Is Bitcoin or Ethereum a better protocol for developers? A closer look reveals that the answer may not be so obvious.
Tony Cai – CEO of Bitcoin-based DeFi platform Atomic Finance and former Ethereum builder – published a Twitter thread on Wednesday explaining the different experiences of building apps on the two networks, including the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Bitcoin Advantage: Security and Focus
According to Cai, Bitcoin’s first advantage is the security of its programming language. The original crypto network’s Discrete Log Contracts (DLCs) boasted fewer attack services than Ethereum’s smart contracts, losing users hundreds of millions of dollars due to coding errors. and exploits over the past few years.
“In ETH, a small mistake (like 1-2 lines of code written in the wrong order) can cause millions to be lost,” Cai wrote.
Having spent time building ETH first before pivoting to building BTC, I have seen the best and worst parts of both communities.
I may hate it, but get over it…
BTC vs ETH: An Honest Reflection from a Founder.
Here are 6 things I noticed:👇 pic.twitter.com/3sBZKrZlRn
— Tony Cai ⚛️ #SoundFinance (@TonyCai_) August 16, 2023
The Bitcoin development experience also benefits from “laser focus” – clarity and emphasis especially on innovation. According to Cai, the ETH community “moves quickly” and brings new developments every week, which makes it easy for developers to get rid of the “shiny object syndrome.”
“Bitcoin’s scripting language and capabilities are intentionally limited to ensure that its core functionality remains stable,” Cai told CryptoPotato via DM. “Ethereum, on the other hand, was designed as a platform for decentralized applications, which makes it more flexible and versatile.”
Ethereum has famously boasted NFT and tokenization for years – technologies that are just beginning to emerge in Bitcoin. This limited capability prevents developers from focusing on ensuring product-market fit, instead of conjuring up complex tokenomics and “rationalizations” of why their projects need tokens.
The Ethereum Advantage: Express and Dev Infrastructure
Naturally, Bitcoin’s strict scripting language leaves it with some tradeoffs. Not only is development more technically limited, but more developers are naturally drawn to Ethereum’s more welcoming programming language – Solidity.
Cai believes that Bitcoin’s small hackathon may be down to a lack of tokenization, which has led to less funding and sponsorships for network developers. “BTC startups don’t have the luxury of huge fortunes funded by a token drop/ICO,” he explained.
Although companies like Blockstream and Chaincode Labs have stepped in to help fund the ecosystem, Cai said Ethereum has always had a more “structured” funding approach thanks to its ICO, and the Ethereum Foundation.
The developer culture within the two camps is also quite different. While Bitcoiners are making changes “cautiously” with a focus on “preserving the integrity of the network,” Ethereum’s development may be a “free for all” where devs are constantly “exploring of new use cases.”
The difference has created a clear divide where Bitcoin’s “podcasters” and “content creators” often target the public, rather than its developers. It also limits the creativity of Bitcoin applications and startups to four basic categories: network lightning micropayments, fiat on-ramps, multisig providers, and bitcoin rewards.
“Bitcoin’s grassroots, decentralized approach to funding and development has its merits, as does Ethereum’s more structured approach,” Cai concluded.
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