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June 16, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Web3 – What is Web3?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll likely have heard of Web3. Web3 is broadly hailed as the future of the Internet, and Web3 apps have been all the rage lately. However, what is Web3, what improvements will it bring for users, and how can developers build Web3 apps and dApps? This article breaks down everything you need to know about Web3 and how to work with Web3 as a developer.

The Internet, or the Web, has changed dramatically through the years. With the advent of Web3, we’re on the cusp of the next Web breakthrough. While Web1 was a read-only web, and Web2 was a read-write web, Web3 instead promises to offer an unmediated read-write web – in short, a decentralized Internet.

Generally speaking, Web2 content dominates the Internet we all know and use today. Although the World Wide Web has come a long way from its inception back in 1989, it still faces issues. Specifically, it’s relatively centralized, and a few large companies – including Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. – control a lot of people’s data. Web3 holds the keys to solving a long list of Web2 issues like this. To name a few, Web3 enables greater privacy, boosted transparency, eliminates intermediaries, facilitates data ownership and digital identity solutions.

All of this amazing Web3 functionality is based on blockchain technology. So, what’s holding Web3 apps back from going mainstream? Well, developing Web3 applications, or dApps, for this decentralized Internet is still relatively complex and time-consuming. Nevertheless, this is now finally solved when you use a service like Moralis to build serverless Web3 dApps! Moralis gives you access to fully managed, infinitely scalable Web3 backend infrastructure – so you can start building for Web3 today!

What is Web3?

So, what exactly is Web3? Even if you might be unfamiliar with what the term refers to, you’ve probably come across it before. In layman’s terms, Web3 is widely understood as the third – and latest – ”phase” of the Internet. Roughly every ten years so far, the Internet has entered a new phase – going from Web1 to Web2 to Web3. Interestingly, however, there is no single controlling entity behind these phases or any universal line for when the Internet crossed over from being Web1 dominated to becoming a Web2 web. However, these different periods are characterized by the nature of Internet content. Put simply, the three stages of the internet can be summarized like this:

  • Web1 – Static
  • Web2 – Dynamic
  • Web3 – Decentralized

The first phase of the Internet, Web1, was mainly about providing online content and information. As such, Web1 was largely static and practically only allowed users to read information. 

The introduction of Web2, which is generally associated with the rise of social media platforms, was instead largely about interactivity and ”frontend” usability. Web2 eschewed the Internet’s previously static nature and saw the web become dynamic, allowing users not only to consume or ”read” information but also to create it themselves or ”write” information. However, this more participatory Internet also created issues, namely placing personal data in the hands of those running the main digital platforms. 

Web3, on the other hand, aims to solve this by going from a dynamic to a decentralized Internet. Furthermore, in Web3, data isn’t owned by centralized entities – rather, it is shared. Moreover, Web3 focuses on improving back-end functionality, much like Web2 saw a focus on front-end functionality. A marquee feature of the Web3 era is also the emergence of dApps, or decentralized applications, which could supersede traditional applications. 

What are dApps and Web3 apps?

No conversation about Web3 could be complete without the mention of dApps. In short, dApps, or decentralized applications, are the backbone of the Web3 revolution. Web3 promises to make the internet a more decentralized place, and this extends to the type of applications used in Web3. The terms ”Web3 applications”, ”Web3 apps”, ”decentralized applications”, ”dApps”, or ”Web3 dApps” are all largely synonymous. They all refer to the decentralized, generally blockchain-based applications that are a part of Web3. 

So, what is Web3 apps? One integral part of many dApps or Web3 apps is so-called ”smart contracts”. Those of you with experience in blockchain technology will likely be familiar with the concept of smart contracts. Smart contracts are essentially self-executing software agreements, pieces of code that run on a blockchain like the Ethereum blockchain. These automatically ”run”, or execute when a relevant set of terms are met. As such, these ”contracts” can automatically verify and perform a transaction between different parties.

The fact that Web3 apps and dApps use smart contracts means that the contracts’ logic can dictate the apps’ behavior. In practice, this cuts out the need for a specific company or individual to act as an intermediary. In order to interact with the smart contracts of Web3 apps using JavaScript, you’ll likely come across Web3.js. We’ll explain everything you need to know about this in the following section.

Moralis is now officially out of beta, following the release of the Moralis 1.0 ”Enlightenment” Update. Web3 developers are already flocking to Moralis to build their Web3 applications, so what are you waiting for? You can now finally build your Web3 dApps quickly and easily – all you need to know is JavaScript. For example, check out this guide over how you can build a dApp in three minutes using Moralis!

What is Web3.js?

When learning about Web3 and its practical applications, you may have heard about ”Web3.js”. So, what is Web3.js? The Web3.js library is the principal JavaScript library you will use in Web3 application development. Primarily, you will use this library for interacting with the Ethereum blockchain. Specifically, you can view Web3.js as an Ethereum JavaScript API. The Web3.js library allows you as a developer to create clients or applications that can interact with the Ethereum blockchain. This is essential if you want to bridge the gap between JavaScript and Web3 to successfully deal with an Ethereum blockchain from JavaScript.

As such, you can largely regard Web3.js as your interface between JavaScript and the smart contracts of Web3 apps. Essentially, libraries like Web3.js allow you to interact with either a remote or local Ethereum node. This is commonly done through the use of an HTTP, IPC, or WebSocket connection. As such, the use of Web3.js is crucial when programmers want to interact with on-chain components such as smart contracts. The reason to why a JavaScript library like Web3.js is so useful is that JavaScript is already natively supported in practically all browsers. 

In fact, Web3.js is one of the main frameworks used in designing dApps. If you are more technically inclined, feel free to peruse the official JavaScript documentation for the Web3.js Ethereum JavaScript API. Also feel free to look at the official Moralis documentation, as well as what pre-requisites you’ll need to supercharge your building with Moralis.

How to Integrate Web3

One of the most important challenges after answering “what is Web3?”  is how to integrate Web3 advancements into your apps. Any developer with a bit of foresight will naturally want to develop a Web3 app – however, this has previously been hard. The main pain point of Web3 development has traditionally been manually setting up a Web3 backend. Not only is this a complex task, but it is also time-consuming and prohibitively expensive. As such, a lot of developers have had to settle for developing a Web2 app. However, with Moralis, it becomes easier than ever to develop a Web3 application! 

Like we previously mentioned, you can integrate Web3 functionality with your existing JavaScript project or website using Web3.js. If you check out our official Moralis Web3 YouTube channel, you will see countless videos explaining how you either build your own dApp or simply how to integrate Web3 functionality into your project. 

Whether you want to know how to integrate Web3 with an existing idea or application, you just want cross-chain support for your dApp, or want even more content answering “what is Web3?”, be sure to use Moralis! 

Truly Decentralized Internet with IPFS

Moralis packs a lot of different Web3 features in order to let you build apps for a truly decentralized Internet. For example, Moralis supports the InterPlanetary File System, commonly known as IPFS. So, what is IPFS? We’ll go more in-depth on this in a future article, but generally speaking, IPFS can be understood as a distributed peer-to-peer file-sharing system. As simply as possible, IPFS does not access the Internet from a single central server or through URLs. Rather, it accesses content from peers in the IPFS network around the world. Different devices that use IPFS act as nodes in a large distributed network, enabling you to access content from local nodes rather than remote servers. What’s more, IPFS uses ”content addressing”, which means IPFS does not look for something’s location; rather it looks for specific content.

IPFS comes with a lot of benefits for building Web3 apps and decentralized applications. For example, it makes the Internet more resilient, as IPFS does not fetch content from a single centralized server. This makes it harder to censor the Internet or prevent sharing of information. Moreover, this type of decentralized network can also lower latency dramatically. When you get content from a local node rather than a distant server, load times are naturally shorter.

Best of all, Moralis supports InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) out of the box. As such, you can easily build an application that takes advantage of IPFS’s distributed network. You do not have to worry about things like configuration issues, as Moralis natively supports IPFS. Take a look at our Moralis IPFS documentation page to see how you can leverage our IPFS support.

What is Web3 vs. Web2? 

It is hard to overstate how important the advent of Web3, sometimes known as ”the Semantic Web”, will be. It is undeniable that the Internet is moving towards this unmediated, read-write version of the web. However, the only thing that is unclear is how quickly Web3 will become the dominant form of the Internet. Just as the Internet did not shift from the read-only Web1 to the read-write Web2 in a day, this change will take years.

Choosing between building for Web3 vs. Web2 should, therefore, not even be a discussion at this point. The current state of Web2 is an oversaturated market that is riddled with technological limitations. Web3, on the other hand, has nearly limitless potential and is ready for new projects. This presents you with a remarkable opportunity. The fact that Web3 is still in its infancy means you can get in at the ground level. You will not be able to build the next ”Facebook” for Web2 – that’s just Facebook and already exists. However, you might be able to build the next ”Facebook” of Web3. 

It is virtually impossible to create a revolutionary Web2 website or app today. The market is simply too saturated with established near-monopolies, such as Facebook and Google. However, roughly 15 years ago, when the Web1 era was drawing to a close, this was far easier. Just think about the various social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or YouTube, that we now take for granted. As the Web2 era similarly draws to a close, you are perfectly positioned to come up with a successful Web3 app, or dApp. You will never again get the chance to create a Web3 app as early as today. Be sure to take your chance and join in the coming Web3 startup gold rush!

Summary of The Ultimate Guide to Web3 – What is Web3? 

The transition to Web3 is, without a doubt, the Internet’s most significant paradigm shift since the emergence of Web2. So, what is Web3? Well, whereas Web1 was a largely static, read-only web, and Web2 was a dynamic, read-write web, Web3 will provide a decentralized, unmediated read-write Internet. 

There’s never been a better time for you to get into Web3 development, or “the Semantic Web”. Moreover, if you are already building Web3 apps, you should make sure to accelerate your efforts with a Web3 backend infrastructure provider like Moralis! Web3 development does not have to be hard. What’s more, there are endless possibilities for what dApps you can build if you put your mind to it. Create decentralized apps with Moralis to take advantage of the decentralized Internet’s possibilities! Moralis makes Web3 development a breeze, thanks to handling all your backend infrastructure. In fact, building a Web3 app with Moralis can be even easier than building Web2 apps with conventional tools.

If you start building with Moralis, you can build your dApp in minutes and hours rather than in weeks and months. Moralis features a wide variety of best-in-class tools for Web3 development, such as support for JavaScript, Web3.js, and IPFS. For example, blockchain node providers are also important for speedy Web3 development. Moralis’ native cross-chain support for nodes with Speedy Nodes is why Moralis is already becoming one of the top Infura alternatives. Be sure to sign up for free with Moralis so you can join in the Web3 revolution! Now that our guide has answered the question “what is Web3?”, be sure to use your newfound knowledge and build a Web3 app using Moralis! 

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