Now, an Ethereum Search Engine for the Decentralized Web

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A former Coinbase software engineer, Antonio Juliano, has launched Weipoint, a search engine for the decentralized web which interacts with ethereum smart contracts, making it easier to find new DApps and eth based projects.

The search engine is “still definitely an mvp,” Juliano told CCN, “and will evolve greatly in the future. I’ve only been working on the project for 3 weeks full time so far, and wanted to launch early to get user feedback sooner rather than later.” Announcing the project, Juliano says:

“Right now there is no easy way to discover and navigate to these applications… by indexing directly from the blockchain, Weipoint hopes to provide the most complete and relevant content to users.” Moreover, “it’s currently too hard for all but the most technical users to determine which Dapps are trustworthy and secure.”

I had a look around Weipoint yesterday. It’s very basic but can quickly send you to a smart contract if you know what you are looking for. Otherwise, you can browse, see what DApps are on ethereum’s blockchain. It all seems to work, but it does look very much like a project at the very early stages.

I asked Juliano for some more information, especially regarding the taggings. Are they based on user inputs and if so how can easy abuse be prevented or is this all algorithmic analysis? Juliano says:

“Right now the search is based on user-added attributes. Like you mention, users can add anything they want, which might not have anything to do with the contract. Right now I’m personally reviewing all user added data to ensure it is relevant. Obviously, this isn’t scalable, nor should I have the power to dictate what is added to the platform. In the future, we plan to automate getting descriptors by scraping the Dapp front end sites they put up, similar to how google scrapes webpages. We would also like to create a standard for Dapp creators to provide metadata about their apps on a decentralized platform such as ipfs or swarm.”

The announcement mentions that they “provide verification of smart contract code,” which I found very interesting. Is this some other related project, I asked, or does Weipoint verify contract’s authenticity and perhaps see if they have any bugs or are malicious. Juliano says:

“Right now we can verify the source code for contracts. Users have to provide this source code, and then we automatically verify it matches the bytecode which exists on the blockchain. This is all that exists so far, but in the future, we hope to add both automated security checks, and social reputation for contracts. The social part means that reputable entities, such as security reviewers or other respected individuals, could endorse contracts which would give users a higher degree of trust for the app. Similarly, regular users could endorse other users to give them more influence, and in this way, we could create a network which automatically establishes trust for both users and apps.”

The project appears interesting at its current state and even more interesting considering future developments. Personally, I find it useful as during the course of my investigations I’ll probably want to have a look at a DApp to get more information and will certainly not want to spend more than a few minutes to find it.

More interesting, however, is the fact that this project suggests ethereum is now gaining its own useful infrastructure. Much of it has been built by ConsenSys, but, significantly, it seems Coinbase is joining them as this is the third or fourth eth project coming out of the Silicon Valley based company. Why not bitcoin, I asked Juliano:

“Weipoint is focused on decentralized apps, for which Ethereum is a much better and more mature platform than Bitcoin. If you check out some of the top projects such as Augur, Golem, Gnosis, etc. you’ll see they’re all built on top of Ethereum.”

Ethereum’s ecosystem is maturing, but it’s still very young. Nonetheless, even at this early stage, it seems ethereum is detaching from bitcoin, coming out of its shadows and standing up on its own right, with its community now of a significant size and eth related developments sufficiently numerous to not allow much time or attention for other currencies or communities. That’s a first. One of many for eth.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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