Solana’s bear market stance compatible with EVM, attracting new developers
Solana attracts new developers with its bear market stance compatible with EVM.
On July 19th, Solana’s official blog released a message: developers can now use the Solidity language to develop on Solana.
This means that developers who previously wrote applications for Ethereum and EVM can now easily do the same on Solana.
According to their blog, the way to achieve this development capability migration is Solang – a Solidity compiler that allows developers to write Solana programs using the Solidity programming language.
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At the same time, a few days ago, Solana’s EVM compatibility solution Neon went live on the Solana mainnet, providing the necessary tools for Ethereum developers to transition their projects to Solana, allowing developers to write Ethereum applications on Solana.
Prior to this, Solana’s development mainly focused on writing smart contracts in Rust or C. Now, with the support for Solidity, the goal of tapping into the existing developer ecosystem of Ethereum becomes even more apparent.
From the “explosive growth” in the early stage of new blockchain competition, to the “sharp decline” after the FTX black swan event, to the subsequent efforts in mobile phone development, ecosystem reconstruction, and now the expansion of development languages… Solana seems to have been actively preparing and laying the groundwork during the bear market cycle.
However, this preparation is more apparent on the supply side, and may not be directly perceived by end users.
Whether it is mobile phone development or blockchain development, ultimately, a massive supply of software and applications is needed: more applications to enrich the ecosystem and increase user adoption of hardware and the chain.
How to increase the quantity of software and applications? The answer may lie in uniting all available forces. In the bear market, this unity strategy becomes even more evident. Supporting Solidity development is an act of goodwill towards Ethereum developers, saying, “You can develop on Ethereum, and now you can also develop on Solana. There is no need to be hindered by the issue of programming language.”
Build during the bear market, explode in the bull market. In this process, developers are the key to success.
The support of Solidity and EVM by Solang is just one phenomenon. Perhaps we can delve deeper into the considerations from the developer’s perspective and see what essentials Solana-like blockchains need to touch upon in order to make a comeback.
An excellent choice for building a “parent” ecosystem and uniting developers
Whether it is Solana or other blockchains, in order to expand the ecosystem and dApps, in addition to the marketing and promotional actions that we can perceive, it is also necessary to attract developers to join as much as possible.
As general users, we are actually very vague about “public chain development”: what should be developed? When should it be developed? Who should develop it? These things seem to have little to do with us.
But in fact, how to attract developers correctly is closely related to us. The level of activity of different developers on the public chain directly determines the quantity and quality of applications on the chain, and indirectly affects various short-term benefits of public chain tokens (such as the need for token lock-up or IEO for a new development project) and long-term trends (such as the technical upgrade of ETH).
If we sort it out, attracting developers to the public chain and its ecosystem can be divided into the following levels:
- Protocol layer: Developers develop around the protocol itself
- Community layer: Developers develop related applications around the protocol’s community, such as tools, documentation, wallets, or other projects;
- Parent ecosystem layer: Developers integrate into a wider ecosystem and provide shareable capabilities at the base layer
The parent ecosystem layer is the key to expanding the source of developers. Catching this bigger circle can attract more users. If it is not easy to understand, we can take OP as an example of L2:
- Protocol layer: Developers who develop OP protocol;
- Community layer: Developers of other applications on the OP ecosystem, such as Defi protocols like Velodrome and Lyra;
- Parent ecosystem layer: Developers on Ethereum. The OP ecosystem actually parasitizes on the Ethereum ecosystem.
This means that OP can naturally “recognize Ethereum as its parent” and allow existing Ethereum developers to conveniently develop applications on L2 with low friction.
Currently, in the state of the entire crypto market, Ethereum is indeed the only true “father” with unparalleled popularity and influence. If it can smoothly take over the developer resources of the parent ecosystem, it will certainly be beneficial to the development of its own chain.
However, L2 solutions like OP and ARB can seamlessly integrate with L1 due to their “blood relationship”, while non-EVM compatible public chains like Solana need to modify their technical characteristics in order to attract developer resources from the parent ecosystem.
Therefore, we see Solana’s Solang and Neon EVM mentioned at the beginning of the article, both of which are technical modifications designed to attract Ethereum developer resources.
Note that the author believes that “recognizing Ethereum as its parent” is not a derogatory behavior, but a good move to seek warmth in the bear market. The crypto community is small, and reusing technical capabilities and resources is a natural choice; it is not unimpressive to attract other developers to contribute to their own ecosystem.
Instead of competing head-on, it is better to unite all the forces that can be united and survive.
Solana developers are increasing, but they still need to break through in competition
If the above description of Solana’s developer attraction strategy still seems insufficiently intuitive, let’s take a look at more obvious data.
According to the 2022 Electric Capital Developer Report, Ethereum has the largest developer ecosystem, with a total number of developers 2.8 times that of the second-place.
At the same time, compared with itself, Ethereum added nearly 15,000 developers in 2022, the highest increase in history.
Developers are essentially not exclusive, they can develop on Ethereum or other public chains, it is just a matter of weighing factors such as incentives, migration costs, and technical barriers. Therefore, Ethereum’s massive resources in terms of development naturally attract the interest of other public chains or L2 solutions.
Turning our attention to new public chains, we can see that Solana is catching up: among the public chains that added more than 1,000 developers last year, Solana is gaining momentum, with an 83% increase in developers compared to the previous year, the highest among all public chains. In comparison, Polygon’s developer count increased by 40%, Cosmos by 25%, and Polkadot by 2%.
Raj Gokal, co-founder of Solana, once said in an interview with TechCrunch: “Developers will build where they see technological advantages. Solana offers faster transactions and lower costs than alternative solutions, but they will also build where they see other advantages, such as an active community.”
And now, there seems to be another reason to build—compatibility with the existing EVM and Solidity languages, making it easier to get started.
But at the same time, let’s not forget that competitors are also eyeing the market, such as Polygon.
From the perspective of attracting developers, Solidity is a high-level programming language compiled into EVM bytecode. However, Solidity has a steep learning curve, and it can be difficult for inexperienced programmers to build secure smart contracts.
Therefore, Solana has chosen to develop using languages such as Rust and C, which are more familiar to traditional programmers. This approach certainly has benefits in attracting new developers, but let’s not forget that Polygon also supports the common programming language Golang;
And in the competition for existing Web3 developers, Polygon naturally supports Solidity and EVM, which puts considerable pressure on Solana. I believe this is also an important incentive for Solana to support EVM and Solang this time.
(Image source: Solana Vs. Polygon Vs. Ethereum – The Ultimate Comparison, Blockchain Council)
In addition, both Solana and Polygon provide a considerable amount of developer tool support, such as Solana Studio and Truffle Suite. These tools simplify the development process, including debugging, deployment, and testing, making it easier for developers to build and deploy decentralized applications on their respective platforms.
Overall, although Rust and C are more favorable for web2 developers, in order to compete with other EVM public chains, Solana also needs to use Solidity to attract more Web3 developers.
In order to break through in the competition among public chains, in the current situation where one dominates over the others, it is also a necessary competitive choice for Solana to focus on the smoothness of development.
From the diversity of public chains to the convergence towards EVM, there is no need for us to blame anyone for betraying the original intention or criticize anyone for not confronting Ethereum head-on.
The crypto community is small, and the supply and demand sides have fixed inventory. It cannot bring incremental growth during bear market cycles. Revitalizing and reusing existing inventory is a correct approach.
On the supply side, it is better to activate existing developers than to try every means to exploit users on the demand side.
Unite the available forces and wait for the arrival of the next cycle.