Introduction to the Seaport Protocol
Non Fungible Token marketplace or NFT marketplace for short, is an online marketplace for digital assets. NFTs can be traded with other NFTs or sold/bought via a NFT marketplace, which is a decentralized platform. NFT marketplaces are quite similar to ecommerce platforms like Amazon or eBay where different products are listed by sellers, and buyers can buy them.
During the past couple of years, digital assets have been the next big thing in the crypto world. Therefore, trading of NFTs has increased over these years. Following this popularity of digital assets, more and more NFT marketplaces has come up around the world. Opensea, Rarible are some of the most famous NFT marketplaces that you can find.
Recently there is a clear sign of emergence of more and more NFT marketplaces, and therefore the demand for expertise in this domain is increasing. However, building a fully fledged NFT marketplace is not something that can be done overnight and it requires a lot of planning and skills across various domains.
Currently some NFT marketplace platforms do not support NFTs from other platforms, many platforms have different gas fees which is needed to be paid by users and some platforms only have limited functionality.
Therefore, there is a clear need for a common standard that would make the life of developers and users of the platform easy. This is where the seaport protocol comes in. Now let us see in detail what the seaport protocol is.
1. What Is Seaport
The seaport protocol was introduced by Opensea, the world’s leading NFT marketplace. This protocol has been made opensource and can be found here. Since July 2022, Opensea has been using this new standard in their marketplace. They are also encouraging other NFT marketplace developers also to use their protocol.
Before we go into look at what the seaport protocol consists of, lets see why Opensea decided to invent a new protocol for NFT marketplaces. Before making the big shift, Opensea was using something called the Wyvern protocol in their marketplace. Wyvern protocol was also an opensource project which was funded by Opensea themselves. But with time, their codebase grew exponentially and it was hard to manage and also the gas fees for users using this platform was too high. Therefore, Opensea decided to move onto a new protocol to be implemented on their marketplace. That is how the Seaport protocol was born.
2. What Is Included In Seaport
Seaport Protocol is actually a collection of smart contracts which together act as the main logic for a NFT marketplace. It also comes with a layer of typescript code which can be used to interact with the smart contracts.
As a developer, in understanding the Seaport protocol there are three concepts that you should get your head around. They are “zones”, “marketplace” and “conduits”. These are all a collection of smart contracts that performs different tasks. The marketplace contract or the Seaport contract is where all the execution/ matching logic happens. This smart contract is un-owned, un-upgradeable and already to many of the EVM based blockchains under the address
0x00000000006c3852cbEf3e08E8dF289169EdE581. More information about this can be found from the Seaport GitHub page here.
The concept of conduits consist of two types of smart contracts. The “Conduit Controller” and “Conduits”. Like the Seaport contract, the Conduit Controller contract is also pre to most of the EVM based chains under the address
0x00000000F9490004C11Cef243f5400493c00Ad63. It is also an unowned and un-upgradeable contract, which guarantees the decentralized nature of the marketplace.
Conduits can be by users through the conduit controller. They are also a smart contract, where users provide transfer approval of their digital assets to these conduits to be transferred in any transaction that happen in this marketplace. This is very useful if the users do not trust the marketplace and they are reluctant to give the marketplace the transfer approval of their digital assets. To add to that conduit owners can disable conduits, so that the marketplace contract will not transfer their assets, if they smell something fishy, even though the order has been submitted.
The concept of zones also consist of two smart contracts. The “Pausable Zone Controller” and “Pausable Zone”. Unlike the seaport contract and Conduit Controller, the Pausable Zone Controller is not pre-existing. As a matter of fact, the creators of the seaport protocol has invited us to edit the functionality of these two smart contracts and deploy it by ourselves, so as to add a layer of flexibility to the protocol. In addition to that there is a concept called “restricted orders” in the seaport protocol. These orders can only be executed via the relevant zones. More about these in the following articles.
Why Is The Seaport Protocol Better?
- Atomic settlement of trades — Normally in a NFT marketplace two items switch hand (ie NFT from seller to buyer and crypto from buyer to seller). In a point of a developer this is a critical matter because either the trades should occur or none should occur. In the case where royalties and platform fees also need to be transferred in a transaction the problem becomes even more worse. But the seaport protocol introduces the concept of “atomic settlement of trades” where all or none of the items are exchanged. This reduces the complexity by 1/3rd if you are a programmer.
- Extra layer of security and flexibility through zones and conduits. — Described above. Will get into more detail in the following articles
- Less gas fees.( 30% less compared to wyvern protocol) — Using assembly language where needed and cool gas reducing techniques, developers of the seaport protocol has managed to reduce gas fees soon.
- Cross compatibility with other platforms using the seaport protocol.
- Security audited , well established smart contracts.
What Is To Be Followed…
This article was an introduction to the seaport protocol, to highlight what benefits it offers to both developers and users. In the following articles I will describe about the unique features and dive into the code, so that any developers looking to build a NFT marketplace using the seaport protocol will find it useful.
See you then!!!
- Seaport GitHub page — https://github.com/ProjectOpenSea/seaport
- Wyvern Protocol — https://wyvernprotocol.com/
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