What is a Blockchain Sidechain All About?

Sarah Jenn | June 11, 2015 | 11:00 pm

What is a Blockchain Sidechain All About?

Sarah Jenn | June 11, 2015 | 11:00 pm

If you’ve been keeping track of developments in the bitcoin industry, you’d know that the blockchain refers to the public ledger of transactions associated with the cryptocurrency. As the bitcoin ecosystem has grown in size and scale throughout the years, the blockchain has also increased considerably in length and storage size, prompting debates on whether or not to increase its block size limit.

This has led to the concept of a sidechain, which are separate from the main bitcoin blockchain but would be interoperable with a two-way peg. This could allow for the transfer of assets between the sidechain and the main blockchain, without eating much storage space.

Blockchain vs. Sidechain

Apart from that, sidechains can enable innovators to safely develop new applications without jeopardizing bitcoin’s core code and putting billions of dollars worth of digital currency at risk. These have been discussed at length in the papers “Enabling Blockchain Innovations with Pegged Sidechains”A and “A Simple Explanation of Pegged Sidechains”.

A company called Blockstream has been focusing on these developments and has announced the release of Sidechain Elements, which is an open-sourced framework for sidechain development. It includes a functioning code and a testing environment for working with sidechains with several components: the core network software to build an initial testing sidechain, eight new features not currently supported by bitcoin, a basic wallet and the code for moving coins between blockchains.

Sidechains extend Bitcoin functionality through interoperable blockchain networks and today’s open source release includes an experimental sidechain that has a number of new working capabilities. With the release of Sidechain Elements, Blockstream is moving this effort into the community,” said Adam Back, co-founder and president of Blockstream.

“We’re inviting developers to work with us, to test and use the code for their projects, and to share their proposals and code for additional capabilities,” he added.


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