Oct 3, 2023
about 5 min read
A Comprehensive Guide to the Web3 Technology Stack for Developers
In this article, let’s learn about the Web3 technology stack—the set of tools that enable decentralized web applications.
The web is evolving. From the early days of static web pages and centralized servers to today’s dynamic and interactive web applications, the web has undergone significant changes in how it is built, accessed, and used.
However, its current architecture still relies on intermediaries and trusted third parties to store, process, and transmit data. This creates many problems, including censorship, privacy breaches, data monopolies, and security vulnerabilities.
Web3 is a vision for a new web that is decentralized, open, and trustless. It aims to empower users with more control over their data, identity, and digital assets. At the same time, it enables developers to create more innovative and resilient applications that run without intermediaries. It is facilitated by a set of tools that form the Web3 technology stack.
Web3 Technology Stack Components
There are four fundamental Web3 technologies to learn: blockchain protocols, smart contract languages, distributed storage systems, and decentralized communication protocols. Each serves a different function and interacts with each other to form a cohesive ecosystem.
Blockchain protocols are the foundation of the Web3 developer stack. They provide a distributed ledger that records transactions and events in a secure and immutable way. Blockchain protocols also enable peer-to-peer networks that allow users to interact directly with each other without intermediaries. They can be categorized into two types: EVM-compatible and non-EVM-compatible.
- EVM-compatible blockchains use the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) as their software layer for executing smart contracts. EVM is a virtual environment that stores information like accounts, balances, and machine state. It also provides a framework for writing smart contracts in various languages. EVM-compatible blockchains share the same features and functionalities as Ethereum. However, they may differ regarding scalability, performance, and governance. Some examples of EVM-compatible blockchains are Ethereum, Polygon, Arbitrum, Optimism, Hermez, ZKSync, Starknet, Avalanche, and Cronos.
- Non-EVM-compatible blockchains do not use EVM in their technology stacks for blockchain development to execute smart contracts. They may offer various advantages over EVM-compatible blockchains, such as faster transactions, lower fees, or higher throughput. However, they may also require different tools/frameworks for developing and deploying smart contracts. Some examples of non-EVM-compatible blockchains are Bitcoin, Cardano, Solana, Polkadot, Cosmos, Tezos, and EOS.
Smart Contract Languages
In the Web3 technology stack, they are programming languages that allow developers to write logic and rules for Web3 applications. Smart contracts are self-executing agreements that run on blockchain protocols and perform various functions, including transferring funds, issuing tokens, verifying identities, and enforcing conditions. Smart contract languages can be divided into two types: high-level and low-level.
- On the other hand, low-level smart contract languages are closer to the machine code that runs on the blockchain protocols. They have syntax and features similar to assembly or low-level programming languages like C or C++. As a result, they provide more control and flexibility over the execution and optimization of smart contracts. However, they require more technical skills and knowledge to write and debug. Some popular low-level smart contract languages are Yul, LLVM IR, Rholang, and WASM.
Distributed Storage Systems
Distributed storage systems allow developers to store data for Web3 applications in a decentralized way. Unlike traditional web applications that rely on centralized servers or cloud providers to store data, Web3 apps use distributed networks of nodes that store data in a peer-to-peer manner.
Distributed storage systems can be classified into two types: on-chain and off-chain.
- On-chain storage systems store data directly on the blockchain protocols. They use smart contracts and native features of the blockchain protocols to store data in the form of transactions or events. As a result, they offer high security, immutability, and verifiability of data, as well as easy integration with smart contracts. However, they have limitations like high costs, low scalability, or limited storage capacity. Some popular on-chain storage systems are Ethereum, Bitcoin, IPFS, and Arweave.
- Meanwhile, off-chain storage systems store data outside of the blockchain protocols. Then, they connect to the blockchain via bridges or oracles. They offer low costs, high scalability, large storage capacity, flexibility, and customization of data formats and structures. However, they have trade-offs like inadequate security, mutability, verifiability of data, and more complexity and dependency on external services. Some popular off-chain storage systems are Filecoin, Swarm, Storj, Sia, or OrbitDB.
Decentralized Communication Protocols
Using distributed networks of nodes also allows Web3 applications to communicate in a peer-to-peer manner. Therefore, users can chat with each other in a decentralized way.
Web3 applications use messaging protocols to enable asynchronous communication. They facilitate the secure and private exchange of text, images, audio, video, etc. messages. They also allow users to create channels and groups for different topics or purposes.
Messaging protocols are versatile and can be utilized for chat, social media, notifications, alerts, and more. Popular messaging protocols include Whisper, Waku, Matrix, Status, Signal, and Telegram Open Network.
In addition, streaming protocols enable real-time communication. They allow users to stream and consume data such as audio, video, or live events quickly and reliably. Users can also interact with each other or with the streamers through comments, reactions, and donations.
It is possible to use streaming protocols for various entertainment, education, gaming, and sports functions. Some popular streaming protocols are Livepeer, Audius, Theta Network, DLive, Streamr, and GUN.
Real-World Applications of the Web3 Technology Stack
The Web3 technology stack enables developers to create a wide range of applications that leverage the benefits of decentralization, openness, and trustlessness. Below are some examples of real-world applications along with their Web3 technology list:
|Application||Description||Blockchain Protocol||Smart Contract Language||Distributed Storage System||Decentralized Communication Protocol|
|Uniswap||A decentralized exchange that allows users to swap tokens without intermediaries or fees.||Ethereum||Solidity||IPFS||Waku|
|CryptoKitties||A collectible game that allows users to breed and trade digital cats.||Ethereum||Solidity||IPFS||Whisper|
|Brave Browser||A web browser that rewards users for viewing ads and protects their privacy.||Bitcoin||Rust||IPFS||Matrix|
|Decentraland||A virtual world that allows users to create and explore 3D environments.||Ethereum||Solidity||IPFS and Filecoin||Livepeer and Audius|
Currently, the Web3 layers are still in their nascent stages of development. However, its potential is enormous. It has the capability to completely transform the way we interact with the internet.
Web3 gives users greater control over their data privacy, online identity, and digital experiences. In addition, it enables users to participate in a decentralized and trustless ecosystem without intermediaries. As a result, this technology has the potential to create a more transparent, equitable, and open internet.
As it continues to evolve and mature, we can expect to see even more innovative and groundbreaking applications using the Web3 technology stack. The possibilities are limitless, from decentralized finance to social networks, gaming, and beyond. Web3 can be a game-changer poised to revolutionize the internet as we know it.