Developer of Chainbase
Ex Tencent Cloud, Bilibili
More than 10 years of engineering experience, OPS-related experience
Azuki #8963, Developer DAO #5882
Before entering Web3, I worked for Tencent and Bilibili for more than ten years; I was in charge of business lines that support developers. In 2022, I officially transitioned to Web3. Today I would like to share some thoughts on how Web2 developers better enter Web3 based on my own experience.
The content includes the following three themes:
- From Web2 Internet company to Web3, my own path and thoughts;
- What problems Web3 developers may encounter;
- How Chainbase helps developers better enter Web3;
From Web2 to Web3
Wait-and-see, speculate, and participate
At first, I got to know Web3 as a user. Like many people, I entered Web3 out of a speculative mentality. I made profits and also lost money. Later, I gradually realized that in addition to being an ordinary user in the crypto world, I should participate in building Web3 from a technological and business perspective.
At the end of 2021, Tencent airdropped an NFT to every employee on its 23rd anniversary. At that time, there were a lot of discussions about Web3, which showed that there was already a Web3 atmosphere in a Web2 internet company, and the management saw this business direction. However, due to various subjective and objective reasons, Web2 internet company was still very conservative about Web3, and it was difficult to really land in business scenarios - which was one of the reasons that prompted me to finally leave a Web2 internet company.
When I determined to all in Web3, I started to think about the entry point to Web3 based on a developer's mindset:
- First of all, some developers chose to enter Web3 as scientists (similar to hackers but not necessarily related to traditional cybersecurity technology), because they could directly leverage their skills to arbitrage. But I don't want to enter this market as a speculator.
- Since Web3 is the next generation of internet based on blockchain technology, it also needs a lot of evangelists who understand the technology. But storytelling is not my strength.
- In the end, out of pragmatical reasons, I chose to continue being a developer in Web3 and unleash my greatest strength. Based on my past experience, as well as the resistance to purely financial projects, I joined a highly potential Web3 infrastructure company, and this is my story with Chainbase.
How to fire the first shot of Web3
Find the right place, then fill out the gap
When developers enter Web3, required technical expertise is not the biggest obstacle. Many tech stacks are consistent or similar, and there are many Web3 developer communities for systematic learning. For many developers, the biggest difficulty is finding their places in Web3. For example, one can enter Web3 as a scientist or a technical writer (like Vitalik), or directly join a Web3 project, whether it is toB or toC.
Here, I recommend joining a Web3 team directly, so that you can get deeply involved. If you are starting your own business or joining a startup, participating in a Web3 Hackathon is a great way to bootstrap. It allows you to quickly validate products and obtain early adopters.
When you find your place in Web3, you will naturally know what technical expertise is lacking, and then learn efficiently.
Some of the challenges that web 3 developers may encounter
1.First of all, we must shift the mindset and embrace the new paradigm of Web3
The word "mindset" is very abstract. I think "mindset" is a consensus on what to do and what not to do. When Web2 developers enter Web3, the first challenge in mindset transformation is the trade-off between centralization and decentralization.
Almost all Web3 believers will emphasize that decentralization is one of the core values of blockchain. But as a Web3 product that carries user needs and experience, is decentralization a necessary standard? I think decentralization should not be an absolute standard and should be evaluated under different scenarios.
For example, can a fully decentralized product meet the standards of industrial-level adoptions? Nowadays, it is difficult. Because industrial-level applications require a clear commitment to efficiency and stability of the product, which is difficult to guarantee under a decentralized structure. In addition, most applications still need off-chain data. Even if related technologies such as oracles are used to solve the interaction between off-chain data and smart contracts, it is hard to say that they are operating within a completely decentralized structure (let alone the oracle itself entails a sense of centralization). Therefore, the decentralization of Web3 applications should be utilized carefully according to specific scenarios.
There are many other challenges mindset-wise. I suggest that when making judgments, one should pay more attention to the core value and original intention of Web3, and think independently. When the mindset is fully shifted, one really enters Web3.
2.Consider the developer cost in the multi-chain ecosystem
Web3 applications are first developed based on one or more public chains. Choosing a public chain requires the project party to have a relatively in-depth understanding of the characteristics and ecology of different public chains. At present, the public chain ecosystem is blooming, which undoubtedly increases the cost of developers choosing a public chain (and also increases the development cost after selection).
Due to the impossible triangle of blockchain (that is, decentralization, security, and scalability cannot be satisfied at the same time), different public chains usually choose two of them as their entry point for breakthroughs, which leads to different characteristics of each chain. When developers choose a public chain, they should consider whether the application scenario matches the characteristics of this public chain.
For example, Optimism (a layer2 public chain) can support high throughput. However, for security reasons, Optimism reserves a certain number of the latest blocks that can be "challenged", which means, under certain conditions, transactions that have been packaged can be revoked. As a result, there will be a delay in the confirmation of assets or information on the chain. Such a feature may not be applicable to scenarios such as real-time payment.
The multi-chain ecosystem will definitely exist for a long time - which is also seen in the development history of Web2 tech stacks. Therefore, understanding multi-chain features and matching application scenarios will be a long-term challenge for Web3 developers.
3.A single frontend cannot meet the development needs of Web3 applications
Solely looking at the technological implementation of dApps, it seems that a frontend is the only thing needed that drives smart contracts to execute corresponding logic and retrieve on-chain data. But in the actual development process, many Web3 applications still need to incorporate a server within their systems.
Although the existence of servers will be criticized by many as being too centralized, due to the high cost of on-chain storage, the limited throughput, and the consideration of user experience (it will greatly harm the user experience if every interaction requires a wallet signature) and so on - it is the best option for Web3 applications to adopt a partially centralized design. This is similar to adding a layer of cache space between the blockchain and the frontend.
Due to the particularity of the data structure on the chains (that is, the linked list data structure), the readability of on-chain data is very poor. Many common practices in Web2, such as indexing, sorting, filtering, paging, and querying of data, are very difficult to realize. Therefore, how to conveniently read on-chain data is also a troubling issue for Web3 developers.
How does Chainbase solve the troubling issue of Web3 developers?
1.Excessively self-building infrastructure may lead to project failure
We believe that in the long run, more developers will enter Web3 to build various innovative applications. Developers should not waste too much R & D resources on infrastructure such as repeatedly self-building nodes, maintaining node clusters, decoding on-chain data, etc., because these self-built infrastructures hardly have any direct impact on the business itself.
Users will not be grouped as Web2 or Web3. They will not use a Web3 application just because its self-built nodes are stable. Users will only care about whether the application can solve their needs or not. Web3 projects should spend as many resources as possible on the business itself: product features, user experience, economic models, community building, etc.
Some infrastructure - such as nodes - will have many problems, even if it is self-built. For example, long-term labor costs, server consumption, challenges in operations and maintenance, lack of stability, security issues, and various bugs emerging one after another. Unless you have strong resources and technical capabilities, it is difficult to solve all these problems.
The cycle in Web3 is evolving very fast. It is easy for users to forget your product and for VCs to lose patience - whether the project will succeed will oftentimes be revealed within a few months. In such a market, it can be deduced that if a team puts a lot of effort into the construction of infrastructure, it will definitely reduce the probability of success.
2.What services can Chainbase provide for Web3 developers?
Chainbase is positioned as a Web3 developer platform. By providing cloud-based API services, we help developers quickly access blockchains and easily build Web3 native applications.
At this stage, we provide infrastructure services including multi-chain nodes, data indexing, application monitoring, and debugging. Specifically:
Chain API Service： This is a secure and stable multi-chain JSONRPC node cluster, which supports developers to easily access multiple chains
Web3 API Service： This is an API matrix that supports multi-protocol indexing and quick data queries for business application scenarios (such as Tokenization, NFT, DeFi, Domain Naming...)
All-In-One Dashboard： Developers can create, debug, monitor, and operate Web3 applications from an all-in-one console
3.What are the specific use scenarios for Chainbase's API services?
We have built a multi-chain node cluster that supports the stable operation of Chain API, our basic service. Building nodes is the first step to interacting with blockchains. We have built a powerful and stable node cluster that supports multiple chains (now ETH, Polygon, and BSC, and more chains will be integrated as well). Developers do not need to build their own nodes, instead, they can directly use the JSONRPC node we built.
Using Chain API, developers can easily obtain basic data on chains, such as the current block height, current gas fee, the balance of a specific address, etc. They can also send new transactions to blockchain networks.
We also provide a highly usable Web3 API, a set of APIs that support multi-protocol data indexing, which can be quickly applied to data querying in common business scenarios.
In the context of NFT projects, it is easy to obtain the list of NFTs owned by a specific address, the transaction records/floor price/historical owners of a specific NFT, etc. using our Web3 API. Similarly, we also provide various APIs for data indexing in other business scenarios such as Tokenization and Domain Naming.
Coupled with the Dashboard we provide, Web3 developers can intuitively monitor and manage the status of various data interfaces, which is very convenient.
4.Chainbase is ready to launch its next-generation on-chain data indexing product
Chain API provides node services, and Web3 API provides peer-to-peer data indexing services in common business scenarios. But we don't think this is the best solution, especially for emerging innovative projects.
Due to the uniqueness of their businesses, some innovative applications may have uncommon data indexing requirements, which cannot be satisfied by existing APIs. Although peer-to-peer API services can gradually cover more mainstream business scenarios by adding new functions, this iteration lags behind the market and cannot always keep up with the latest application-level innovation.
Therefore, when we designed the next-generation data indexing product, we abandoned the peer-to-peer solution and adopted a concept similar to Web2 Data Cloud, and created a deCrypto Data Cloud that supports customized SQL statements! The deCrypto Data Cloud decodes on-chain data through real-time calculation; developers can freely index on-chain data according to their own needs using the mainstream SQL statements.
What's even cooler is that we enable developers to generate APIs (using SQLs) where data can be accessed constantly, so that any uncommon data indexing requirements can be supported timely.
5.Envision the future, focus on Web3 developer services
Chainbase firmly believes that Web3 is the new Internet paradigm that will change the world. Technological innovation will greatly promote business development and even provoke social transformation. In this wave, developers are at the center of the stage, initiating a huge innovation storm.
Chainbase is positioned as a Web3 developer platform, and solving the issue of "interaction with the chains" through API services is our entry point. In the future, we will launch more products and services that lower the development threshold and improve development efficiency around troubling issues for Web3 developers across the stages.
We are committed to helping more Web3 projects go through all stages of development, including developing, testing, implementation, and growth. We believe that by facilitating the successes of more and more Web3 projects, we are changing the world directly or indirectly.