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The popularity of blockchain-based platforms like Bitcoin and Ethereum has sparked interest in the potential for decentralized technologies that underpin the next-generation internet services that are referred to collectively as Web 3.0. It is still early days, but visionaries see an opportunity to transform numerous industries, including finance, gaming and supply chains.
Cutting-edge technologies like smart contracts could also change the very nature of business organizations themselves through approaches like decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), another fundamental component of Web 3.0. Here are some tips for how developers can prepare themselves for applying these decentralized technologies.
They may also master specific parts of the decentralized technology stack. Front-end developers may focus on writing blockchain dApps, the decentralized applications that users see. Back-end developers may concentrate more on smart contracts, providing secure virtual machines and securing communications across blockchains.
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In short, Web 3.0 developers write decentralized applications, often by using application development tools for apps meant for Web 2.0, the current version of the world wide web. The key difference is they need to understand how to connect application logic across dApps, using different approaches for ensuring trust, automating logic, authenticating users and implementing business logic.
Developers should familiarize themselves with some of the critical characteristics of Web 3.0 to create these apps. Abhishek Singhal, a managing director at Deloitte Consulting, said the power of Web 3.0 comes from the following characteristics:
Developers may want to explore interoperability before looking at specific tools. Mrinal Manohar, co-founder and CEO of Casper Labs, a blockchain vendor, said interoperability is an area that's traditionally been ignored by Web 3.0 tools. Most of them focused on integrating within their decentralized ecosystems without considering how to work with the existing technology stacks that power most businesses and internet applications.
Casper's recent report on the state of enterprise blockchain found that 77% of global business leaders prioritize interoperability when adopting any new technology. Developers with a better understanding of how to bridge Web 3.0 apps and traditional infrastructure will be better positioned to help enterprises integrate into their existing apps and workflows, the vendor claimed.
Manohar said he believes developers may also want to learn the Rust language, which has emerged as a compelling and popular language for many Web 3.0 software programs. He also advocated checking out WebAssembly (WASM), a portable virtual machine code format that is commonly used to enable high-performance and scalable webpage applications. "That's not something most blockchains offer, which has led to many usability and performance issues," he said. Now, blockchain platforms are starting to add support for WASM.
Thomas Aslanian, senior product manager at ImmutableX, a Web 3.0 game platform, said fundamental coding skills are a prerequisite for learning how to build smart contracts properly. It is also essential to understand the limitations of these platforms from a computer science perspective.
New techniques are also required to provide the best user experience (UX) for decentralized apps. Some of the early apps were slow, buggy or hard to use. "In the world of networked applications that are primarily open source, the ones with the best UXs will win," Aslanian said.
Each developer's learning path can differ based on their background, according to Singhal. He suggested that everyone begin with the fundamentals and appreciate how they connect. Start by learning answers to the following questions:
Becoming a Web 3.0 developer is as much a journey as a destination. The IT industry is still trying to figure out how to take advantage of the new architectures and tools.
Most of the tools, in fact, are still a work in progress. Every app will require striking a balance between new decentralized technologies like smart contracts built on Solidity and traditional web infrastructure.
It is also worth exploring how advances in new security and trust technologies might complement the blockchain technology supported by Web 3.0 advocates. For example, Tim Berners-Lee, widely credited as the founder of the web, advocates a non-blockchain data sharing mechanism built on the open source Solid standard. He founded a company called Inrupt to sell tools for developing on Solid.
Choosing the appropriate combination of technology stacks will help developers strike the right balance between performance, scalability, security and cost.
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