New article available as Early Access in the Journal IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
(04.10.2021) Our new journal article “Challenges and Common Solutions in Smart Contract Development“ by Niclas Kannengießer, Sebastian Lins, Christian Sander, Klaus Winter, Hellmuth Frey, and Ali Sunyaev is now available as an early access article in the journal IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (TSE).
Abstract: Smart contracts are a promising means of formalizing and reliably enforcing agreements between entities using distributed ledger technology (DLT). Research has revealed that a significant number of smart contracts are subject to programming flaws, making them vulnerable to attacks and leading to detrimental effects, such as asset loss. Researchers and developers call for a thorough analysis of challenges to identify their causes and propose solutions. To respond to these calls, we conducted two literature reviews and diverse expert interviews and synthesized scattered knowledge on challenges and solutions. We identified 29 challenges (e.g., code visibility, code updateability, and encapsulation) and 60 solutions (e.g., gas limit specification, off-ledger computations, and shadowing). Moreover, we developed 20 software design patterns (SDPs) in collaboration with smart contract developers. The SDPs help developers adjust their programming habits and thus support them in their daily development practices. Our results provide actionable knowledge for smart contract developers to overcome the identified challenges and offer support for comparing smart contract integration concepts across three fundamentally different DLT protocols (i.e., Ethereum, EOSIO, and Hyperledger Fabric). Moreover, we support developers in becoming aware of peculiarities in smart contract development and the resulting benefits and drawbacks.