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Despite the buzz surrounding blockchain, most coding projects based on the technology don't make their way to completion, according to a study from Deloitte.
Blockchain is best known as the distributed ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Established IT giants and new startups have embraced blockchain in the hopes of creating an ecosystem of secure transactions systems, trading platforms and other IT solutions that capitalize on the technology's resistance to tampering.
Yet there are signs that developers may be running into stumbling blocks this early in the game.
Deloitte analyzed GitHub, the popular open-source code repository and collaboration platform, to examine the state of the blockchain development scene. GitHub boasts 24 million users and over 68 million projects.
Among them are many blockchain projects—Deloitte identified 772 different blockchain communities on the platform, each working on one or more projects—but unfortunately many suffer from a high mortality rate.
Only eight percent of all blockchain-related projects on GitHub are currently active (updated at least once in the past six months). Projects spearheaded by organizations (15 percent still maintained) fare better than those led by users (7 percent still active).
At last count, there are an estimated 86,000 blockchain-based repositories on GitHub. Of those, more than 9,375 projects hail from companies, startups and research groups. On average, more than 8,600 blockchain projects join GitHub each year.
It's important to note that the vast majority of projects on GitHub are inactive (90 percent), regardless of type. On average, projects have a life span on just one year, while most flame out within the first six months.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, bitcoin and go-ethereum, from the Bitcoin and Ethereum groups, are the leading blockchain repositories on GitHub. The number three spot belongs to bitcoinjs-lib, while Electrum and cpp-ethereum, also from Ethereum, round out the top five.
Further analysis of the programming languages most used by blockchain developers indicates that many projects have fintech (financial technology) ambitions.
"Although not the most popular language when measured by number of blockchain repositories, we found that C++ was used most in the ecosystems' central repositories," stated the report. "This was not surprising, given that C++ has been used for some time in the financial services industry to develop applications that demand efficient memory management, speed, and reliability."
Go from Google is also picking up steam, evolving from a "fringe language" to the second most popular programming language for blockchain projects, stated the report.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.