Web3, or Web 3.0, is the next generation of internet technologies that aim to create a decentralized and semantic web. The development of Web3 applications often involves smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps), which require specific programming languages.
What is a Web3 Programming Language?
A web3 programming language is a language that is specific for developing blockchain applications, or a mainstream programming language that has been adopted by blockchains to develop smart contracts. These languages are used for building decentralized applications, smart contracts, and other web3 applications.
Types of Web3 Programming Languages
Web3 programming languages can be broadly categorized into two types:
- Smart Contract Programming Languages: These languages are used to write smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code. Examples include Solidity, Vyper, Go (Golang), Huff, Rust, Move, Cairo, and Haskell.
Here are some of the most commonly used languages in the Web3 space:
Key Features of Solidity
- Statically Typed: Solidity is a statically typed language, meaning each variable’s type (state and local) needs to be specified at compile-time.
- Contract-Oriented: Solidity is designed around “contracts”, which can be seen as classes in object-oriented languages. A contract is the fundamental building block of Ethereum applications — all variables and functions belong to a contract, which is the starting point of all projects.
- Inheritance: Solidity supports inheritance, including multiple inheritance, with C3 linearization.
- Function Modifiers: Modifiers can automatically check a condition before executing the function.
- Error Handling: Solidity uses state-reverting exceptions to handle errors. The exceptions will revert all changes made to the state.
Solidity in Web3 Development
As a Web3 developer, working with Solidity is beneficial for learning Web3 development. Solidity is used to write applications that implement self-enforcing business logic embodied in smart contracts, leaving a non-repudiable and authoritative record of transactions.
Vyper is a contract-oriented, pythonic programming language that targets the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). It was created as a readable and secure alternative to Solidity for writing EVM smart contracts. Vyper is similar to Solidity but written in a more modern way. It’s the second-most popular choice of contract programming language for developers.
Key Features of Vyper
- Security: Vyper has been simplified and optimized for security. Some elements frequently found in other programming languages have been left out to lower the possibility of errors and vulnerabilities.
- Language and Compiler Simplicity: The language and the compiler implementation strive to be simple.
- Auditability: Vyper code should be maximally human-readable. Simplicity for readers with low prior experience with Vyper (and low prior experience with programming in general) must be particularly important.
- Decidability: It is possible to compute a precise upper bound for the gas consumption of any Vyper function call.
- Strong Typing: Vyper is a statically typed language.
Vyper in Web3 Development
As a Web3 developer, working with Vyper is beneficial for learning Web3 development. Vyper is used to write applications that implement self-enforcing business logic embodied in smart contracts, leaving a non-repudiable and authoritative record of transactions.
Vyper plays a crucial role in the development of decentralized applications on the Ethereum platform. Its syntax is similar to that of Python, making it a good choice for developers who are stepping into the blockchain space. As Ethereum continues to grow, Vyper is becoming an increasingly important skill for developers.
Go, also known as Golang, is a statically typed language known for its simplicity, speed, and concurrency. Developed by Google in 2007, it has since become a popular choice as a web3 programming language. Go’s simplicity makes it easy to learn, while its agility and concurrency make it a powerful tool for building scalable web applications.
Key Features of Golang
- Simplicity: Go is known for its simplicity, making it easy to learn. This is particularly important in the context of web3, where the landscape is rapidly evolving and developers need to quickly adapt to new technologies.
- Speed: Go is a compiled language, which means it’s fast. This is crucial in web3 development, where performance can directly impact the user experience.
- Concurrency: Go has built-in support for concurrent programming. This is particularly useful in web3 development, where applications often need to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
Golang in Web3 Development
Go is used in various web3 applications. For instance, the GoChain web3 package provides a simple command-line tool for interacting with web3-enabled blockchains like GoChain and Ethereum. It also exports the backing Golang package web3.
Geth, one of the original clients providing an RPC interface into the Ethereum network, ships official Go packages that can be embedded into third-party desktop and server applications. There is also a mobile API that can be used to embed Geth into mobile applications.
Huff is an assembly-level programming language that enables developers to manually manipulate the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) programming stack. It was first developed by the Aztec Protocol to support an on-chain Ethereum program that needed extremely optimized code. Unlike other languages, Huff does not hide the inner workings of the EVM. Instead, it exposes its programming stack to the developer for manual manipulation.
Key Features of Huff
- Low-Level Language: Huff is an extremely low-level language for writing smart contracts. It compiles to EVM bytecode, so it functions on all blockchains that run an EVM.
- Gas Efficiency: Huff is designed to make extremely gas-efficient smart contracts. This is particularly important in the context of Ethereum, where computational operations cost gas, a unit of computational effort in Ethereum.
- Manual Stack Manipulation: Huff exposes the EVM’s programming stack to the developer for manual manipulation. This allows developers to write highly optimized code but at the cost of user-readability.
Huff in Web3 Development
Huff plays a crucial role in the development of highly optimized smart contracts on the Ethereum platform. Its ability to expose the inner workings of the EVM allows developers to write code that is extremely gas-efficient. However, this comes at the cost of user-readability.
Rust is a low-level, multi-paradigm, general-purpose programming language that guarantees memory safety without a garbage collector. It’s used in the development of several blockchain platforms, including Solana, Polkadot, and Near. Rust is memory efficient and statically typed. Unlike Solidity, Rust is a general-purpose language, and smart contracts are just one of the use cases of its application.
Key Features of Rust
- Memory Efficiency: Rust brings higher memory efficiency compared to many other web3 programming languages. This is particularly important in the context of blockchain, where computational operations cost gas, a unit of computational effort.
- Extermination of Bugs: Rust can help with the extermination of various bug classes during compliance. Therefore, Rust is good for any web3 applications that ask for high performance.
- General-Purpose Language: Unlike Solidity, Rust is a general-purpose language, and smart contracts are just one of the use cases of its application.
Rust in Web3 Development
Rust plays a crucial role in the development of highly optimized smart contracts on the Ethereum platform. Its ability to expose the inner workings of the EVM allows developers to write code that is extremely gas-efficient. However, this comes at the cost of user-readability and developer sanity.
Move is a cutting-edge programming language rooted in Rust, initially created for Meta’s Diem initiative. It’s a web3 programming language that was initially created by the Diem Association for use in building on Diem blockchains and is intended to generate secure smart contracts. With its exceptional reliability, Move is an ideal choice for developers working on the Sui and Aptos blockchains.
Key Features of Move
- Safety: Move is a safe and secure language that enables developers to write smart contracts for the Libra blockchain. It is a highly functional web3 programming language that uses a novel approach to handling resources, making it ideal for developing decentralized applications that require robust security and reliability.
- Resource Handling: Move is specifically designed to optimize object safety, making it a valuable asset for these blockchain ecosystems. By embracing Move’s syntactic structure, developers on Aptos and Sui can enhance the security of their projects by incorporating certain layers of protection.
Move in Web3 Development
Move plays a crucial role in the development of secure smart contracts on the Aptos and Sui chains. Its ability to handle resources in a novel way allows developers to write code that is extremely secure.
Cairo is a cutting-edge, Turing-complete smart contract programming language designed specifically for StarkNet. It enables seamless integration with Zero-Knowledge (ZK) technology in smart contracts. Cairo empowers developers to harness the potential of STARKs.
Key Features of Cairo
- Turing-Complete: Cairo is a Turing-complete smart contract programming language. This means it can be used to write any computation that can be described via an algorithm.
- Integration with ZK Technology: Cairo enables seamless integration with ZK technology in smart contracts. This allows developers to create applications that can prove the correctness of computations without revealing the inputs.
- Developer-Friendly: Developers can start writing Cairo smart contracts in the playground, use tutorials on the language’s platform, or leverage Cairo wizards from OpenZeppelin to build out the logic behind decentralized applications (DApps).
Cairo in Web3 Development
Cairo plays a crucial role in the development of secure smart contracts on the StarkNet platform. Its ability to integrate with ZK technology allows developers to write code that is extremely secure.
Haskell is a statically typed, purely functional programming language. It’s known for its strong type safety, which can help eliminate many classes of bugs at compile-time. In the context of web3 development, Haskell is the main smart contract programming language for the Cardano blockchain.
Key Features of Haskell
- Functional Programming: Haskell is a purely functional programming language. This means that functions in Haskell do not have side effects, and given the same inputs, they will always produce the same outputs.
- Concurrency: Haskell has built-in support for concurrent programming. This is particularly useful in web3 development, where applications often need to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
- Type Safety: Haskell’s rich type system guarantees memory-safety and thread-safety. This enables you to eliminate many classes of bugs at compile-time.
Haskell in Web3 Development
Haskell plays a crucial role in the development of secure smart contracts on the Cardano platform. Its strong type safety and functional programming paradigm make it a great choice for developers who prioritize reliability and predictability.
Which Web3 programming language should I learn?
Choosing the best web3 programming language to learn depends on the blockchain ecosystem where you want your application to launch, and your goals as a web3 startup. Go with Solidity and Vyper if you’d like to see ethereum or EVM compatible blockchains. The Rust language is used by other blockchains, such as Solana and NEAR.