The evolution of blockchain development over the past year has been astounding. In May 2020, Zone Tech Park published a list of the most in-demand skills for the year, with blockchain leading the top-ten list.
In 2019 however, blockchain was nowhere near the list of over ten skills listed. The reason for this is apparent – Blockchain technology is poised to revolutionize the way the digital world handles data and does business.
Blockchain was initially created as a platform for supporting the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The technology has transformed and manifests a level of flexibility and security that has caused many business sectors and governments to invest significantly in it for their use.
Naturally, such investments have translated into the creation of several job opportunities for developers and tech fanatics. Even with such remarkable job opportunities around, people generally seem to be confused about the direction they should take to become a full-stack blockchain developer.
In this article written by a team of blockchain experts at Zone Tech Park, the following topics were discussed to guide blockchain and tech enthusiasts into blockchain development.
- Basics of Blockchain Technology
- Who is a Blockchain Developer?
- Types of Blockchain Developers
- Technical Skill Requirements for Blockchain Developers
- Blockchain and Decentralized Applications (dApps)
Basics of Blockchain Technology
A blockchain is a secure digital database for storing information in a distributed and immutable manner. Although blockchain’s framework is a bit like an Excel spreadsheet, blockchain has some unique features that make them fundamentally different. Blockchains are:
A blockchain is not stored in one place — it has no centre. It is stored across many different computers. These computers are called nodes. The distributed nature of blockchain means that not one single entity has control over the data on a blockchain – users, and every blockchain developer deals with each other directly instead of through a third party.
Every data on a blockchain network can be trusted as long as it is in a valid state. This level of trust is achieved in a blockchain system because the datastore is replicated on several peers (hosts) across the internet. If one of the peers becomes invalid, all other peers can filter it out.
If a majority of peers agree to a current valid state, you can completely trust the system’s data. This trust is vital! No other system in the past has succeeded in developing this by design.
This means that if data is written to a blockchain data store or ledger, it cannot be changed – it is there forever.
In comparison, in a standard Relational Database, no matter how much security you can implement, it can be accessed and altered on the file system on which the data is situated. This could be done by a hacker or anyone in charge of the system.
A blockchain system makes sure that even if a bit of data is altered at any level on the ledger, the entire blockchain system reports an invalid state.
Since the data is distributed across multiple systems, the actual data with the valid state can be recovered from one of the systems. This ensures that information on a blockchain is protected, encrypted, and nearly impossible to hack.
All information on a blockchain is public. This means that everyone can see it.
Who Is a Blockchain Developer?
A blockchain developer is a developer responsible for building and optimizing blockchain protocols, crafting and formulating the architecture of blockchain systems, and building smart contracts and web apps using the blockchain technology.
Types of Blockchain Developers
There are majorly two types of blockchain developers. Which are:
Core Blockchain Developers
A core blockchain developer is responsible for the architecture development of the blockchain system. They usually are the ones who craft the protocols required to run a blockchain solution successfully. The other vital aspects that they take care of include the consensus protocol design and making high-level decisions.
Key responsibilities of a core blockchain developer:
- Understanding, interpreting and implementing blockchain features and functionality
- Designing blockchain protocols, consensus protocols
- Designing security for the network
- Ensuring the network works as intended.
Blockchain Software Developer
The Blockchain Software Developer essentially works differently. His role is to initiate, develop and implement the blockchain using the designs created by the core blockchain developers. Blockchain software developers develop decentralized applications (dApps).
Key responsibilities of a blockchain software developer:
○ Use designs to implement smart contracts.
○ Develop the back-end and front-end of dApps
○ Ensure that all dApps are running as intended
○ Look after the integration of all dApps with other services and apps.
Start your Blockchain journey by watching our Webinar: Becoming a full-stack Blockchain developer.
Technical Skill Requirements for Blockchain Developers
To become a full-stack blockchain developer, you need to develop some technical skills. Below are some of them:
Understanding the Blockchain Architecture
As a beginner, you should have a complete understanding of blockchain architecture and how it functions. Apart from that, you should also understand critical concepts such as:
- Hash functions
- Distributed ledger technology
You can easily find various resources that can help you understand blockchain architecture.
Extensive knowledge and applicative sense of data structures are crucial when aspiring to become a blockchain developer. Blockchain uses a lot of data structures in affiliation with advanced cryptography to build a secure and immutable system.
For this reason, you must understand how common data structures, such as hash maps, binary search trees, linked lists, graphs, work. It is even better if you can develop them from scratch.
This GitHub repository contains all the information newbies need to learn and understand data structures and algorithms. Common programming languages such as Python, Java, Scala, C, C-Sharp, and C++ are featured.
Smart Contract Development
A smart contract is a program executed on the blockchain after a transaction is complete to enhance the blockchain’s capabilities. Smart Contracts have become a big thing since the release of Ethereum and are at the core of new blockchain networks.
Unlike classic judicial systems, smart contracts are enforced automatically and accurately. There are also no middlemen, so you do not need a lawyer to oversee a transaction. Every blockchain attempts to integrate the smart contract functionality into its system so that business logic can readily be applied to the blockchain. Ethereum, for example, offers smart contracts. It lets you set up business logic or automate certain aspects of dApp.
As smart contracts get more complicated, they become more challenging to secure. You need to be alert to every possible way a smart contract can be run and ensure that it does exactly what is expected. At the moment, not many software developers can properly optimize and audit smart contracts.
Therefore, developers striving to explore the blockchain field should learn about smart contract development. This generally includes learning network-specific languages like Solidity, Viper, Chaincode, etc.
Basic Understanding of Cryptography
Cryptography is the bedrock of blockchain; it is what ensures that cryptocurrencies work. Blockchain provides data security by using highly effective cryptography algorithms. They help ensure the safety of payments on e-commerce platforms and are the core mechanism behind the HTTPS protocol. Knowing cryptography can also help you implement dApps and other blockchain-related services more confidently.
Hence, it is only evident that a good grasp on cryptography is required to become a blockchain developer.
There’s also extensive use of cryptographic hash functions in the blockchain. Hash functions like SHA256 and KECCAK256 are used in blockchain for generating digital signatures. They are the basic equations that enable most forms of encryptions on the internet, without a thorough understanding of how these work, it is impossible to become a blockchain developer.
You might be discouraged if you are not good at math, but Stanford offers a free course that’s excellent for newbies. You’ll learn about message integrity, authenticated encryption, and block cyphers. You should also examine RSA, which does not require a strong background in mathematics, and look at ECDSA (elliptic curve cryptography).
Web development is a core aspect of being a blockchain developer. When most developers begin their career as a blockchain developer in the industry, a bulk of them is employed for the basic development and designing of decentralized applications.
This means you must understand the basics of both front-end and back-end development, which includes creating interactive graphical user interfaces for Decentralized applications, API handling, request handling, etc.
Blockchain and Decentralized Applications
Decentralized applications (dApps) are software developed on blockchains. There are several blockchain systems. The first dApp was built on the Bitcoin blockchain, and it’s a peer-to-peer payment system.
Other Blockchain platforms are designed to do more. These blockchain platforms are designed to have all kinds of dApps built on them.
Here are some of the essential ones:
Ethereum has its programming language called Solidity. This means that even experienced developers need to learn a new language to be a blockchain developer and start building dApps on Ethereum. Most users will find it tricky to code in Solidity language.
NEO is focused on providing a platform for the digital businesses of the future. It is also a faster network than Ethereum. Hence, it is excellent for applications that will need to process a lot of transactions per second.
Unlike Ethereum, Neo is not limited to one programming language. You can use different software languages to build your dApps on NEO, including C# and Java; therefore, experienced users can quickly start building dApps on NEO.
EOS blockchain aims to be a more decentralized operating system that can better support industrial-scale applications. It is essentially like Ethereum, but with better transaction speed, and it is more scalable.
It is an open-source cooperative platform that was created to build cross-industry blockchain technologies. Hyperledger targets developing enterprise blockchain applications with an emphasis on security. When compared to Ethereum, you won’t be having an issue of privacy and scalability due to its permissioned nature.
Now would be a perfect time for you to jump onto the blockchain bandwagon as there is a broad base of knowledge to help you become a blockchain developer.
Many organizations have gone past the testing stage and are now starting to use blockchain technology exclusively. Technology giants such as Amazon, IBM, Facebook, and Microsoft have begun utilizing blockchain, and many companies are now starting to follow their footsteps.
If you’re interested in joining the blockchain field, it’s an opportunity for you to make a difference by being among those that pioneer the next wave of tech innovations.
The banking sector, governments, the insurance industry, and retail industries are some of the industries where blockchain developers can create amazing products. The remuneration is one to envy, talents are in high demand, and currently, the need outpaces available talents by far.
Watch webinar replay – Webinar: Becoming a full-stack Blockchain developer, to take the next step in becoming a high profile blockchain developer.