8 tools, products, protocols, & real-world use cases to be excited about this year from the perspective of a developer of 10+ yrs.
Web3 has come a long way, & there is a lot to be excited about in 2023.
So what are the tools, products, protocols, & real-world use cases that are production-ready today?
Here are 8 things to be excited about this year from the perspective of a developer of 10+ yrs.
1. Permanent storage
At AWS, S3 was one of the first - & most used + useful services.
Web3 storage solutions take managed storage a step further by introducing both immutability & permanence, something you can't get with traditional storage solutions.
This is why companies like Instagram chose Arweave to build out features that are simply not possible through other centralized architecture.
With newer protocols built on top of Arweave, like Bundlr, EXM, and Warp, the barrier to entry for users and developers has gone down drastically as it's now trivial to build high quality, performant applications on Arweave with better + easier to use APIs and gateways with improved UX.
One of the big value propositions of web3, as a developer, was this idea of shared data and infrastructure.
Unfortunately at the time when I joined the space, April 2021, there wasn't much actually possible outside of DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, and digital payments.
While these are all very interesting use cases, digital payments were the only thing that might be compelling to the "average" person in the world (something I'll touch on later).
Fast forward to today - one of the most exciting new protocols launched in the past year is XMTP - a protocol for implementing encrypted and secure messaging.
If you need messaging in your app, or maybe you just want to build a new messaging app that has some cool new features that don't exist elsewhere, you can now tap into XMTP and leverage not only a high quality service - you also inherit the users of all of the other apps that have ever built with XMTP.
You no longer have to bootstrap an entirely new user base, all users across any app built with XMTP can pick up your app, sign in, and can continue their conversations from their other apps.
This is already happening and gaining momentum in the Lens Protocol ecosystem and elsewhere.
This value proposition that is enabled by shared, public, immutable data and infrastructure is the most powerful, underestimated, and underrated thing about web3, and the reason to be building with these tools and technologies.
3. Account abstraction (AA)
Scalability, accessibility, and UX are the biggest obstacles to adoption for blockchain technologies.
Account abstraction helps solve two of these challenges head on (accessibility and UX) and has quickly become one of the most prioritized features in protocol roadmaps, and popular topics in the blockchain community.
Account abstraction enables features like:
Social, email, or arbitrary account login
Batching multiple transactions
Gas payments in arbitrary tokens
Protocols like Fuel are being built from the ground up to treat account abstraction as a first class citizen, while specifications like EIP4337 allow existing protocols to build account abstraction into existing protocols traditionally dependent on EOAs.
Biconomy has been working on tackling these challenges for years and offer an easy to use SDK and APIs to start building with right away, and whose implementation of account abstraction is based on EIP4337.
With gasless transactions and cheaper and cheaper execution environments, developers and teams can start to consider treating blockchain infrastructure the same as we've been treating traditional cloud infrastructure.
We can subsidize transactions which would remove the huge barrier to entry for the vast majority of the population - asking them to not only onboard the right tokens from the right exchange on the right network, they can instead just use our apps like they would any other app.
4. Better execution environments and L2s
Not long ago the speed, cost, block time, and time to finality of almost all networks was so slow and expensive that most use cases were prohibited, and the UX of the existing use cases was subpar to put it mildly (compared to centralized infrastructure).
Today, there are protocols that are either already being used in production or will be coming to market in the next ~6 months that provide an equal or better UX than traditional "web2" applications, made possible by sub second finality and transaction costs as low as less than $0.001.
Arbitrum Nova combines the latest step in the evolution of their technology, Nitro, with a data availability committee to offer a smart tradeoff between decentralization and security that provides a compelling solution for use cases like gaming and social media applications, like Reddit who is using it for their community points system.
Fuel bas built an entirely new execution environment and developer stack from the ground up, and is the fist modular execution environment. Using SwaySwap, which is built on Fuel, is already a better experience by a long shot than any traditional banking app I've ever used. (looking forward to trying it in production)
As a developer, having a fast and inexpensive execution environment paired with the highest quality DX I've seen in the blockchain world (including their own Rust-based language Sway, accompanied by a suite of high quality developer tools) is probably the most exciting place to be building, especially since they will be integrating not only with Ethereum but possibly other pieces of the modular stack like @celestiaorg.
Polygon has so much going on it's hard to keep up, not only with the volume of quality web3 infrastructure they are shipping, but the fact that countless companies like Nike, Instagram, Starbucks, Reddit, us at Lens Protocol, and others have chosen to build there.
There is a lot more happening, these are just some of the things I'm personally interested in.
5. Better abstractions
If you're a developer you've no doubt heard of, or possibly used, Vercel.
Vercel is wildly popular because it provides the best UX available for building and deploying web applications and features like serverless functions, which are very powerful while abstracting away the inferior UX of other cloud and managed service providers.
Decentralized infrastructure like Arweave and IPFS enable some of the same functionality, but in the past the UX and DX for building was not close to what services like Vercel offer.
With platforms and services like Fleek XYZ, Akord, and EXM developers can build and deploy applications and leverage storage functionality + serverless functions on these protocols without having to deal with tokens at all and instead just use an API key like they have done in the past.
The value proposition is that you inherit all of the use cases of traditional infrastructure but with immutability and, with Arweave, permanence.
6. Social graphs
There are ~4.9 billion social media users in the world as of today. Worldwide it is forecasted that there will be 5.85 billion social media users by 2027.
Social features pop up in almost every application we use today.
I joined Lens Protocol a few months after creating a tutorial video teaching developers how to build with Lens and realizing how web3 social could potentially be the key to mass adoption.
Like Serverless infrastructure and managed services (like Twilio and those offered by AWS, GCP, etc..) enable developers to quickly build scalable applications without having to manage back end infrastructure, Lens Protocol provides web infrastructure for building scalable applications with social features.
Instead of having to build, maintain, and iterate on their own back ends and APIs, they can instead focus on building out their web or mobile application while the Lens team continues to iterate and improve upon the back end infrastructure.
In addition to that, when they launch their app on Lens they inherit the x-100s of thousands (and in the future, millions) of users and ecosystem instead of having to bootstrap everything from scratch.
Combining the improved UX coming to market now with real-world use cases like social and messaging opens the door to countless opportunities for developers to build out unique and high quality experiences that literally cannot be built with centralized technologies, and importantly these are not strictly financial use cases for once.
7. Sybil resistance
One of the other big challenges of building in this space has to do with sybil attack and solving sybil resistance.
8. Other tools and protocols
Huddle started as a product, but have also since made their protocol open for developers to build zoom-like experiences as well as voice messaging.
With Livepeer, a decentralized video infrastructure network, you can create applications that implement video features as well as real-time video streaming in your application.
WeaveDB is a Firestore-type NoSQL Database built on Arweave.
There is a lot more happening that I didn't cover, but for someone with somewhat limited bandwidth these are the things I’m excited about this year.
2022 was a tough year, and it's hard to predict what will happen next, but for builders there has never been a more exciting or opportune time to be in this space ✨