There is a lot of buzz about “crypto,” “web3,” and “blockchain” these days, so I wanted to demystify what “web3” actually entails from a development perspective.
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Web3 means an application that interacts with the blockchain
It is also known as a “Decentralized Application” or “Dapp.” It possesses a client interface and communicates with the blockchain of choice via API calls. So why is there confusion?
Does Web3 encompass smart contracts? A smart contract is a computer program executed on the blockchain where it is deployed. Web3 applications may invoke smart contracts via the appropriate API, but they are not “Web3.”
A Web3 Application interacts with programs (smart contracts, etc.) deployed on a blockchain.
So what, then, is the Web3 Stack (what’s used to build web3 apps)?
Web3 Applications have a web-based client (or it could be a browser-based or mobile application) that allows users to interact with the application. In the DeFi space, we’ve seen Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) like Uniswap, Metamask, and Phantom wallets, as well as lending and farming applications like SushiSwap. In addition, there are games and NFT marketplaces, which are all Web3 Applications.
The application may make API calls to one or more blockchains, invoke an API call to a smart contract on the chain or to an available operation on that blockchain, and communicate the results to the user.
You will also require an integrated development environment (ide) that facilitates the development and deployment of web3 applications. The Truffle Framework has an integrated set of tools that simplify the creation of Ethereum smart contracts.
The typescript should be considered if you desire an easier development environment that enforces strong typing – which will catch errors early and reduce the number of bugs you produce as you code – which is crucial for blockchain applications. Popularity has increased for a good reason! Maintainability, code consistency, and support for future browser versions are sufficient to make it a web3 development standard.
Construct the backend for scalability.
If you lack this layer, your users must install a browser extension to interact directly with the blockchain. Using Node.JS within your application enables you to handle this without requiring users to install a browser extension to utilize your application.
Node.js is ideally suited for developing web3 applications that require communication with the blockchain due to its scalability and ability to run on both the client and server sides of an application. Instead of locking the app for a specific call, its design enables continuous communication and calls. Node rotates through the event queue until there are no more events to process, per this asynchronous process. It then sleeps. It is lightweight, efficient, and an excellent fit for applications that require real-time processing.
In the web2 world, only the client can initiate communication; however, Node.js allows the client and the server to create contact. That is required for web3 development — a radical shift in the status quo. This enables callbacks to be triggered upon the completion of an event, allowing your application to continue processing other data in the interim.
Where is data stored?
If you have experience with Web2 applications or application development, you are probably familiar with database technologies such as Oracle, SQL SERVER, MySQL, etc. With Web3, data is stored on the blockchain instead of a database engine. That would be “centralization,” whereas blockchain claims the “decentralized” mantle, where there is no centralized process, storage, single point of failure, or control. But that is the subject of a different blog post.
Briefly, a blockchain network consists of chains, each consisting of blocks. New blocks are added to the chain due to the mining process. Nodes refer to the computers in a blockchain, and blockchains contain numerous nodes. The fact that the data is stored across ALL nodes makes blockchain immutable, as these chains can be operated by a variety of individuals and organizations—each node in the blockchain stores a complete copy of the data.
However, an important consideration when developing web3 applications is how to query the data that resides in the blockchain effectively. Because although blockchain has transparent, immutable, and decentralized characteristics that have allowed it to gain traction, these characteristics pose formidable obstacles when it comes time to query the blockchain’s data.
The querying of blockchain data has been a bottleneck, causing performance and scalability problems for blockchain applications. Unfortunately, the lack of a standardized query language (SQL) for blockchain data and metadata – easily accomplished within an RDBMS – makes extracting data from the blockchain a code-intensive endeavor.
Even though it’s great that we can store data in a distributed, immutable, and transparent manner if we can’t easily access that data… This is a MASSIVE constraint, so growth will not occur.
You are introducing the Graph Protocol. It has indexed the blockchain and made the data accessible via GraphQL queries to solve the blockchain data query problem. The open-source Graph Protocol enables high-performance querying. You can operate your Graph node or “rent” a hosted service from The Graph.
It eliminates the code-heavy reality that web3 app developers faced before developing the Graph Protocol. If you check The Graph Explorer, you can utilize a subgraph that has already been constructed. This will save you time in your development efforts.
What’s in a Node?
In contrast to Node.js, web3 requires blockchain access for development and testing. You will need access to a blockchain Node to test your application as it is being developed.
On the Ethereum (or any EVM) blockchain, there are businesses from which you can “rent” nodes (like Quicknode or Infura). Other blockchains, such as Solana, also have companies that provide development nodes (such as Quicknode and Chainstack), allowing you to conduct development without having to set up and operate your full node. You may also investigate the availability of a personal blockchain node tool similar to Ganache, a private blockchain instance that can be used for developing Ethereum-specific applications. It is a component of the Truffle Suite of tools for Ethereum application development.
One of the advantages of using a personal blockchain such as Ganache to develop your app is that it enables you to see exactly what is happening on the blockchain through the calls you make and gives you the flexibility to inspect the blockchain’s state while maintaining operational control. We will likely observe more tools like these on other chains as we evolve.
You may be required to deploy your node to achieve this with other blockchains. Always consult the developer site for the chain your Dapp will interact with to determine the libraries and specific development and testing processes available.
How can I do testing before deploying a web3 app?
And testing is among the greatest obstacles? … in ANY development project, not just Web3 or Blockchain – but any software development process – and the absence of solid testing practices is one of the leading causes of crypto theft and exploits that have occurred – so pay close attention to security!
Functional Testing (Unit and System Testing)
Testing is essential, and there are various ways to perform it. We have a tutorial that describes how to conduct testing using Hardhat. So that you can establish a framework for testing, be sure to develop rigorous tests for EVERY possible condition and logic flow that could occur (even those you believe are extremely unlikely) – and ensure that your application functions as expected in each of these scenarios.
We know that if setting up tests is difficult, they will not be performed regularly and thoroughly.
Performance & Scalability Testing
Your application’s performance under load is an additional crucial area that must be tested. Will it scale and support the potential load? We’ve witnessed the difficulties inherent in performance testing with Solana, as the system has repeatedly crashed under stress, sometimes for hours; this is NOT what you want your users to encounter after you launch your application.
It is identifying performance issues before launch enables you to make the necessary adjustments to avoid being forced to duct tape a system that failed under heavy load during crucial market movements.
Demanding your web3 application’s developers thoroughly comprehend, develop, and test it can be a tall order. There are many moving parts, and depending on whether you’re building a DEX, a wallet, an AMM trading app, a game, training, or an NFT marketplace, these are all Dapps and will likely use web3 development fundamentals.
This includes the front-end standards of React and Typescript. NodeJS is on the backend to interact with the blockchain data, allowing you to add data to the blockchain and query the blockchain data as required by your application.
Smart contract programs that are likely to be a part of your application are deployed to the blockchain using the programming language supported by the blockchain: Solidity for Ethereum and EVM-compatible blockchains and Rust, a language that is gaining popularity.
As blockchain development continues to mature, there is CERTAINLY A LOT of continuous learning to factor in; likewise, the tools will also mature.
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