Web3 has a shortage of developers. Yet the number of developers worldwide hit 27.7 million in 2023—an all-time high, according to Statista. Built on a vision of transparency, security, and digital ownership, and powered by decentralization and blockchain, Web3 has positioned itself as the cutting edge of innovation. Despite Web3 pioneering the next internet frontier and blockchain developers being in high demand, it appears there are a few obstacles deterring Web2 developers from making the transition to a Web3 developer environment. This article start with some convincing reasons to start developing in Web3, before assessing the perceived barriers developers face when building in Web3 and look to provide solutions. It will then outline what developer skills are transferable to Web3 and how they can be built upon.
Need a refresher on the difference between Web2 and Web3? Read this article.
Why transition from Web2 to Web3?
Better control over your work. Decentralization means you are not controlled or limited in the ways that you sometimes can be with centralized platforms and services. Thanks to decentralization, your data or app cannot be shut down or restricted by a central party.
Give users true ownership of assets. Blockchain enables developers to build applications that facilitate user ownership and control of their data and digital assets because they are stored on a blockchain and not owned and controlled by a centralized company.
Leverage transparency and security. Rather than closed systems, blockchains are typically transparent, allowing users to see transactions taking place, which can increase trust in your application. Further, transactions are tamper-proof and, in the case of Algorand, resistant to being rolled back once they are finalized, which happens with instant finality the second a transaction is added to a block.
Ride the wave of innovation. Web3 is still in its early stages, which means that there are many opportunities for innovation. Now is the time to be at the forefront of new technology and help build better and more inclusive systems.
How to overcome the barriers to building in Web3
Let’s take a look at the roadblocks that need to be addressed for developers to thrive and what support is currently available for those building in Web3.
Embrace the learning journey
Online tutorials, courses, and community forums are invaluable at this point. You can start with the blockchain basics on the Developer Portal, sign up for beginner and intermediate developer bootcamps, tap into the Algorand developer docs, and check out a host of developer tutorials on YouTube to grow your knowledge.
Learn more: A comprehensive guide to developer bootcamps
Find a protocol that works
Developers making the transition from Web2 to Web3 now have many protocols to choose from, each with varying capabilities. It's crucial to thoroughly research and understand different blockchain platforms, their consensus mechanisms, scalability, transaction costs, hardware requirements, and smart contract capabilities before diving in. Ask questions like, does this blockchain offer instant transaction finality? Has this protocol experienced any downtime?
It’s important to assess the learning resources a protocol offers. Look for a protocol equipped with a dynamic academy, such as on YouTube, or a comprehensive Learning Management System (LMS).
Beyond your own research and studies, listen to what other developers are saying. The validation gained from witnessing fellow developers' opinions about the protocol's tooling speaks more resoundingly than the protocol's own claims. It’s invaluable to choose a protocol that fosters engagement through a vibrant Discord community, readily addressing and troubleshooting technical queries.
Get equipped with the right tooling
A protocol needs more than just excellent developer resources, it should also have top-notch tooling and infrastructure to take the stress out of building. Often, a major hurdle is the initial setup environment, when all you want to do is start building. Even once this is initialized, building on blockchain still feels like an uphill battle.
A solution that some prominent blockchains offer is all-in-one builder tools that enable developers to build with very little programming or the need to understand backend processes. Unfortunately, many Web3 developers have accepted that these low and no-code tools are the only way to learn and build quickly. However, it leaves them in the position of not having full control over the project and sometimes being limited in what they can build.
AlgoKit is a toolkit that allows developers to build, test, and deploy on Algorand. It’s possible to set up the development environment in 10 minutes and get building. Rather than offering a low-code solution, it allows you to dig into the code and have full control over your project. It comes with templates that support your building and enable you to truly learn what is going on in the backend.
Get acquainted with the architecture
Web2 and Web3 architectures are built differently. In Web2, you’re likely familiar with the frontend, which is responsible for the user interface and interaction; the backend, which handles the business logic and data processing; and the database, where all the data is stored. While your Web2 knowledge remains valuable, it’s important to embrace the Web3 architecture, which introduces decentralization and blockchain technology. The frontend remains responsible for the user interface, while the backend shifts primarily to smart contracts with optional database usage deployed on blockchains and information being distributed across a network. These architectural components allow Web3 applications to be more decentralized, secure, and transparent.
Embrace alternative storage solutions
Web2 applications are often backed up in centralized storage, which has a single point of failure and may be at risk of censorship and content control. Web3 looks to make storage decentralized. One solution is to store large amounts of data directly on the blockchain. However, this can be expensive and impractical, especially for frontend files and images.
InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a decentralized off-chain protocol that addresses these challenges. IPFS allows developers to store files across a distributed network of nodes, enhancing data availability and durability, and reducing reliance on a single point of failure. IPFS supports you in creating applications that efficiently manage and distribute data while maintaining the decentralized principles of the blockchain ecosystem.
Gain access to real-world data
In the Web2 environment, real-world data can be retrieved directly using APIs from data sources. Usually, this data is siloed in a central database and can sometimes be difficult to access or use. You can also find yourself locked into an API provider and unable to switch. Blockchains bring their own challenges to accessing real-world data since they operate in isolation from the outside world.
To overcome this, Web3 developers can employ oracles, which are third-party services that fetch and relay external data to the blockchain. For example, an oracle could allow a blockchain-based DeFi decentralized application (DApp) to access stock prices or exchange rates, which it could then use to execute transactions without relying on a third party. Oracles can also connect with IoT devices to gather data, which can be shared with a blockchain.
Know about interoperability and composability
Web2 has an interoperability problem: applications are typically unable to work together and have siloed data sources. This can hinder innovation and collaboration between developers and often keep them locked into a particular system or application. A further lack of composability means applications with limited functionality may not be able to meet the needs of users. This leads to similar applications being built from the ground up, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Interoperability and composability are becoming paramount in the Web3 ecosystem. Developers are working to enable data sharing and application composability to make Web3 more efficient and scalable. This will allow users to easily move data and assets between applications, which will improve the quality of the applications being built by bringing better control and efficiency overall. Imagine building a DApp that can reference the entirety of a different company’s DApp.
Be resilient against regulatory uncertainty
A major hesitation developers have in making the transition from Web2 to Web3 is the regulatory uncertainty in the space. There is still a lack of clear guidelines and frameworks for various aspects of Web3 technologies, such as cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and decentralized applications. It’s important to appreciate that regulations take time to be implemented, as was the case with the first iteration of the internet. It’s also important to note that not all DApps will be faced with regulatory scrutiny.
Regulatory uncertainty is normal in the realm of new technology as governments figure out how to best protect users. However, it's important to strike a balance between regulation and innovation. As a developer, it's important to stay updated on regulatory developments and be prepared to adapt projects to comply with emerging regulations, while still preserving the core principles of Web 3: decentralization and user empowerment.
What skills can be transferred from Web2 to Web3?
Problem-solving: Strong problem-solving skills from Web2 development are applicable in Web3, especially when dealing with new technologies and challenges.
API integration: Understanding how to integrate APIs and external services can be transferred to Web3 development for interfacing with blockchain networks.
UI/UX design: Design skills for creating user-friendly interfaces remain important in Web3 to enhance user experiences in decentralized applications.
Code management and testing: Proficiency in version control systems like Git is essential for collaboration and managing code changes in both Web2 and Web3. Unit testing and debugging work very similar as well.
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