Running the 1st Corda Code Club

The world of blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology is a world of non-standard technologies; “Solidity”, “Chaincode”, Byzantine Generals lurking behind every corner and a SHA256 sausage machine for every Bitcoin… it’s kind of no mystery why so many programmers have spent far more time reading about it than they have on coding anything.

Even Corda, the enterprise blockchain platform that’s written in Java (or its cousin Kotlin), and whose creators’ mantra is that a Corda app (or CorDapp) can be built by “3 developers, 3 companies, 3 days”, has a relatively low level of penetration in terms of the total Java population.

The reason why of course, is everyone’s busy.

Which was one of the reasons why we set up the Corda Code Club. We think if you can compartmentalise your learning into a Monday night activity which is something you just “do” every week, we can lower the barrier to entry. At the Corda Code Club you can learn a new skill, build your own CorDapp alongside fellow beginners, and benefit from expert Corda tuition.

Corda Code Club Manifesto

We thought we’d put the “3 devs 3 days” concept to the test, and worked with the R3 Developer Relations team to set up an introductory course-come-hackathon where a group of developers with little or no Corda experience would have 10 hours over 6 weeks to learn the platform and build their own CorDapps.

On the first night after an initial introductory talk to the platform, the group then divided up into teams (via the type of pizza they happened to pick a slice of!) and then sat down together to decide what use-case to design their CorDapp around.

The next 5 weeks were all about coding. Each team had its own mentor assigned to them who was on hand to teach the team how Corda works in practice and guide them on what can be done with the platform.

Corda Code Club 2 July Jee Childe Brown

On the final night we invited Richard Crook (then Head of Emerging Technology at RBS, now CTO of Chorum), Barry Childe (Head of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency at HSBC) and Richard Brown (CTO of R3) in to judge the final presentations. And for the prizes, we made sure to chose something suitable, that reflected the prestige of winning a hackathon and would be rare enough to be something that you can’t just pick up anywhere. Nothing less than a Computer Programmer Limited Edition “Lego Minifig” would do:

Corda Code Club Lego Minifig Computer Programmer

It’s fair to say we learnt a lot of lessons from that first hackathon, although I do think the results speak for themselves. We had 27 participants, 24 of whom turned up to every night and by the end of the hackathon there were 19 developers who’d gone from next to no Corda experience to having built their own working CorDapp. And we had a lot of fun in the process.

I think the most valuable lesson we learnt is how important the mentors are.

No matter how technically able a team is, without a mentor present every night, its easy for the team to lose their way.

In the first few weeks the mentors act as teachers and guides to the platform, explaining what can be done and how to achieve, then once they get going their role changes into something closer to a delivery manager, ensuring the guys stay on track and being there to advise when they hit sticky problems they just can’t solve. We also didn’t anticipate that some of the mentors, due to how comparatively easy they find it to solve problems in Corda, would “go above and beyond the call of duty” and take on large chunks of the actual coding.

The other big lesson we learnt was not to the change the venue one of the evenings… actually it was more of a lesson about properly announcing and publishing the venue locations. Which really is “event management 101”, so pretty unforgivable really. It kind of didn’t help that the one evening that we changed the venue turned out to the be hottest day of the year, so the 3 or 4 guys who didn’t get the message either ended up walking across town at the height of the day’s humidity, or just didn’t make it after arriving at the wrong venue and couldn’t bear the thought of getting back on the underground. That was an important lesson.

These were ideas that the teams turned into working CorDapps:

The other big lesson we learnt was not to the change the venue one of the evenings… actually it was more of a lesson about properly announcing and publishing the venue locations. Which really is “event management 101”, so pretty unforgivable really. It kind of didn’t help that the one evening that we changed the venue turned out to the be hottest day of the year, so the 3 or 4 guys who didn’t get the message either ended up walking across town at the height of the day’s humidity, or just didn’t make it after arriving at the wrong venue and couldn’t bear the thought of getting back on the underground. That was an important lesson.

These were ideas that the teams turned into working CorDapps:

1) Private Health Insurance Management App

Corda Code Club best CorDapp prize Mark Adams Tudor Malene Yash GK Fred Heem and Farzad Pezeshkour judges Barry Childe Richard G Brown and Richard Crook

Team Marge built the winning entry, a private health insurance CorDapp that had 1 node for the hospital, a node each for 2 insurers and 1 node for the bank (for patients account). The hospital doing the treatment would request a quote from the insurers, each insurer responds with their quote, the hospital selects the best quote and then they sign the transaction, then the hospital carries out the treatment and sends the insurer the bill, the insurer pays and the patient pays the rest. As each transaction occurs, only nodes that need to know are informed what has happened.

This CorDapp used Corda’s “frictionless commerce” and the Cordite tool to ensure the financial balances of each account are updated immediately, as well as the selective privacy you get with Corda’s node permissioning.

Here’s a link to the Source Code: https://github.com/corda-codeclub/marge

2) A Decentralised Credit Scoring App

Team Peppa’s CorDapp provided a credit scoring service where the user would invite the retail banks they bank with to share their transactional data via a Corda network, from which a credit report would be produced.

This CorDapp made full use of way Corda creates networks of “known identities” and the core distributed ledger element of the network to remove the need to create a new 3rd party to store the users data for the specific task of producing a Credit Report.

Here’s a link to the Source Code: https://github.com/rafaelazeredo/creditbank

3) Sustainable Fishing Rights

Corda Code Club best Corda idea prize Jose-Javier Lirio Florian Frimel Tom Leach and Joel Dudley judges Barry Childe Richard G Brown and Richard Crook

Team Olive Oyl built a CorDapp that created a system for managing the issuance of fishing rights in the form of digital assets and then allow them to be resold by owners in a way that would automatically inform the regulator. It had 5 nodes, a notary node, a node for the regulatory body issuing the Digital Fishing Rights certificates, a node each for 2 fishermen and a node for the purchaser of the caught.

This CorDapp utilised the “selective privacy” element of a Corda network allowing the regulator to have complete oversight on who has which quotas without revealing which fisherman has which fishing licences to the whole market.

Here’s a link to the Source Code: https://github.com/joeldudleyr3/olive-oyl

4) A Secondary Market for Property Conveyancing

Team “Sloppy Joes” built a CorDapp that would allow people to buy and then resell a property survey they’d paid for. Their app had the first property buyer node requesting a property survey from a conveyancer node, which would then issue an encrypted “digital asset survey” in return and simultaneously send the key to an Oracle. Once the conveyancer confirmed they had received payment from the property buyer, the Oracle would release the key to the property buyer node. This process could then be repeated when the property buyer wanted to resell the survey.

Amazingly this CorDapp utilised pretty much every key element of the Corda framework, from Smart contracts to manage the release of encrypted keys, to made-for-purpose-Oracles to act as 3rd parties, to regulating what each node had access to in the ledger via node permissioning and the Doorman — they got a special mention by the judges for this alone!!

5) Commercial Property Investment

Team Vegan’s Commercial Property Investment Management CorDapp created a network of nodes representing the Land Registry, Property Owners, Property Fund Managers and Property Investors. The shared ledger would allow each of the parties to manage information and have access to a real time picture of what properties they owned and what their status was.

This CorDapp made full use of the asset portability that Corda provides through “Object Serialization”. Each house / property has a unique serial number and because Corda provides a set of Standards for Object Serialization it means that two independently created Property Investment networks could transfer assets between each other without having to rewrite any of the entities in their property databases.

Based in London and want to take on the challenge? Checkout our meetup page or get in touch with me at martin@oxenburypartners.com

The first Corda “Capture The Flag” event : the good, the bad and the ugly

It was a close fought race with it being neck and neck between the Accordians and CordaMcCordaface for some time, but CordaMcCordaface pulled ahead to win and claim their prizes!

A big thank you to everyone who came, I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. A very heartfelt thanks goes out to Aimee Stokes and the team at RBS for providing so much help, support and guidance throughout the evening – thank you guys. Another special thanks goes out to Joel Dudley of R3 for writing half the questions and the whole DevRel Team for coming along to help on the night.

This was the first “Corda Capture The Flag” challenge ever run. And boy was it difficult!

Basically I had these 2 problems:

  1. Generating interest was difficult. The target audience was so narrow, it was hard to find people who could take part, nevermind finding people who did want to take part. The target audience needed to fit these criteria
    1. Be developers
    2. Be aware enough of blockchain to have heard of Corda
    3. Be aware enough of Corda to have learnt some of the Corda Open Source platform
    4. Have enough confidence with Corda that they felt they wanted to be tested on their knowledge in a social setting
    5. Know that this “Capture The Flag” challenge was effectively a pub quiz with a world map with a set of countries each with pre-populated questions to answer
    6. Be available on the night
    7. Want to do this
    8. Actually see the marketing / have enough “visibility” online for me to know to approach them
  2. For some reason I was given the task of coming up with at least half the questions. There are 120 countries on the CTF format, and as a non-developer coming up with 60 “good” questions about a DLT platform I didn’t know very well was tough. It took me 2 days of solid work to write my 60 questions! That said, I did learn a huge amount about the platform, so the exercise was well worth it.

So it took me about 5 weeks to get 27 people to be there on the night.

All that said however, I must say on the night it was an absolute hoot!

Personal highlights for me were:

  • Seeing all that hard work come together and people really enjoying taking part in the CTF event
  • Getting to award the prizes! (and good to see CordaMcCordaface were so gracious in victory with no gloating whatsoever)
  • A surprize appearance from Mike Hearn! Selfie duly taken
  • Getting to announce the next stage

Other teams were the Accordians, Loons of Babylon and the Cordashians.

THE NEXT STAGE:

The future of Unofficial London Corda meetup will be the creation of a Corda Base Camp. A place to nuture CorDapp talent and home of developing Distributed Applications on the Corda platform. It’ll be a hub, or a club, a kind of “Corda Scouts” where members can go every Monday to work on their CorDapp projects alongside likeminded developers.

WATCH THIS SPACE

ULCM CTF 2

Post First Event Wash-Up

Well despite all the challenges (original venue dropped out 9 days before the big day and one of my 3 speakers having to send his apologies due to being asked to meet the MAS 3 working days before hand) the first event seemed to go really well!!

I’m really pleased to say we had 56 members attend the event, and now have 180 total members to the meetup.

The speakers were both fantastic – knowledgeable, witty, funny, packed full of industry news and Corda anecdotes, and unflappable in the Q&A session. “Thank you”.

An extra special thanks also needs to go out to Hoos Badakhchani, CEO and Founder of BIOMEX (www.biomex.io) and Joel Dudley of R3 for heroically stepping in at the last minute (literally less than 24 hours before kick off) to join the panel discussion.

Personal highlights for me were:

  • Dave Edwards thanking R3 for building a DLT platform for the Insurance industry and wondering why all these bankers want to try to get involved!
  • Richard Crook explaining how there are already many instances of where groups of banks or financial institutions working together to setting up a 3rd party to perform some task where close collaboration is necessary (money transfer, settlements etc), and how blockchain technology has the potential to facilitate a decentralised 3rd party solution which would help avoid the issue of that new entity pursuing its own self interests, rather than acting purely in the interests of the institutions that set it up.
  • Getting to see so many old and new faces, and seeing so many of the people who had come to the meetup without any prior knowledge telling me that they were now really interested in the technology and wanted to explore it further!

Points for the future:

  • I need to waffle less at the beginning
  • 3 speakers aren’t necessarily necessary, I think 2 speakers were actually fine when complimented by some strong presences in the panel discussion
  • People had started to look a little bored / fidgety after 1 hour of content – definitely have to call it a day after 60 minutes of attendees being talked to, no matter how interesting the content is
  • Speakers with no-slides seemed to work really well! Microphones are for whimps!
  • I either need to get better at chairing a Q&A / Panel session or ask someone else to do it for me!
  • More beer needs to be available during the networking… I can see the benefit of artfully distributing buckets of bottles of beer around the room now

Any other ideas / feedback / suggestions gratefully received!

Here are the photos:

Useful Links To Get Started With Corda

BASICS

 

  • This speech by Head of Nataxis, Frederic Dalibard is a great place to get started on understanding where Corda is at today: https://youtu.be/V-4jtE6YMEk

 

 

  • Here is the sales video by Finastra showing that they are actively selling products on their Corda based Syndicated Loans platform: https://youtu.be/wMxlA-lf8Vk (re. 2min12sec)

 

 

RESOURCES:

 

NEWS

 

INTERACTIVE:

 

OPEN SOURCE PROJECTS:

 

GOGGLE BOX:

 

 

First meetup tomorrow – 16th January

Well it’s the night before the first meetup of the Unofficial London Corda meetup, and I feel a bit nervous, but I’m looking forwards it! The first event has helped to generate to 164 members and we have 54 members RSVP’d.

I’m looking forwards to seeing everybody, some people I’ve known for years, but many are people I have only just got to know or have never met before. One thing that is a bit strange is that about 11 people have given no details as to who they are, so I hope to find out tomorrow! It does seem odd to want to join a technology community but not let anyone see who you are, but I guess they have their reasons.

Fingers crossed!

www.meetup.com/Unofficial-London-Corda-Meetup