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What's Behind the Move Movement? w/ Rushi Manche (Movement Labs)

By Validated

Published on 2024-04-30

Discover how the Move programming language is transforming blockchain development with built-in security features and improved developer experience. Learn about Movement Labs' efforts to bring Move to multiple blockchains, including Solana and Ethereum.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!

The Rise of Move Programming Language

The blockchain ecosystem has witnessed a significant evolution in programming languages since the early days of Ethereum and Solidity. While Solidity remained the primary language for smart contract development on Ethereum for years, newer blockchains have sought to innovate by introducing alternative programming paradigms. One such language that has gained considerable attention is Move, originally developed as part of Facebook's Libra (later Diem) project.

Move has emerged as a promising alternative to traditional blockchain programming languages, offering enhanced security features and a more intuitive development experience. In this article, we'll explore the origins of Move, its key benefits, and how Movement Labs is working to bring Move to multiple blockchain ecosystems, including Solana.

The Origins of Move

Move was initially developed as part of Facebook's ambitious Libra project, which later rebranded to Diem before ultimately being canceled. Despite the project's discontinuation, the open-source nature of the code allowed teams to continue developing and refining the Move language. Two primary implementations emerged from this effort: Aptos and Sui.

Rushi Manche, co-founder of Movement Labs, explains the divergence between these implementations:

"APTIS move is like DM project essentially staying in line with the DM principles. Like for example, the move prover is built into the VM, which was kind of a core principle of the DM project. Whilst we move is more correlated to the consensus mechanisms."

This split has led to two distinct flavors of Move, each with its own focus and strengths. While this divergence presents some challenges, it also demonstrates the flexibility and adaptability of the Move language.

The Challenge of Secure Smart Contract Development

One of the primary motivations behind the development of Move was the difficulty in writing secure smart contracts using existing languages like Solidity. Manche shares his personal experience:

"It took me hours and I'm not even the best programmer who's like a mid tier I would say, like C tier. It took me hours and days to like debug and to make sure like each line, there's already history, there was no integer overflows. I was spending more time ordering my code than I was playing, developing my code."

This challenge is particularly significant in the blockchain space, where security vulnerabilities can lead to catastrophic financial losses and irreparable damage to a project's reputation. The immutable nature of blockchain transactions means that once a smart contract is deployed, it cannot be easily modified or updated, making security a paramount concern from the outset.

Move's Built-in Security Features

One of the key selling points of Move is its built-in security features. Manche elaborates on how Move addresses security concerns:

"Security comes out of the box with move. You have a move approval and form of verification built into the VM. So when I was coding Solity and even cause it's going to rust back in the day, if I was able to use move, I'd probably reduce my developer time by like one third to like one fourth."

Move incorporates a bytecode interpreter and verifier that checks each line of code for potential bugs, integer overflows, and other common security issues. This real-time verification process acts like an "auditor working for you in real time," significantly reducing the risk of introducing vulnerabilities during development.

The Move Prover and Formal Verification

A standout feature of Move is the Move Prover, a tool for formal verification of smart contracts. Formal verification is a rigorous mathematical approach to ensuring the correctness of software, which is particularly valuable in the high-stakes world of blockchain development.

Manche explains the significance of the Move Prover:

"When you actually look at a history of attacks, it's not off the first deployment. So if you look at the Kyber attack, it was actually like the 50th push or 54th push made by a random developer that they forgot to check one line and that cost the Kyber the entirety of their portfolio, right?"

By incorporating formal verification into the development process, Move aims to catch these subtle errors that might slip past traditional auditing methods. This approach can potentially prevent costly exploits and hacks that have plagued many blockchain projects in the past.

Move vs. Traditional Blockchain Languages

When compared to languages like Solidity or Rust, Move offers several advantages. Manche argues that Move strikes a balance between ease of use and performance:

"Move has been the easiest language to pick up out of traditional Rust and traditional city. Just because it's very object oriented is less off-cousing and worry about it. I think it's like 54 off-codes and move. And the amount of time it takes to write code. There's some diagram somewhere that says to write like account checks for a move. It's like this much for any other like code basis, like a page and slowly it's like three pages."

This reduction in code complexity not only makes it easier for developers to write and understand smart contracts but also reduces the potential for errors and security vulnerabilities.

Movement Labs: Bringing Move to Multiple Blockchains

Movement Labs, co-founded by Rushi Manche, is working to expand the reach of Move beyond its original implementations in Aptos and Sui. Their vision is to bring Move to multiple blockchain ecosystems, including Ethereum and Solana.

Manche explains their approach:

"Our thesis is move it everywhere with movement that's kind of like even in our backgrounds. We envision a world where the move framework and move thesis is embedded into every blockchain through one shape or form, whether that's the move prover existing and current systems like Avalanche, slaunable whatever, or people who are saying move smart contracts."

This ambitious goal seeks to leverage the strengths of Move across different blockchain ecosystems, potentially creating a more unified and secure development environment for blockchain applications.

M2: Move on Ethereum

One of Movement Labs' key initiatives is M2, a layer-two solution that brings Move to the Ethereum ecosystem. Manche describes the value proposition:

"Think of all the benefits of after some SUI, fully living on Ethereum security as a layer two. So that same decks that have two assets and a coal star problem on top of F-DOS not can deploy on top of M2, if native ETH directly, the ecosystem where fully IBC enables the UFT, Adam, he actually has USDC off the bat from Noble, as well as you have full EVM assets."

By combining the security and liquidity of Ethereum with the advantages of Move, M2 aims to offer developers the best of both worlds. This approach could potentially accelerate the adoption of Move by allowing developers to leverage existing Ethereum infrastructure and assets while benefiting from Move's enhanced security features.

Move on Solana: Expanding the Ecosystem

Movement Labs is also working on bringing Move support to Solana, leveraging Solana's LLVM-based architecture. This initiative could potentially open up Solana's high-performance blockchain to a new set of developers familiar with Move.

Manche explains their motivation:

"Given our experience of move compilers and kind of the leading voice, like, margin move or like move outside of existing environments, I think that's what attracted us and something we're working on right now with the slaunable team is bringing the move language to slaunable or unlock a lot of different benefits for them."

By bringing Move to Solana, Movement Labs aims to combine the performance advantages of Solana with the security features of Move, potentially creating a powerful new development environment for blockchain applications.

The Challenge of EVM Compatibility

One of the challenges in bringing Move to different blockchain ecosystems is maintaining compatibility with existing smart contracts, particularly those written for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Movement Labs is addressing this challenge by developing an EVM runtime that can run on top of the Move virtual machine.

Manche describes their approach:

"We still retain the same DM virtual machine. So you have the block STM pattern built into the VM. So it's still optimistic, optimistic realization from the APTUS project. What we built on top of the move VM is essentially an interpreter that's eventually be converted to a transpiler."

This compatibility layer allows existing Solidity smart contracts to run on Move-based systems, potentially easing the transition for developers and projects looking to leverage Move's advantages.

The Future of Move: ZK-Move and Beyond

Looking to the future, Movement Labs is exploring advanced applications of Move, including the development of a zero-knowledge proof version of Move, dubbed "ZK-Move." Manche outlines their research:

"Something that we're doing a lot of research into the ZK move, we saw the EVM to ZK EVM trend. I would argue that ZK EVM wasn't that much performance than the EVM that we saw. So we try, our activity looking like the ZK move thing, the issues that proven cost for any zero knowledge per year is way too high."

While still in the research phase, the development of ZK-Move could potentially bring enhanced privacy and scalability features to Move-based applications, further expanding its capabilities and use cases.

Developer Education and Adoption

As with any new technology, education and community building are crucial for the adoption of Move. Movement Labs is focusing on attracting developers from both the blockchain space and traditional web development backgrounds.

Manche emphasizes their approach to developer outreach:

"The thesis is to get JavaScript developers and retail developers from Facebook or to see mapping systems to use move. So I wouldn't say it's predatory to current rep to you systems, but we're not all trying to exchange the five developers who are grant chasing. We're all trying to tap into the millions of developers that are trying to look into move, look into web three, but never thought to do so."

By positioning Move as an accessible entry point for web2 developers looking to transition into blockchain development, Movement Labs hopes to expand the overall pool of blockchain developers and accelerate innovation in the space.

The Ethereum Alignment Thesis

Despite working to bring Move to multiple blockchains, Movement Labs still sees value in aligning with Ethereum's ecosystem. Manche explains their perspective:

"So the Valley prop is that Ethereum is the best element layer today. Given the fact that Ben Bal tested, has TBL, he's used a stable money in as many people argue. So Ethereum would be selling it in this case where any transaction or infrastructure application leverages the same security, decentralization and network effects to boost rap liquidity."

This alignment allows Move-based applications to benefit from Ethereum's established security and liquidity while still leveraging the advantages of the Move language. It's a strategy that seeks to combine the strengths of different blockchain ecosystems rather than positioning them as direct competitors.

Challenges and Criticisms

While Move offers many advantages, it's important to acknowledge the challenges and potential criticisms of the language and Movement Labs' approach. One such challenge is the divergence between different implementations of Move, which could lead to fragmentation in the developer community.

Additionally, the performance trade-offs of using Move compared to lower-level languages like C or native Solana programs need to be carefully considered. While Manche argues that these trade-offs are minimal for most applications, developers working on high-performance or specialized applications may need to weigh the benefits of Move against potential performance impacts.

The Role of AI in Smart Contract Security

As artificial intelligence continues to advance, there are questions about how it might impact smart contract development and security. Manche offers his perspective on the current state of AI in smart contract auditing:

"That seems like with AI the issues that you need to have enough trained data. So I think we're very early for that. Like a play around with a few AI for all of your systems. And usually they completely miss because you don't have like, like, you don't have 8,000 different curves, 8,000 different cibers. You have like five good ones that are live on Mainnet."

While AI may play an increasingly important role in smart contract security in the future, for now, the built-in security features of languages like Move remain a crucial tool for developers.

Building a Sustainable Developer Ecosystem

One of the key challenges in blockchain development is building a sustainable ecosystem that attracts and retains talented developers. Manche draws comparisons to Solana's approach:

"I think this is what slotted it, maybe the best out of anyone is kind of preventing mercy developers and prioritizing in-house organic developers. So that starts off with like not throwing a grant at every developer that's interested."

By focusing on long-term engagement and providing developers with the tools and support they need to build successful applications, Movement Labs aims to create a thriving ecosystem around Move.

The Global Move Developer Community

The Move developer community is growing rapidly, with particular strength in certain regions. Manche provides an overview:

"We're seeing a lot of growth in Southeast Asia, Korea, Taiwan, Korea, especially this big app just has a big flag there with SK Planet, hash and a few other groups. So we've seen a lot of developer communities come from Asia to start with. And now the kind of focus, or at least our focus is North America, Europe adoption where core theme and kind of cosmos folks are."

This global distribution of developers could lead to a diverse and innovative ecosystem of Move-based applications, drawing on different cultural and technological perspectives.

Conclusion: The Future of Blockchain Development

The development of Move and the efforts of projects like Movement Labs represent an important evolution in blockchain programming. By addressing key challenges in security and developer experience, Move has the potential to accelerate the development of more robust and secure blockchain applications.

As Move continues to expand beyond its original implementations and finds its way into established ecosystems like Ethereum and Solana, we may see a shift in how developers approach blockchain programming. The emphasis on built-in security features and formal verification could set a new standard for smart contract development, potentially reducing the frequency and impact of costly exploits and hacks.

However, the success of Move will ultimately depend on its ability to deliver on its promises of enhanced security and developer productivity, as well as the broader adoption of Move-based systems by developers and users alike. As the blockchain industry continues to mature, languages like Move may play a crucial role in shaping the future of decentralized applications and Web3 technologies.

The journey of Move from its origins in the Libra project to its current state as a multi-chain programming language demonstrates the resilience and adaptability of open-source technologies. As Movement Labs and other organizations continue to push the boundaries of what's possible with Move, we may be witnessing the early stages of a significant shift in blockchain development practices.

Facts + Figures

  • Move was originally developed as part of Facebook's Libra (later Diem) project before being adopted and further developed by other blockchain projects.
  • There are two main implementations of Move: Aptos Move and Sui Move, each with different focuses and strengths.
  • Movement Labs is working to bring Move support to multiple blockchains, including Ethereum (through their M2 layer-2 solution) and Solana.
  • Move incorporates built-in security features, including a bytecode interpreter and verifier that checks code for potential vulnerabilities in real-time.
  • The Move Prover is a formal verification tool that aims to mathematically prove the correctness of smart contracts.
  • According to Rushi Manche, using Move could potentially reduce developer time spent on security concerns by one-third to one-fourth compared to languages like Solidity.
  • Move has approximately 54 opcodes, compared to the 100+ opcodes in Solidity, potentially simplifying the development process.
  • Movement Labs is exploring the development of ZK-Move, a zero-knowledge proof version of Move, though current proving costs are estimated at 4-5 cents per transaction.
  • The Move developer community is seeing significant growth in Southeast Asia, particularly in Korea and Taiwan.
  • Movement Labs has a team of about 17 people and has raised funding through private investment rounds.

Questions Answered

What is the Move programming language?

Move is a programming language originally developed for Facebook's Libra (later Diem) project, designed specifically for writing secure smart contracts. It features built-in security measures and formal verification tools, aiming to reduce the likelihood of vulnerabilities in blockchain applications. Move has since been adopted and further developed by projects like Aptos and Sui, with efforts underway to bring it to other blockchain ecosystems.

How does Move differ from other blockchain programming languages like Solidity?

Move differs from languages like Solidity in several key ways. It has built-in security features, including a bytecode interpreter and verifier that checks code for vulnerabilities in real-time. Move also has fewer opcodes (around 54) compared to Solidity (100+), potentially simplifying the development process. Additionally, Move incorporates formal verification through the Move Prover, allowing developers to mathematically prove the correctness of their smart contracts.

What is Movement Labs doing with the Move language?

Movement Labs is working to expand the adoption of Move across multiple blockchain ecosystems. Their main initiatives include M2, a layer-2 solution bringing Move to Ethereum, and efforts to implement Move support on Solana. They're also researching advanced applications of Move, such as ZK-Move, a zero-knowledge proof version of the language. Overall, Movement Labs aims to make Move a widely adopted language for blockchain development across different platforms.

How does Move address smart contract security concerns?

Move addresses smart contract security concerns through several mechanisms. It has a built-in bytecode interpreter and verifier that checks code for potential bugs and vulnerabilities during compilation and execution. The Move Prover allows for formal verification of smart contracts, mathematically proving their correctness. These features aim to catch and prevent common security issues before they can be exploited, potentially reducing the frequency and impact of smart contract hacks.

What are the challenges in bringing Move to different blockchain ecosystems?

One of the main challenges in bringing Move to different blockchain ecosystems is maintaining compatibility with existing smart contracts, particularly those written for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Movement Labs is addressing this by developing an EVM runtime that can run on top of the Move virtual machine. Another challenge is the potential performance trade-offs when compared to lower-level languages or native implementations. Additionally, the divergence between different Move implementations (like Aptos Move and Sui Move) could lead to fragmentation in the developer community.

How does Movement Labs plan to attract developers to Move?

Movement Labs is focusing on attracting developers from both the blockchain space and traditional web development backgrounds. They're positioning Move as an accessible entry point for web2 developers looking to transition into blockchain development. The company is also emphasizing the language's built-in security features and potential for reducing development time spent on security concerns. By aligning with established ecosystems like Ethereum, they aim to provide developers with the benefits of Move while leveraging existing blockchain infrastructure and liquidity.

What is the future outlook for Move and blockchain development?

The future outlook for Move and blockchain development looks promising, with potential for significant impact on how smart contracts are written and secured. As Move expands to more blockchain ecosystems and continues to evolve, it could set new standards for built-in security features and formal verification in blockchain programming. The development of advanced applications like ZK-Move could further extend its capabilities. However, the success of Move will ultimately depend on its ability to deliver on its promises of enhanced security and developer productivity, as well as broader adoption by the blockchain community.

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