Recently, there has been an explosion of projects built on blockchains (DeFi, NFTs, DAOs), making blockchain development one of the fastest-growing sectors while simultaneously creating a skyrocketing demand for developers.
If you are one of those people working as a developer in this lucrative industry, or simply looking to become one, this article will hopefully help you attain a better understanding of the best tools you will need to create robust and effective blockchain applications.
Let’s first take a closer look at the programming languages that power Web3 technology.
To develop blockchain applications, you need to learn a programming language. With a strong foundation in a set of Web3 programming languages, developers can start building decentralised applications (dApps) while writing smart contracts that are both scalable and secure.
There are two main types of these languages: smart contract languages and frontend programming languages.
Smart Contract Programming Languages
The term “smart contract” refers to a set of irreversible instructions executed on a blockchain when a certain condition is met. They are the foundation of dApps.
When a dApp recognises that a transaction has been sent, a smart contract can then execute to access the appropriate accounts through the blockchain, and transfer tokens.
As smart contracts are new and unique, programming languages have been specifically designed to create them, allowing developers to write contracts that access valuable assets, transfer ownership, guarantee transaction settlement, and more, in a way that is both fast and secure.
Frontend Programming Languages
Top 5 Programming Languages:
It is important to note that each blockchain uses a specific type of programming language to write smart contracts. As there are multiple languages to pick from, choosing which one is best for your development needs isn’t easy. To help clarify things, let’s take a closer look at the 5 most popular and their specific applications, benefits, and drawbacks (if any):
Using Solidity, developers can write smart contracts on any Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible blockchain such as Ethereum, Polygon, Avalanche etc., and deploy them for a range of uses such as voting, transaction management, and multi-signature wallets.
For new Web3 developers, Solidity is a great place to start because of its tried and tested coding practices, smart contract versatility, and the access it provides to the largest Web3 ecosystem along with extensive developer support resources.
Vyper is a version of Solidity that uses Python’s syntactic simplicity language concentrated on building smart contracts. Vyper was designed to make its code as simple and readable as possible, allowing developers to avoid confusing, bug-laden code, and to detect security risks quickly.
Like Solidity, Vyper is also able to be used on EVM-compatible blockchains, however it lacks the former’s versatility as, for the sake of security, Vyper forbids doing certain things with your code that can be achieved with Solidity.
Created in 2010, Rust is a programming language used by blockchains such as Solana and NEAR as it allows developers to write low-level code, implement systems-level controls, manage memory, and leverage parallelism.
The unique Rust complier guarantees developers only create safe, secure code which developers can write quickly. Reviewing your code after refactors and feature adds, the complier keeps your program stable so you can continue coding, and its safety means that developers can take advantage of Solana’s speed without risking their users’ assets.
A major drawback, however, is that Rust isn’t EVM-compatible, meaning you cannot deploy it on major blockchains such as Ethereum.
4. Go (Golang)
Golang (Go) is a language designed by Google, known for its robust, built-in concurrency features that allows developers to write fast, concurrent programs easily.
In the blockchain industry, Go is used in the Geth node client, one of the original Ethereum node client implementations (alongside C++ and Python). With the Go implementation, developers can build Ethereum-based dApps with scalable backend processing.
Overall, Go is a quick language for developers to learn and is further bolstered by a significant support community.
An assembly-level language, Huff enables developers to manually manipulate the EVM programming stack to create highly optimised EVM-based smart contracts while exposing its inner workings to the developer.
This programming language was created when the Aztec Protocol needed to power an on-chain Ethereum programme and realised Solidity and Vyper lacked the computational power their dApp needed.
That’s why, for developers who find their programmes limited by the speed of Solidity or Vyper, Huff is the ideal language for optimising smart contract performance. Additionally, even for developers who do not necessarily need its speed, learning Huff is a great way to build a deeper understanding of how the EVM works.
Building a dApp from scratch is far from easy, even if you have the requisite skills, but there is help in the form of software frameworks. They provide plug-and-play infrastructure and come with libraries and tools useful for creating, testing, and deploying code.
That essentially allows you to take a ready-made package and add extra functionality, rather than having to code your dApp from the ground up. As a further benefit, most frameworks are developed and optimised by experienced engineers, making them robust, efficient, and versatile.
Let’s take a closer look at 3 of the most prominent blockchain development frameworks:
Embark is a full-stack development framework that enables you to build your dApp’s frontend and backend simultaneously. It also offers resources for dApp data storage, real-time code testing, and smart contract deployment, while providing access to important plugins like Ethereum, Solium, and more.
Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) helps with app development by combining multiple core developer tools into one Graphic User Interface (GUI). Most IDEs come with code compiling, editing, syntax highlighting, build automation, and debugging capabilities as standard. Like with the aforementioned frameworks, there are 3 main IDEs we should look at in more detail:
1. Remix IDE
Also offering a comprehensive suite of libraries, plugins, and other features to supercharge smart contract development, it is little wonder that Remix it regarded as the industry standard for IDEs by many blockchain developers.
Developed by the Loom Network, EthFiddle is a browser-based IDE for writing and debugging Solidity code. With this software you can easily edit, find, and share code snippets with others for feedback making it an excellent tool for collaboration, such as on a project.
While it isn’t as feature-rich as Remix IDE, EthFiddle offers well-designed testing and prototyping capabilities, making it a good tool for any blockchain developer.
Ethcode is a Visual Studio Code plugin for Ethereum smart contract development, providing a development environment for writing, debugging, and unit testing contract code. It is beginner-friendly, not least because the code is open-source, meaning new developers can easily ask for support when needed.
Ethcode works for both Vyper and Solidity, and can deploy your smart contract to Ethereum Mainnet and Goerli, testnet, among others.
Despite the range of possibilities and applications of smart contracts, their functionality is still limited due to the fact that they can only access information already stored on-chain. If a developer is building one that relies on external information to execute functions, such a restriction presents a major problem. That is where oracles come into play.
These blockchain oracles collect real-world information from different sources and distribute it to smart contracts running on the blockchain. Decentralised oracles are more useful as they are harder to manipulate In fact, many popular dApps like Kyber, Synthetix, and Compound use decentralised oracles to execute smart contracts.
Launched in 2017, Chainlink is currently the leading decentralised oracle solution, offering reliable and tamper-proof data for smart contracts across multiple blockchains. It also allows you to connect your smart contracts to a myriad of real-world data feeds.
Decentralised oracle solutions such as Chainlink, Witnet, and Brand Protocols, incentivise selected oracles to provide accurate information, preserving the integrity of off-chain data.
Blockchain Node Providers
You will need to interact with the blockchain when building a dApp, whether that’s reading on-chain data or writing data to the blockchain. To do so, it is necessary to connect with a blockchain node which hold the entire blockchain history and can send as well as query on-chain data.
However, maintaining a full Ethereum node is expensive, time-consuming, and highly complex which is why developers should use a blockchain node provider (node-as-a-service). These nodes handle the blockchain infrastructure for clients, allowing them to devote their attention to building and scaling their dApps.
QPQ – 1DLT
1DLT helps developers build an EVM-based smart contract and connect seamlessly to multiple blockchains and DLTs with real interoperability. The offering is scalable, with TPS of 25k+, very fast, with settlement finality in under 5 seconds, which is 120 times faster than Ethereum and all with transaction costs of a handful of cents rather than a fist full of dollars.
Uniquely, 1DLT enables Web3.0 apps to run on a private or public network supported with all the trust and transparency of consensus on the established ecosystems of the public network. Each individual transaction goes through the consensus process; there is a full audit trail to enable tracking of each and every transaction. No batching, no centralisation.
Alchemy Supernode provides a fully developed suite of APIs for interacting with the blockchain and getting critical blockchain data, making connecting to the blockchain network layer as simple as signing up and receiving an API key. This service works for other projects, not just Ethereum – so you have full flexibility in terms of blockchains to use.
Blockchain development can be an exciting journey, but only if you have the right tools to begin with. Hopefully, having read this article you will have a better idea of what you need to create robust applications and generally improve the quality of your output as a developer.
Next post we will delve into the world of layer 0 protocols, defining exactly what they are and clearing up common misconceptions.