Blockchain Development Simplified: Vital Expertise and Tools for Smart Contract Developers

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In my previous post, I talked about different trajectories blockchain developers can follow. Now, I would love to go a little bit deeper with the explanation of what kind of tools and skills you need to possess if you want to be The Smart Contract Developer.

Programming languages

The most used programming language for creating smart contracts is Solidity. Originally created for Ethereum but spread to all EVM-compatible blockchains out there, it's the first choice for smart contract developers.

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On blockchains like Solana or Near, the preferred language for creating smart contracts is Rust. But, the Solidity ecosystem is so strong, and developers are so used to it that there are activities to bring Solidity to Solana alongside Rust.

So you have a language, but you don't have a tooling or IDE to build, test and debug your code. That's where Hardhat or Truffle comes in handy. All these tools require JavaScript / TypeScript setup, especially for tests. So, actually, if you want to be a smart contract developer, you must know JavaScript.

Tools and IDEs

You know JavaScript, you are learning Solidity, and you want to start coding. You should choose your IDE - you can use Visual Studio Code or IntelliJ IDEA for the start - there is a lot of plugins for supporting Solidity as a language or Hardhat plugin for both of these IDEs.

If you don't want to install any IDE on your machine, you can leverage Remix IDE from the browser - you can use multiple templates out of the box, compile the sources in the browser and even deploy your contracts to the chosen blockchains. Testing is a little bit challenging, but with the correct plugin, you can have your unit tests ready as well.

Blockchain RPC node access

You have created your contract, compiled it, run your unit tests, and everything is green. Now, all you need to do is deploy your contract to the blockchain of your choice. Hardhat allows you to specify the node RPC URL for the blockchain you want to deploy on. It can be the node you are running locally, or you can leverage some third-party providers like Tatum to get access to the node.

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A blockchain RPC (Remote Procedure Call) node is a programmatic interface that allows external applications to interact with a blockchain network. It enables developers to send requests to the node to access blockchain data, submit transactions, and execute smart contracts, facilitating the integration of decentralized applications with the underlying blockchain infrastructure.

Verification of the contracts

Once your contracts are deployed, it is common practice to verify the sources on public blockchain explorers like Etherscan. This allows other developers or users to see what the smart contract is executing, how it is behaving, and whether there are any malicious actions built inside it to steal assets from users interacting with it. The verification process is simple. You just need to mention the version of Solidity you are using and the sources of your contract. Most of the tools provide the ability to verify the contract directly from your IDE, so you don't need to go to the explorer and perform the verification there.

Summary

And that's it. It's not simple. There are a lot of things you need to master, but this overview should give you all the necessary hints you need. So let's run through it one more time.

  1. Language - Solidity, JavaScrip/TypeScript

  2. Tools - Hardhat, Truffle, Remix IDE

  3. IDEs - Visual Studio Code, IntelliJ IDEA, Remix IDE

  4. RPC node access - local node or 3rd party provider like Tatum

  5. Contract verification

These are the basic steps you need to do every time you want to create your smart contracts.