Web3 Development: Choose the Best Blockchain Platform for Your Dapp
Starting and scaling a blockchain project as a web3 developer takes more than just a great project idea. The most fundamental things to consider is the blockchain platform with the right tools and adequate support
Starting and scaling a blockchain project as a web3 developer takes more than just a great project idea. It needs a dedicated team, expertise, and even more importantly, a blockchain platform having what it takes for a project to succeed. For developers, a lot goes into choosing or switching to a blockchain platform. Among the most fundamental things to consider is the blockchain platform with the right tools and adequate support to develop your project.
Five essential factors to consider before choosing a blockchain platform for Dapp development.
There are too many factors that make a network a great fit for your Dapp projects, and in fact, way too many to explore in a single blog post. Instead, we'll focus on five of the most important factors in the blockchain development world:
- Ethereum compatibility
- Security and scalability
- Cross-chain interoperability
- Real-world data oracles
- Community and grants
With the rising popularity of Dapps, serious cost and scalability issues have been a huge limitation of the Ethereum platform: a simple swap between token A to token B can easily cost you 50$, while an interaction with a more complex DeFi app or game can easily go into the three digits fee.
However, aside from the Ethereum blockchain ecosystem itself, there are a good number of Ethereum compatible blockchains in the market. Ethereum compatibility can be defined at two levels: the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) level, and the Ethereum RPC (Remote Procedure Call) level. Any blockchain platform that supports smart contract implements some sort of virtual machine in its protocol. When a blockchain's virtual machine executes the same smart contract programming language, i.e., Solidity, as the EVM, then we say that blockchain is "EVM Compatible": any smart contract that has been written for Ethereum (using Solidity or any other language) can also be deployed to an EVM compatible blockchain without any change to the source code of the contract. However, one should also check the actual version of the EVM implemented: the most recent versions always include security improvements, and additional language features.
EVM compatibility is not enough to port an Ethereum Dapp without changes: most Dapps include some sort of a "frontend", a blockchain "client", that provides a user interface for users to easily interact with the Dapp's underlying smart contracts: this is typically a normal Web app but could also be a mobile or a desktop app as well. This "off-chain" part of the Dapp needs to get access to the smart contracts by interacting with the blockchain, and this is made possible by the RPC API exposed by the blockchain nodes. When a blockchain is Ethereum compatible also at the RPC API level, this means that the frontend of an Ethereum Dapp can also interact with that blockchain without any changes to the source code. Tools like MetaMask, Truffle, or Hardhat, for example, can work natively by just pointing them to a Gateway Node, and any Ethereum blockchain software can likewise work natively.
Security and scalability
Worried about security and scalability?
Security is of utmost importance in any blockchain network. Before kicking off your Dapp, deep and proper research is important to assess the security of any platform you are choosing. You should have deep insights about their security architecture and identify any security issues in the history of the platform. If and when possible, always go for those that never had a relevant security issue in their history, have been audited by top security firms, and also have a team with relevant knowledge and proven experience in cryptography and security.
When looking to launch your project, scalability is another extremely important factor you should consider to avoid slow or rejected transactions and unexpected spikes in transaction fees, which could make your Dapp slow, expensive and even unusable.
Therefore, Scalability is essential for the success of your Dapp: innovative consensus mechanisms like Roll-DPoS have proven to be able to manage thousands of transactions per second, while maintaining decentralization, and even while maintaining decentralization and best-in-class security. You want to give your users fast transactions with low fees and great user experience.
Do you want a high performing project? Then building a Dapp that is confined to a single blockchain is no longer an option. Since all blockchains do not interact with each other by default, this poses a challenge to developers who wish to create a diverse community across multiple blockchains and capture the true benefits of interconnectedness and decentralization.
Cross-chain interoperability allows a blockchain to seamlessly exchange information and assets with other blockchains, which expands the utility of both connected blockchains. Thus, breaking the siloed nature of blockchains will create an intertwined distributed ecosystem. Financial transactions can be enabled between two completely different blockchains hassle-free with the use of "cross-chain bridges".
When choosing a cross-bridge, you should always consider a decentralized bridge over a centralized bridge as this helps keep the benefits of decentralization intact for your Dapp. Cross-chain technology is highly important for your Dapp, it enables your tokens to be "transferred" between different networks, fostering interoperability and providing essential flexibility for your project to thrive.
Real-world Data Oracles
Up until now, the types of data available to blockchains have generally been limited to price feeds and data pulled from historical databases and APIs. Expanding the data available to blockchains is critical to build specific types of Dapps, most notably those that relate to the real world. To make your Dapp work with real-world data is as powerful as it is difficult, as blockchain cannot collect data from any external system in a trusted way as a built-in function (this is called the "Oracle problem")
It is worth noting that not all blockchains are integrated with oracle infrastructures and choosing a platform that has access to one or more real-world data oracles will greatly expand the horizons of your Dapps. GPS location data, health data, traffic data, natural disasters are just a few possible inputs that will allow all types of novel Dapps to be created when they can access trusted real-world data.
Community and Grants
The importance of having a community of like-minded developers cannot be overstated as this can determine to a large extent, your speed of execution and the technical capabilities of your project. Joining and interacting with a blockchain community provides a foundation for you to interact with a diverse group of other developers and in less-structured contexts, and this allows you to break out of your workplace culture and have your ideas challenged. Building on an Ethereum compatible blockchain also allows you to count on many other existing communities of Ethereum developers.
In addition to the community, as a developer you should choose a blockchain platform with solid grant and mentorship programs. Many blockchain platforms have allocated a substantial amount of their Treasury to fund research, development of new projects, and even community building efforts.
Building a blockchain project can be risky or maybe too expensive to start with not so many resources to learn the emerging blockchain technology. Grants will definitely help fund your dream of building a decentralized solution. In addition to grants, some platforms also offer mentorship providing guidance to bring your project from idea to launch. Identify these platforms and build on them as this will streamline the development of your project and increase your chances of a successful launch.
Join the IoTeX Discord channel to find a helpful, welcoming community of Web3 developers.