Developer Spotlight: Usman Asim has Big Plans for Rust and ZKs on Avalanche
The tech Usman Asim needed for his dApp didn’t quite exist. He had a big idea, but also a problem set without a clear solution.
He needed a blockchain with leading speed, decentralization, and flexibility. He needed the architecture that could incorporate ZKs for privacy-centric goals. He needed to customize his own Rust VM to fine-tune an ideal execution environment.
Essentially, he needed a unicorn. Usman found one with Avalanche.
In about two weeks, Usman built a custom Rust VM with ZKs on Avalanche — BulletproofVM — to be the foundation for his dream dApp.
Usman, 21, is a developer relations engineer at Chainstack, a blockchain managed services platform. At Chainstack, he focuses on “four or five chains, mostly Avalanche.” Chainstack helps clients manage their Avalanche infrastructure, including providing validators and other tooling for builders launching Subnets. “I’ve been preaching the Avalanche song for a long time,” Usman said. “It’s super customizable, you can create whatever VM you want, and you can write in whatever language you want.”
To build his own custom Rust VM, Usman used the Avalanche Rust SDK. New to Rust, Usman supplemented the SDK with a few questions to friends more practiced in the language. Aside from these few questions, Usman built the VM himself from research to implementation.
He said his custom VM lets him:
- Maintain a state of accounts with balances/assets
- Execute standard transfers between accounts
- Execute smart contracts using arbitrary code
- Execute multi-asset transfers
- Support a decentralized governance system
- Use Bulletproof ZK Proofs to ensure everything is accurate and private
Now, Usman is giving his VM a few final touches to make it production-ready. He plans to deploy his forthcoming dApp, Speake, on it. Eventually, he hopes to move Speake to a Subnet.
Speake aims to let people post monetizable content that’s verifiable and anonymous. In a way, Usman wants to rebuild Substack but with Web3 features designed to empower censored people to regain their voices. He “wants writers to be able to write without fear,” though non-censored people interested in the monetization elements can attach their name to their content if they want. In time, he wants to broaden Speakeinto a “decentralized WeChat,” a one-stop shop for many different features.
Integrating ZKs into the VM is an intriguing step. Usman’s goal here was to provide a way for users to share an absolute minimum of personal info. He integrated ZKs, he said, so that “people can do things without verifying themselves, maintaining privacy.”
Usman knows Avalanche is the ideal chain for both building and performance.
“Honestly, I love building on Avalanche,” he said. “It gives me everything that every other platform gives me. It gives me everything I’m looking for as a developer and takes it 10 steps further.”
Usman praises Avalanche’s big-picture technical specs, such as low transaction fees, rapid finality, and infinite scalability. But it’s also the customization for builders — a less appreciated but equally important property of Avalanche — that really sells him on Avalanche. “Having that speed and customization is really big for someone like me that’s building a platform catered to Web2 users,” he said.
Usman believes the rate of growth and innovation on Avalanche exceeds what he and fellow developers are seeing on other chains. He has also been impressed by how fast the Ava Labs team addresses the few issues that surface. “Seeing the updates pushed out, the partnerships, it reinforces the belief that us as builders have in the ecosystem,” he said.
Usman continues to direct Chainstack clients and fellow builders to Avalanche. “This is going to be the platform where builders build going forward,” he said. “That’s truly my belief. If you want to build your own custom solution, there’s no better place to build it than Avalanche.”
For more on Usman, check out his website, Github, Speake Twitter, or personal Twitter.
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