Improving the Corda developer experience — 4 tools for your coding pleasure!

April 28, 2020

Next iteration of Corda Tools

If you were around for CordaCon in Q4 last year, you might have remembered there were some pretty spiffy announcements related to developer tooling (see https://www.corda.net/blog/developer-updates-from-cordacon/ for a recap). A couple of these tools just got a level-up, and additionally, there’s a new player in town. To summarize in one sentence; ide.corda.net has had an overhaul, the Visual Studio Code Corda extension got a massive facelift and performance tweaks, our partners at Truffle Suite released Phase 2 of Corda-flavored Ganache, and there is a new standalone desktop app called Node Explorer.Let’s take a dive into what this means — and why you might actually care. 🙂

 

IDE.Corda.net

(https://ide.corda.net)

What is ide.corda.net? It’s like a magical sand-box where both toddlers and adults alike can jump in and build cool stuff (or CorDapps) at any time, without any setup, and online instantly. It’s a persistent (your browser will generate a unique prefix to the URL, so your work will be saved) dockerized version of Visual Studio code, pre-loaded with Corda dependencies and sample projects. Whether you’re a new Corda developer who wants to learn and dabble without additional headache, or a seasoned guru who just needs to get their Corda-fix from a tablet sitting in a canoe in a jungle in Peru — this is the tool that makes dreams come true.

CorDapp development at your fingertips

Highlights

  • VSCode base upgraded to 1.42 (new features https://code.visualstudio.com/updates/v1_42)
  • Test runner improvements and fixes for Corda projects
  • Integrated VSCode Corda extension (see below for details)
  • Now faster performance

Node explorer

(https://github.com/corda/node-explorer/releases)

If you’ve been a Corda commando for a while, you may have heard of this small tool buried in the docs.corda.net called node explorer which was part of a suite of tools called DemoBench. It was a basic app that had the brilliant foresight to allow viewing a node’s vault. However, it suffered from severe limitations and usability issues. Well, the concept has been re-created for mass consumption and is now available as standalone tool for Win, OSX, Linux. Download at the above link then check out this blog post for a deep dive http://www.corda.net/blog/introducing-the-corda-node-explorer!

In simple terms, if you are a new or existing CorDapp developer — you probably want to add this weapon to your arsenal. Let’s take a look at what you’ll be getting:

corda node explorer

Login to your favorite nodes

Highlights

  • Connect to local and remote Corda nodes
  • Node information, installed CorDapps, and network params at a glance
  • Visual overview of your node’s network map and counter-parties
  • Run flows instantly with multiple constructors and parameter hinting
  • Explore the node vault through dynamic queries using clickable filters

VSCode Corda extension

(https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=R3.vscode-corda)

In any style or color!

There’s a huge number of developers on Visual Studio Code right now, so it was a huge hit when the original extension was launched (https://www.corda.net/blog/visual-studio-code-fans-rejoice-vscode-corda-extension-is-out/). What is even better than an ice-cream on a hot Sunday afternoon? How about an ice-cream with hot chocolate drizzle and few chopped strawberries! Queue the new release highlights.

Highlights

  • Massively reduced extension size, performance tweaks and dependency reductions
  • Overhauled Node UI based on new node explorer
  • Remote node connections through SSH
  • Corda assemble command added
  • Improved terminal handling

Truffle Suite Corda-Flavored Ganache

(https://github.com/trufflesuite/ganache/releases/tag/v2.4.0)

If you’ve done prior development in the blockchain space, you may have heard of Truffle Suite. They have some of the hottest tooling in blockchain, allowing quick deployment and monitoring of local test-chains. Get uber productive by leveraging the Ganache workflow and design. Phase two has just been released! (https://www.trufflesuite.com/blog/branching-out-phase-2-of-corda-flavored-ganache)

The Ganache we know and love

Highlights

  • One-click Corda network configuration and initialization
  • Multiple workspaces for all of your Corda projects including a Corda network map, notaries, nodes, transactions, accounts, and ledgers.
  • Simple testing for interoperability with the Version Picker node.
  • Easy access to all your application’s data, including network map, notaries, nodes, transactions, and states.
  • Visualizations of node connections with the Corda network map graph
  • Embedded Corda CRaSH Shell to provide control over your nodes and project data

It’s an exciting time to be a CorDapp developer. With each new Corda release you’ll have more power and flexibility to design awesome blockchain solutions. At the same time, thankfully, we’re seeing a slew of new tools to understand and build in more visual and intuitive ways. It’s about keeping things focused and simple.

So go ahead and give the above mentioned tools a spin! Like they say, ‘Be yourself. Unless you can be Batman – then be Batman’ (because Batman has awesome tools)!

Want to learn more about building awesome blockchain applications on Corda? Be sure to visit corda.net, check out our community page to learn how to connect with other Corda developers, and sign up for one of our newsletters for the latest updates.

— Anthony Nixon is a Developer Evangelist at R3, an enterprise blockchain software firm working with a global ecosystem of more than 350 participants across multiple industries from both the private and public sectors to develop on Corda, its open-source blockchain platform, and Corda Enterprise, a commercial version of Corda for enterprise usage.

Follow Anthony on Twitter and Linkedin.