A tech stack, often referred to as a technology stack, is a combination of software tools, frameworks, and technologies used to build and run a digital application or website. It’s akin to the foundation and building blocks of a structure, where each component has a specific role in ensuring the application’s functionality and performance.
In the world of blockchain development, the tech stack becomes even more intricate, encompassing blockchain platforms, smart contract languages, decentralized storage solutions, and more. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, understanding and selecting the appropriate tech stack remains a pivotal aspect of successful application development.
Components of a tech stack
At its core, a tech stack is divided into two main components: the frontend (or client-side) and the backend (or server-side).
Backend: This is the behind-the-scenes part of the application, responsible for storing and organizing data, ensuring that everything on the frontend runs smoothly, and managing the overall logic of the application. It consists of a server, an application, and a database. Popular backend technologies include server environments like Node.js or Ruby on Rails, and databases such as PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and MySQL.
Choosing the right tech stack is crucial for the success of an application. The decision often depends on various factors, including the project’s requirements, the team’s expertise, scalability needs, and budget constraints. A well-chosen tech stack can streamline development processes, enhance user experience, and ensure the application’s long-term viability.
It’s essential to remember that while trends in technology come and go, the primary goal remains the same: to create a robust, efficient, and user-friendly application. Therefore, when selecting a tech stack, it’s advisable to prioritize the project’s specific needs over popular industry trends.
Layers of the Blockchain Tech Stack
To understand the intricate layers of the blockchain tech stack, it’s essential to visualize its structure. At its foundation, the graphic showcases various programmable chains, commonly referred to as layer-1 (L1) blockchains. Interestingly, layer-2 (L2) blockchains are also part of this foundational layer in the blockchain developer tech stack. These chains act as the backbone, providing the networks, protocols, and databases that enable the decentralized Internet.
Ascending from the blockchain networks, the next layers encompass nodes, APIs, a mix of Web3 and Web2 development tools, and platforms. At the pinnacle, we find dApps. Collectively, these components represent the contemporary tech stack essential for blockchain development. However, for those aspiring to specialize in dApp development, not every layer may be of direct relevance. And while the visual representation is crucial, it’s beneficial to retain its essence as we explore the topic.
So, which layer do you believe garners the most attention from users? If “dApps” was your guess, you hit the mark. It’s vital to remember this because, in the absence of user-centric dApps, blockchain technology risks becoming an underutilized innovation.
Therefore, mastering the art of crafting dApps is pivotal for the continued growth and relevance of Web3. The ultimate goal is to engage end-users in the most streamlined and effective manner.
Understanding Blockchain Development Tech Stack
Having grasped the preliminary overview, it’s time to dive into the individual layers of the blockchain tech stack. We’ll initiate our exploration from the foundational layer and ascend upwards. By comprehending each layer of the blockchain developer tech stack, you’ll be poised to navigate the blockchain landscape with assurance.
This foundational layer is pivotal to the world of blockchain development and the emergence of Web3. In its absence, we’d be confined to centralized systems. Predominantly, the Ethereum network remains a frontrunner in the domain of programmable blockchains, retaining its position as a widely embraced decentralized platform. Its pioneering nature granted it an early-bird advantage, leading to the inception of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). However, challenges like elevated transaction costs and network bottlenecks on Ethereum catalyzed the emergence of alternative chains, enriching the ecosystem with diverse options.
Development-oriented blockchains can be broadly categorized into two segments:
EVM-compatible chains and non-EVM-compatible chains. As implied, the former aligns with Ethereum’s virtual environment, enabling developers to employ a majority of the tools designed for Ethereum. Conversely, non-EVM-compatible chains operate on their distinct virtual platforms. Here’s a snapshot of renowned blockchains from both categories:
Layer-1 Blockchains include:
- BNB Chain
Layer-2 Blockchains include:
At its core, nodes connect with their counterparts within the same blockchain. Every full node, among other types, houses a comprehensive replica of the blockchain’s current state. The distribution and spread of nodes within a particular blockchain network play a pivotal role in determining the network’s degree of decentralization.
Engaging with nodes is crucial, as they act as the gateway to communicate with the blockchain and retrieve its data. Drawing a parallel with traditional web development, just as one doesn’t directly engage with the CPU in Web2 applications, it’s logical not to interface directly with a blockchain in the context of Web3.
While, in theory, anyone can operate a node, the practicalities are more intricate. Operating a node often demands dedicated attention, necessitating a team for its upkeep, ensuring regular backups, and addressing other technicalities.
Given these complexities, it’s unreasonable to anticipate every Web3 developer to manage their node. The silver lining here is the presence of specialized node providers, eliminating the need for developers to run their own. These providers form the backbone of this layer in the blockchain developer tech stack. Renowned names in the node provider domain encompass Infura, Alchemy, Chainstack, Getblock, Pocket Network, QuickNode, and RunNode.
However, there are inherent limitations to nodes. A single node is typically confined to a specific blockchain and doesn’t extend its reach to multiple smart contracts associated with cryptocurrency tokens. Additionally, the data a node offers is raw, and directly extracted from the blockchain without any refinement.
The Role of APIs
For those acquainted with computer science, the concept of APIs (application programming interfaces) is no stranger. These are structured sets of definitions and protocols designed to facilitate the creation and integration of software applications. In the context of blockchain, Web3 APIs play a pivotal role in the development of decentralized applications (dApps).
At their essence, APIs provide a structured mechanism allowing distinct software components to communicate seamlessly. High-quality APIs ensure that developers can code consistently within a stable environment. The blockchain ecosystem boasts several esteemed Web3 API provides. Among the notable ones are Covalent, QuickNode, The Graph, Bitquery, Alchemy, and Biconomy.
It’s also pertinent to highlight that comprehensive documentation accompanies these API offerings. For instance, Moralis’ documentation is enriched with practical use-case examples spanning its extensive array of endpoints. This equips developers with the ability to address a multitude of queries using concise code segments.
Web3 and Web2 Development Tools and Platforms
While it might seem logical to integrate the third and fourth layers of the blockchain tech stack, given that APIs are inherently developmental tools, their significance warrants distinct recognition.
This layer encapsulates higher-tier software abstractions and frontend libraries, often termed the presentation layer. It encompasses Web3-specific libraries, developmental environments, and decentralized storage solutions like IPFS.
Additionally, this layer of the blockchain tech stack integrates traditional application development platforms. Leveraging robust cross-platform APIs, such as those provided by Moralis, developers can harness renowned platforms like Firebase, Supabase, and PlayFab to craft standout dApps.
Arriving at the pinnacle of the blockchain developer tech stack, we encounter dApps or decentralized applications. These applications manifest in a myriad of forms, ranging from DeFi platforms and DEXs to identity verification dApps, NFT marketplaces, and data-centric dApps. It’s essential to recognize that the vitality of the underlying layers culminates in this topmost layer. For the average Web3 user, their interaction is primarily with this layer.
While a Web3 developer’s mainstay is dApp creation, they also leverage existing dApps to streamline processes. For example, Web3 wallets like MetaMask become instrumental in managing transaction costs during smart contract deployment and dApp testing.
This layer offers a canvas for innovation and creativity. The onus lies on developers to present a captivating user interface (UI) and ensure an unparalleled user experience (UX). These facets play a crucial role in propelling blockchain technology into the mainstream.
Top Web3 Development Environments
For Web3 developers embarking on the journey of dApp creation, the choice of blockchain network is pivotal. An essential criterion is the range and quality of developer tools at their disposal.
The silver lining for those opting for EVM-compatible chains is the rich legacy of Ethereum’s developmental history, offering a plethora of tried-and-tested development environments.
- Truffle: Serves as the main development platform, offering testing and deployment functionalities.
- Ganache: Facilitates the rapid establishment of a local blockchain.
- Drizzle: Provides a collection of frontend libraries, bridging frontend elements with underlying smart contracts.
Positioned as a counterpart to Hardhat and Truffle, Brownie is a Python-driven framework tailored for EVM development. It presents a comprehensive array of Web3 developer utilities, predominantly leveraging the web3.py package for dApp compilation, testing, and deployment.
Development Environments for Non-EVM Blockchains
A recent trend in the blockchain domain is the surge in dApp development on non-EVM blockchains.
Advocates of these networks often critique EVM chains for being overly tethered to Ethereum’s framework, advocating for innovation through novel architectures. Typically, non-EVM blockchains prioritize data and transaction scalability, ensuring impressive transaction rates.
Examples of Non-EVM Blockchains include:
- Solana: A Layer 1 platform utilizing Rust for smart contract development.
- NEAR: Another Layer 1 platform, favoring Rust or Assembly Script for smart contract creation.
- Astar: A Parachain bridging the Polkadot ecosystem with leading Layer-1 blockchains.
While developmental environments for non-EVM chains might not be as mature, certain networks are pioneering developer tools tailored to their platforms.
For instance, Flow equips developers with tools to scrutinize Cadence smart contracts for potential issues, leveraging a native extension for Visual Studio Code—one of the most sought-after Integrated Development Environments (IDEs).
Another noteworthy non-EVM development environment is Anchor, designed for Solana contract development. It offers a user experience reminiscent of Solidity and Truffle, making the transition to Rust and Solana development more accessible for developers.
The blockchain tech stack is a multifaceted ecosystem, with each layer playing a pivotal role in the development and deployment of decentralized applications. Whether one is a seasoned developer or a newcomer to the blockchain realm, understanding these layers and the tools they encompass is essential. As the digital landscape continues to expand, staying informed and leveraging the right tools will be key to harnessing the full potential of blockchain technology.
What is the primary purpose of the blockchain tech stack?
The blockchain tech stack provides the necessary tools and frameworks for developing, deploying, and managing decentralized applications (dApps) on blockchain networks.
Are all blockchains EVM-compatible?
No, while many blockchains are EVM-compatible, there are non-EVM blockchains that operate outside the Ethereum framework.
Why is the API layer separated from Web3 and Web2 dev tools in the tech stack?
Due to the significant role APIs play in development, they are distinguished from other tools, even though they are inherently developmental tools.
Can a developer work on both EVM and non-EVM blockchains?
Yes, developers can work on both types, but they may require different tools and knowledge bases for each.
What is the role of nodes in the blockchain tech stack?
Nodes establish connections within the same blockchain, store its current state, and play a role
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