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An Overview of Move Programming Language

Have you heard about the Move programming language recently? Do you aspire to learn more about the Move programming language? If yes, you have reached the right place. Keep reading this article to dive deep into the details.

The introduction of the internet and mobile broadband has been able to connect billions of people all over the world. People could access knowledge, free communication, and many other services with better convenience and cost-efficiency. As a result, connectivity has empowered more people for accessing the financial ecosystem. However, the scope of access to financial services should not be limited only to a certain group of people. 

The Diem Association, a new initiative to introduce financial inclusivity for everyone in this world, has caught the attention of many thought leaders and experts worldwide. So, what is the role of the Move programming language in the emerging applications of blockchain such as Diem? The following discussion provides a detailed overview of all the fundamentals related to Move, along with some helpful instructions. 

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What is Move Programming Language?

The first thing that comes to mind in discussions regarding the Move programming language for Diem blockchain is its definition. It is basically an executable bytecode language, which serves the function of implementing smart contracts and custom transactions. The origins of Move largely arise from the renowned issues in the existing blockchain programming languages such as Solidity. The Move serves as a safe and flexible alternative for addressing the issues of enforcing two distinct properties in the management of digital assets, such as scarcity and access control. 

  • Scarcity refers to the prevention of double-spending alongside imposing restrictions on the creation of assets. 
  • Asset control focuses on maintaining ownership information alongside relevant privileges regarding ownership of digital assets. 

When you want to learn move programming language, you must start with these two properties. Move provides the assurance of these properties through the inclusion of a type system for different resources in the system. In addition, Move also ensures the automatic enclosing of resources with access control privileges. 

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How is it different from the other existing languages?

One of the important factors in a move programming language tutorial would refer to the differences it has with existing blockchain languages. What makes Move a better choice than the existing alternatives for future blockchain applications? Here are some of the notable ways in which Move stands out from the rest of blockchain programming languages. 

  • Move does not have a default type system enforced for digital assets such as Ether or Bitcoin. 
  • Move programming language also included embedded access control policies in language semantics. 
  • You could find a single asset finding representation in the whole language. Any type of custom asset such as ERC20 tokens should be reviewed for safety properties outlined by the programmer developing the tokens. 
  • Move is free from the concerns of limits in defining custom data types of procedures. 

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Design Goals for the Move Language

The mission of Diem focuses on ensuring a global financial infrastructure and currency reaching out to billions of people worldwide. Move programming language for Diem blockchain largely emphasizes delivering a safe and programmable foundation. Therefore, it is important for Move to express the Diem currency and governance rules effectively in a verifiable, precise and understandable manner. 

As you progress, Move could develop capabilities for including many other assets and the related business logic for financial infrastructure. Therefore, Move language has to focus on important design goals which can support its growth in the future.

Here are the important design goals considered for the Move programming language-

Lifecycle of Diem Transaction

1. First-class Resources

The most important differentiator for Move is the facility of first-class resources. Blockchain systems enable users for writing programs capable of direct interaction with digital assets. Digital assets have unique traits which differentiate them from traditional programming values. You could discover the possibilities of declaring a custom asset as a specific resource type, thereby enabling better security. In addition, the first-class resources also come with the advantages of being access controlled. 

Furthermore, resources also feature exceptional transparency in modules while being completely opaque to invocations from external sources. One of the notable highlights in a move programming language tutorial refers to the language’s ability for defining custom resource types with semantics. First-class resources could not only help programmers in the implementation of secure digital assets but also in the development of suitable business logic. 

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2. Flexibility

It is clearly evident that each transaction on Diem depends on a transaction script. The transaction scripts are generally helpful for making calls alongside invoking procedures in a specific module. It is actually a single primary procedure with arbitrary code and customizable transactions. Additionally, a specific transaction script could also have the capability of invoking multiple procedures. 

The modules in Move allow for flexibility with scope for safe code composition. You can think of the relationship between modules, procedures, and resources as the same between classes, methods and objects in object-oriented programming. However, Move modules have the capability for declaring multiple resource types without any sign of ‘self’ or ‘this’ value in Move procedures.

3. Verifiability 

When you learn move programming language, you are most likely to come across the feature of verifiability. Move is capable of ensuring on-chain verification for all the safety traits. However, this is not useful in the case of blockchain, which is utilized frequently. Therefore, Move has also included support for off-chain static verification tools. As a result, it could decrease the complexities associated with on-chain verification easily. With this assumption, the move programming language would focus on three design decisions. The three particular designs are,

  • Lack of Dynamic Dispatch

Lack of dynamic dispatch for avoiding complex call graph construction alongside enabling the static determination of the call site. Without dynamic dispatch, Move enables easier identification of effects of a procedure call without diving into the complexities.  

  • Modularity 

Modularity could enable the isolation of modules for functional verification. Move modules would help in data abstraction alongside localization of critical operations on resources. The encapsulation by the module alongside safeguards of the Move type system ensures the safety of properties for types of a module. As a result, the code outside the module could not violate the types of a module. In the long run, the modular design could also enable comprehensive functional verification for crucial module invariants by reviewing isolated modules. 

  • Limited Mutability 

Limited mutability is ideal for cases that focus on the utilization of reference types that are similar to C++, allowing a maximum of one mutable reference at a particular instance. A move language book would help you understand that a reference is essential for every mutation to a Move value. References are generally the temporary values that you should create and destroy within a particular transaction script. The bytecode verifier of Move utilizes a ‘borrow checking’ scheme just like Rust for ensuring at least one mutable reference. 

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4. Safety 

The final design goal in consideration for a move programming language tutorial is safety. Move should reject programs that do not follow important properties such as type safety, memory safety, and resource safety. The first possible approach, in this case, would refer to the use of a high-level programming language with a compiler responsible for checking the properties. 

The second possible approach for this case would be the use of a low-level untyped assembly followed by safety checks. Move language book takes a detour from the two approaches and relies on its executable format. The executable format is actually a typed bytecode which is higher-level in comparison to bytecode and lower-level than the source language. 

Move language focuses on the on-chain checking of bytecode for memory safety, resource, and type. After the checking process, the bytecode goes for execution directly through a bytecode interpreter. As a result, Move could enable safety privileges that are commonly related to a specific source language. However, Move does not impose the complexities of adding a source compiler to a particular trusted computing base. In addition, the move programming language is also free from the cost of compiling to a critical path for executing transactions. 

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Components in Move Language

The next critical concern associated with an introduction to Move refers to the components of Move language. A detailed impression of the components helps in identifying the basis of features users can find in Move.

        1. Types

The types in Move refer to the supported primitive data types such as Boolean, unsigned integer (64-bit), fixed-size byte arrays, and address (256-bit) data types.

        2. Struct

Struct is also one of the significant additions you would have to focus on to learn move programming language. The two specific types of Struct are kind and unrestricted. Kind refers to the resource structures, while unrestricted points out to the general structures.

        3. Procedures 

It is important to note that procedures in Move are just methods that could be classified into public or internal. Generally, the acyclic module dependency helps in staving off any re-entrance attacks.

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4. Bytecode Verifier

Bytecode Verifier is also another crucial entry among components of Move language. It focuses on checking for safety traits before the publication of the modules. All the move programs should go through the verifier prior to deployment on the network. In addition, you could find different stages in the verification process. The stages include,

  1. Stack balance checking to ensure that the size of the stack has not been subject to modifications after all operations
  2. Type checking
  3. Control graph development
  4. Reference checking
  5. Linking of references with the global state for checking match between declarations and their usage
  6. Resource checking

5. Bytecode Interpreter

After the verification process, all the programs have to go through an interpreter. The flow of programs through the interpreter resembles that of a JVM and CLR, as mentioned previously. Conventional programmers could find reliable similarities in this process. For example, the execution of programs is considered at par with the use of Ethereum by leveraging the ‘gas’ parameter. As a result, it can ensure infinite loop executions. 

6. Move Virtual Machine 

The Move virtual machine does not showcase any differences when compared with another blockchain. Blocks in blockchain include multiple transactions, with the execution of each transaction leading to a transaction effect. The transaction effect can help in creating an updated global state. As a result, it could ensure better differentiation between the state transitions and effects. 

Commands in Move Language

When you want to learn move programming language, you must also understand the basic instructions or commands and their functions. You can find local instructions, reference instructions, special instructions, constant instructions, and in-built instructions within a module. Here are some examples of commands in the Move language book, along with their functions. 

  • MoveLoc< x >: This command helps in pushing value stored in ‘x’ on the stack with ‘x’ being unavailable now.
  • ReadRef: This command helps in popping ‘r’ and pushing ‘*r’ on the stack.
  • Call< p >: This command helps in popping up arguments ‘r*’ followed by loading them into the p’s formals x* and then transferring the protocol to ‘p’.
  • PopUnrestricted: This command or instruction helps in popping up a non-resource value.
  • Not: This is a stack instruction in Move programming language, which helps in popping Boolean ‘b’ alongside pushing ‘-b’. 

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Final Words 

The observation of basics in the move programming language tutorial shows that there is more to explore in the language. It is a formal programming language tailored for blockchain-based programming. Most importantly, Move is actually a bytecode language that aligns perfectly with the programmable model of blockchain applications

The module system in Move language also serves as one of the promising features for the implementation of libraries with better access control and data abstraction. In addition, Move language also provides the benefits of highly functional components such as serializer or deserializer, bytecode interpreter, and bytecode verifier. 

Although the Move programming language has already proven its worth as a language for blockchain programming, it still needs improvements. Some of the notable improvements might refer to the addition of new features such as parametric polymorphism, events, and collections. 

In addition, we can also look at possibilities of extended support for third-party Move modules. You can start learning more about the Move language and utilize it for developing unique blockchain-based applications. Specialize your skills as a blockchain developer with fluency in Move programming right now!     

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The post An Overview of Move Programming Language appeared first on 101 Blockchains.

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Author: Gwyneth Iredale

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