Building Custom Blockchain Solutions: Diving Deep into Cosmos SDK, Substrate, & Rollups
Dr. Ravi Chamria
Dr. Ravi Chamria
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Single New Blog Page
Building Custom Blockchain solutions

Custom blockchain development is currently the most popular trend in business because it provides use-case-specific features and high-level customization for dApps. However, building a custom blockchain solution from scratch is complex, expensive, and time-consuming, especially for startups and scaleups. That’s why blockchain development frameworks have emerged, enabling seamless development of tailored solutions like dApps and sovereign blockchain. This article will explore three highly viable options to build custom blockchainsCosmos SDK, Substrate, and Rollups technology.

Before diving into blockchain development frameworks and SDKs, let’s first understand why custom blockchain development is becoming the ultimate choice of web3 enterprises.

As the name suggests, custom blockchain solutions are designed to meet the specific needs of a business. For example, if a business is based on a supply chain, its requirements will differ from a finance-based project. The difference can exist in terms of speed of transaction execution, level of security, and cross-chain interoperability. To better understand why to build a custom blockchain, let’s learn about its specific benefits:

Fit for specific use cases: Different web3 projects bring their own unique requirements that ready-made blockchain solutions cannot fulfill. Hence, with custom-built solutions, businesses can tweak the features and functionalities of their solutions as per specific use case requirements.

Scalability customization: Scalability requirement is different for every blockchain solution. For example, a web3 gaming project may demand higher throughput requirements than an enterprise blockchain solution. Similarly, an enterprise use case might be very high on security compared to a gaming dApp. Therefore, custom blockchain solutions offer the option to customize their scalability capabilities.

Cross-blockchain interoperability: Custom blockchain solutions that are built on standalone blockchains are interoperable with the rest of the blockchains running in the ecosystem. For example, if you build a single-use blockchain with Cosmos SDK or Substrate, your dApp deployed on it will be able to interoperate with all the other blockchains built using these frameworks; hence, interoperability is maintained.

Governance and control: Building a custom blockchain solution grants you full control over the network’s governance rules, which enables seamless integration of new upgrades and ecosystem rules. Meanwhile, you can customize your project’s consensus mechanism, tokenomics, and other crucial aspects. 

How to build custom blockchain solution: viable ways

As we know, blockchain solutions are decentralized applications deployed and managed on blockchain ecosystems. Based on your dApp’s requirements, you can use general-purpose blockchains or build an appchain to solely manage a single use case, for example, a DeFi dApp or supply chain solution. However, if you don’t want to launch appchains but still want to improve scalability, Rollups are a prominent way to do it. Let’s understand the ins and outs of both methods:

Option:1- Building custom blockchain with top frameworks– Cosmos SDK and Substrate

  1. Cosmos SDK Framework

Cosmos SDK, as the name says, is an open-source and multi-asset custom blockchain development framework that web3 projects and enterprises can use to build PoS (proof-of-stake) blockchain like Cosmos Hub as well as permissioned PoA (proof of authority) blockchains on the top of IBC Tendermint via ABCI protocol. Sovereign blockchains built using Cosmos SDK are known as application-specific chains. With Cosmos SDK, web3 projects get support for all the resources, tools, and community support to build sovereign, secure, and flexible custom blockchains that can power a single blockchain solution– commonly known as dApp. 

Cosmos SDK is based on built-in plugins that connect its appchain ecosystem to interact with the Tendermint protocol and core concepts. Based on your network requirements, you can implement specific concepts in your blockchain, tweaking the ecosystem, the consensus engine, or even the pallets. 

Building custom blockchains is easy with Cosmos SDK because it offers a collection of tech stack, already-built and customizable modules complete with packages, tooling, and end-to-end documentation. Cosmos SDK comes with a core that offers all the basic functionalities a blockchain may need, for example, boilerplate implementation for ABCI, a multistore to persist the state, and a server to support a full node

On top of the Cosmos SDK’s core, you can build modules that define the application logic of your blockchain. Cosmos SDK provides you with production-grade modules, IBC modules, and CosmWasm modules, allowing you to choose what meets your needs and implement the modules accordingly. Remember that you can customize these existing modules or build new modules from scratch to implement unique application logic. 

Without these stacks, creating your own AppChains will become a complex task that will cost you more, need more resources, and increase time-to-market. Hence, the end goal of Cosmos SDK is to simplify the development of complex blockchain applications. 

Other than easing the AppChain development, Cosmos SDK provides benefits like enhancing the transaction throughput capacity of your application, making it interoperable with all the other parallel chains running in the Cosmos ecosystem. 

If you want to read more details about why Cosmos SDK can be a good fit for custom blockchain development. Check our dedicated guide below:

Why Cosmos SDK is a powerful framework for building custom blockchains

2. Substrate framework: 

Substrate is a framework or SDK (software development kit) for building custom-fitted blockchains that can run as independent networks parallel to the other chains while maintaining interoperability. With Substrate, enterprises have the complete freedom and flexibility to customize the infrastructure components to deploy their blockchain-powered solutions. Blockchains built using Substrate are fully upgradeable, adaptable, and composable. That means your project can evolve to include new features or upgrade existing ones.

Substrate core, Substrate FRAME, and Node templates are the low-level primitives that Substrate offers to web3 projects, enabling them to build custom applications based on their novel ideas instead of relying on the existing application logic. Let’s understand what are the options available on Substrate to build custom, application-specific blockchains.

Using templates and modules 

Substrate allows blockchain projects to work with FRAME development environments that offer ready-to-use templates and pre-built modules called ‘Pallets’. Web3 projects can use these templates to build purpose-built blockchains without complexity and increased development time. Hence, the objective of FRAME is to offer modular and flexible components that are utilized to create custom runtime logics for Substrate-based blockchains. FRAME further enables you to configure the specific modules– Pallets that allow the creation of customizable application logics for use cases like managing transaction balances and voting for governance. Also, Pallets offers business logic that supports high-level blockchain operations such as consensus and validator’s staking. 

Using custom pallets

Substrate’s FRAME development environment offers a set of advanced libraries that allow for seamless development of your own custom pallets. Having the freedom to customize the pallets means you can define the unique runtime behavior for your application. Note that each pallet on Substrate includes its own discrete logic; therefore, you should combine the existing open-source pallets with your custom pallets, adding specific features and functionalities to your application. For example, you can use the pre-built pallet– ‘Balances’ in your application’s run time to use the specific functionality and ‘storage item’ to manage the account balances. Further, you can build a custom pallet that sends notifications whenever there’s fluctuation in the account balance. This way, a Substrate-based AppChain can achieve a competitive edge. 

Learn about the enterprise-grade use cases of the Substrate framework to understand its development scope. Check our detailed guide on this:

What can enterprises build with Substrate frameworks?

Option:2- Launching Rollups chains 

Rollups are an excellent, new-age Layer-2 scaling solution for blockchain designed to enhance the transaction throughput and response time on Layer-1 blockchains while maintaining security and full decentralization of the underlying main blockchain. Hence, we can say that the main motive of launching a Rollups chain is Similar to that of AppChains, which is solving the blockchain’s scalability dilemma. 

The key difference is that Rollups are launched and operated on the top of Layer-1 and that’s why it leverages benefits like data availability, transaction settlement, computation, and censorship resistance from the underlying chain. Whereas, appChains may or may not have reliance on any main chain. However, having a connection with the base chain offers excellent security benefits. Coming again to the Rollups, these are viable solutions for projects that want to improve the scalability of their dApps by taking transaction load off-chain. Meanwhile, they want to manage their solution on Layer-1 blockchain. Also, cost can be a factor here. Building a standalone blockchain is although a lot beneficial, not every project can afford it unless they are in dire need of utilizing the customizability, flexibility, and interoperability element that comes with appchains.

Note that Rollups can also be launched for layer-2 networks. The rollup chain will work as a Layer-3 scaling solution in this scenario. Currently, two types of Rollups are relevant in the web3 space: Optimistic and Zk-rollups

Optimistic rollups use its ‘optimistic’ approach to assume that all the transactions executed on the Layer-2 chain are valid unless some honest validator submits proof against faulty transactions. If the proof is valid, the faulty transactions will be re-executed, and the rollup’s state will be updated. However, the possibilities of dispute are almost null on Optimistic Rollups.

Speaking about the Zk-rollups, they use zero-knowledge-based ‘validity proofs’ to determine that all the transactions are valid and can be shifted on-chain. This Zk-proof is a cryptographic concept that uses sophisticated algorithms to prove that all the transactions are true and valid mathematically. Since transactions are validated beforehand, the idea of a dispute period is not applicable for Zk-rollups

What are the components required for launching Rollups?

The optimistic and ZK-rollups are off-chain scaling solutions built on the Layer-1 blockchain like Ethereum and managed through a set of smart contracts deployed on the same Layer-1. Knowing this, let’s understand the components of the Rollups chain that allow it to interact with the Layer-1 chain, thereby facilitating the off-chain execution of transactions:

On-chain smart contracts: As discussed, Rollups networks are regulated through the smart contracts deployed on the Layer-1 chain. These on-chain contracts store the rollup blocks, monitor the rollup’s state changes, and track all the deposits. That’s for Optimistic rollups. Regarding Zk-rollups, another on-chain contract is needed to verify ZK-proofs that blockchain producers submit frequently.

Off-chain VM (virtual machine): While Rollup contracts are managed on main chains like Ethereum, the computation and transaction processing is done on an off-chain EVM network. This off-chain VM is the ecosystem where your application lives and maintains its state changes to serve as a layer-2 scaling solution. 

Build your custom blockchain easily with the Zeeve BaaS platform: 

Zeeve supports multiple appchains building frameworks like Cosmos SDK and Substrate and provides Rollup-as-a-service(RaaS). Zeeve adds to the benefits of all these Layer 2 scaling solutions with customizable and highly efficient infrastructure and tools, allowing web3 projects to keep their focus on building their application while Zeeve fulfills all the infrastructure requirements. Blockchain experts at Zeeve are versed with all the tech stack requirements of Cosmos SDK, Substrate, and Rollups. Plus, we have our own plug-and-play tools to support the seamless launch of custom blockchains

At Zeeve, we understand that launching application-specific blockchain and rollup chains has many complexities. For example, you need to deploy and manage multiple nodes, integrate wallets, explorers, and launch testnet faucets. Also, you might need to set up a data indexing protocol to query the required blockchain data and set up cross-chain bridges.  All these components you will get from Zeeve. You will get access to scalable nodes, white-labeled explorers, faucets, and data indexing for appchains and rollups using custom hosted Subgraph and SubQuery projects. From web3 startups to individual projects and web2 businesses looking to migrate to web3, Zeeve handles deployment needs for all types of businesses. If you plan to launch AppChain or want to scale your existing solution with rollups, connect with Zeeve’s blockchain experts to launch a custom blockchain specific to your requirements. 


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