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Introducing Solana to the World of Python, Breakpoint 2023 Presentation


Below is the full transcript of a short presentation delivered at the Solana Breakpoint conference 2023 by Seahorse and Phantom developer Anvit Mangal, in which he succintly outlines the vision for Seahorse's future.

Full transcript

Welcome everyone. I'm thrilled to see so many familiar and new faces in the crowd today. I hope everyone's having a great time at this year's Breakpoint. Today I'll be speaking on the topic introducing Solana to the world of Python. Before we delve into this exciting talk, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Anvit and I'm currently working as a developer experience engineer at Phantom where my journey is all about enhancing the interaction between developers and the Solana ecosystem. Previously I've worked as a software engineer at Amazon and as a community developer at Metaplex and at Phantom I work on integrations for several Solana ecosystem initiatives such as version transactions priority fees and more recently “sign in with Solana”.

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Let's dive into the topic, so as we all know developing on Solana is not the easiest thing to do. Working in external facing roles I've had the privilege of interacting with hundreds of developers in the past 2 years and the developers ranged from absolute novices to the programming world to veterans of the tech space and one feedback I constantly receive is that the learning curve when you're just starting with Solana is very steep. Solana programming often encounters two major roadblocks. The first one is the unique Solana account model which diverges significantly from other blockchains and this unfamiliar territory can indeed be challenging to people, and the second one is of course Rust which is the programming language sitting at the heart of Solana and its intricacies around memory safety and management often steepen the learning curve for developers even more so.

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However the goal of any good technology should be accessibility. How can we make Solana more approachable for developers? How can we reduce this steep learning curve when they're just starting with Solana? And the answer lies in providing a familiar programming language medium that most developers can readily engage with without compromising on the robustness of the features that Solana offers.

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So meet Seahorse Lang. I guess many of you might have already heard about this. Seahorse Lang acts as a translator allowing you to communicate with Solana in a comfortable dialect of Python while still respecting the deep nuances of Rust. So it's not just a bridge, it's a whole new pathway, making developers' journey into Solana smoother and more familiar so this is where complexity meets simplicity in a way, thanks to Seahorse. So now let's talk about synergy. Seahorse is bringing the simplicity of Python into the Solana ecosystem and what kind of features does it have? It has compile time type safety, it's fully interoperable with Rust code and it’s compatible with Anchor and it has built-in integration with pipes so this framework is basically allowing you to bypass the intracacies of low level memory issues that Rust meticulously handles freeing you to focus purely on your business logic and your creative solutions. So imagine the innovation that this could foster.

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One such example of very cool or wild innovation that seahorse unlocks is shown in the slide. This is an example of an on-chain neural net OCR. Shout out to Wireless for this awesome example that shows the power of Seahorse. Obviously you can't see the code here and I don't want to go through that. I just want to show the difference between what seahorse looks like and what Anchor does. As developers we often hear the phrase that less is more and brevity in code not only reduces the complexity but also enhances readability making maintenance easier and collaboration more effective. So this is where Seahorse truly shines and on one side we have the Seahorse program which elegantly captures the task in just 70 lines, whereas we have Anchor on the right side which accomplishes the same thing in 200 lines. So this is nearly three times the length.

However, innovation isn't without roadblocks and earlier this year Seahorse’s journey was paused by the original development team and we encountered some compatibility issues as well with Enums due to updates in Anchor. So recognizing these challenges we committed to a revival of this language ensuring Seahorse not only returns but comes back stronger and more reliable.

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I'm very happy to announce that with the support of the Solana foundation. We've reignited this innovative framework with a revitalized folk and we named it Seahorse Dev. We've rejuvenated every aspect, GitHub repositories, comprehensive documentation, the Rust crate CLIs, ensuring everything you need is up to date and at your fingertips and we've not just fixed bugs. We've expanded the ecosystem. Our refreshed resources are comprehensive, user friendly and excitingly Solana playground also supports this and extends this seahorse Dev which reinforces this forked framework’s versatility and integration.

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But we didn't just stop here, so I'm excited to introduce Seahorse University which is a dedicated platform where learning is just not about understanding the seahorse code, it's also about mastering the art of Solana programming and building full stack decentralized applications. This marks a significant leap towards making Solana and blockchain in general more accessible to developers everywhere regardless of their coding skills this course takes developers to the depths of Solana account models developing Solana programs and the art of building comprehensive applications and by the end developers not only understand the Solana basics, the Seahorse basics but they also understand how to write basic programs using Anchor through the Seahorse lens. This is very important because we believe Seahorse is just a starting point and it is important for developers to continue on to build more consumer focused production grade applications on Solana.

What does it take to you know to embark on this journey? It's merely a basic understanding of Python. So if you're familiar with Python you're already ready to start. You're already on the starting block and we've designed everything to ensure that while the learning is robust, the starting point is still accessible.

What do we want out of this folk and Seahorse University? So the thesis behind this effort is that we see Seahorse becoming to Solana what iconic frameworks like TensorFlowand Keras were to AI in the last decade. We envision a world where Sonana development is a mainstream skill nurtured by Seahorse. Imagine the day when ‘introduction to programming’ courses in universities all around the world proudly include Solana projects contributing to a more decentralized and inclusive digital future.

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I can talk about all the advantages of Seahorse but sometimes the real testament of the success of a framework comes from those who've actually used it and witnessed its impact firsthand. On the screen you'll see a tweet from a founder I talked to recently of a developer team in the ecosystem. What he says is that it's absolutely huge. We onboarded our first non-Rust depth through Seahorse and it made it so much easier to become proficient and get a decent understanding of the Solana runtime without leaving his native language. This is the true essence of Seahorse. It's not just about simplifying code or enhancing developer experience in isolation. It's about breaking barriers, making onboarding smoother and expanding the Solana ecosystem. So when a non-Rust developer can quickly adapt and contribute meaningfully it's a win for the entire ecosystem. Thank you, any questions or insights or reflections you have will be invaluable. Happy to chat after the talk, thank you.