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What is Lisk? A sidechain and DAPP platform based on Javascript


What is Lisk?

One of the biggest struggles in the industry is getting developers up to speed on building blockchains and making sense of the granular codebases under the hood.

With Bitcoin core being written primarily in C++ and Ethereum in Solidity (an independent javascript based framework) there is a lot of confusion for developers about which language to focus on or learn altogether.

Lisk founders Max Kordek and Oliver Beddows saw and experienced these struggles and created a vision to make Blockchain technology more accessible. Considering that most of the most popular apps (e.g. Uber) and the web itself runs mostly on Javascript, why reinvent the wheel?

Meet Lisk, a decentralized app (DAPP) and sidechain development platform

Developers work extremely hard and are often at the whim of centralized platforms (like Google Play and Apples App Store). These large entities get the lion’s share of the attention and revenues often leaving the devs unable to make ends meet. Lisk aims to create a more fair platform for decentralized apps allowing developers to get a bigger piece of the pie.

The project hopes to accelerate and simplify development by focusing on Javascript (not a proprietary new language) ultimately opening their platform to millions of already trained programmers.

It all began in 2014 with Crypti, an open-source blockchain app platform which was eventually forked by Max Kordek and Oliver Beddows. Although successful on a community level, Crypti needed more firepower to reach the founders’ visions and was forked into Lisk in May 2016.


  • Block Time: 10 seconds
  • Round Time: ~17 minutes
  • Supply: 100 million LISK + annual forging rewards (currently 4 LSK per block)
  • Consensus System: Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS)
  • Ticker symbol: LSK
  • Lisk currency symbol:

Lisk aims to be a platform provider (similar to ETH and NEO) with a decentralized network, however, it differs in a number of ways.

Ethereum uses Solidity requiring devs to learn a new language and is focused on smart-contracts. This back-end focused construct requires third parties to operate as front-end applications (e.g. My Ether Wallet for ERC-20 tokens).

Lisk uses sidechains and a complete Software Development Kit (SDK) to enable a complete kit and kaboodle for developers to produce polished DAPPS (decentralized apps) and an independent blockchain under one system. This side blockchain is linked to and secured by the separately maintained Lisk blockchain.


Lisk sidechains


Sidechains are cryptographically independent ledgers (blockchains) that link to the Mainchain without hurting performance and speed of the Mainchain. This ushers in interoperability features such as transferring and synchronizing your tokens between chains.

Ultimately, sidechains allow devs the ultimate level of customizability for consensus algorithms, network scaling, asset tracking and even beta releases of cryptos (e.g. testnets) and tracking of assets (e.g. stocks).

Many sidechain solutions out there are either a single Blockchain or private Blockchains. Lisk strives to offer the best of both worlds–mainchain stability and security while allowing side chains to have unlimited flexibility.

Developers have full control to create their own Blockchain network as a sidechain while the Lisk team maintains the Mainchain and is secured by their 101 delegates. If there is ever a bug on that other blockchain, the Mainchain would be unaffected.

What makes Lisk different?

To make Blockchain technology more accessible, the team created a software developers kit (SDK) based on JavaScript with focus on user experience (UI) and developer support.

The SDK consists of 4 key parts:

  1. Consensus Algorithm – In the case of Lisk Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) which is also the default setting
  2. Sidechain – Allows the ability to create an autonomous blockchain linked to Lisk’s main chain
  3. Back-end – Customizable code for devs to create DAPPS independently
  4. Front-end – The user interface (UI) which are public facing components

The thought behind this is these independent projects will link to a stable parent chain which has pre-existing scale and robustness. Lisk also has delegates who can help secure the sidechains’ networks.

Lisk nodes

By combining the power of the original Lisk network and blockchain with an open-source SDK, developers have the power to create convenient, easy to download digital applications in one package. This app is accessible in a decentralized repository like an app store. LSK tokens would be consumed for using the Lisk network and services. (Similar to ether with Ethereum)

This allows developers to focus exclusively on the utility of their app not recreating a new blockchain and all the management that goes along with that.

Examples of specific blockchain services that can be built on the SDK include:

  • Identity as a service – A push button instant single sign-on (SSO) for websites requiring registration
  • Decentralized hosting as a service – Store media in a decentralized, encrypted cloud on the network
  • Smart contract execution as a service – Allows trustless escrow services and eliminates counterparty risk
  • Oracles as a service – A way to get customizable real-time data or the result of real-life events

One of the coolest things about having the SDK and open-source ecosystem around the Mainchain of Lisk is how the whole system benefits from each new DAPP and use case created by developers. Solidity, for example, doesn’t have a library in Lisk but a developer could code Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) smart contracts within their own sidechain or as a blockchain service. The whole network would then be able to use that library.

Once completed the entire Lisk network would now benefit from this new efficiency and offering. As more and more developers jump on board, this will create a powerful network effect and rapid creation of needed apps and services. This bodes well for Lisk by creating more value and utility for developers and users.

Lisk is a Decentralized App directory (like iTunes and Google Play).

You can search for any “DAPP” in the ecosystem within the Lisk client (as you would with any App store). All blockchain applications built on the platform must be registered on the Mainchain. This registration creates a connection between the Lisk Mainchain and sidechain allowing the application directory to find all blockchain applications and services.

During this process, the developer can set a unique app name, description, category, icon, tags, and download link. Very similar to the app or podcast registration process on services like Apple’s app store.

Lisk Dapp directory

Roadmap and Developments

Lisk has not been without its bumps in the road and other challenges. Yet despite this, it has grown into a real project that gains more and more confidence with each milestone completed.

A partnership with Microsoft in 2016 provided the chance for Lisk to provide “Blockchain as a service” through Azure as well as some industry recognition.

One big, recent development was the decision for a rebrand. Hiring a brand strategy firm and professional designers indicates diligent builders of not only a Blockchain app platform but, a brand. This relaunch will take place in February of 2018 and encompasses a lot of feedback to date received from community members and other stakeholders.

Where to buy Lisk

Lisk is traded on a variety exchanges with the top 3 being: Bittrex, Poloniex, and Binance. As with many other Cryptocurrencies, you will need to start with Bitcoin (or something to convert into Bitcoin) so you can purchase that pair on your favorite exchange.

How to store Lisk

As a part of the relaunch, there will be a complete build of a full desktop wallet from scratch. Right now, however, the main developer supported option is the Lisk nano wallet which is a light wallet (aka SPV wallet) and does not run full nodes but rather connects to the Lisk Foundation nodes.

Although there is a core wallet available for download, it is for advanced users only. (Meaning it’s a command line dashboard without a GUI)


Lisk has been a very slow and steady player. In a world of “flavor of the month” ICOs, it’s refreshing to see consistent development, milestones reached, and gradual improvements.

Since the days of Crypti, both founders have been with the project keeping a watchful eye on their brainchild. From a fledgling kitchen table full of coders to a much bigger flourishing team with nice offices in Berlin, Germany, Lisk has come a long way.

While many think of Lisk as an “Ethereum killer”, a closer look reveals that project is simply another great up and coming player (among many) in a nascent crypto world that is being built right before our eyes.

While Ethereum is focused on smart contracts and mechanisms in Solidity as a back-end tool, Lisk hopes to capture the hearts and minds of both (JavaScript) developers and users alike.

Their SDK based on Javascript has a simplicity that’s easy to miss. Why reinvent the code of the internet when so many developers already know and use it? This is where Lisk resisted the urge to come up with something proprietary and instead is using pre-existing frameworks allowing them to access a much larger developer pool faster.

Only time will tell (and decide) who is the king of the Crypto mountain and Lisk steadily (and quietly) grows as an incumbent to be considered for that role.


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Aaron has spent 10+ years in different start-up, business environments wearing hats in marketing, sales, management and operations.

After doing business development and content marketing for a Silicon Valley IT and Cloud services firm, Aaron realized how technology is transforming everything we do in our personal and professional lives.

This prompted a deeper professional interest in the Bitcoin and Blockchain space which he had been dabbling in since 2014 as a miner and trader.

Aaron now writes about Blockchain Technologies and does content marketing and business development for CoinStructive, a Bitcoin and Blockchain consulting firm.