Web3 Stack: A Developer Guide to Building Decentralized Applications

Web3 Stack: A Developer Guide to Building Decentralized Applications

The expansion of the web3 ecosystem is rapid, encompassing solo developers, self-funded initiatives, and tech behemoths. Regardless of your position or the development stage of your web3 project, a robust set of web3 development tools is essential.

Understanding the web3 development stack and having access to it can streamline development timelines and ensure the reliability and resilience of your solution.

But what exactly constitutes a web3 stack, and how is it utilized?

This article delves into the definition of a web3 stack, dissecting its various layers, the tools employed in each phase, and recommending essential tools to construct effective web3 solutions.

What is web3 stack?

The Web3 stack refers to the collection of technologies, tools, and protocols that developers use to build, operate, and maintain applications on decentralized networks, primarily blockchain networks. It's a holistic setup for building decentralized applications (dApps) and comprises layers for blockchain interaction, smart contract development, decentralized storage, and user interfaces 3.

The Web3 stack is typically divided into two main layers:

  • Network Layer: This is the base of the Web3 technology stack. It's built on top of blockchain architectures for trustless and permissionless access. Developers have two primary choices when picking a blockchain network for building dApps: Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)-compatible blockchains and non-EVM-compatible blockchains.

  • Application Layer: This layer ranges across various dApp categories such as DeFi, NFTs, Identity & Authentication, and Data & Analytics. It primarily allows public consumers to easily interact with an intuitive front-end, giving them the power to leverage the decentralized internet in their everyday lives.

Network Layer in Web3 Development

The network layer constitutes the foundation of the Web3 development stack, housing various blockchains where developers can construct their applications. Unlike the centralized nature of servers and databases in Web2 applications, blockchains in Web3 store dApps' business logic and updated states while being decentralized and managed by distributed nodes globally, free from single-entity control.

EVM-Compatible Blockchains

Ethereum pioneered smart contract and dApp development within blockchain technology through its Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Any blockchain that integrates this runtime environment is deemed EVM-compatible. While sharing the software layer with Ethereum (Solidity), these blockchains may differ in consensus mechanisms and transaction speeds. The EVM ecosystem boasts the largest user and developer base among dApp ecosystems, making it a preferred choice.

Notable EVM-compatible layer-1 chains (apart from Ethereum) encompass:

Non-EVM-Compatible Blockchains

Non-EVM compatible blockchains operate with distinct runtime environments for executing and managing smart contracts, utilizing languages like RUST and C++ instead of Solidity. These blockchains possess their unique ecosystems separate from the EVM framework.

Examples of non-EVM-compatible blockchains include:

Layer-2 Blockchains

Layer-2 solutions (L2s) serve as secondary blockchains constructed atop layer-1 networks to enhance scalability or introduce new features. They process multiple transactions off-chain and relay transaction data to the underlying blockchain, inheriting its security features.

Prominent layer-2 blockchains encompass

This network layer offers developers diverse choices, enabling them to build innovative decentralized applications, each blockchain type providing unique features and functionalities for the Web3 ecosystem's evolution.

Choosing the Right Blockchain Layer for Developers

Many developers opt for EVM-compatible chains due to their extensive toolsets, robust libraries, and thriving communities. This choice offers flexibility, enabling the deployment of applications across different protocols without extensive modifications, thereby widening the potential user base.

However, specific functionalities not offered by EVM chains may lead developers to choose non-EVM chains. For instance, game developers often prefer the WAX blockchain for trading in-game assets and handling high transaction volumes efficiently.

Blockchain Interaction Layer

This layer streamlines communication between decentralized applications (dApps) and the underlying blockchain. It manages smart contract deployment, execution, and maintenance, enabling dApps to interact seamlessly with the blockchain's business logic.

By simplifying complex blockchain operations, this layer enhances the development process and improves user experience within decentralized ecosystems.

Nodes: Self-Run vs. Node Service Providers

Developers face a crucial decision when building dApps: setting up their own node or using node services from providers. Running a self-node offers autonomy but demands increased maintenance and costs. Alternatively, relying on node service providers simplifies the process but sacrifices some control and depends on the provider's infrastructure and security.

Common third-party node service providers include:

  • GetBlock: A blockchain-as-a-service platform that serves as a blockchain node provider. It allows you to request on-chain information from certain nodes with REST, WebSockets, and JSON-RPC, without needing to manually set up the node itself.

  • Chainstack: Chainstack supports multiple chains, including Ethereum, Polygon, BNB Smart Chain, Avalanche, Fantom, Solana, Harmony, StarkNet, Tezos, Fabric, Corda, Bitcoin, Quorum, and MultiChain. It provides developers with APIs for orchestration, reading ledger data, application management, events, and notifications.

  • Blockdaemon: Blockdaemon runs a peer-to-peer node provider marketplace, allowing developers to buy node access at Blockdaemon’s market price. It supports over 50 chains for node support and has a suite of APIs called Ubiquity.

  • GenesysGo: GenesysGo provides RPC, validator node, and on-chain storage services specifically for Solana developers.

  • Ankr: An all-in-one Web3 development hub providing a full suite of tools to build Web3 apps.

Blockchain Explorer

Blockchain explorers are tools that allow users to browse and search for specific information on a blockchain, such as transaction histories, account balances, and block details. They interact with blockchain nodes, pull data, and present it in a structured and user-friendly manner. The interaction typically involves APIs that facilitate the retrieval of information.

There are several popular blockchain explorers.

  • Blockchair: Blockchair is a blockchain explorer that supports multiple cryptocurrencies. It provides an interface to explore transactions, blocks, and addresses. Additionally, it offers advanced analytical tools and allows cross-blockchain searches, making it useful for analyzing blockchain data.

  • Blockscout: Blockscout is a multi-chain block explorer tool designed to examine EVM-based blockchain transactions. Users can easily search for transactions and tags. Likewise, developers can engage with contracts, verify contracts, and utilize Blockscout to make API calls.

  • Etherscan: Etherscan is a popular blockchain explorer for the Ethereum network. Apart from transaction data and gas prices, Etherscan also provides insights into smart contract codes, token information, and more. It's a comprehensive tool primarily for Ethereum-based queries.

  • Blockchain.org: Formerly known as Blockchain.com, it is a popular Bitcoin block explorer. It allows users to search the Bitcoin blockchain by transaction, address, or block.

  • BlockCypher: BlockCypher is an open-source Bitcoin blockchain explorer that will help you discover a wealth of information. Apart from the standard blockchain explorer information, you’ll also get access to additional tools, such as estimates on block confirmation time.

Presentation Layer in Web3 Development

The presentation layer in blockchain technology is responsible for bridging the gap between users and the technical aspects of the system. It focuses on providing a user-friendly interface and abstracting the complexities of blockchain interactions. In other words, it includes all the components that make up the frontend of a decentralized application (dApp).

To connect dApps to blockchain networks, native libraries play a crucial role. These libraries provide a set of tools and functions that enable developers to access blockchain data such as account balances and transaction histories.

When it comes to choosing a native library, there are several options available.

  • Ganache: This is a local blockchain for Ethereum development that allows developers to test their smart contracts and dApps in a simulated environment.

  • Ethereum Node API: This allows developers to create robust interfaces that enable seamless communication with the Ethereum network. It also provides authentication strategies and rate-limiting strategies to prevent abuse of the API.

  • Prysm: This is a full-featured, open-source consensus client written in Go. It features an optional web app UI and prioritizes user experience, documentation, and configurability for both stake-at-home and institutional users.

  • Web3.js: Web3.js is a popular choice for interacting with Ethereum nodes. It allows developers to perform various tasks such as sending transactions, querying balances, and deploying smart contracts on the Ethereum network.

  • Ethers.js: Ethers.js is another option that offers a range of features including wallet encryption and decryption, contract abstraction, and event filtering, making it easier to interact with Ethereum.

  • Web3.py: For Python-based dApps, Web3.py is a suitable choice, offering functionalities such as contract deployment, transaction signing, and event logging.

Frontend Libraries for Building an Intuitive User Interface

The user interface (UI) plays a crucial role in determining how users interact with your decentralized application (dApp). A well-designed UI can make your dApp easy to navigate, understand, and use, while a poorly designed one can confuse and frustrate users. To create an intuitive UI, developers rely on frontend libraries that enable them to craft engaging and responsive experiences for their users. In this section, we will explore three popular frontend libraries used in dApp development - React.js, and Angular and there are several other libraries and frameworks that can be used for frontend development in web3.

  • Web3UI: This is a library with react components and block explorers like PolygonScan and Etherscan. It provides a set of tools and functions that enable developers to retrieve blockchain data, such as account balances and transaction histories.

  • Truffle: This is a development environment, testing framework, and asset pipeline for Ethereum, aiming to make life as an Ethereum developer easier.

  • Hardhat: This is a development environment to compile, deploy, test, and debug your Ethereum software. It helps developers manage and automate the recurring tasks that are inherent in the process of building smart contracts and dApps.

  • Bunzz: This is a platform that makes it easier to deploy smart contracts without writing any code. It can be integrated with MetaMask to simplify the process of performing write operations on the blockchain.

  • React.js - React.js is a widely adopted JavaScript library for building user interfaces. Its popularity stems from its ability to integrate seamlessly with web3 libraries and its component-based architecture, which enables developers to create modular and reusable UI elements.

  • Angular - Backed by Google, Angular is a comprehensive framework for building web applications. Its feature set includes two-way data binding, dependency injection, and a modular architecture, making it suitable for larger and more complex applications. While Angular may require a steeper learning curve than other frontend frameworks, its robustness and scalability make it a popular choice among experienced developers.

Web3 Development Environments

Web3 development environments are comprehensive platforms, tools, and frameworks designed to simplify the process of building, testing, and deploying decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts on blockchain networks. These environments cater to the distinct needs of blockchain development, providing an efficient and streamlined experience for developers.

At the core of any Web3 development environment are several key components:

  • Smart Contract Compilation: This aspect of the environment is responsible for converting human-readable smart contract code into machine-executable bytecode that can be deployed on the blockchain. This compilation step ensures that the smart contract can be executed by the blockchain network.

  • Testing Frameworks: A crucial element of Web3 development environments, testing frameworks allow developers to evaluate their smart contracts in a simulated blockchain environment. This enables them to identify and fix potential issues before deploying the contracts on live networks. Testing frameworks replicate the behavior of real-world scenarios, ensuring that smart contracts function correctly under different conditions.

  • Deployment Tools: Once the smart contract has been tested and refined, deployment tools take over, facilitating the transfer of the contract onto live blockchain networks. These tools manage the process of migrating the smart contract from the testing environment to the production environment, ensuring a seamless transition.

  • Network Management: Another essential feature of Web3 development environments is network management. This component handles connections to various blockchain networks, including local testnets, public testnets, and mainnets. Network management capabilities ensure that developers can easily switch between different networks, allowing them to test and deploy their smart contracts in diverse environments.

Which development environment should you use?

Choosing the right development environment for your project depends on several factors, including your familiarity with the programming languages, development workflows, and specific project needs. Here are some popular development environments for Ethereum smart contract development:

  • Truffle: Truffle streamlines the Ethereum dApp development process by offering a unified environment. Its built-in tools for smart contract compilation, linking, and deployment simplify the lifecycle of dApp creation. Truffle also provides an interactive console for testing and debugging purposes and allows you to work with your contracts interactively.

  • Spheron Network: Spheron Network is a PaaS designed for startups, optimizing scalability and minimizing infrastructural costs to boost growth and profitability. Spheron simplifies the front-end hosting process, making it easy for developers to deploy their applications in just a matter of minutes. Spheron offers a suite of services that support blockchain applications, including hosting, storage, and computing services.

    With Spheron's user-friendly interface and robust infrastructure, users can focus on developing great apps and dapps without worrying about the hassle of setting up and managing servers. Spheron Network takes care of the technical details so developers can concentrate on what matters most - creating innovative and successful front-end applications.

    Spheron platform encompasses three primary categories: Web hosting, computing, and storage services. Let's delve into each of these to gain a more comprehensive understanding.

  • Hardhat: Hardhat offers developers enhanced visibility and debugging capabilities. Its emphasis on clear stack traces and interactive consoles ensures that developers can easily trace errors and understand the behavior of their smart contracts. Hardhat also supports TypeScript integration and uses Ethers.js as the default library for interaction with smart contracts.

  • Brownie: Brownie is another development environment that is Python-based. It is especially appealing to Python enthusiasts due to its simplicity and Python integration.

  • Embark: Embark is a framework for creating decentralized applications (DApps) on Ethereum. It supports multiple languages, including JavaScript, Python, and Ruby, and provides a unified environment for development, testing, and deployment.

  • Moralis: Moralis is a Web3 infrastructure provider that allows developers to easily interact with many Web3 services such as authentication, NFTs, on-chain data, and smart contracts. It offers an API interface to Ethereum, tutorials for creating new projects, and a great SDK to support high-performance Dapps.

Decentralized storage solutions

dApps require a means to securely store data such as user profiles, multimedia content, and transaction logs. Unlike traditional apps that rely on centralized databases, dApps turn to decentralized storage solutions.

These systems distribute data across various nodes, eliminating central points of failure and ensuring enhanced data integrity and availability.

Which decentralized storage solution should you use?

  • Spheron Network - Spheron's Storage provides SDKs as a tool that makes it easy for developers to upload files directly from a web browser to services like IPFS, Filecoin, or Arweave. It handles all the complexities of interacting with the IPFS network so users can focus on building their applications without worrying about the details. The SDK also offers features like encryption, access control, and streaming, making it a powerful tool for creating modern web applications.

    Spheron also provides an intuitive Spheron Browser SDK that allows developers to store their data on IPFS securely. The SDK provides convenient functionalities and supports multiple protocols, allowing developers to use various decentralized storage networks seamlessly. Using the Spheron Browser SDK combined with IPFS provides a powerful and efficient solution for decentralized data storage.

    One of the main advantages of using these SDKs is that you can avoid writing complex code for file uploading, such as multi-chunking and parallelization. Another advantage is that it takes care of storage scalability and redundancy, so users don't have to worry about managing lots of server space or developing a complicated mechanism for load balancing on their server instances.

  • IPFS: IPFS is a peer-to-peer protocol that’s designed to store and retrieve data in a distributed and decentralized manner. The only disadvantage of storing data on IPFS is that it’s not guaranteed to stay available and is only stored in the node that added it.

  • Arweave: Arweave is a fully decentralized storage solution with a promise of "permanent" data storage. By integrating economic incentives for data storage, Arweave aims to ensure that once data is stored on its network, it remains available indefinitely.

A Gateway to Web3 Engagement With Application Layer

At the forefront of the web3 revolution, the application layer serves as the entry point for users to interact with the decentralized ecosystem. This stratum facilitates user engagement through various decentralized applications (dApps), providing an accessible interface for people to experience the power of blockchain technology.

One of the most significant components of the application layer is Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). These organizations operate through predefined rules encoded as smart contracts, enabling collective decision-making and resource management without a central authority. DAOs have gained popularity among developers and entrepreneurs due to their potential to transform traditional organizational structures and create new opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

There are several frameworks available for developers looking to build their own DAOs.

  • Colony: Colony is another popular framework for building DAOs. It provides a platform for creating and managing DAOs, with a focus on transparency, control, and trust. Colony supports the creation of custom DAOs and allows developers to customize various aspects of their DAOs, such as its governance structure, voting mechanism, membership rules, and funding model.

  • Gnosis Safe: Gnosis Safe is a smart contract wallet that allows developers to create and manage DAOs. It supports the creation of custom DAOs and allows developers to customize various aspects of their DAOs, such as its governance structure, voting mechanism, membership rules, and funding model. Gnosis Safe also provides a set of tools and services for managing DAOs, including a voting system, a treasury, and a reputation system.

  • DAO Framework: This is a generic DAO framework that allows developers to create and manage DAOs on the Ethereum blockchain. It provides a set of tools and services for creating and managing DAOs, including a voting system, a treasury, and a reputation system. DAO Framework also supports the creation of custom DAOs and allows developers to customize various aspects of their DAOs, such as its governance structure, voting mechanism, membership rules, and funding model.

Tools and Solutions for User-Centric Identity Management

Several tools and protocols are available to facilitate the establishment, validation, and administration of user identities in decentralized systems. These tools cater to integrating user-centric identity management.

  • Hyperledger Aries Framework JavaScript: This is a JavaScript implementation of the Aries Framework, which is a set of protocols for building self-sovereign identity (SSI) solutions. It allows developers to create and manage decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials. The framework is built using TypeScript and is maintained by the Hyperledger Foundation, a global community of leaders in emerging technologies, including blockchain, distributed ledger, and edge computing.

  • Jolocom Smartwallet App: This is a decentralized self-sovereign identity solution developed by Jolocom. It allows developers to create and manage decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials. The solution is built using TypeScript.

  • Credebl Platform: This is an open-source, standards-based decentralized identity and verifiable credentials platform. It is built using TypeScript and allows developers to create and manage decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials.

  • Evernym Verity: Evernym Verity is a decentralized protocol platform for issuing and verifying digital credentials. It is a read-only mirror and contributions are welcomed at https://gitlab.com/evernym.

  • EU Self-Sovereign Identity Framework (ESSIF): The European Union created an eIDAS compatible European Self-Sovereign Identity Framework (ESSIF). The ESSIF makes use of decentralized identifiers (DIDs) and the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI).

Build DApps Easily with Spheron Network

When it comes to running Web3 workloads, Spheron Network is considered an excellent choice. Spheron offers industry-leading Web3 infrastructure, is available globally, has low fees, can scale easily, is fully decentralized, and supports multichain. These features make it an ideal platform for businesses looking to leverage the capabilities of Web3, decentralization, and blockchain technologies.

Spheron's vibrant community, comprising around 6000+ developers, over 5000+ projects, and nearly 100 startups, demonstrates its dedication to the space. All these participants are set in motion, thriving, and have found great success hosting their services on Spheron. They have harnessed the advantages that Spheron provides through their successful experiences.

Spheron platform encompasses three primary categories: Web hosting, computing, and storage services. To help you get started, we hope this blog has provided valuable insights into the components of the web3 development stack and which tools, protocols, and platforms might suit your needs best.

If you still have questions, feel free to join our thriving Discourse community or reach out to us directly for guidance on how to begin developing DAOs using Spheron Network's web3 tools and SDKs – all available at no cost!