With the ultimate aim of developing some DApps and test the in-demand blockchain technology, I started learning the Solidity language specifically designed for Ethereum Smart Contracts. But just after a few weeks of losing focus from Solidity, I came back to it again and there was a new version of Solidity compiler for me to adjust to. Software development goes through many version updates mainly to support extended functionalities and to avoid any security vulnerabilities by deprecating problematic features and introducing changes in existing patterns.
There is an update to the Solidity compiler almost every month and sometimes even twice a month. In my opinion, it says a lot about the instability of the Solidity language developed for the most talked-about technology of today. But then, the nature of the Blockchain technology is highly sensitive as it deals with financial transactions across the network and would require quick bug fixes. But when it comes to Smart Contracts, updating a Smart Contract to make it compatible with a newer version is usually not simple. This made me wonder,
How do I keep up with everything updating so fast?
The main challenge that arises because of the frequent Solidity version updates is to produce a Smart Contract that can be easily upgraded to the newest version with ease. To do so, here are some of the tips that I recommend with the aim of reducing the complexity surrounding the upgradability of a Smart Contract written in Solidity.
- Separation of Concerns: Once deployed onto the Blockchain network, a Smart Contract is immutable. Therefore, a wiser decision would be to develop multiple small Smart Contracts that focus on individual functionality. This reduces a lot of work that would otherwise go into upgrading a Smart Contract if needed as all the users of the Smart Contract to be upgraded would need to reference the address of the new contract’s version. Adopting separation of concerns while developing Smart Contracts would result in comparatively less number of references to the new Smart Contract.
- Design patterns to allow access restriction in a Smart Contract: Implementing an access restriction pattern in a Smart Contract allows the admin or owner to have the required permissions to stop the contract’s transactions. This pattern can be extremely helpful while upgrading a Smart Contract as the older version of the Smart Contract should be deactivated to make all its users reference the newer version.
- Using Solidity’s Libraries and ENS to implement separation of concerns: The most complex task to be accomplished while upgrading a Smart Contract would be to migrate the internal state from the older version of the Smart Contract to the newer version. Real-world Smart Contracts, however, have a larger internal state and the work that would go into its migration would be so meticulous. Moreover, there will be a significant amount of gas that would be spent in migrating this internal state of a Smart Contract. With the help of the Solidity’s Libraries, this internal state can be isolated from the logic of a Smart Contract to enable an upgrade of only the library or Smart Contract that contains the logic instead of migrating its internal state as well.
The key feature of the Blockchain technology — immutability is attributed with increased complexity in a Smart Contract’s upgrades because it makes you design a Smart Contract meticulously with respect to its applications and users. Therefore, upgrading a Smart Contract can be quite a challenging task if a developer is not mindful of incorporating the above-mentioned patterns in a Smart Contract while developing it for the first time.