PHP, Laravel, And Blockchain

Access all articles in sprocket icon.
Published July 4, 2017 by Bill Keck.

PHP, Laravel, And Blockchain

Anyone following my blog knows from my previous post that I recently published Bitcoin For Beginners. That’s not a programming book, but it does go deep into the cryptocurrency ecosystem, which beginners will find helpful.

After years of scoffing at Bitcoin, I finally did some deep research on it and found that I actually liked the concept and the architecture. And let’s face it, the crazy returns that people were seeing in their investments drew me to it as well.

I watched some videos on Bitcoin and blockchain and saw some examples of code in Python. So I jumped into my codeschool account and did the courses on Python, which I enjoyed.

But then, as I started Django, the web framework for Python, I started to really appreciate Laravel again, it’s such a wonderful framework to work with.

So I started looking around for PHP code that can interact with the Bitcoin blockchain, and found a couple of resources, including a blockchain api that integrates with Blockchain.info.

I didn’t find much for use with Laravel, but I did find one package, Maurocasas/blockchain.

Anyway, my research into blockchain has convinced me that there is a huge wave of adoption coming and that it’s an area ripe for development. Ladies and gentlemen, a lot of money is going to be made with blockchain…

As a PHP developer, I’m always worried that the language can fall out of fashion and into disuse. Those fears have mostly been put aside with the Laravel framework, since it makes working with PHP such a pleasure.

But I think we are falling behind in the blockchain space and I would like to see more tools developed. I’m still doing research on this, so perhaps the work has been done, and I just don’t know it yet. I’ll keep looking.

So far, I’ve only found fragments. For example, here is a stack exchange question on a merkle tree.

If you are unfamiliar with a merkle tree, it’s a cool structure of recursive hashes that are incorporated into blockchains like the ones Bitcoin uses. Also here’s a link to the Bitcoin whitepaper, which will give you some background on the overall architecture of bitcoin. It’s 9 pages that changed the world.

If you want more gentle explanations on the tech behind Bitcoin and blockchain, hit up youtube, there are a lot of great videos that explain it better than I can.

Hopefully, we’ll soon see new blockchain tools developed in PHP, and especially in Laravel.  Who knows, maybe we’ll see an official package like Socialite or Echo, but for creating a blockchain instead.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

Thanks again to everyone who has supported my work, especially with the positive reviews on Laravel 5.4 For Beginners.

Bitcoin For Beginners Officially Launched

Access all articles in sprocket icon.
Published June 28, 2017 by Bill Keck.

Bitcoin For Beginners officially launched

Ok, my third book of the year, Bitcoin For Beginners, is now out and available on Leanpub.com.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably noticed that Bitcoin is getting some headlines, since a single coin is now worth about $2500.

I wrote an article in 2014, when Bitcoin had crashed to about $240.  I listed a long rant about why I thought Bitcoin was so bad.  Wow, I wish I had bought some instead of complaining about it.

I first came across Bitcoin in 2010, when I was doing research on virtual currencies.  At the time, Bitcoin was going for $0.30.  Even though I was considering building a token, for which I filed a provisional patent, I failed to grasp the value of Bitcoin.

Fast forward to 2014, just 4 years later, and Bitcoin was going for about $240, and I suppose I was looking for validation to my earlier opinion because I was very negative about it, even though, across that timespan, it had gone from $0.30 to $240.  That was the key detail that I somehow overlooked.

I also failed to ask the key questions, which were why would anyone pay anything for Bitcoin, and why would it go up in value?

In 2017, I’m a little older, a little more seasoned as a business person, and I’ve also become a programmer, which gives me a slightly different take on things, compared to the days when I didn’t code.

So this time, when I saw Bitcoin popping up in the news, I pretty much instantly knew that my previous opinions were wrong and that I needed to look into it further.

I have an interesting process for learning:  I write a book.

That might seem a little counterintuitive, since obviously I’m using it as a learning process. But having published 5 programming books, including Laravel 5.4 For Beginners, I’ve gotten to a point where the process of writing a book is an effective way for me to break everything down into the simplest components.

I’m never satisfied with sort of understanding something, I really want to understand it, so I dug deep into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Litecoin.

The result is a 101 page book, a gentle introduction to a fascinating space, the wild west of cryptocurrencies.  There’s a lot in those 101 pages, including the ICO craze that is sweeping through the market.

I look at cryptocurrencies with the healthy skepticism that any programmer should have, but at the same time, I keep an open mind to the possibilities it represents.

Although it’s not a programming book, Bitcoin For Beginners is relevant to the programming world, where a tectonic shift is taking place towards peer to peer networks and blockchain technology, leading toward a decentralized internet. These are fascinating developments and you don’t want to miss them.

The cryptocurrency world is filled with risks and we talk about those as well.  We talk about the speculation and volatility and look at some case studies to bring it all home.

In a sense, the cryptocurrency world is a special place that is owned by open source programmers, not corporations or governments, and that makes it very interesting to say the least.

Anyway, I try to create books that are of value to the reader.  It’s a difficult and competitive world that we live in, and I try to make things just a little easier for those trying to learn.

Thanks to everyone who is supporting my book.  We just got our first 5 star review on Goodreads.com.  I really appreciate that and hope that you find my work useful.  Thanks again.