What is Web3.js: Getting Started with Web3 DevelopmentSign Up for Astra DB
Throughout the process of developing new technologies and applications, a future-minded person has to keep a lot of different concepts and ideas in mind. With regards to Web3 and the decentralized internet, the lexicon of cryptocurrencies and emerging technologies can be a lot to take in: especially as new decentralized applications and technologies come up frequently. If you’re somebody aiming to develop websites or applications that would take advantage of blockchain technology, then your needed familiarity with web3.js cannot be understated.
What is Web3.js?
Web3.js is a collection of libraries that allow developers to interact with a remote or local Ethereum node using HTTP, IPC, or WebSocket. Using this library, you can develop websites or clients that interact with the blockchain. This can be actions like sending Ether from one user to another, checking data from smart contracts, creating smart contracts, among other things. Ethereum nodes provide interfaces to users in order to complete transactions: of which, nodes receive this information through a JSON RPC interface. This is an encoding format that allows running processes to receive new and verify existing data. Web3.js helps to make the process of running and selecting nodes participating in the Ethereum network simpler and easier to grasp.
Among the various functionalities of Web3.js, the below functions are the broadest modules that allow for interaction with the Ethereum ecosystem:
is for the ethereum blockchain and smart contracts.
is for the whisper protocol, to communicate p2p and broadcast.
is for the swarm protocol, the decentralized file storage.
contains useful helper functions for Dapp developers.
The Web3.js Library and It’s Uses
Generally, those creating Dapps or integrated web browser applications into the Ethereum blockchain utilize the Metamask browser extension in conjunction with Web3.js. Metamask is an Ethereum wallet that is hosted in-browser and natively puts a Web3 provider object into said browser: which, in brief, a Web3 provider object is a data-structure that provides links to publicly accessible Ethereum nodes. Using Web3.js and Metamask, users and developers are able to manage private keys and verify transactions directly from their preferred browser. If you’d like to learn more about pulling real-time transactions from the Ethereum blockchain using Web3.js, the Datastax blog team has you covered at this post . This is among the most convenient ways of accessing the Ethereum blockchain and, generally, the preferred way for most.
Getting Started with Web3.js
Currently, there are two different versions of Web3.js that are available to any hopeful Web3 developers and crypto enthusiasts out there. The most current stable version of Web3.js is version 0.3, although its use is almost entirely eclipsed by the beta release of version 1.0. Most developers and enthusiasts have built their projects upon version 1.0, even though it is technically not an official, “stable” (so to speak) release. It is the most commonly used and accessible version, nevertheless, so the information below will reflect this.
To use Web3.js to connect to the Ethereum blockchain, a programmer has to specify a Web3 provider; which is dependent on the specific node that the programmer or developer wants to connect to. Using this in conjunction with Metamask will inject a Web3 provider into the browser being used.
If you wish to interact with a smart contract, you first need the contract’s address and ABI (Application Binary Interface) to proceed. The ABI is merely a description of the contract's public interface in the form of a JSON object, which you should already be familiar with.
Other Uses for Web3.js
While the above sections highlight what is possible with the Web3.js library, real-world applications of Web3.js tend to be increasingly more complex than just merely accessing a smart contract. Generally, one must check whether a transaction they wish to do has been confirmed or not. Since Web3 is asynchronous, the time sink of getting a return is nebulous. Programmers must use callback functions frequently to be used in the event of certain criteria being met in order to keep things running smoothly. There can also be a case where the selected Web3 provider does not have access to the private key required to complete the transaction. It’s possible to send raw transactions that are already formed and signed by the corresponding private key, but these are contingency plans that must be in place ahead of time. Tracking NFT transfers are another thing possible with the application of Web3.js, but it’s even easier to do with the help of Astra DB: which you can read more about here
Learn More about Web3 Development With DataStax
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- The Ethereum Blockchain dataset has indexed every block in existence
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- Build your application through our Stargate APIs utilizing tools familiar to every developer