Blockchain is reportedly one of the fastest growing areas right now. As blockchain projects (DeFi, NFTs, DAOs) proliferate, so does the demand for blockchain developers.
If you have already built on the blockchain, or plan to build, here is an introduction to some of the best tools for creating blockchain applications.
To develop blockchain applications, you need to learn a programming language. These languages allow us to create smart contract code to serve as the backend of our application.
Currently, Solidity is the most popular programming language for blockchain development. It is a high-level, object-oriented language that borrows elements from other languages (especially C++).
Many developers prefer to learn Solidity because Ethereum, seen as the de facto blockchain, uses Solidity to write smart contracts. In addition to that, Solidity is Turing complete, allowing us to create feature-rich complex applications.
Learning Solidity is a great start to your journey as a blockchain developer. The popularity of Solidity means we have access to useful tutorials, guides, and documentation designed for beginners.
Solidity can also run on other blockchains as long as they are compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). This means that we can deploy projects on EVM compatible blockchains such as Binance Smart Chain, Avalanche, Polygon, Matic Network, etc.
Solidity is not the only language for creating smart contracts. A popular alternative is Vyper – a Python-based EVM-compatible language.
While Vyper is not as powerful and popular as Solidity, it is ideal for developers familiar with Python. Additionally, Vyper’s simple architecture reduces software errors and simplifies smart contract auditing.
Rust is a newer programming language that is gaining popularity in the blockchain development community. It is a low-level language for writing smart contracts that has been praised for its storage efficiency, simplicity, and reliability.
The problem is that Rust is not EVM compatible, so we cannot deploy projects on Ethereum and EVM compatible chains. But newer chains like Solana, Terra, NEAR, Polkadot and Elrond can use Rust, so learning the language is still a good investment.
Building a decentralized application (dApp) from scratch can be a difficult task, especially if we have to handle every tiny detail ourselves. Fortunately, we can benefit from software frameworks with a “plug and play” infrastructure to easily create dapps.
The framework comes with resources (libraries and tools) for creating, testing, and deploying code. It is not necessary to write a dApp from scratch, as we can use an off-the-shelf package and then add extra functionality. Also, most frameworks are developed and optimized by experienced engineers, so they are all powerful, efficient, and general.
Truffle provides the resources needed to create fully functional dApps, which can provide everything from built-in smart contract creation tools to an environment for testing blockchains. It also has ready-made libraries that make it easier to build frontends for Ethereum dApps.
Hardhat is a comprehensive tool platform that abstracts most of the low-level common functions related to blockchain software development. Therefore, we can focus on more important tasks like building the core infrastructure for dApps.
Embark is a full stack development framework that allows us to build both the front-end and back-end of dApps. Although last on the list, Embark is as good as the other frameworks listed in this section.
Embark provides resources for dApp data storage, live code testing, and smart contract deployment. In addition, we have access to important plugins such as Etherscan, Solc, Solium, etc.
Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
An integrated development environment (IDE) aids application development by combining core development tools into a graphical user interface (GUI). Most IDEs feature code compilation, editing, syntax highlighting, build automation, and debugging.
Remix is considered by many blockchain developers to be the industry standard for IDEs. Using the Remix IDE, we can compile, test and debug smart contracts — all from one intuitive interface.
EthFiddle is a browser-based IDE for writing and debugging Solidity code. If we’re collaborating with others on a project, EthFiddle by Loom Network is a great tool to easily edit, find, and share code snippets with others for feedback.
EthFiddle isn’t as feature-rich as the Remix IDE, but it’s useful for sharing code in presentations. It provides well-designed testing and prototyping capabilities, making it a great tool for all blockchain developers.
We also recommend Ethcode, a Visual Studio Code plugin for developing Ethereum smart contracts. Ethcode provides a beginner-friendly development environment for writing, debugging, and unit testing contract code.
The code is open source, and new developers can seek support when needed. Ethcode works with Vyper and Solidity, and can deploy smart contracts to the Ethereum mainnet, Goerli testnet, and more.
API and SDK
Besides frameworks and IDEs, APIs and SDKs are one of the most important tools for Web3 developers. Help blockchain engineers solve specific problems encountered in the development process and help with the creation of dApps.
In order to simplify the interaction between different software, an API (Application Programming Interface) is designed. By requesting data using the API to improve the dApp, we can build on existing functionality.
SDK is the abbreviation of “Software Development Kit”, which is a collection of software products for building applications for a specific platform. The blockchain development SDK reduces the complexity of building platform-specific dapps.
Alchemy NFT API
As the value of NFTs has skyrocketed, many developers have turned their attention to the industry. If you plan to create an NFT application, Alchemy’s NFT API is the perfect tool.
The Alchemy NFT API allows developers to display metadata of different NFTs in a user-friendly interface. It works across multiple chains (Ethereum, Polygon, Flow, etc.) so buyers have more flexibility in choosing NFTs.
The NFT API abstracts most of the technical tasks involved in NFT interactions. By integrating the NFT API into our platform, buyers do not need to read smart contracts before validating and purchasing NFTs.
The Thirdweb SDK is useful for building Web3 applications or integrating Web3 features into existing applications. For example, we can add the “connect wallet” feature to our application without writing code.
Thirdweb can be used for the following:
- Create an NFT marketplace
- Launch NFTs without writing code
- Create tokens for governance, community membership and other purposes
- Programming royalties are divided into NFTs
Thirdweb currently supports Fantom, Avalanche, Ethereum and Polygon, and promises to support more chains in the future. While smart contracts are free to use, Thirdweb makes money by collecting 5% of future royalties on token contracts.
Moralis API and SDK
Moralis is a Web3 development platform that provides APIs and SDKs to speed up the blockchain development cycle. The Moralis SDK reduces the complexity of building full-featured dApps by providing out-of-the-box functionality such as:
- User authentication
- Send and get transactions
- Listen to smart contract events
- Interact with smart contracts
Moralis’ cross-chain Web3 API can also aggregate comprehensive information about account balances, tokens, on-chain transactions, and more. It supports the most popular chains including Avalanche, Polygon, Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain.
Test the blockchain network
By default, most smart contracts are immutable, and once the code is deployed on the blockchain, no modifications can be made. Therefore, testing on the Ethereum mainnet is discouraged as we cannot make changes after deployment.
To solve this problem, Ethereum developers can use the test blockchain network (testnet) to test the dapp. A testnet allows us to see how a smart contract works on the blockchain, allowing us to find bugs before launching it.
Local Blockchain (Ganache)
Ganache is a native blockchain for Ethereum development, available as a command line tool or as a desktop application. Blockchain developers can use Ganache to deploy smart contracts and execute tests.
The Ganache tool has a user-friendly interface with access to debugging information and blockchain data (accounts, blocks, transactions). We can also configure other elements, such as block times, to suit our development needs.
Public Testnet (Ropsten / Rinkeby)
Instead of Ganache, we can use public testnets like Ropsten, Goerli or Rinkeby. The main difference is that Ganache can be used offline and does not require online access.
Some developers prefer public testnets because they simulate Ethereum’s behavior and may be better suited for testing hypotheses. For example, Ropsten uses a proof-of-work consensus similar to the Ethereum mainnet.
While the testnet is free to use, we need to test Ether (ETH) in the browser wallet to complete the transaction.
While there are exciting applications for smart contracts, their functionality is limited as they can only access information stored on-chain. This poses a problem for any developer building smart contracts that rely on external information to perform functions.
This is where oracles come into play.
Blockchain oracles gather real-world information from different sources and pass it on to smart contracts running on the blockchain. This information can be displayed in many forms: real-time prices, weather information, sports results, and more.
The choice of decentralized oracles is important because they are more difficult to manipulate by malicious actors and (mostly) provide reliable information. Many popular dapps, such as Kyber, Synthetix, and Compound, use decentralized oracles to execute smart contracts.
Currently, Chainlink is the leading decentralized oracle solution by market share. Launched in 2017, Chainlink provides “reliable and tamper-proof” data for smart contracts on multiple blockchains.
Through Chainlink, we can connect smart contracts to various data sources in the real world. For example, we could create a dApp that rewards users for predicting the outcome of real-world events.
Other decentralized oracle solutions include Band Protocol, Witnet and Universal Market Access (UMA). These applications incentivize selected oracles to provide accurate information, maintaining the integrity of off-chain data.
Blockchain Node Provider
When building a dApp, we will need to interact with the blockchain—whether reading data on-chain or writing data to the blockchain. To do this, we need to connect to a blockchain node; a blockchain node keeps a history of the entire blockchain and can send/query blockchain data.
The problem is that maintaining a full Ethereum node is expensive, time-consuming, and complicated. Therefore, blockchain developers are advised to use a blockchain node provider (node-as-a-service). Node providers handle the blockchain infrastructure for clients, allowing us to focus on building and scaling dApps.
If we are looking for the right blockchain node provider then Alchemy Supernode is worth checking out. Supernode provides a fully developed set of APIs for interacting with the blockchain and retrieving key blockchain data.
Using this tool, connecting to the blockchain network layer is as simple as registering and receiving an API key. The service is not only available for Ethereum, but also for other projects – so there will be full flexibility in using the blockchain.
Alchemy’s Node-as-a-Service tool has the following benefits:
- free registration
- Scale your infrastructure as you go
- Enhanced API
Supernode is designed to adapt to our needs and provide seamless scalability. This way we don’t lose sleep over node infrastructure and our users can enjoy a better experience.
We can also look at other node providers if we want to see what other projects are available. Includes QuickNode, Infura, GetBlock, BlockDaemon, and Chainstack.
When building dapps, many Web3 developers quickly found it difficult to track on-chain activity. In most cases, we need to do some heavy lifting before getting key application information like real-time usage information, user adoption rates, and token metrics.
However, analyzing these data points is important if we want to improve the dApp and expand the user base. For this, we need to use a tool like Alchemy Monitor, which makes analysis easier for our Web3 application.
Alchemy Monitor is a powerful tool dedicated to monitoring dApp infrastructure and gaining user activity. Alchemy Monitor provides real-time updates on dApp health and can display API calls, error rates, and response times.
The Alchemy Monitor dashboard can also track dApp usage and provide useful insights into user behavior. It also has a nifty automatic alert system that flags problems early on in our dApps before they experience major failures.
Developers aren’t the only ones who need real-time information on dApp activity; users also need to know what’s happening on the dApp. For example, a user might want to know if a transaction executed in a dApp was successful.
That’s why it’s a good idea to use the Alchemy Notify push notification service. Adding push notifications to our dApp can be the difference between a good and a bad user experience. Notify provides application users with the following information:
- transaction notice;
- resolve active alerts;
- Gas price alerts, and more.
If this year is any indication, it is that security should be the number one priority for any blockchain project. Hardening the security of smart contracts is more of a consideration than adding fancy features to our new dApps. Here are some of the biggest leaks of the year:
- Axie Infinity ($615 million hacked)
- Inverse Finance ($15 million hacked)
- Elephant Money ($22.5 million hacked)
There are many more hacks, but these should give us a basic idea that smart contract security is a serious business. Without the right security measures, this could damage our reputation and discourage user adoption.
First on our list of tools to strengthen smart contract security is Octopus, a solution for detailed analysis of smart contract code. Octopus provides symbolic execution, call flow analysis, and control flow analysis – all of which can help us find contract bugs and fix them before it’s too late.
Next up is Mythril, a smart contract security tool powered by ConsenSys. Mythril is used to analyze Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) bytecode and use taint analysis, symbolic execution, and taint resolution to identify vulnerabilities in Ethereum software.
Finally, we have Securify – a smart contract scanner backed by the Ethereum Foundation. Securify can detect up to 37 different software vulnerabilities and implement context-specific analysis for Solidity-based smart contracts.
If we’re going to create a dApp, we need a wallet to hold the funds, even if it’s test ether (ETH). For this, we can set up a cryptocurrency wallet in the browser in a few minutes.
We recommend using MetaMask as it offers a lot of functionality besides holding ETH. As a browser extension, MetaMask injects the Web3js API into the website, which allows users to interact with the dapp directly in their browser. MetaMask can also perform other functions such as key management, reading blockchain data, etc.
Blockchain development can be an exciting process, but only if we have the right tools to begin with. Creating a robust development stack makes it easier to create applications and improves the quality of the output.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/practical-handbook-for-developers-an-overview-of-the-best-tools-for-building-blockchain-applications/
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