Top 6 Web3 Dev Tooling for 2023

We take a look at all your favorite tools, foundry, hardhat, truffle, brownie, solidity, vyper, huff, and more and go over what to expect from your web3 developer tooling for the new year.

Web3 tooling 2023
Web3 Tooling for 2023
Smart Contract tools for 2023, and 2022 review

Over the past two years, I’ve done a video like this at the beginning of every year, and this year’s no different. 2022 is linked here, and 2021 is here.

And due to FTX, Terra, and all the other nonsense that happened this year, I’m quite happy 2022 is done. So let’s go.

1. Language

Top smart contract language by TVL
Image from Defillama

Solidity continues to be the dominant smart contract language securing right now around 85% of all value locked in DeFi. You can’t go wrong if you choose solidity — as it’s continuously improving. My favorite improvement from this year was intermediate representation (which came to production as of 0.8.13). However, if we look right under Solidity, we’ll see Vyper’s curing around 10% of total value locked. And I gotta be honest, Vyper is a sleeper language, minimal code, python, syntax, and it’s even sometimes more gas efficient.

I even did a deep dive of Vyper vs Solidity vs Huff vs Yul on another channel if interested.

Going with either Solidity or Vyper, you’re not gonna go wrong. However, if you’re not interested in EVM, then the Solana-based rust language is probably for you securing right now around 1% of total value, locked in smart contracts.

2022 wasn’t a great year for Solana, but it’s encouraging to see even Vitalik wish them success.

After those 3, you start getting into more niche or lesser-known languages.

Like Huff, Reach, Cairo, Fe, Sway, and Yul. Huff is one of my favorites because it’ll teach you low-level EVM. In fact, I’m horse-pilled and I think everyone should learn huff. It’ll teach you opcodes at an intimate level.

In fact, learn huff this year. It’s good for you.

Yul is good too if you want to optimize your solidity, but Huff (in my opinion) will get you more familiar with the EVM quicker.

I haven’t looked too much at Reach, Cairo, Fe, or Sway, but I want to give them a look this year. Especially Cairo since that’s the language of choice for the Starware L2.

2. Deployment, Deployment, & Testing Frameworks

Top Smart Contract Deployment Frameworks

Foundry, Hardhat, and Brownie return as our top 3 for 2022, but this year we have some potential for a MASSIVE shakeup!

Hardhat has been the number 1 framework for 3 years now. When I first covered frameworks in 2020/2021, it had just surpassed Truffle for the top spot.

Some Hardhat Backstory

The rationale was simple — javascript was and still is the most dominant language of today (I think due to the Javascript everywhere mentality) so respectively that sentiment transitioned to web3. Solidity clearly takes a lot of inspiration from Javascript. So when people started looking for tooling, many naturally gravitated to javascript. Truffle was the original champion framework for years until Hardhat swooped in with faster tests, more features, and documentation, and most protocols swapped to Hardhat.

Today that remains true… For now

Top web3 smart contract frameworks
Top DeFi protocols and their Framework

Edit: Compound also uses Foundry & Hardhat in their newer repos

If you look across the top DeFi protocols from this year, we see that Hardhat dominated with five of the top 10 DeFi protocols using Hardhat.

Even looking at the newer apps deployed to Arbitrum, you see even heavier javascript & hardhat dominance.

Top 10 Defi Protocols on Arbitrum & their framework

But… I smell the winds of change.

At the start of last year, Foundry was just coming out, and I must tell you that tool is fast and phenomenal. Tests can run up to 20x faster than Hardhat, and 40x faster than Brownie. And when you have 1,000 tests to run, you’re bug-hunting and looking to create proof of codes, or you just want to build features and iterate quickly, the time difference is important.

Additionally, we must all pay our respects, because Foundry wouldn’t be where they are without dapp.tools paving the way. DappTools has officially passed the torch to Foundry, and we salute you DappTools for what you’ve done.

The joke here is that Foundry is strong. There are a lot of gym memes in this article. Maybe I should have used an actual weightlifter for this. idk.

Brownie is still one of the main tools used by the curve protocol, but we’ve seen it slow down this year to more of a maintenance mode. Brownie and the Python community are looking to Apeworx to be the successor for a python-based smart contract framework.

Remix continues to be a backbone for both beginners and experts. Many of the advanced security experts that I know will often times jump in a remix to try something out quickly.

Truffle had a rough 2021, but in 2022 they picked up their game big time. My original frustration with Truffle was that debugging was quite difficult and tests were slow. This past year they released Ganache 7.0 and a number of other changes now have brought the experience back to being smooth.

For Solana-based frameworks, you basically have two choices, Anchor or Seahorse, and I (being the python lover I am) think you should all try Seahorse.

And yes, last year I mentioned I’d been meaning to try out Terra, but never got the chance before they imploded. Probably a good thing? Rest assured they did not make the list of the top tools this year.

So long 2022

Moving on.

3. Smart Contract Essentials

Original image from IncrediVFX from Getty Images

Chainlink and Openzeppelin.

Every single developer should know about these two. Openzeppelin is essentially the Solidity standard library. And Chainlink, of course, is the middleware to get and deliver data and external computation to and from a blockchain.

Most DeFi protocols use oracles like Chainlink in some capacity, and I think we will see this trend continue into 2023.

DeFi protocols using oracles
Asterik’s explained*: Uniswap has an oracle product. Yearn, and Instadapp are aggregators that work with protocols that use oracles / are hybrid. Sushiswap uses oracles for leveraged trading.

I strongly believe that most smart contracts are fundamentally uninteresting without a real-world connection. In order for web3 to break into the masses, the use of hybrid smart contracts (smart contracts connected to an oracle) needs to continue. But bad oracles continue to be a disaster for web3, so please use good oracles.

4. Blockchain Querying & Interactions

Etherscan, be free. I don’t know why is free. It’s a great tool.

There are other block explorers as well, but Etherscan is just so embedded in what we do. If Etherscan scan got hacked, we’d be in trouble. We can discuss that vector another time.

Another sleeper tool is Foundry’s cast. I use founders cast all the time to send transactions to interact with the blockchain, to get function selectors, to decode inputs and more.

Getting a function signature from Foundry’s cast
Getting a function signature with cast in my terminal

Tenderly is a tool that I’ve been using more and more this year when I want to see when I want to step through all the EVM codes of a specific transaction to see exactly what happened.

Tenderly web3 simulated ethereum transaction
Tenderly Simulated Transaction Example

I’d love to see a local version of Tenderly — Foundry’s debug is almost as powerful. Brownie’s GUI can almost do it too. But nobody’s built it yet.

Dune Analytics is a fantastic tool to use SQL to query the blockchain. With Dune, you can then create dashboards to show people the insight you’ve collected in a visual manner.

The Moralis and Alchemy APIs have helped me out a ton, and I expect to keep using them in the future.

5. Security

Top smart contract security tools
code4rena home page

The security tooling hasn’t changed that much. Eth Security Toolbox is still one of the best with tools like echidna and slither. Mythril is the other high-performance automated security tool.

I will say though, that two platforms have definitely emerged for anybody interested in security. Code4rena and Immunefi have become the de facto places for bug hunters to find bugs, and for protocols to crowdsource the security of their protocol.

6. AI

AI for smart contract security and coding
Image of ChatGPT interface

As much as I hate to say it, if y’all ain’t working with GitHub co-pilot, you’re going slow.

GitHub Co-pilot and ChatGPT they’ve changed the game. There are a lot of controversies around co-pilot because it scraped a lot of repositories that it probably shouldn’t have. Something I need to look into more…

But when you can just hit tab and write natspec for all your solidity functions it feels hard to look into its ethics. Over a long period of coding, it saves hours, especially a lot of the more boring stuff, like documentation.

ChatGPT is solid for getting starting pieces of a project going, or beginner questions answered and context is given.

7. Bonus

A video of building a censorship resistance website using Filecoin, Sia, and Arweave

And, here are just some other technologies that are really cool. I might be looking into more this year, etc. For data, I still love IPFS. I use it all the time. I did a deep dive on Filecoin, Sia, and Arweave with an Unstoppable UI recently, you can see the results above.

zkEVMs like Polygon, ZKSync, and Starkware I’m looking forward to. Front-end tools like wagmi, react Hooks, web3UIKit, and web3-react I’ll continue to use.

Aave tooling in general with Lens Protocol and their upcoming stablecoin I’m excited for.

Then artificial intelligence is coming a long way, and I expect to see it emerge into the blockchain space as well.

Summary

So those are my six (plus some more) top tools that you need to be aware of for this year. Hope you learn something. I hope you’re using the tools that best get the job done.

And thank goodness 2022 is done. Let’s build a badass 2023.

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Patrick Collins

Chainlink developer advocate, fintech data engineer, and human performance buff. https://linktr.ee/PatrickAlphaC. 🔵⛓🐸🥑