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July 18, 2022

Why Build on Solana? Solana Development Explained

Table of Contents

If you are just entering the crypto industry looking to become a Web3 developer, things can seem overwhelming. There’s so much to learn and so many decisions to make. One of them is to decide on which chain to focus on. And, as the title suggests, herein we will look at some main reasons why build on Solana. This popular chain is just one of many reputable chains. However, there are some impressive properties to this network which have made it a popular choice for devs. Moreover, given the current market conditions, now is the best time to focus on building. Furthermore, knowing why to build on Solana will help you make an informed decision in choosing your network.

Aside from learning why build on Solana, this article will also acquaint you with the ultimate Web3 development platform – Moralis. This Firebase for crypto is the tool that can make your development efforts on Solana as straightforward as possible. Moreover, since Moralis is all about cross-chain interoperability, it enables you to future-proof your work. So, even if your reasons for why to build on Solana are strong enough today, conditions or your opinion might change in the future. And, then the ability to switch to any other reputable chain, which Moralis offers, will be priceless. With the universal Moralis’ SDK, you are able to work on various familiar platforms as well. Furthermore, when you use the power of Moralis, your frontend skills and some Web3 basics are all you need to create killer dapps (decentralized applications). With that said, let’s look at why build on Solana in more detail.   

What is Solana?

It can seem challenging to discuss “why build on Solana” if you don’t know what Solana is first. So, in case you don’t have the basics under your belt yet, make sure to focus on the following paragraphs. However, if you can already answer what Solana is with confidence, feel free to jump over to the next section.

Solana was launched by two developers, Anatoly Yakovenko and Raj Gokal, in 2017. As Solana Labs’ current CEO and COO, Yakovenko and Gokal still play significant roles in developing this oft-titled “Ethereum killer”. Moreover, Solana is a public and open-source programmable blockchain. Thus, it supports smart contracts, which are called “programs” in Solana’s case. Hence, Solana programs are the backbone of Solana programming. They also ensure that fungible and non-fungible tokens on Solana are minted properly. Aside from supporting tokens, Solana also supports all sorts of dapps. 

Moreover, to cover transaction fees on this chain, you need Solana’s native token – SOL. Aside from paying the transaction fees, SOL provides network security via Solana’s hybrid DeFi staking consensus. This native currency is also used to transfer the value on Solana. Furthermore, while Solana uses a hybrid consensus mechanism, it still technically falls into the category of proof-of-stake (PoS) chains. After all, it is Solana’s PoS protocol, where staked SOL does the “mining”. So, Solana’s PoS ensures accurate information across all Solana nodes. 

In case you’re interested in learning more details about Solana’s hybrid consensus mechanisms and SOL’s tokenomics, use the “what is Solana” link above. 

Why Build on Solana?

There are many reasons why build on Solana – herein, we will focus on three main ones. These are speed, low cost, and robustness. Moving forward we will take a closer look at each of these three reasons.

Solana’s Speed

Solana is one of the fastest – if not the fastest – blockchains out there. Its theoretical output is a whopping 65,000 transactions per second. Since this number alone may not tell you a lot, let’s compare it with the speed of the two most popular blockchains and one of the most popular multinational financial services. Compared to Bitcoin’s 3 to 7 transactions-per-second average, Solana is about 10,000 times faster. Moreover, it is more than 4,000 times faster than Ethereum’s 15 transactions-per-second average. 

And, even when we compare Solana’s speed to Visa’s, it is still 2.5x faster. The latter is particularly impressive, given the fact that speed is typically one of the main upper hands that centralized systems have over decentralized ones. 

Solana is able to output such speed thanks to its hybrid consensus system. Particularly, Solana’s original checking of keeping a count or tally of the passage of time. This is the core of what Solana Labs calls the “proof of history” (PoH) protocol. It’s thanks to this core innovation that transactions on Solana can run parallely. 

Solana’s Low Transaction Fees

We all have to give Ethereum kudos for a lot of things, though their extremely high transaction fees are not one of them. They are a major nuisance, especially for users and developers that are on a tighter budget. And, even if you have a huge budget, spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for transactions is still painful. As such, Solana’s low transaction fees are like a breeze of fresh air on a hot summer day. 

Average transaction fees on Solana are $0.00025 per transaction. Let’s again compare it to other popular chains. On Ethereum, the average gas is $24.48; however, we’ve already seen those prices well above $100. On BNB Chain (former Binance Smart Chain), transaction fees average around $0.15. Even compared to Polygon’s $0.0005 – $0.2, Solana is the cheapest.   

Solana’s R(ob)ust-ness

Of course, there’s room for discussion here; however, most agree that Solana is very robust. However, Solana is not an EVM-compatible chain. Hence it is not built with Go but with Rust programming language. As you may know, the latter is considered to be quite a hard language to learn. However, that results in fewer developers but the ones that know Rust are usually very skilled. As such, programs built with Rust tend to be of a higher quality. Especially from a safety perspective. Not everyone might agree, but according to devs that know both languages well, Rust offers more security than Solidity. 

Now that we’ve covered the three main advantages of the Solana chain, you already know why build on Solana. Hence, it’s time to take a closer look at the workflow when programming on Solana.  

From Why to How – The Workflow to Build Solana Dapps

If you’ve been building dapps on any other blockchain, you will need to follow the same workflow when building Solana dapps. In the case of more advanced  Web3 apps, you’ll usually start by creating smart contracts (programs). Though, there are all sorts of dapps (e.g.: explorers, NFT dashboards, etc.) that you can create without deploying your own smart contracts. When creating programs, you can use Rust or make things a bit easier on yourself by using the Anchor framework. The latter is a sort of Hardhat equivalent for Solana. Nonetheless, when it comes to minting Solana NFTs (non-fungible tokens), you can also use Metaplex.   

Furthermore, in addition to smart contracts, you also need to have a proper backend. This is where Solana indexing takes place – SOL balances, SPL token (fungible and non-fungible) balances, NFT metadata and so on. But as you may know, it is quite challenging to index the blockchain. So, building your backend from scratch is very time-consuming.

Lastly, you need to ensure that your Web3 application is user-friendly and offers a great user experience. Thus, you need to create a quality frontend. Normally, you’d do this by using SDKs and abstractions. The most typical one is the Solana Web3.js library. Moreover, there are many tutorials in resources that make creating a proper frontend rather easy. As such, the backend part tends to be the pain point of creating dapps on Solana or any other chain. Moreover, what’s even more frustrating is that basically, all dapps require similar backend features. Hence, you need to be reinventing the wheel if you go about it on your own.  

But luckily, you can utilize the Moralis’ Solana API, which makes a world of difference. It enables you to do Solana indexing with just a few lines of code. 

Using the Moralis’ Solana API

Using the Moralis’ Solana API makes building on Solana very easy. Moreover, it’s also very simple to get started utilizing this powerful tool. Furthermore, you have two ways to do this:

  1. Use SDK to call the Solana API
  2. Call the Solana API as the REST APIs

To learn how to use the Moralis SDK to call the Solana API go to the Moralis documentation. There, select the “Solana API” section:

There, you’ll see two main categories, “SolanaAPI.acount” and “SolanaAPI.nft”. The former includes “balance”, “getSPL”, “getNFTs”, and “getPortfolio”, which tackles all three previous methods at the same time. Though, if you want to build your Solana dapps around NFTs, “SolanaAPI.nft” is what you need to focus on. This is the simplest way to get the NFT metadata that you want to index.  

How to Call the Solana API as the REST APIs

On the other hand, you can call the Solana API as the REST APIs. The great thing about this approach is that you can use any language programming language you want. You can access the details by creating your free Moralis account and then clicking the “Web3 APIs” tab in your admin area:

Next, make sure to select “Solana API”:

There, you’ll be able to see the links that you can use. Of course, you need to enter the right kind of parameters. So, to learn more about the parameters for each link, simply click on it:

Nonetheless, to use the Moralis’ Solana API as the REST APIs, you’ll also need to copy the API key. You do this inside the “Solana API” window of your Moralis admin’s “Web3 APIs” tab:

As soon as you click the version that you want to use, you’ll see the notification telling you that the API key has been copied to your clipboard:

Then you simply paste the API key into the header of your code and you’ll be good to go. 

In case you are more of a video person, make sure to watch our in-house expert as he explains why build on Solana:

Why Build on Solana? Solana Development Explained – Summary

At this point, you know that there are three main reasons why build on Solana. These are Solana’s speed, low transaction fees, and robustness. Moreover, in today’s article, you also learned that the workflow of building Solana dapps is basically the same as the one for building Ethereum dapps. As such, you need smart contracts (programs), which you can create yourself or work with the existing ones. Then, you need to create the backend, and finally build a proper frontend to give users a way to interact with your dapps. Furthermore, you also learned that creating the backend is highly laborious and time-consuming. However, luckily, there is a way to exploit the existing infrastructure. With Moralis on your side, you get to focus all your efforts and resources on delivering the most attractive frontend. 

Last but not least, you also found out how to use the Moralis’ Solana API either via SDK or REST API. Hence, it’s now up to you to roll up your sleeves and put the information you obtained herein to practice. If you already have your own ideas that you want to work on, that’s great. However, if you’d like to up-level your skills and confidence with some example projects first, make sure to check out the Moralis’ blog. There you can learn how to use Solana API in Vanilla JavaScript, how to mint a Solana NFT with Metaplex, how to authenticate Solana users with the Phantom wallet, and much more.

On the other hand, the Moralis’ blog is also the place to explore other blockchain development topics. In combination with the Moralis’ YouTube channel, you can use it to become a proper blockchain developer. Use Moralis’ NFT API to e.g. begin generating NFTs in a matter of minutes, or how to create an NFT minting website. However, if you prefer a more professional approach to your crypto education, then Moralis Academy is the place to be.    

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