Even in a crypto winter, web3 continues to grow and evolve. It’s times like these, when the mainstream hype has died down, that some of the best new projects forge ahead. That makes this a great time to start your web3 developer journey!
And the Algorand blockchain is a perfect starting point if you’re new to web3. It’s fast, eco-friendly, relatively easy to learn, and one of the few blockchains that fully embody the core principles of web3—truly decentralized, trustless interaction on a network that anyone can participate in.
Through this series of articles I’m going to walk you through creating your first web3 project using Algorand. First, I’ll introduce the Algorand blockchain and explain its strengths and features. Then in the following articles, I’ll get more technical by explaining how to set up the development environment and how smart contracts work on Algorand. Finally, we’ll see it all in action by building a fully functional web3 auction app.
So if you’re ready to dive into web3 and learn how to build on Algorand, let’s get started!
What Is Algorand?
Algorand is a layer-1 blockchain (similar to Ethereum) that—unlike many other blockchains—provides decentralization, scalability, and security. And all this comes without compromising any of those aspects.
These three components are commonly referred to as the blockchain trilemma. It is historically very difficult to achieve all three features. But Algorand does this through a Pure Proof-of-Stake (PPoS) consensus mechanism, improved protocol procedures, and advanced cryptography. (We’ll learn all about these technical details as we go.)
Furthermore, environmental sustainability is a foundational principle for Algorand, a carbon-negative network since 2021. The chain’s impact is already low (around the annual consumption of 7 houses), and smart contracts (smart blocks of code on a blockchain that only run when their conditions are met) balance further energy use by purchasing carbon offsets.
Algorand supports all common web3 use cases such as decentralized exchanges, decentralized finance (DeFi), and NFTs, while new applications in other verticals, such as music, education, and others, expand the ecosystem.
And thankfully, the barrier to entry for Algorand is low for network participants, developers, and users alike. Almost any computer hardware can participate in the network, smart contracts can be written in Python (arguably the most beginner-friendly coding language), and the Pera Wallet is an easy-to-use web3 wallet with great support and a vibrant community.
What Sets Algorand Apart from Other Blockchains?
So beyond solving the blockchain trilemma, how is Algorand different from the other blockchains? Let’s take a look at some of the other differences.
Pure Proof-of-Stake Protocol - a fairer and safer solution
As mentioned earlier, Algorand uses a Pure Proof-of-Stake (PPoS) consensus protocol. At a high level, a consensus protocol is a method through which participants in the network agree upon the network’s state and block creation while also validating transactions.
In an ordinary Proof-of-Stake (PoS) system, the network is maintained by validators who “stake” an amount of the network’s native token. The network rewards validators for successfully and honestly participating while penalizing them if they do not. The more stake someone has locked up in the system, the higher their chances of creating the next block. This approach introduces a risk that actors with a more significant proportion of stake can control the network in a “rich get richer” scheme.
PPoS differs because it selects validators using cryptographic sortition—essentially a more random and fair method for selection. As a result, all users can participate, regardless of how much they have staked. Not only is this fairer to users, but this method also has the added benefit of improving the network's security.
State Proofs - a Better Bridge
Algorand is the first blockchain to use State Proofs. This innovation embodies true decentralization and interoperability in that it enables any proof-of-stake chain to interact trustlessly through an interface of light clients. This method is a decentralized alternative to bridges, where users can move assets from one PoS blockchain to another. And with the introduction of zk-SNARK proofs coming soon, Algorand will be able to produce even more compact proofs that attest to the state of onchain assets.
In the near future, quantum computers will be more available and pose a severe threat to many current cryptographic methods. Algorand is the first and only blockchain (to date) to achieve post-quantum security for chain history (participation and signing keys are not yet post-quantum secure, but eventually will be). They achieve this through Falcon Keys (a type of cryptographic signature algorithm), which are used to produce the state proofs mentioned above.
Super Fast with Zero Downtime
Algorand has had zero downtime since its launch, while a recent protocol upgrade now allows Algorand to boast a benchmark throughput of up to 6,000 transactions per second (TPS). This is light-years ahead of Bitcoin’s 5 TPS and Ethereum’s 10 TPS.
Finally, the founder of Algorand, Silvio Micali, is a world-renowned computer scientist and leader in cryptography since the ’80s. He is the recipient of the prestigious Turing Award (in computer science), the Gödel Prize (in theoretical computer science), and the RSA prize (in cryptography). Silvio is the co-inventor of probabilistic encryption, Zero-Knowledge Proofs, Verifiable Random Functions, and many of the protocols that are the foundations of modern cryptography. You can read more about Silvio’s impressive achievements here.
Why Build on Algorand?
There are lots of choices when it comes to learning web3 - so why is Algorand the right place to start?
You Probably Already Know the Language
Fast Transactions with Low Fees
Some blockchains are slow, and many are expensive to use. The Algorand blockchain, however, has a block time of ~3.6 seconds with instant finality. This means that the chain is quick to confirm blocks, giving a superior user experience and enabling real-time applications like gaming that aren’t possible on other chains.
In addition, fees on the Algorand blockchain are very low, allowing users (and developers) to interact with blockchain apps without breaking the bank. The minimum fee for a transaction on Algorand is 0.001 Algo (currently $0.33 USD at the time of this writing). Fees vary based on the size of the transaction and if the user chooses to augment the fee to improve its prioritization in the transaction queue.
To help increase adoption, boost technical research, and advance the development of its ecosystem, the Algorand Foundation provides vertical-focused ecosystem funding. This funding translates into 12-week accelerator programs that startups can apply for.
Whether it is Defi, gaming, or any innovation using the Algorand blockchain, you can find a program to support your project.
Conclusion – What’s Next?
This article was a brief, high-level overview of the Algorand blockchain, what makes it great, and why it’s an excellent starting point for a web2 dev looking to explore web3.
In the next blog article, I’ll discuss the technical details of setting up a dev environment and getting ready to build our project—a web3 auction app on Algorand.
To prepare for these next few articles, I encourage you to look at the Algorand Sandbox, a quick and easy method for setting up the dev environment we’ll use later in this series. Then, in the next article, I’ll go through the entire process of setting it up properly on our machines.
You can also download the Pera Wallet to start using the Algorand network and join the official Algorand Discord server to get more involved in the community. For more resources to help you get started on your Algorand developer journey, visit the Developer portal.