Overview of Stacks

Learn about Stacks and decentralization

Stacks is a full-stack decentralized computing network that enables a new generation of applications where developers and users can interact fairly and securely. Stacks uses blockchain technology to build protocols and developer tools designed to enable a fair and open Internet that returns digital rights to developers and consumers.

What is the Stacks Ecosystem?

The Stacks Ecosystem is the legal entities and community structures that support the Stacks technology, the apps that rely on it, and the people that work with it. The ecosystem’s mission is to foster an open and decentralized Internet that establishes and protects privacy, security and freedom for all users.

The documentation on this site focuses on the technologies produced by three entities in the ecosystem.

Blockstack Public Benefit Corp (PBC)

Blockstack Public Benefit Corp. (PBC) started development of the Stacks platform in 2014 and launched an alpha of the platform in early 2017. The platform’s development philosophy followed two simple principles. First, create backend facilities that allow blockchain applications to be both performant and scalable. Second, provide simple, familiar development interfaces to blockchain technology. The result of this effort is a technology platform that allows developers to:

  • Build a blockchain application in any JavaScript framework. The platform does not require learning a new programming language or extending an existing application stack.

  • Use well-defined REST endpoints that simplify and encapsulate the blockchain backend. The Stacks JavaScript API reduces blockchain-backed applications to familiar GET and PUT operations.

  • Access the Blockstack’s Naming System (BNS). The system has over 70K users that can immediately start using your application.

  • Scale quickly to large, performant production systems. Stacks’s Gaia storage system gives fast, scalable performance on a level comparable to Amazon S3, Google Drive, or Azure.

Using Stacks’s technology developers can start building immediately on the blockchain with the knowledge you have today. You won’t need to spend time or effort developing expertise in specialized languages or technologies.

Blockstack Token LLC

Through the 2017 Blockstack token offering, Blockstack Token LLC created the Stacks token. This year's hard fork is an especially exciting milestone for the ecosystem because it distributes the first Stacks tokens to existing purchasers and recipients. This hard fork launches the Stacks blockchain v1, and enables the following two features for the Blockstack network:

  • Registration of all digital assets and smart contracts for registering digital assets with the Stacks token.

  • A genesis block that distributes Stacks tokens to existing purchasers.

A full technical description of the upgrade is available on the Blockstack forum.

In future upgrades and hard forks, the blockchain will expand to introduce a new scalable consensus algorithm to increase the number of transactions it can process. This consensus algorithm is planned to be introduced in additional hard forks in 2019.

Additionally, a future Stacks blockchain will support truly decentralized mobile applications by removing the need to trust a remote Stacks Node. Instead, it will be possible for light clients to calculate the economic weight of different Stacks blockchain forks, and identify the fork with the most economic activity. Today, light clients rely on other trusted sources for fork selection and cannot make that decision independently. For mobile apps this enables functionality like looking up names without having to rely on a remote Stacks Node.

Finally, Blockstack currently supports relatively simple smart contracts that are used to register digital assets on the network. The Stacks blockchain v2 will support general-purpose smart contracts written in a non-Turing-complete language currently under development.

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