having me here. My name is Ishan Tiwari and I have been in the blockchain space for four years now, so not for such a long time, but also not too short. I'm based in Berlin and have done my Master's in Distributed Systems and Services from Technical University of Berlin. And my Master’s included a lot of topics around like distributed computing, pallet processing, and P2P networks.
When I was working as a student researcher during my Masters, I worked for Deutsche Telecom, working on a project where they were building a framework for a P2P online network. From there, I got started somewhere with blockchain technology and I was looking into the Bitcoin JS library for seed, public, private, key generation, etc.
Before doing my Masters, I was also working as a consultant for Kev Gemini, working for contracting, contract management tools, etc. And after my Masters, I joined an advertising tech company as a full stack developer. And while I was working there I got to know about basic authentication token on the Brave browser to see how it is rewarding people. I also saw advertisements using blockchain technology.
So this really intrigued me and I really wanted to jump into the space full time and this is where I got an opportunity to work with Lisk. And when I joined Lisk, we were trying to create the SDK at that time and we had this Lisk Core monolithic design where we wanted to break it down into modules and libraries to make it more modular. In the beginning I was heavily involved in working with the P2P layer development. After that I've been working with different parts of SDK development.
So yeah, that's all about my journey so far and apart from work about me. I love to travel, learn about different cultures, play basketball, running, cycling, etcetera. So that's all about me.
FMFW.io: You are a developer that stays active?
Ishan Tiwari: I try to, yeah.
FMFW.io: Wow, you really have quite the technological background and I can definitely see how it all played out for you to get into the blockchain space. I'm actually curious if there was one particular reason or multiple reasons that got you interested in working with Lisk?
Ishan Tiwari: Yeah, at that time I was trying to learn about Ethereum and other projects. I was trying to make some transactions over the Ethereum network, which was taking so much fees. Then I was just thinking about the scalability issue that everyone was talking about at that time.
I got this call from Lisk, and I felt like this is something which is more futuristic, with its aim to solve these scalability problems and also to make it more accessible. So I think this was one of the core reasons I was interested in working with Lisk.
FMFW.io: That's very interesting and actually that takes me to the next question which is before we get into Lisk's ecosystem, could you please briefly introduce Lisk to our community and to our listeners?
Ishan Tiwari: Yeah, sure. So Lisk was initially founded by Max and Oliver in 2016, primarily aimed to make blockchain technology accessible to everyone, which is still its vision. Also the other thing was to make it more scalable, looking into the limitations we had at that time, especially with Ethereum, with the smart contracting architecture. and this was the vision back then and also it's quite true today as well.
So the Lisk main application is currently running in the mainnet which we call the mainchain, which has been powering our main network for the last six years now. It's based on Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) consensus algorithm to secure the blockchain. In short, it is like it's a variant of Proof of Stake (PoS). I will say it's a bit more efficient and has more democracy when compared to a general PoS mechanism.
We also have Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) to make sure delegates are on the right chain and the right chain gets selected. This is like our base security layer.
In the Lisk mainchain we have this LSK token which is the utility token currently being used for paying fee, giving rewards to the forgers, voting and vote registration, multi-signature registration, delegate registration, etc.
The core idea is to have the Lisk platform where developers and enterprises can create their own blockchain application which will act as a sidechain and will be interoperable with other side chains in the ecosystem. The sidechain can also decide whether they want to have their own token, or they can also use LSK token, but the main idea is to be able to run all your transactions and processing on your own chain rather than one single chain. Security and scalability is inherited from the mainchain.
Ishan Tiwari: I think that will be the first question popping up. I'm sure having so many projects out there, I would say that if the developers have or anyone has tried out the SDKs which are already there in the blockchain space or the languages they have been using to create applications or smart contracts on blockchain networks, I think they will find it a lot easier to get started with the Lisk SDK. Also, Lisk uses one of the languages which is very popular and easy to get started with.
We try to make the Lisk SDK in a way so that you don't have a huge learning curve to get started with developing blockchain applications. When it comes to increasing accessibility of Web3 and blockchain technology, I really believe that building with beginners in mind is such an important value that projects should embody. And I'm really happy to see that Lisk has been focusing on this.
The technology is still only in the hands of few people or people with a certain language skill. It will be far better to see blockchain in mass adoption. We need to get it out for everyone. That's why that's one of the pillars of blockchain. It should be accessible regardless of one's knowledge and skills. It's easy to get started as a beginner, but you can fine tune your application to any level as well. We give that kind of flexibility with our architecture.
FMFW.io: Now I'm actually curious to learn more about what makes this a great environment for developing new blockchain applications.
Ishan Tiwari: I would say that people already see a lot of challenges while working with smart contracts, the limitation of the languages they use while working on smart contracts, or the flexibility they get since it's going to run on a sandbox. There are quite a lot of limitations.
Also, when you are running everything on the same chain, you are kind of tied to the governance of that chain as well. So you cannot really fine tune or really make a custom solution. There will be a limitation.
Of course it suits a lot of use cases as well. Maybe someone just wanted to get started with a small application and they can deploy a smart contract and get started with it. But I think moving forward it gets complicated because all the smart contracts, they compete with each other for the state, for block storage, even their logic is being stored. So in the end everyone is going to compete because even the state transitions for each smartphone track is done on a single chain.
I know there are a lot of solutions coming up like roll up solutions and scalability solutions around it, but when the base like fundamental architecture of such blockchains is limited to smart contracting, it's still hard to scale. And this is where I will say less comes into play, where devs have full liberty to fine tune their whole blockchain application.
They don't have to really worry about all the security aspects which are inherited from the mainchain already. All they need to do is focus on their logic, which is the logic that is run on the client but not saved on the blockchain state. And all the state transition happened on your own chain rather than on the mainchain. You're not relying on the mainchain for the straight transitions and you only rely on the mainchain for the security and scalability.
By starting with the languages which are known to a lot of developers already, you can build up your team very quickly and get started with it instead of finding people or training people in something new.
FMFW.io: There's definitely a great opportunity and I'm actually curious to talk about how Lisk encourages new builders to come together and contribute to the blockchain. Are there any initiatives that the team has been working on to gather developers and builders together?
Ishan Tiwari: I think we have done quite a lot of meetups in the past and we also have annual events like Lisk.js where we give a very much developer focus. We try to demonstrate usage of the Lisk SDK and also talk about the protocol etc. We have also organized a lot of hackathons in the past workshops.
Besides that we also have a Lisk Grant Program that funds projects for about 60,000 Swiss francs which is I think roughly $60,000 to get started with your business. So we had four or five waves already for getting the applications, but looking at the motivation and the overwhelming response from the community we received a lot of applications. These are from highly motivated groups of applicants in blockchain and long term community members. Groups like working towards billing infrastructure like NFT Marketplaces, DAOs, etc.
Anyone can apply to this grant program. The basic requirement is that you have a good founding team, have the startup spirit, and you have to pitch your idea. And keep in mind that you are up to date with our SDK. A lot of development is happening currently. This is how we are currently encouraging builders.
We also have a Discord channel (lisk.chat) where we have a very active community and people always try to help each other. So I think it's pretty helpful for anyone who wants to get started with this. I'm a really big fan of the Lisk Grant Program.
FMFW.io: Now you've mentioned before that it's been six years, right, since Lisk has been around from 2016. I'm curious if we could get into the numbers for a minute, especially for you as a developer, what numbers make you proud as a member of the development team in this six year long journey?
Ishan Tiwari: I think there were plenty of achievements. I will say in this six year journey from an idea to see it working in the main network. So definitely we have come a long way and I think community members who have been supporting us for a long time know our struggle, hard work and how much effort we have put into the project.
I will say our first major achievement in the past years was releasing the Lisk SDK v3.0, where our SDK took a good shape. We broke down this monolithic design we had to make it a more programmable, modularized architecture. So we created this independent set of libraries called Elements and then there is this framework which is defining the application architecture and the on chain architecture giving flexibility to the users.
Just last year we released a Lisk Core 3.0 which is using Lisk SDK v5.0. That includes quite a lot of protocol changes and application improvements, such as a dynamic fee system, improved DPoS, new address system, and improved P2P layer. We made this foundation for the upcoming interoperability solution.
I think overall there are a lot of achievements. I will say in the past six years we have come a long way. I think maybe two months back we also tagged the Lisk SDK v6.0-alpha, which includes the interoperability solution as well. I would not recommend them to use it right now. But still they can have a look at how it looks. So we are finishing up the development for interoperability and soon we are planning to release the beta version.
I think it's just that everything we develop is all research driven so it obviously takes more time, but we want to make sure that the application and the protocol is full proof.
FMFW.io: Absolutely and I really like what you said that you have already found faults and things that can be improved and I'm a big believer in that mindset that we are not only here to clap for our wings, but we are here to find things that are not working properly yet or things that maybe are working but we can always improve them. So I really like that.
Ishan Tiwari: Yeah, definitely. There were other issues as well during the migration. Of course it's always a challenge in any decentralized project but we try to take all the inputs into account and try to make sure that next time it's not stopping us from a smooth release.
FMFW.io: Now when it comes to the environment and Lisk Ecosystem, are there any applications? I'm sure there are many but is there any that stand out to you within the Lisk Ecosystem?
Ishan Tiwari: I think there are a lot of interesting projects already which also came out from the Lisk Grant Program. It's hard to pick just any one of them. I will say most of the projects coming out are NFT related because of growing popularity and adoption of it. We are also seeing some other projects around DAOs, identity management, and also projects related to Meta, games, immersion, virtual reality, etc. We are also going to also release our own DEX platform.
This infrastructure is also going to support many other projects which will require a DEX. We are going to release the DEX with the next major release. It's open source so the community can also build on top of it. So there are plenty of opportunities to build application or infrastructure related things in this ecosystem currently.
There are still a lot of interesting projects out there and it's also available on our website. You can already go and visit some of these projects and see their progress.
FMFW.io: The last question for me before we jump into the community questions. How does the rest of the year look like for your team? Especially from a development point of view?
Ishan Tiwari: I think this year is going to be really exciting. So far it was very exciting already since we developed an interoperability solution and already tagged the Alpha version. And also it's not just interoperability, there are several other objectives that we are bringing in with the next release and so one of the most exciting things would be from the SDK point of view is we are going to launch the beta version very soon.
This beta version will have the interoperability solution. It's good for Grant Program applicants because they can use it to build their project already. Then there will be the mainnet release. They can already plug it in. I think there are lots of exciting things ahead.
We are also bringing an Proof of Authority (PoA) module and an NFT module, which is already in the pipeline being developed or researched already. I think a lot of exciting things are coming.
FMFW.io: Exciting times ahead for the list team and we will make sure we keep an eye on your channels and on behalf of our team we will support you as best as we can.
Ishan Tiwari: Great, thanks.
FMFW.io: Absolutely. Now it's time to jump into the community questions. So community members had the opportunity to submit their questions through a form and let's get into the first question.
So the first question is coming from Nalano Ten and it sounds like this: how many projects are currently imported on Lisk? How many sidechains might we see by the end of the year?
Ishan Tiwari: Interesting question. Yeah, it's a bit hard to tell the real number. We already list out all the other projects on our website which are accepted through the Lisk Grant Program, or even independent ones which are good in shape. Right now, I'm not sure about the exact number, but definitely there are a lot of other projects which are also working independently which we are also not completely aware of.
And I think maybe with the beta release of this SDK v6.0, we might see a huge inflow of projects and people who are kind of in hibernation when the Lisk SDK version is really out there. Then they start developing and they get more active. I think maybe we have to wait for a few more months to really know how many sidechains will be there. But at least in my knowledge there are, I think at least 15 to 20 projects currently in progress through the Lisk Grant Program or that we are aware of outside grant program.
FMFW.io: Thank you for the answer. The second question: are there any utilities that can be used on Lisk for even someone that is not a developer? What are those utilities?
Ishan Tiwari: It's focused for developers in the sense that for developers, it makes it easier to develop anything. So even in the Lisk Grant Program, applications we have seen a lot of non tech background guys. They understood the overall protocol of Lisk and how they can solve their business use case and they pitched their idea saying okay, we have some advisor with a technical background.
I will say it's not just for developers, but also enterprises or entrepreneurs who want to build something using the Lisk SDK. They can form a team and they can already do that.
There are plenty of other things as well. It depends on the projects. For example, you can develop your own gaming. You can develop your own game based on this gaming engine for Meta, which is already one of the projects in our ecosystem. So I think there are plenty of opportunities to explore.
FMFW.io: Absolutely. It definitely shows accessibility and I guess it really comes down to what everyone is interested in.
Now, the next question is coming from Alice McKay. Lisk has a lot of distinct features that will touch on during this AMA. But if you were to pinpoint the ones that set Lisk apart from competitors, what would they be?
Ishan Tiwari: That's a pretty good question. I will say one of the things is that it's really hard to go down in technical detail of every SDK out there. One of the great things is the on-chain architecture we have which allows you to write on-chain and off-chain logic to your application. And the on-chain logic that you write, it's something like you write in a module. And the thing is when you're writing down your logic, you have access to all the granular lifecycle hooks of a block and you can write or you can fine tune your application from there.
And not only it's just limited to the modules for the straight transitions, but you can also tweak your overall application using configuration. We have for example, a highly configurable P2P layer where you can also configure it to have, let's say, a larger payload size or have your own peer selection algorithm, etc. So there's a wide array of opportunities where you can tweak the application according to your use case or your business.
The only thing is that you don't break the protocol, the interoperability protocol, but you can use whatever you can on your application. And I think this is one of the things I will say which really makes it stand out from the rest of the projects.
As well as having this, I will say a variant of DPoS where you have a more democratic form of consensus where people vote and unvote and the participation factor is pretty nice. I will say a lot of other things as well, but these are the few things which come to my mind when I think about how this stands out.
FMFW.io: I think I agree with you. I've been learning about Lisk since we've been working together on different collaborative initiatives and if someone's asking why Lisk sends out, I think it would be the flexibility it comes with to build on a blockchain.
Ishan Tiwari: Yeah, exactly. I think there's a lot of flexibility even with the consensus algorithm. So in the future we are going to have this Proof of Authority (PoA) being shipped with the Lisk SDK. So it really depends on what your business need is.
You can also start with PoA and you can also switch it over to DPoS as well. In the future you can set this bootstrapping in your project already so you have a lot of options like this.
FMFW.io: The fourth question is coming from Srina and it's a subject that's actually been touched on quite frequently within our industry and beyond.
Lisk is known for being a non mineral crypto. Does that make it eco friendly? Lately there's been a lot of speculation about crypto's carbon footprint. What is Lisk’s stance on environmental issues?
Ishan Tiwari: Yeah, I think it's a very important question to be addressed. We can already see a lot of issues happening because of the climate crisis. We took this into account right from the beginning. We saw this limitation with the proof of work or mining.
We still try to keep our application very lightweight so that we can run the application on Raspberry Pi. So you don't need that much hardware at all. You can just simply run this application and there's no mining. But the validators are chosen based on the votes, so there is no unnecessary processing going on to choose a validator. So I will say it's quite eco friendly.
FMFW.io: Thank you so much for taking your time to answer all of my questions.
Ishan Tiwari: Thanks. I think this was a really nice interactive AMA. I'm sure there were a lot of questions which maybe were not answered due to the limited time, but you can always reach out to us on our Discord channel (lisk.chat). There's an active community ready to answer.
And we have really great documentation, I will say, it's very easy to follow. If you really want to build something on Lisk and get started with it. We have nice tutorials to see how you can develop something and make sense with what idea you have in your head. You can start building. If you face any kind of issue, you can post it for the community. If there is any issue which is not being resolved there, you can also create issues on GitHub, or you can also post it on our Dev forum.