Learning Blockchain: Does it require coding knowledge?

Many people came to know about blockchain technology with the introduction of Bitcoin cryptocurrency back in 2009. Blockchain came to the limelight as bitcoin’s underlying technology but this was only then. Up until now, blockchain has drawn considerable interest from various sectors with the technology, energy, manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services among those at the forefront of its adoption. Beyond these, blockchain has also found wide application in insurance, gaming, government, and agricultural sectors and continues to penetrate the other industries. Ultimately, the applications of the Blockchain, as a transparent technology with verifiable transactions on the register are endless.

The growing popularity of blockchain technology
Blockchain is a virtual ledger secured by cryptographic hash functions. The fact that it is considered tamper-proof has made it popular across industries. Given its wide adoption from the year 2017, the global spend on blockchain applications has since tripled as more applications emerge.

Based on the growth and industry trends, it was predicted that the annual spend on blockchain technology would increase to about $16 billion by 2023 and generate over $39 billion by 2025 for enterprises that have adopted it. It is now clear that blockchain is a change driver across industries and a powerfully disruptive technology at that.
The demand for blockchain-powered applications by corporate, government, and social institutions has risen sharply which has in turn pushed up the demand especially for developers and engineers who build blockchain-based solutions. The salaries for these professionals have not remained the same either. Blockchain developers’ salaries currently range between  $150,000 and $175,000 with those who possess blockchain certification commanding even higher perks.
What is Blockchain?
At the very basic, blockchain refers to digital information that is stored in a distributed database. It is based on ‘blocks’ consisting of recorded transactions which include details such as currency amounts, date, and digital signatures of persons participating for each transaction.

Technically, Blockchain is a platform for storing information in a manner that makes it impossible to change or hack. It works as a digital ledger of transactions distributed across a wide network of computer systems. With each block in the system holding a number of transactions, every time a new transaction occurs, it is added to the block. Blocks are linked together into a chain by a hash function.
How does Blockchain Work?
Let’s get a sneak preview of the basics of Blockchain. Irrespective of the individual specialized applications, the blockchain operates on three core concepts.

1. Blocks. Blockchain has multiple blocks and each block consists of data and a nonce that is randomly generated when a block is created and hashed. A hash is a number that is wedged in the nonce. When a block is created, it is given a digital signature by a nonce resulting in the production of a cryptographic hash.
2. Nodes. Nodes are any kind of electronic device connected to a blockchain network used to store and maintain copies of a decentralized ledger. Decentralization is an important concept in blockchain technology that ensures that no one can claim ownership of the chain. Nodes support the distribution of ledger and are basically blockchain’s infrastructure.
3. Miners. In mining, miners create new blocks on the chain. Using special software, miners validate transactions and record them on the public ledger.
How can I Start Learning Blockchain
Do you need coding knowledge to learn blockchain?

Well, being that blockchain is a technology field, you will have an added advantage having prior coding knowledge particularly for technical roles like blockchain engineer, blockchain developer, and blockchain miner. However, don’t shy off if you are a beginner. You can learn the basics of blockchain and then go ahead to acquire coding knowledge especially for languages like C++, Java, and Python.  

In addition to coding, here is what you need to learn about blockchain.
1. Blockchain Fundamentals  
Part of the fundamentals of blockchain includes learning about blockchain and Ethereum protocols and how decentralized peer-to-peer systems operate to the point of building your own blockchain. You should be familiar with terminologies used in blockchains like block, hash, nodes, validation, fork, and others as well as common blockchain platforms like Ethereum and Hyperledger.
● Ethereum: This involves learning Solidity; an object-oriented programming language that is vital in writing smart contracts. Solidity is similar to other languages like JavaScript and ECMAScript.
● Hyperledger: This is a private Blockchain used in developing Hyperledger tools. For an effective application, you will do better undertaking two additional programs namely, Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Composer.

2. Familiarity with the database management system
Blockchain is a distributed database system that is tamper-proof. Businesses have ledgers in which data is stored and shared with participating networks. Learning about database management systems lays a foundation for understanding the flow of both tangible and intangible assets.

3. Cryptography
Blockchain is built on the concept of cryptography, a digital encryption technology that is concerned about the security of information. Learn about digital signatures and encryption processes. Get to know about symmetric and asymmetric cryptography, as well as hashing functions like the SHA-256.

Getting a good grasp of blockchain technology is very achievable. If you have just started learning, enrolling for a structured course will give you a good ground to work your way up. You will start by understanding the fundamental concepts and familiarizing yourself with the terminology used in blockchain and then work your way up as you get to learn about the blockchain ecosystem, blockchain mining, security and privacy, and eventually learn how to build a tailored blockchain solution.

However, coding knowledge is important in the blockchain. This cannot be overemphasized. Learn to code and do not settle on learning blockchain without coding much as this is possible. This is because you will not be in a good position to implement the knowledge that you have acquired plus most courses will base their curriculum on a specific programming language.

Finally, course work alone is not enough to equip you. Expertise is gained through reading, participating in industry events, and through practice.

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