Ultimate Guide: How to Build Ethereum dApps

Blockchain projects, DeFi applications, dApps, and Web3 apps are taking the world by storm. The advent of decentralized applications, or dApps, could bring new paradigms for ownership, interaction, and governance. It is, however, impossible to talk about Web3 apps and dApps without talking about Ethereum dApps. The emergence of Ethereum as the most popular dApp framework means Ethereum dApp development is more important than ever. Therefore, any programmer going into blockchain should learn how to build Ethereum dApps. 

By far, Ethereum dApps still dominate the market in terms of the total number of active dApps, active users, transactions, and volume (both in tokens and USD). As more and more developers are entering the blockchain industry, we look forward to more upgrades and exciting applications in 2021 and beyond.  

As a programmer and aspiring blockchain developer, you might be wondering how to be part of this fast-growing industry and eventually build Ethereum dApps. If you’re new to blockchain and perhaps development in general, we’d recommend checking out Ivan on Tech Academy’s JavaScript programming course and Moralis’ article regarding Web3 and JavaScript as foundational basics.

In case you need to refresh your knowledge regarding dApps and what they are, make sure to read this article from Moralis’ blog about decentralized applications. If you’re already familiar with all of the above, then we recommend going straight into the following in-depth guide regarding how to create your first dApp on Ethereum with Moralis:

Build Ethereum dApps with Minimal Effort

With Moralis and its powerful platform, you’ll be able to create dApps on Ethereum with minimal effort. Moreover, in this article, you’ll learn a new way to build Ethereum dApps without the time-consuming backend work many developers relate to when it comes to Web3 projects. 

You can divide the process of building a dApp into three main components:

  1. The Web2 component makes up the frontend creation, which engages with users and is responsible for the look, utility, and eventual market appeal of the dApp.
  2. Because it’s decentralized, the Web3 component allows it to interact with the network, the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine), and run its own Ethereum node(s). 
  3. The smart contract component defines the business logic of the application.

In addition, building a backend infrastructure can prove to be a tough learning curve even among experienced developers. Consequently, the complicated steps involved could distract you from the frontend design, which is important in driving user interest and traction.

Build Ethereum dApps Quickly

To solve the problems associated with backend infrastructure and enable developers to create and launch phenomenal dApps quickly, Moralis offers a full suite of developer tools that gives you the power of Web3 at your fingertips. For example, Moralis Speedy Nodes and the various Moralis APIs such as the Moralis Price API and Moralis NFT API helps you connect and work with the blockchain markedly quicker. We will explore how you can use Moralis’ platform and its incredible tools to cut your development time from weeks to as little as minutes in the following segments of this article. 

How to Build on Ethereum

Building on Ethereum requires a fundamental understanding of the programming language Solidity and the principles behind smart contracts. In addition, you also need to understand how the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) works since it’s a crucial component and works closely with Solidity, as we’re about to find out. But first, let’s take a look at the coding language of Solidity.

Solidity

Alright, so what is Solidity? Put simply, Solidity is an easy-to-understand high-level programming language purposely built to accommodate the “human logic” required to build smart contracts. Proposed in 2014, its creators built it with “developer community scaling” in mind. As a result, and on account of its user-friendliness, it onboarded many developers to Ethereum’s ecosystem in the quickest way possible. 

Solidity’s syntax is quite similar to JavaScript, which is why you need to understand and write JavaScript in the first place. Furthermore, Solidity borrows many of its concepts from popular languages, and it also incorporates elements from other languages such as Python and C++. Because of this, you will come across features such as support for libraries, complex user-defined types, and inheritance. 

Solidity may be concisely defined as an object-oriented, statically-typed language primarily used to create smart contracts on Ethereum and automate transactions that are done on the blockchain. Being statically-typed means the type of each variable, both state and local, needs specification. It also allows you to combine elementary types into more complex types.

You need to be proficient in Solidity to unlock the many possibilities of building on Ethereum, including learning how to build Ethereum dApps. By using the many online resources created for aspiring Solidity developers, you’ll understand Solidity better and grasp how it’s used to create smart contracts. What’s more, many of these resources are free and easily available. 

Ethereum Virtual Machine 

The EVM or the Ethereum Virtual Machine is a key component in executing Solidity code. The EVM is an abstraction of a physical computer or a virtual computer on the blockchain. This Turing-complete machine allows human-level transactional concepts or ideas to be translated into code that runs blockchain applications.

Behind the scenes, a compiler breaks down human-level or human-readable code into machine-level code that processors can read and is executable on the EVM. Furthermore, you can use Remix, a popular online compiler, for free Solidity compilation. 

Apart from the previously mentioned course on Ethereum programming, you might also want to check out Ivan on Tech Academy’s Ethereum 101 course. It provides a great introduction to Solidity, EVM, and smart contracts. Also, Moralis has an article called “EVM Explained – What is Ethereum Virtual Machine?” which provides more information regarding this crucial component.

As a dynamic and rapidly evolving language with regular updates and releases announced, Solidity possesses one of the largest and most active developer communities today. To keep track of new developments, you can check out the Solidity GitHub project. Eventually, you can contribute to its language design once you gain proficiency. 

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are an integral part of how users interact on the blockchain and also how a blockchain works. To learn how to build Ethereum dApps, you need to have a deep knowledge regarding the rules of smart contracts and how they’re expressed in a programming language such as Solidity.

So, what are smart contracts? Smart contracts are programs on the blockchain that run when certain conditions are met. They are triggered when participants of a transaction get into an agreement and fulfill the predetermined conditions. Unlike typical human interactions that require a middleman, these contracts are executed virtually on the blockchain. In other words, they are automated and don’t need a trusted centralized authority to validate them. The entire Ethereum blockchain network validates the transaction, hence the term “decentralized”. The distributed network displaces the need for trusted parties. Consequently, the network informs participants on the blockchain of the outcome of all transactions. 

Use Cases of Smart Contracts

When you build Ethereum dApps, you need to be aware of the many settings in which smart contracts may prove valuable. Smart contracts are currently used in verifying digital identities, fintech applications such as cross-border payments, insurance claims, and data recording in various industries. They also enable the creation of trading platforms (notably decentralized exchanges or DEXs), automated mortgage payments, novel governance systems, and new ways to manage supply chains. Furthermore, they’re transforming entertainment, art, and collecting, as proven in the popularity of token-incentivized gaming and NFTs.

Smart contracts can also improve transparency, enhance functionality, speed up processes and disintermediate typical transactions. As such, they diminish bureaucracy, centralization, and red tape. They can also execute cross-border agreements seamlessly and securely. This means you can transact with someone on the other side of the world as easily as though they were in front of you, with the added benefit of privacy. Those who wish to build Ethereum dApps can contribute further to the many benefits that smart contracts are already proving in real-time today. 

How to Build dApps on Ethereum

One of the most common roadblocks in successfully building and launching Ethereum dApps is the multi-step backend infrastructure requirement. Since the frontend consists mostly of the typical Web2 process of building an interface, the learning curve (and inconvenience) usually happens when learning to set up a Web3 backend from scratch.

Moralis lets you build Ethereum dApps easily, as it manages all the backend hassle and lets you, the developer, focus on creating the frontend. Many developers still struggle with seamlessly bridging the two. This is understandable, as dApp creation involves many meticulous steps and needs a varied Web2 and Web3 tech stack.

The basic steps needed to build Ethereum dApps are:

  • Setting up the development environment.
  • Generating boilerplate code.
  • Design of smart contracts using Solidity.
  • Compilation and migration of contracts.
  • Writing unit tests.
  • Creating a UI for a dApp.
  • Interfacing the UI with the dApp.

Furthermore, the typical tech stack for a dApp requires: 

  • Setting up a local blockchain and a server.
  • Creating the core contract code on Ethereum using Solidity.
  • Unit testing with tools (such as Chai and Mocha).
  • The frontend design part by utilizing HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, and JavaScript.
  • The use of browser tools such as Firefox and MetaMask.
  • Web interfacing using Web3.js and setting up the framework using Truffle. 

In the next section, you will understand how Moralis’ middleware solutions allow you to condense many of these steps and reduce the tech stack requirement. You can breeze through the typical hassles of setting up your hosting for your dApp project, testing it, and deploying it on the blockchain.

How to Develop Ethereum dApps

To build Ethereum dApps successfully, you need the right middleware support. Moralis is revolutionizing the entire dApp-building process by offering serverless options and computing. So, what is serverless computing? It means that Moralis handles your backend server needs, saving you hardware costs and precious time. What’s more, Moralis offers a full suite of features that enables you to build serverless dApps on fully-supported backend infrastructure. This includes node support, updating and management capabilities, cross-chain capabilities, and quicker scaling.

Go Serverless when Building Ethereum dApps

With the competition in Ethereum dApps heating up, you naturally want your projects to reach users quickly. If you want to cut development time, the solution is simple: use Moralis, the premier middleware platform. 

Step 1: Get a Moralis Server Instance

Sign up on Moralis to get your server. Best of all, it’s free! After a quick signup, you’ll see a button that says “+ Create a new Server” on the upper right portion of your interface. Click the button. A drop-down menu will appear that will require you to choose from mainnet, testnet, or local devchain as server options.

For demo purposes, we will select “Mainnet”. After you choose “Mainnet”, you’ll need to name it according to your preference. Afterward, select your region, desired network, and chain(s). We’re choosing “Singapore” as the region and “Eth (Mainnet)” as the chain. 

You’ll find the “Add Instance” button on the lower right. Click this after you have finalized your choices. The setup will probably require a few minutes, so sit back and stretch your legs a bit.

As soon as your server is set up, it will be displayed on your screen. Click “View Details” on the server to view the server information and other important details on configurations. 

Note that there is also a way to expand the server instance. You can do this by simply clicking “…” on the right side of the server.

Step 2: Install the Moralis SDK

The next step for you is to install the Moralis SDK. You can choose between two options: via CDN or NPM.

Using CDN

CDN is the fastest way to bring the Moralis SDK into your JavaScript project. You can get the development version via https://unpkg.com/moralis/dist/moralis.js

You need to modify the code to avoid using the “latest” in production. To guard against malicious package updates, always specify the version, as seen below. To find a list of available versions, type in “npm info moralis versions” and replace <VERSION> with the latest value. 

Using NPM

The NPM module is recommended for larger builds. Start by writing the following:

Browser-Based Applications

To use the NPM module in a browser-based application, include it as shown below:

Server-Side Applications

In server-side applications or Node.js command-line tools, include ‘moralis/node’ as shown below:

React Native Applications

When developing React Native applications, include ‘moralis/react-native.js’ as shown here:

Step 3: Initialize Moralis

After completing all the steps above, you’re finally ready to initialize Moralis so you can use it in your code. To get the application ID and server URL, click “View details” on your server to view them in the pop-up window and copy the information. 

Warning: Only use the master key in safe environments. Never use it on the client-side part of the application. Should your development require a master key anyway, provide the following:

Why You Save Time Building Ethereum dApps with Moralis

When building a Web3 app such as an Ethereum dApp, you can expect to spend time setting up the backend. However, Moralis lets you do all of this with a few easy clicks and a few lines of code on a single platform.  

Once you’ve initialized Moralis, Moralis’ SDK provides flexible APIs that can be paired with your preferred JavaScript libraries. This will minimize configuration steps and further reduce your development time. You can then start building the JavaScript or HTML5 frontend parts of your dApp quickly using Moralis. 

Browser Support

For browser-based dApps, you’ll be glad to know that Moralis’ SDK supports Firefox 23+, Chrome 17+, Safari 5+, and IE 10. Please note that IE 9 is only supported for dApps that are hosted with HTTPS.

With all these conveniences, and many more features available at your fingertips, you should be able to build your dApps in the shortest time possible, with the simplest dApps taking minutes instead of weeks!

How to Build Ethereum dApps – Summary

With Moralis managing your backend, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish as far as Ethereum dApp development goes. You can introduce many exciting functionalities and capabilities to your dApp while making sure that it looks good and is easily navigable to attract users. As such, the simple answer to “how to build Ethereum dApps” is by using Moralis.

Moralis bridges the ease of Web2 development with the extensive functionality of Web3. Moreover, Moralis allows you to build powerful dApps with a few clicks and a few lines of code. Yes, you can build dApps quickly and easily and with minimal effort. Moralis’ platform gives you access to the immense power of Ethereum’s blockchain and its network. Whether you’re planning to create a DEX, an NFT marketplace, a multi-chain wallet, or anything that captures your imagination, Moralis helps you build the backend for it and enriches your dApp’s functionalities as nothing else can. Furthermore, by learning the programming language of Solidity, you can take on complex smart contract programming and unlock even more possibilities when building on Ethereum. If you aspire to become a Solidity developer and create smart contracts, then we recommend enrolling in the following course on Ivan on Tech Academy: “Ethereum Smart Contract Programming 101”.

By reading this article, you’ve now realized how to build dApps on Ethereum and that it can be done easily and quickly. In addition, with Moralis’ platform, you condense the many steps otherwise required when not using Moralis. As such, Moralis makes building Ethereum dApps easier than ever. With all the possibilities around Moralis-powered dApps, you can worry less about the backend and let your creativity run free!

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