6 Essential Skills to Become a Successful Blockchain Developer
Cryptocurrencies have taken over the imagination of people all around the world. The surge in their value, the plans by some countries to make them legal, and many corporations accepting payments in them have made the future of cryptocurrencies more promising than ever.
Companies, banks, governments, cybersecurity experts, and many more are looking towards blockchain as a futuristic solution to their problems about secure storage and efficient retrieval of confidential documents.
To understand what it takes to become a blockchain developer and what you would accomplish after becoming one, read the article. Before discussing what it takes to become a successful blockchain developer, let us understand who they are and their role in software development.
Who are Blockchain Developers?
Anyone involved in developing solutions based on blockchain technology or further development of blockchain technology can be called a blockchain developer. A blockchain developer has a strong grip on many technical skills such as programming, data structures, cryptography, algorithms, networking, and web development.
One can have experimented with or worked on different types of blockchain technologies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. A blockchain developer is tasked with developing smart digital contracts and smart web apps by using blockchain protocols and architecture. Many companies are also involving their blockchain developers in cutting-edge research for futuristic technologies and applications.
There can be two kinds of blockchain developers:
- Blockchain software developer
- Core blockchain developer
Blockchain Software Developers
These blockchain developers build custom applications that are based on blockchain architecture and protocols. Their websites, web applications, software, and mobile apps use the blockchain as an underlying service to store and retrieve data securely and efficiently. The most common blockchain software applications fall into DApps or Decentralized Apps with front-end development using conventional tools and back-end development using the blockchain architecture services.
Core Blockchain Developers
Core developers are engaged in the development, upgrades, and upkeep of the blockchain architecture, implementing its protocols & services, and building the support infrastructure for its use. Core developers are involved in designing new protocols and services by arriving at a consensus, supervising the network traffic, and making the system secure.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Innovative contract development and management.
- Interactive front-end designs for DApps.
- DApp stack supervision.
- Backend development over blockchain architecture.
- Research, design, implementation, testing, and releasing new blockchain services and protocols.
- Monitor, maintain, update, debug, fix, and extend client-side and server-side applications.
6 Essential Skills for a Blockchain Developer
The following critical skills are necessary for becoming a successful blockchain developer. These skills are presented in the order they must be acquired.
Any development requires the use of programming languages, and blockchain development is no different. The modern Object-oriented paradigm has many languages to build the essential components, services, and protocols that form the blockchain architecture.
Using these programming languages, you can also design and develop DApps with relative ease and efficiency. We recommend that you must have a good understanding and experience in any of the following programming languages:
C++ is the language that is mainly used for writing the core services and modules of blockchain architecture. Because of the ease with which it can interact with hardware, embed assembly language code, have OOP capabilities, and a robust pointer mechanism is a popular language among core blockchain developers.
Java can do many things that C++ can, but with more elegance, security, and ease. The difference is that as Java does not support direct hardware interaction, it cannot build the core architecture. Still, anything over and above can be designed using Java. The large community of Java developers already engaged in enterprise application development, who need intelligent contracts and intelligent decentralized ledger technologies, are turning to blockchain development using Java.
Python is increasingly gaining popularity after its newfound application and relevance in AI and machine learning. The vast open-source resources and cross-platform compatibility of Python code make it a language of choice for developing many blockchain DApps. It is used widely in the front-end and back-end development of applications using blockchain technology.
Data Structures are the abstract data types that act as containers for homogeneous data elements and can manipulate them individually and as a unit. Being abstract data types, data structures can be implemented in any programming language.
Most programming languages already have dedicated, highly-optimized implementations of common data structures. For example, C++ has the STL or the Standard Template Library, Java has its Collections Framework, and Python supports most data structures as its built-in classes.
Blockchain developers need to use and experiment with existing data structures like linked lists, graphs, Patricia trees, and Merkle trees to meet exact specifications. To see at the most basic level, the entire blockchain is a very vast distributed data structure, where each block of data itself and the records in it are also other types of data structures.
Cryptography is at the heart of blockchain technology. While data structures provide a mechanism to combine data into records, blocks, and chains of blocks, cryptography makes the whole process of storing and retrieving data secure and non-repudiable.
Blockchain technology is incomplete without the knowledge of either data structures or cryptography. Many hashing functions such as KECCAK256 and SHA256 are routinely used for encrypting and decrypting data. Asynchronous cryptographic methods are used for generating non-repudiable digital signatures.
Public Technical Private key-based cryptography provides a mechanism for creating front-end apps that allow you to trade in cryptocurrencies using mobile apps. Your private key is used to secure the wallet and its transactions, while your public key can be used by trusted third parties to verify its data.
The working of a blockchain depends on the architecture that was used to build it. There are many popular variations of blockchain architectures, each claiming to be superior to the other in one way or the other.
If you do not have detailed knowledge and working experience on a particular architecture, you may leave a gaping hole in its security and viability. Therefore, you must be well-versed in cryptographic hash functions, distributed ledger technology, and consensus protocols.
The best way to learn about blockchain architecture is by reading whitepapers and technical articles and enrolling in a certification course in blockchain technology. Certification courses in blockchain development can offer you hands-on experience in concepts like peer-to-peer networks, blockchain mining, consensus algorithms, private and public blockchain, smart contracts.
You can also learn about and develop real-life case studies of blockchain use cases in diverse industries ranging from supply chain to healthcare, from digital marketing to cybersecurity, and finance to legal services.
There are three types of blockchain architecture:
1. Private architecture
As the name suggests, in private blockchain architecture, only a few parties are involved, and where they do not want the system to be decentralized.
It is a popular choice of blockchain application deployment for organizations that have requirements for in-house applications. Famous private architecture examples include Sawtooth and Fabric.
2. Public architecture
Public architecture is the completely decentralized architecture of blockchain implementation, where theoretically, an infinite number of parties can be involved.
Anyone who can transact, mine, or maintain a blockchain block can become a part of the network. Bitcoin is the most famous example of public blockchain implementation.
3. Consortium architecture
The consortium architecture is a hybrid of the private and public architectures and is neither wholly decentralized nor completely centralized.
Some members in the group have more authority than the others, and membership can either be open or by invitation. The group comprises many organizations that maintain the blockchain, and the Energy Web Foundation is its prime example.
Web development has become a core skill for a blockchain developer because you always need a front-end to deliver the services you have created using blockchain technology.
Custom web development companies include Web-based APIs, Web Services, interactive GU, and business logic for DApps.
Smart Contract Development
Smart contracts are self-executing contracts that have the contract details encrypted within a block of a blockchain – public or private. The terms of the agreement between the parties to the contract are written into code.
Smart contracts are the main application area, apart from cryptocurrencies, that has gained the attention of corporates, banks, and governments. They provide a public ledger of non-repudiable contracts that can be verified by anyone.
This makes enforcing the contract easier by the law enforcement and judiciary while giving a chance for making things public and transparent to eliminate corruption. Intelligent contracts are assumed to be completed when both parties fulfill their respective obligations.
Becoming a successful blockchain developer is not as hard as it may seem at first. Just like swimming, you will have to enter the pool and start throwing your hands. The difference here is that you will never be out of breath with all the resources that are available online for your help.
About the Author
Gourav Sharma is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arka Softwares, leading mobile app development and healthcare software development company. He has 4 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. He spends his time reading about new trends in Digital Marketing and the latest app development technologies.
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