The road to Web3 is often bumpy and in more than one way. We can talk about the road to mainstream Web3 adoption, which is still a long way off. Fortunately, the Web3 industry is making great strides toward achieving this ambitious goal, in part, thanks to the growing development of Layer 2 solutions for increasing blockchain scalability.
Then there’s the road to Web3 for software developers. Web3 development has its own flow and it can be difficult for devs coming from other fields to have a smooth transition. But with a lot of hard work and dedication, everything is possible. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what the road to Web3 looks like and how it can be easier and enjoyable. But before that, let’s just talk a bit about Web3 and why it’s important
Why Web3 matters
The term Web3 describes a new vision for an ecosystem of Internet-based services, one that is built around distributed ledger technologies like blockchain. This is in contrast with the current model, which relies on centralized servers controlled by vast tech corporations. This model has worked very well, but it’s also been stagnant for quite some time. Web3, on the other hand, proposes that decentralization is the next big leap forward for the web.
By embracing decentralization, we can have services that are more open, inclusive, transparent and resistant to censorship. Web3 protocols leverage cryptography to power sophisticated consensus mechanisms that can bolster security and reduce the reliance on intermediaries. On top of that, in Web3 many operations can be automated thanks to smart contracts.
Road to Web3: first steps
If you’re looking to make the transition to Web3, it is very important to build a good theoretical understanding of blockchain technology and the Web3 ecosystem. The tech and the industry have evolved so much over the past few years and can be quite overwhelming to newcomers. Having a good grasp of the technology will allow you to more easily navigate the world of Web3 and build the practical skills that you’ll need to succeed in this field. Just as importantly, it will give you the confidence to apply those skills to build innovative and impactful Web3 products and services.
Of course, there is no better way to learn how to apply your skills than simply start doing it. The best part of learning Web3 is that you get to build stuff. And more often than not that involves writing smart contracts.
What are smart contracts?
Smart contracts are, without a doubt, the beating heart of Web3 development. First introduced by Ethereum, smart contracts are self-executing programs that execute instructions when certain conditions, specified in their code, are met. This may be a transaction that triggers the minting of new crypto tokens and sends them to the account where the transaction originated from.
Smart contracts can be programmed to serve all kinds of purposes, which is why they are capable of powering a wide range of decentralized applications, or dApps. On top of that, you can have multiple smart contracts working together to make more complex and powerful dApps.
Today Ethereum continues to be the leading platform for smart contracts, so far withstanding challengers like Binance Smart Chain and Avalanche. Arguably, the most well-known programming language for writing smart contracts is Solidity but Ethereum supports a number of other languages such as Vyper and Yul.
While smart contract development requires a lot of skill, there are some great tools that can bolster your proficiency and make the process a lot easier. Hardhat, Foundry, Truffle and Ethers.js are just some of the tools that can help you step up your smart contract development skills.
As we alluded earlier, crypto tokens can be created, or ‘minted’ through smart contracts. In fact, most of the crypto assets that exist today were minted via smart contracts on Ethereum.
Token contracts can be custom-built, but they usually follow established token standards. These are essentially guidelines for writing smart contracts that ensure that the newly-created crypt tokens are compatible with the broader Web3 ecosystem and can work with crypto wallets and other dApps.
The most popular is perhaps ERC-20. It was the first token standard and it Web3 developers a way to easily create new fungible tokens. Most cryptocurrencies on the market today are ERC-20 tokens or have started as such before migrating to their own chains.
But what if you don’t want to mint a fungible token, but instead want to make something that’s one of a kind? Like a piece of digital art or a digital collectible. Well, for this we have non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
NFT smart contract development
Just like their fungible counterparts, NFTs are minted via smart contracts that usually adhere to an established token standard to ensure compatibility with the network. On Ethereum we have ERC-721, which is the most popular standard for writing NFT smart contracts on that blockchain. The standard has been instrumental in streamlining the NFT smart contract development process.
One key distinction between ERC-20 and ERC-721 is that under the latter tokens have unique identifiers called TokenID. This practically ensures that each token minted by an ERC-721 contract is unique. This also allows us to create NFT collections – thanks to TokenID, an entire collection can come from a single contract, with each item having its own identifier.
More recently, the ERC-1155 standard has been gaining traction for its unique ability to enable the creation of both fungible and non-fungible tokens. Often described as a ‘multi-token standard’, ERC-1155 also makes use of TokenIds, but under the standard identifier represents a configurable token type that can have its own attributes, like supply, metadata and so on. If the supply is set at one, that token is treated as an NFT.
Learning Web3 may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but with the right mindset and in the right environment it can be a real joy. More importantly, it opens up exciting career opportunities at one of the frontiers of technological advancement.
You can make the road to Web3 mastery much more enjoyable for yourself with our entry Web 3.0 course and advanced blockchain training level courses. We would love to see you in the next class of LimeAcademy alumni!