Swirlds releases software development kit for its blockchain alternative

Kit includes browser OS, source code, and guidelines for writing and running new apps
Written by John Fontana, Contributor

The company that recently unveiled a unique alternative to blockchain technology released a free software development kit Thursday for a platform it says will form a trust layer on the internet.

Swirlds, short for Shared Worlds, emerged from stealth-mode in June with its Hashgraph Distributed Consensus Platform. Hashgraph is a platform that runs across laptops and desktops along with apps that run on top of that platform. The Hashgraph provides the ability to prove not only that something happened, but a timestamp of when it happened, a feature blockchain lacks.

Now, Swirlds has added a software development kit (SDK) that contains the Swirlds browser that acts like an operating system, the source code for example apps, and guidelines for installing, running and writing new apps using Eclipse. The SDK is under a public domain license.

"The SDK has everything anyone needs to build on the system," said Leemon Baird, founder and CEO of Swirlds. He plans to release updates on a weekly cadence and add new features frequently. "We want to get into a rhythm. It is important to show frequent updates," he said.

Ping Identity, which invested in the start-up, is already using the platform to build a distributed session management application that provides a unique 'kill switch' to shutdown all activity and applications where a specific user is logged in. These capabilities are key for emerging contextual authentication schemes, which confirm multiple identity factors in the background before allowing a user to log in.

The Swirlds platform brings three unique capabilities to distributed consensus models -- high throughput, fairness and community consensus that is guaranteed as opposed to chance variation, or probabilistic, like blockchain.

Baird said the SDK's demo applications along with source code will be hosted on GitHub with the hope that a community will build up around the platform. One of the demo apps is a visualization of how the Hashgraph works, which offers a peek under the hood (see screenshot below).

Swirlds is also working on a "fast copy" application that makes a copy of an entire database or file system in "a nano second."

"It's like a database snapshot on steroids," said Baird. "You can change the original or the copy. A typical database won't let you change the snapshot," he said. Other forthcoming Swirlds applications will focus on encryption and digital signatures.

Swirlds describes itself as a better blockchain, touting fairness, speed and proof. Swirlds transactions don't rely on miners, they ensure the transaction order is the consensus order, and that all transactions are included. The platform does not require "proof-of-work" like blockchain, and transactions happen in milliseconds.


A single computer can run multiple instances of the Swirlds Hashgraph Distributed Consensus Platform. Each copy draws its own Hashgraph, and they talk to each other as if they were using the internet. Alternatively, computers can run just a single instance and communicate over the internet.

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