While blockchain technology is most often associated with cryptocurrencies, it is fast evolving and has the potential to affect various industries. Developers are creating innovative solutions for healthcare, insurance, shipping, finance and governance. These solutions are more often than not created using decentralised applications that run snippets of code called smart contracts.
Decentralised apps run on blockchains like Ethereum, which is a global network of devices that form something akin to a giant supercomputer. We call each of these devices nodes, and they contain an updated copy of the entire Ethereum blockchain (about 1TB of data). Ethereum use comes with ‘gas fees’ paid for using tokens called Ether.
You’ll notice that a lot of the blockchain development tools mentioned here are for Ethereum dApps. While there are many other blockchains capable of running smart contracts, Ethereum is the most popular one with programmers and developers.
As we work on more complex decentralised apps and smart contracts, they require tools to provide various functionalities for different stages of blockchain development. Here’s our list of the 13 top blockchain development tools in 2021 that cut down on overhead costs, reduce build time and debug our code.
1. Solidity - A Programming Language for Ethereum
The reason we like it so much is that it doesn’t just work on the Ethereum Virtual Machine, but is designed with it in mind. It’s a relatively young language that is constantly evolving and the team behind its development releases a new minor version every two weeks, and two major releases every year. Users like Laracle’s team of blockchain developers are also encouraged to help with the development so that Solidity grows to suit our needs.
2. Solc - An Ethereum Script Compiler
Solc is a command-line compiler used to convert Solidity scripts into a readable format for the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Solc can create various outputs, including running simple binaries or estimating gas fees required to run a smart contract on the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
3. Truffle - Ethereum Development Framework
4. Ganache - Personal Blockchain for Testing
We cannot edit smart contracts once they go live on Ethereum. Hence, developers carefully test their apps using programmes like Ganache from the Truffle Suite of blockchain development tools. Ganache is a local memory blockchain used for development and testing. The Ethereum blockchain created using Ganache simulates all the features and adds accounts with test Ether tokens. One of Ganache’s key features is that we can get all the benefits of testing your dApp on the main Ethereum chain without incurring gas fees.
Ganache allows us to take full control of the test blockchain we create with tools like the block explorer, advanced mining controls, and blockchain log.
5. Drizzle - Front End Libraries for Blockchain Developers
Drizzle is another tool from the Truffle Suite. Where Truffle works for development and Ganache for testing, Drizzle offers a collection of front-end libraries for developers. At the core of Drizzle is an Ethereum data store based on the popular React framework, Redux, that synchronises on-chain contract and transactional data. Using Drizzle we can build user interfaces that behave predictably in highly asynchronous and non-deterministic environments.
6. Geth - An Ethereum Client
As we mentioned earlier, Ethereum is a distributed network of computers, each called nodes. In order for us to access the Ethereum blockchain, we use applications called clients. Geth, or go-ethereum, is the most popular Ethereum client in use. It’s an open-source project that has been running Ethereum’s public networks, Mainnet and testnet Rinkeby, for several years. We use Geth for blockchain development, transferring tokens, creating ether, writing smart contracts and exporting block history.
Geth has three interfaces that we use for blockchain development, a JSON-RPC server, an interactive console and command line. Although it comes with built-in access to testnet Rinkeby, it also allows users to network a local cluster of nodes to create their own Ethereum network.
7. Metamask - An Ethereum Wallet
Metamask is an Ethereum wallet accessible through a browser extension and mobile application. Ethereum users typically use Metamask to buy and sell ERC-20 and ETH tokens and consequently interact securely with Ethereum based dApps. However, developers can also use Metamask to work on dApps right within their browser.
8. dApp Board - Blockchain Explorer
dApp Board provides a visual representation and analysis of how decentralised applications are being used. With it developers can get a 360-degree view of the Ethereum ecosystem and collect data on dApps, protocols, and tokens. Information about how services provided by existing smart contracts and applications can help developers improve the functionality of their own projects before they go live.
9. Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS)
It can be impractical for small companies and entrepreneurs to implement a full end-to-end blockchain solution. BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service) bears similarities to SaaS and lets users reduce the operational overheads and technical complexities that come with blockchain implementation.
BaaS lets you leverage cloud-based solutions to build, host, and use decentralised apps, smart contracts, and other blockchain-based functionality. The service providers handle and manage the tasks required to keep the Blockchain functioning and maintained. Some BaaS providers are Microsoft Azure, IBM Blockchain Platform, Kaleido, Facrom Harmony, and Dragonchain.
10. Ethlint (formerly Solium) - Solidity Code Linter
Just as testing is an important step in dApp development, so is checking the code. Ethlint was initially designed to follow the Solidity style guide. However, with time it is now a customisable tool focused on style and security of smart contracts. Before deploying a dApp developers need to make sure that their code is free from security holes. Ethlint formats and checks Solidity code for vulnerabilities and code style issues that might render a dApp useless.
11. Remix IDE - Browser-Based Development Environment
Remix IDE is a browser-based solution that allows developers to write smart contracts in Solidity and Vyper. Remix fosters faster development and implementation. It’s intuitive GUIs make it great as a playground for learning and teaching Ethereum. Some of the default modules used to test, debug and deploy smart contracts in Remix are File Explorer, Plugin Manager, Solidity Editor and Terminal. Also of note when working with Remix IDE is that it debugs your code as you write it. Remix IDE runs on most modern browsers and can also run while offline.
12. Infura API - Ethereum Network Access API
Infura is another API like web3.js that supports JSON-RPC over HTTPS and WebSocket with instant access up to 20 times faster than other available services. 60% of the Ethereum-based applications in circulation use Infura API making it the most popular way developers connect their decentralised apps to the Ethereum blockchain. It also comes with an intuitive dashboard with analytics on bandwidth usage, top method calls, most active times, etc.
13. BlockChain Testnets
Blockchain Testnets are crucial to the development of dApps. Testnets are where developers run their dApps before we make them live on the blockchain. Each blockchain has a unique Testnet and developers use the respective Testnet for optimal results. As mentioned with Ganache. Testnets allow users to debug their dApps without incurring costs such as Ethereum’s gas fees.
If you’re thinking of building a blockchain solution, choose a company conversant with the blockchain development tools mentioned above and more. Laracle’s developers have over 10 years experience working with blockchain technology. As the tech developed, so did our approach to working with it; we’ve developed many innovative uses for blockchains over the years.
Laracle always works on projects using a variety of the latest blockchain development tools with a team of developers who can handle front-end, back-end and user experience design. This 360-degree approach lets us handle the entire development process, from conceptualisation to implementation, in-house.
Get in touch with us via email, call our offices or visit us in Stratford-upon-Avon for more information on blockchain development and building your blockchain solution.