The Solana development community is one of the most thriving ecosystems in the Web3 industry. As one of the fastest and most cost-efficient smart contract blockchains, Solana is home to an array of decentralized applications (dapps). Also, Solana app development has a low barrier to entry. Building on Solana requires no prior experience with programming languages. Plus, with the right tools and minimal “know-how”, anyone can quickly create sleek dapps on Solana.
In this article, we’re going to explore the Solana app development process. We’ll dive deep into the Solana development landscape and address some of the fundamentals of building on Solana. Also, we’ll discuss some of the best tools for building on Solana and what you need to know to get started. Plus, we’ll look at some of the best timesaving techniques to help you throughout your Solana development journey.
Moralis Academy is the ultimate Web3 and blockchain education suite online. If you’re new to the Web3 realm, check out our Blockchain & Bitcoin 101 course. In this course, we teach students about the foundations of Web3, including consensus mechanisms, smart contracts, forks, mempools, mining, and hash functions. Join our community of over 30,000 students and kickstart your blockchain education today with Moralis Academy!
Exploring Solana Development
Established by Solana Labs and maintained by Solana Foundation, the Solana blockchain is a highly scalable, EVM-compatible blockchain network designed for global adoption. The Solana whitepaper was published in 2017, and the mainnet beta went live in March 2020. It is one of the fastest blockchain networks in the world and is capable of processing 50,000 transactions per second (TPS) without the need for layer-2 scaling solutions. Also, the Solana blockchain features an industry-first built-in decentralized clock mechanism for timestamping transactions.
Furthermore, Solana has become one of the leading smart contract-compatible blockchains. The average transaction fee on Solana is a fraction of a cent, making it an ideal platform for building dapps. Also, developers can create smart contracts (known as “programs”) using C, C++, or the Rust programming language.
What is Rust?
Rust is an open-source, statically typed programming language. Developed by Graydon Hoare, Rust is extremely memory-efficient and allows developers to write software quickly and reliably. Also, Rust gives developers control over low-level details like memory. Plus, it uses a type system and ownership model that helps developers eliminate multiple bug classes when compiling. In addition, the Rust programming language has no garbage collector or runtime. This makes it ideal for powering performance-critical computations and running on embedded devices.
Rust lowers the barrier to entry for blockchain programming and empowers developers by reducing the time it takes to achieve their goals. Also, Rust provides a range of tools that facilitate complex problem-solving for novice users and is an intuitive and versatile programming language. As such, Rust is an ideal accompaniment for building dapps on Solana. Further, Rust is the go-to programming language for various prominent technology companies. This includes Meta (formerly Facebook), Discord, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Mozilla, and Dropbox.
Start Building on Solana – What to Think About
Despite what many might have heard, building on Solana requires no previous experience with smart contract programming or programming languages in general. Solana smart contracts are called “programs”, and they can be written in Rust, C, or C++. When building on Solana, Web2 developers can create rich Web3 applications using a range of software development kits (SDKs) and developer resources. Also, Solana allows developers to build decentralized applications (dapps) from scratch or using existing tools and frameworks.
Solana App Development Workflows
When it comes to building on Solana, app development workflows cater to varying degrees of knowledge and understanding. There are two separate workflows for Solana app development. Although there is no prerequisite for knowing Rust, C, or C++, these are the languages you’ll likely be using if you want to create your own smart contracts from scratch.
Smart contracts (programs) on the Solana blockchain run via the Solana runtime. Once deployed, anyone who knows how to communicate with them can use them. This is achieved by submitting transactions to the network with instructions using the JSON RPC API or any other API built on top of it. This API acts as a communication layer that allows apps to interact with the blockchain.
In addition, the Solana app development workflow requires apps to communicate transactions with instructions to other on-chain programs. This process is similar to creating web or mobile apps that interact with centralized APIs. Developers can use various SDKs to interact with the Solana blockchain, including the “solana-web3.js” SDK. Also, developers can talk to the Solana blockchain using several third-party SDKs built on top of the JSON RPC API.
The Moralis Solana API
The Moralis Solana API enables Solana developers to unleash their creativity when building on Solana. Also, it allows developers to build fully-functional dapps and fetch Solana blockchain data while saving an average of 87% on the time they spend developing projects. In the first release, the Moralis Solana SDK will allow developers to view all kinds of token balances via HTTP requests.
In the future, users will also be able to incorporate Solana data into Unity game development for Xbox and PlayStation. New additions will appear as more feature requests come in from developers. If you’re using the Moralis Solana SDK, reach out if you have any suggestions of your own and make your requests heard! Moreover, once you have a firm understanding of how the Solana API works, you’ll be prepared to learn how to create your own programs on Solana using Rust, C, or C++.
Programs (Smart Contracts)
As discussed earlier in the article, smart contracts on Solana are known as programs. Solana Labs maintains two program types that comprise part of the core software releases. These are “native programs” and the “Solana program library” (SPL). Native programs are the backbone of the network. They are upgradeable contracts that provide a foundation for essential components of the network. An example of one of the most common native programs is the “system program”, which is essential for account creation. Other examples of native programs include the staking and voting programs. Also, native programs are essential for running validator nodes throughout the Solana blockchain.
Furthermore, the Solana program library (SPL) contains a broad range of programs, including the token program. The token program is Solana’s version of the Ethereum ERC-20 contract. Also, the token program allows users to mint, burn, query, and transfer various tokens on the Solana blockchain, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Together, native programs and the Solana program library enables developers to build all kinds of exciting dapps on Solana. Further, program building on Solana requires knowledge of either C, C++, or Rust. Check out the Rust and Solana Programming 101 course at Moralis Academy to learn more about Solana app development. In this course, we teach students everything they need to know about building programs on Solana using Rust. What’s more, this course requires no previous experience with Rust. Kickstart your Solana development journey today with Moralis Academy! Also, save our “Rust & Solana” and “Solana vs Ethereum” articles for later reading to learn more about the Solana development process!
Phantom Wallet Authentication
Anyone who’s familiar with building decentralized applications (dapps) on Ethereum knows that MetaMask is one of the most common tools for entering the realm of Web3. Also, MetaMask is the go-to wallet for dapp authentication on Ethereum and several other blockchains and layer-2 networks. However, Solana app development usually relies on the Phantom wallet to authenticate users.
Just as MetaMask is the number one Web3 wallet for Ethereum, Phantom is the number one non-custodial Solana wallet. It is the go-to wallet for storing, sending, and receiving Solana SPL tokens. Available for mobile and as a web browser extension, the Phantom wallet boasts biometric identification and is compatible with the hardware wallet from Ledger. Save our “How to Authenticate Solana Users with the Phantom Wallet” article to learn how to quickly authenticate users and save time when building on Solana using Moralis.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
As Solana is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient blockchains, it makes sense that the Solana non-fungible token (NFT) community is thriving. When creating NFTs on Solana, you’ll likely need some Solana NFT metadata. This generally comes in the form of “.JSON” files that contain uniform resource identifiers (URIs) for NFT artworks. When it comes to storing and accessing NFT metadata, some platforms opt for centralized storage solutions. However, this is completely counterintuitive to the notion of decentralization. Accordingly, decentralized storage solutions are essential for storing NFT metadata.
If you’re creating NFTs on Solana, check out the “How to Get Solana NFT Metadata” article to learn how to store your NFT metadata in a decentralized manner using IPFS and the Moralis Solana NFT API. Furthermore, the Moralis Solana NFT API removes a significant amount of legwork from the NFT minting process. Plus, it’s cross-chain compatible, which means it works on multiple blockchain networks.
Why are Developers Building on Solana?
The Solana development landscape is extremely cost-effective, especially when compared to developing on Ethereum. This significantly lowers the barrier to entry for budding Web3 developers. Also, the Solana app development process is varied and versatile. You can build on Solana using several programming languages. Plus, non-developers can interact with the Solana blockchain using just a few lines of code.
Furthermore, the Solana blockchain is among the fastest around. The Ethereum network can process an average of ten to thirty transactions per second (TPS). This is nowhere near enough for scaling a blockchain network to meet the growing demands of the Web3 industry. Accordingly, the Ethereum network takes advantage of various layer-2 scaling solutions to reduce congestion, lower gas fees, and increase throughput. Also, the gradual transition to “Ethereum 2.0” will see a significant increase in network throughput for the number-two blockchain.
However, the Solana blockchain can process around 50,000 TPS without using any layer-2 scaling solutions. Plus, it achieves this without compromising on security or decentralization. As such, Solana is the ideal platform for building highly scalable dapps quickly and securely, regardless of programming experience. Moreover, when you build on Solana using the Moralis tech stack, you can save a great deal of time on backend development and focus on creating a sleek UI.
Solana Development – Summary
The idea of building on Solana can seem intimidating at first, particularly if you have no previous experience with Rust, C, or C++. However, the Solana app development process caters to all levels of programming experience. On the other hand, if you want to learn how to build decentralized applications (dapps) on other blockchain networks such as Ethereum, Polkadot, BNB Smart Chain, or layer-2 networks such as Polygon and Arbitrum, you’ll need to be familiar with the relevant native programming language.
There has never been a better time to learn a new skill in an emerging industry. Blockchain developers are in extremely high demand. Plus, as a blockchain programmer, you can earn a handsome salary. Regardless of the programming language or blockchain you choose, the scope for career prospects in Web3 is unprecedented.
In addition, check out our “How to Invest During a Crypto Bear Market” and “Understanding Crypto Crashes” articles to learn how to safeguard your portfolio against market downturns. Plus, you can access a range of Web3 dapp builds and walkthroughs via Moralis Projects. At Moralis Projects, we provide free weekly dapp builds. For example, you can learn how to build your own decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), blockchain and metaverse gaming platforms, a Web3 Twitter clone, and much more!