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A simple guide to the web3 developer stack | by Coinbase | Sep, 2022

A guide to the tasks and corporations working to make web3 growth as simple as web2

Around the Block, from Coinbase Ventures sheds gentle on key developments in crypto. Written by Jonathan King, Connor Dempsey, & Hoolie Tejwani

Special thanks to Mike Armstrong, Aaron Henshaw, Michael Atassi, Steven Willinger, and Shan Aggarwal for serving to to inform this text.

Despite the rise of Bitcoin and Ethereum, together with the emergence of recent classes like DeFi, NFTs, GameFi and DAOs, web3 builders symbolize lower than 1% of the 31.1M software program builders globally.*

So why are there so few builders in web3 at this time? For one, the instruments and infrastructure out there to web3 builders are a lot much less sturdy than that of web2. This merely makes it tougher to get began constructing, experimenting, and deploying in web3. That’s all rapidly altering nonetheless, as the variety of month-to-month lively web3 builders hit all-time highs at the finish of 2021. And to help this rising contingency, is a vibrant ecosystem of groups working to simplify the complete web3 developer journey, which can finally assist unlock the subsequent stage of web3 progress and innovation.

In this version of Around The Block, we’ll discover the rising web3 developer stack.

The Web3 Developer Stack

Building in Web2 vs Web3

Software growth is the strategy of constructing laptop applications. There are three predominant parts to a given program:

  1. The front-end (what customers work together with)
  2. The back-end (what customers don’t see)
  3. Database (the place vital knowledge is saved)

The front-end {that a} typical consumer interacts with by means of a cellular or desktop browser is mainly the identical in web2 and web3. A web3 app like Uniswap seems to be related to a typical web2 app as a result of each front-ends are principally created utilizing React — a well-liked developer framework for net and cellular apps.

It’s below the hood the place web2 and web3 differ. The backend frameworks and sorts of databases that make web3’s defining attribute — user-defined possession — potential are new and distinctive.

Where web2 purposes largely depend on centralized databases, web3 purposes are constructed on decentralized databases (blockchains). This requires solely new backends and new primitives like wallets.

The instruments that help in the creation, deployment, and upkeep of web2 purposes are extremely developer-friendly, thanks to a long time of cumulative growth. Out of the field options, mature infrastructure, shared code libraries, and simple to use frameworks largely make constructing in web2 a breeze.

Web3 on the different hand nonetheless requires specialised experience to interface with complicated infrastructure and generally entails many redundant processes on condition that the stack is much less developed, leaving groups to have to reinvent the wheel. That mentioned, the tooling that can assist onboard the subsequent 1M+ web3 builders is quickly enhancing.

Let’s take a (non-exhaustive) have a look at the evolving Web3 developer stack layer by layer (* denotes Coinbase Ventures portfolio firm).

Protocol layer

The first resolution a web3 developer has to make is which blockchain protocol to construct on. Building on Bitcoin is solely totally different from constructing on Ethereum, and Solana differs from Ethereum, and so on.

For quicker and lower-cost purposes, builders would possibly need to construct on a layer2 protocol — Optimism*, Arbitrum*, and so on. For purposes that want to port worth from one chain to one other, builders will need to leverage cross-chain bridges like Hop* or Synapse*.

Once these selections are made, builders can begin to incorporate constructing blocks that make consumer purposes potential.

Infrastructure primitives

The subsequent factor a developer wants to determine is how their utility will finally work together with the underlying blockchains. This is the place infrastructure primitives come into play.

Node infrastructure — Nodes are the place an app’s interplay with a blockchain “happens.” They’re computer systems that learn the state of the blockchain and write updates to it as soon as a consumer interacts with an utility. Node infrastructure suppliers like Coinbase Cloud, Infura*, and Alchemy* let builders simply set-up, handle, or entry blockchain nodes, saving builders appreciable time and assets.

Wallet & Key Management — Blockchain wallets, like Coinbase Wallet, enable customers to handle the non-public keys wanted to carry out transactions inside web3 purposes. Wallet and key administration suppliers like Web3Auth* or Pine Street Labs*, allow builders to construct safe connectivity between blockchain wallets and user-facing purposes.

Identity — protocols like ENS* function a consumer’s id throughout purposes. Spruce* offers frameworks and toolkits that builders can use to confirm consumer credentials to authenticate actions on Ethereum. For instance, builders can use the Spruce ID toolkit to empower customers to signal into apps with their ENS accounts. Additionally, firms like Lit Protocol present developer tooling for granting entry to content material, software program, and different knowledge using their tokens or NFTs.

Decentralized compute — Compute assets present processing energy that purposes depend on to perform computational duties. Currently, most of the net’s compute is offered by centrally owned suppliers like AWS. Decentralized compute is a shift in the direction of community-owned networks, through which compute assets are distributed in a permissionless method at low-cost. Companies like Akash Network and have emerged to present peer-to-peer compute assets which can be highly-performant and optimized for sensible contracts and blockchain purposes.

Decentralized storage — Storing each piece of information related to a given web3 app immediately on blockchain nodes is dear. Rather than storing knowledge on a centralized database, web3 builders can use peer-to-peer knowledge storage protocols like IPFS, Arweave*, and Ceramic Network* for sure knowledge. For instance, web3 running a blog website Mirror is constructed on Ethereum, however shops precise weblog content material on Arweave.

Oracles — For a typical Ethereum utility, the blockchain shops transaction historical past and “state” (balances, sensible contracts, and different variables). It can’t, nonetheless, natively retailer and work together with knowledge from exterior sources — i.e. transaction historical past from different blockchains or “real world” knowledge like the climate in San Francisco. That’s the place oracles like Chainlink or Flux*are available, connecting blockchains to on-chain and off-chain knowledge sources.

Interoperability — many alternative blockchains exist however few have the capability to alternate worth and make use of knowledge cross-chain. Interoperability protocols like LayerZero*, Axelar Network*, and Astar Network* present SDKs and APis for builders to construct apps which can be transportable and may talk with totally different blockchains.

Developer instruments

Atop the infrastructure primitives that enable purposes to work together with blockchain networks are instruments that enable builders to extra seamlessly work together with the above-named primitives.

Frameworks & IDEs — Developer frameworks include libraries of code that different builders have created that make growth simpler. Web3 frameworks like Truffle, Moralis*, Tatum, and ThirdWeb*, let builders leverage present code for sensible contract purposes in order that they don’t have to construct the whole lot from scratch. They additionally let builders check and deploy purposes. Integrated growth environments (IDEs) like Foundry and HardHat mix frequent supply code editors, and construct automation and debugging instruments right into a single, simply accessible interface.

Low-code / No-codeThese platforms allow user-facing purposes to be rapidly designed/deployed solely through drag-and-drop interfaces. Companies like Settlemint present builders with sensible contract templates for NFTs to stop web3 builders from having to reinvent the wheel.

Index & questionData indexers assist individuals find and entry particular knowledge inside an underlying database. In Web2, Google search is the hottest knowledge indexing service that enables customers to question knowledge saved in on-line databases with sub-second response instances. In Web3, decentralized indexing providers are rising to assist app builders fetch, course of, and question blockchain knowledge. The Graph Protocol*, Covalent*, and Coherent* all present APIs for extracting and making use of information from decentralized knowledge storage suppliers and EVM-compatible blockchains.

Test, simulate, & monitor — It’s necessary to check and simulate web3 purposes earlier than they’re launched into the wild. Companies like Tenderly* and Kurtosis* supply quite a lot of instruments for simulating how sensible contracts and transactions will behave as soon as stay, in addition to instruments for debugging any points. Blocknative* offers dashboards and instruments for monitoring transactions earlier than they’re submitted on-chain.

Security & audit Given the potential for sensible contract exploits, these platforms let builders apply safety and audit greatest practices to their purposes. OpenZeppelin, Forta*, Certik*, and Certora* all present quite a lot of providers, frameworks, and monitoring instruments for builders to mitigate potential safety dangers and vulnerabilities.

Messaging Web3 apps usually contain sending varied communications to finish customers. For instance, a crypto pockets might want to push a consumer alerts relating to transaction confirmations. Companies like XMTP Labs* and EPNS are constructing safe messaging protocols and decentralized communication networks that drive consumer engagement and energy these notifications inside Web3 purposes.

Analytics — There’s a number of platforms and providers that permit builders discover, analyze, extract, and visible blockchain knowledge. Dune*, Nansen*, and Messari* every supply quite a lot of APIs and reporting capabilities to construct knowledge visualization options inside web3 apps. Flipside Crypto* gives SDKs (software program growth kits) and APIs to create and share knowledge insights on varied crypto tasks.

App Enablement Layer

The utility enablement layer ties all of the above layers into particular web3 makes use of. NFTs, DAOs, DeFi, and gaming every have their very own bespoke developer options.

NFT targeted instruments supply infrastructure for creating and managing NFT belongings. DAO instruments supply options for DAO creation (Syndicate*, Samudai*), governance (Snapshot*), and treasury administration (Utopia Labs*). DeFi targeted instruments supply APIs that permit builders entry varied DeFi primitives. Gaming targeted instruments ( Venly*, Joyride*, Horizon Blockchain Games*) present options for creating digital worlds and blockchain based mostly video games.

The ever-evolving dev stack

The protocols, infrastructure, and developer instruments talked about above make up the nascent, but evolving web3 developer stack. The modular and interoperable nature of web3 implies that the stack could be mixed in countless methods to create new and fascinating purposes.

While the framework and layers we highlighted will probably stay unchanged, we proceed to see new developer tooling primitives emerge and count on the complete stack to evolve dramatically in the coming years.

Coinbase Ventures will proceed to put money into the subsequent technology of platform and developer tooling that can finally onboard thousands and thousands of builders into web3. If you’re as devoted to constructing out the web3 dev stack as we’re, we might love to hear from you — JK’s DMs are open!

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