A Complete Guide to Blockchain Development
Blockchain technology is proposed for different application domains besides financial transactions. Though you can find generic blockchains that can be utilized for specific use cases, they lack an easy-to-customize approach of implementation. We have created the complete guide, which will help you in building a blockchain based product. Let’s learn everything you would need for blockchain development.
Table of Contents
- How to develop Blockchain from scratch?
- What value does Blockchain add to your platform?
- When to use blockchain for your startup or existing platform?
- How much does it cost to build a blockchain-based platform?
- What is the blockchain development process?
- What is the best app development tools?
- How long blockchain development takes?
- List of top blockchain development companies
Let’s discuss each topic in chronological order.
How to develop Blockchain from scratch?
Before you start, remember that blockchain is an immutable chain of records called blocks that contain transactions, data or files.
Blocks are chained together with hashes. If you are not sure what are hashes, read our article on blockchain basics.
Developing a blockchain from scratch can take months from years to complete implementation, as you have to research thoroughly. It takes a lot of consideration and time to discover and implement an algorithm successfully.
However, we have many other options available that allow us to build blockchain protocols in a short time span.
You can find a number of open-source blockchains available in the market that can ease the development process with the help of forking.
Let’s consider the example of Bitshares blockchain that can be used for the development of blockchain platforms or applications.
Developing a Blockchain App or Platform using Bitshares Blockchain
With an industrial-grade technology, Bitshares blockchain focuses on businesses, individuals or organizations with a free-market economy and robust eco-system.
Here are some of the features of Bitshares Blockchain that make it an ideal platform for the development of blockchain solutions:
- Processing Speed
Blocks are confirmed rapidly and transactions are added to the blockchain from 1.5 seconds to 3 seconds.
- Dynamic Account Permissions
It allows management for the corporate environment and allows controlling of wallets via a weighted combination of account approvals.
Backed by an ecosystem of dApps to self-fund its native token (BTS), Bitshares ensures the blockchain covers costs to keep going with no maturity date.
It is not possible to hack the Delegated Proof of Stake protocol as it involves taking out many global, active and trusted delegates.
- Minimal Fees
Though Bitshares also charges a fee like other blockchains, it is comparatively lower than average and offers 80% vesting cashback to lifetime members.
Bitshares allows you to create your own cryptocurrency and blockchain platform, just like EOS, Corda, Stellar or Tron.
You may simply fork any open-source blockchain to build your own blockchain platform for your specific enterprise requirements.
Building a blockchain from scratch takes a considerable amount of time, as it requires thorough research. Also, you need to prove that the algorithm/protocol you have discovered has the potential to bring transformation to the existing ecosystem.
Read further to understand how to upgrade your existing platform with blockchain, read further.
What value does Blockchain add to your platform?
Innovators are discovering wats to implement blockchain across financial services, supply chain, government, healthcare, and many other industries to transform business models. Blockchain adds value to businesses by offering transparency, security, traceability, and efficiency.
Read what value does blockchain technology add to your platform/application.
- More Transparency
The history of transactions is becoming more transparent with the implementation of blockchain. Since blockchain is a distributed ledger, all members of the network share the same updated ledger. The shared ledger is validated via consensus, which states everyone must agree on it. Changing a single record would need the modification of all subsequent records.
Therefore, the data saved on the blockchain is more secure, accurate and transparent and can be made available only to members who have permissioned access.
- Enhanced traceability
If your company manages products which are traded via a complicated supply chain, you would understand how difficult it can be to track an item from its origin. When the supply of goods from one place to another is recorded on the blockchain, you get a complete audit trail that represents where an asset came from and tracks each stop that it covers on the journey.
Previous records saved on the blockchain can help to verify the authenticity of products and protect from frauds.
- Increased Speed
Currently, the traditional processes are paper-based, which is time-consuming and involves third-party intermediaries to verify authenticity. It is also prone to errors. By automating and simplifying business processes with blockchain, transactions can be executed fastly and securely.
As a single digital ledger that is shared with participants of the network can be used for record-keeping, you don’t need to manage multiple ledgers. When everyone within the network can access the same information at all times, leading to a quick settlement.
- Reduced Costs
Reduced Costs is a priority for most of the businesses. Using blockchain, you don’t need intermediaries or third-parties to establish trust as everything is validated on the network through consensus of participants of the network. You won’t have to review documentation to perform the trade because everyone will have access to an immutable version.
When to use Blockchain for your Startup or existing Platform?
Following are some of the questions that will help you determine if integrating blockchain into the existing solution is a good idea:
Do you want to store data?
If your business solution does not require a lot of data to be stored, the database is not required at all. Therefore, blockchain is of no use in that case. If you have an application that needs to manage massive data, blockchain can be used to manage a single shared distributed ledger. Instead of maintaining multiple databases, blockchain technology will allow you to have a single transparent view of the updated ledger, which is shared with all nodes of the network.
Is the data dynamic with an auditable history?
Though paper-based documents are difficult to counterfeit, they have limited permanence. If transactions need to be updated and shared frequently, maintaining them on papers cannot keep up the system of record. If the data and its history are crucial for your business, you might require a blockchain solution that allows multiple parties to write entries into the system which are incorruptible.
Is the speed of the transaction important for you?
Does your database need high-performance millisecond transactions? If yes, you should stick to the centralized system for managing the records of a system. On the other side, blockchain databases are slow; however, they are far more secure than the centralized system. If the priority of the security of an application is high as compared to its speed, you should look for a blockchain solution.
Should a central authority control your data?
There could be many reasons why a third party should handle some authorizations and authentications. Third-party control can be sometimes desirable. But, third-party authorities can always create trust issues due to a lack of transparency.
On the other side, blockchain data is managed by multiple parties and information is validated via an agreed-upon consensus algorithm. If you have privacy concerns, it can become possible to provide read-only permission to different parties and write-only to a specific party using blockchain. No dependency on a central authority will reduce high fees, delays and single-point-of-failure.
Do you require a trustless environment?
Trusting other parties is essential when doing business, especially in a partnership situation. We have to trust banks for keeping our money secure and business associates to maintain agreements. What if the trust gets broken? Unfortunately, trust is being violated every day and it’s a significant issue.
Now, the question is, how would you know when to use blockchain. Though blockchain is a trustless environment, parties can work simultaneously without worrying as they have an updated ledger at all times. It uses various consensus algorithms to validate all transactions without giving more attention to any particular party. This is how it brings fairness to the system.
Do you need a little change or no change in rules on the system?
Everyone considers blockchain as an immutable system as it does not allow you to change rules on the system once they are written. Using blockchain, you won’t have little or no control over the rules of the system.
But blockchain might not be immutable always as it could have a chance of 51% attack. If a community of miners can control more than 50% od the network, they can control the system. They can stop other people’s transactions and double spend the amount. The risk of the 51% attack is prominent for the Proof of Work algorithm, but other mechanisms ensure a secure environment.
If the answer to 4 out of 6 questions is “Yes”, you may need a blockchain solution for your business.
How much does it cost to build a blockchain based platform?
When estimating the cost to build a blockchain based platform or application, you need to consider the following scenarios:
- Developing a blockchain app with an in-house team
- Hiring freelancers for blockchain app development
- Hiring blockchain development companies for blockchain app development
Here is our analysis of the estimated cost of blockchain development for a minimum viable product when using different development resources.
|Beginner||$500,000||$30,000 to $50,000||$150,000 to $250,000|
|Experts||$2000,000||$50,000 to $90,000||$250,000 to $500,000|
Working with an in-house team of developers is quite expensive but can provide you more control over blockchain development. However, you should take this path if software development is your core business. On the other hand, hiring freelance blockchain developers could be the least expensive way, yet it could be riskiest. It is recommended to hire freelancers when the project is small, but, risk factors could increase when the scope of a project grows with time.
Working with a third-party company could be a viable option if your project is large. Blockchain companies are experienced and can help you at every step of the development process. When compared to an in-house development team, the cost of blockchain companies is lower.
The cost of blockchain app development also depends on the following factors:
- Type of Blockchain App you need
- The complexity of a Blockchain Project
- People involved in developing an app
- Project Management Tools
- Third-Party Tool Subscription Costs
Type of Blockchain App you require
Every business requires a digital solution to run their business operations efficiently. Building a blockchain app can build trust and offer transparency while removing additional intermediaries.
Before implementing blockchain technology and estimating its cost, it is essential to understand what type of blockchain app you need. Whether you need a permissioned blockchain app or permissionless blockchain app, you need to consider which application can suit your business needs.
Also, the cost of a blockchain application varies from industry to industry. For example, you may need an app for supply chain management, healthcare, real estate, education and many other business domains. The cost of an app will depend on the complexity of the project.
The complexity of a Blockchain Project
The complexity of a blockchain project depends on the issues that an application wants to solve.
Here are some examples of blockchain projects based on the complexity level:
- Low Complexity Blockchain Apps: Payment apps, Smart Contracts Development App
- Medium Complexity Blockchain Apps: dApps developed on blockchain platforms, Semi-decentralized apps, Hybrid blockchain apps, Blockchain dApps
- High Complexity Blockchain Apps: Development of Blockchain platform from scratch, A complete decentralized network
People involved in developing an app
The cost of blockchain app development also depends on the number of resources required to develop an application. Salaries of blockchain experts are the significant expenses you should not miss when calculating the cost to build an app.
Since blockchain is still in its nascent stages, you won’t find the right blockchain talent easily. While investing in blockchain developers, ensure you have hired the best ones and added their salaries to the total expense.
Project Management Methodology
Companies might use agile methodology tools such as Jira, Confluence and Trello to manage blockchain projects. They use such tools to test an app, track timelines and deliverables. Therefore, the price of project management tools is also added to the cost of blockchain implementation.
Third-party Subscription Tools
Your blockchain app might require a subscription to third-party subscription tools such as bug tracking tools, notification services, amazon web services, software monitoring services and data analytics tools. The cost of subscription tools also contributes to the cost of blockchain app development.
In this section, we have explained the process of building a blockchain-based application. Let’s understand how to start with blockchain app development and what all steps are required to develop an app successfully.
1. Identify problems you want to solve with blockchain
First of all, it is important to come up with a problem statement and understand what all the problems you want to solve with a proposed solution. Ensure that the blockchain solution will benefit your business abilities. Analyze whether you need to migrate your current solution to the blockchain or you require a new application to be developed from scratch.
For example, if you are a healthcare provider who wants to develop a blockchain-based health record exchange app, you should know various use cases of the applications and what benefits it will offer to users.
Once you decide that you need a blockchain solution for your business operations, the next step is to select the right blockchain platform and blockchain development tools for your project.
2. Choose the right blockchain platform
As mentioned above in the article, building a blockchain from scratch requires thorough research and takes months to years to develop it successfully. Therefore, you should build a blockchain app on the top of a blockchain platform that meets your business requirements.You should identify the right blockchain platform for your application based on the factors like consensus mechanism and problems you want to solve. For example, you can build an Ethereum-based application if you need to develop a decentralized public application with smart contracts. When the blockchain platform is identified, it is required to do brainstorming and understand the exact business needs.
3. Brainstorming and blockchain ideation
Once you identify the blockchain platform for developing a blockchain application, you should focus on drafting business requirements and brainstorming ideas. Find what technology components should be added as off-chain or on-chain entities on the blockchain ecosystem. Create a roadmap of the product that will help you to build an application within a decided deadline.You should come up with a blockchain model and conceptual workflow of the blockchain application.
Also, decide if the application needs to be developed on a permissioned or permissionless blockchain network. In this stage, you should also decide front-end programming languages to be used, servers and external databases.
4. Doing a Proof-of-Concept
A proof of concept is done to represent the practical applicability of a blockchain project. It can be either a design prototype or a theoretical build-up.In Theoretical Build-up, each project requires theoretical cases so that users could understand the applicability and viability of the product. Proposals can be created to explain the project’s parameter. Once a theoretical build-up is created and feedback is received, a prototype is designed, which includes sketches, mockups, tested product, designs and information architecture. When the client approves the PoC, the next step is to prepare technical and visual designs for the application.
5. Visual and Technical Designs
Since you have planned an entire application at this stage, start creating UIs for each software component. Designs APIs that will be integrated with user interfaces to run an application at the back-end. Visual designs are created to give a look and feel to the application, whereas technical designs represent the technology architecture of the application.
Once the admin consoles and user interfaces are designed, the application gets ready for development.
Development is the significant phase of the blockchain development process, where you should be ready to build the blockchain app.In this specific stage, you either have to build or integrate APIs for distinct use cases of the application.The application is built under multiple versions. Firstly, an application that does not undergo formal testing is said to be a pre-alpha version of the app.
Once it is approved by the client, the application moves to the next stage, i.e., alpha, where the developers test the software with white-box techniques. But, the software might not comprise all the features at this stage.
After the alpha version is released, the app is prepared for the beta version. During Beta Phase, the software application has the complete feature set, but with some unknown bugs. Developers share the beta version with a particular group of people outside the organization to test the application’s functionality.
Once the beta version is approved and tested, the application moves to the Release Candidate version. A release candidate is an advanced beta version that is ready to be a final application and can be launched.
After thorough testing, the application moves to the production phase and gets ready for delivery.
Before an app goes live, you should deploy it on the test network to test its functionalities carefully.
When deploying an application, administrators can also manage which versions of the app need to be deployed to various resources with provisioning.
Once an application is provisioned, it needs to be hosted on the main chain. If your blockchain app contains both off-chain and on-chain business entities, i.e., it is a hybrid solution, therefore, you need to deploy it on the cloud server and app store/play store. The application should be able to upgrade according to any new business needs and prioritization.
For instance, if you need to upgrade the smart contract, later on, you should be able to deploy the new contracts without any difficulty.
Developing and deploying an app does not mean you are done. Instead, a software application needs to be maintained post-development to ensure that it works with all types of upgrades in the future.
What are the best Blockchain App Development Tools?
An Ethereum client, Geth, is used to run Ethereum nodes in the Go programming language. Using Geth, users can mine Ethers, create smart contracts and run them on EVM, explore the block history and send tokens between addresses. Geth can be downloaded and installed on Linux, Windows and Mac. It supports two types of installations, Scripted and Binary.
Once you start using the Geth, you either have an option to create your own blockchain based on the provided settings or connect to the existing blockchain. In case you don’t set any default values, it will connect you to the Ethereum’s mainnet automatically.
2. Remix IDE
Remix IDE is a compiler used for small contracts. It is a browser-based tool used to create and deploy smart contracts. You can use Remix IDE to write, debug, test and deploy smart contracts using Solidity programming language. Remix can connect to the Ethereum blockchain via Metamask.
Before using Ethereum, you should have a place where you can store Ether tokens and execute smart contracts. Mist is the Ethereum wallet used for smart contract deployment and is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. While installing Mist, remember once you set up the password, it cannot be updated again. Create a strong password and never forget it.
A NodeJS package, GanacheCLI, is a customizable and fast blockchain emulator that can stimulate the Ethereum network on a single computer. It allows users to make calls to the blockchain without the need to run an Ethereum node.
GanacheCLI is used for the instant mining of transactions. It is an easy-to-use API that provides you with an overview of test chain events.
Security plays a prominent role when it comes to building a blockchain application. You need to ensure that the Solidity code does not have security holes. Solium tool is specifically designed to format solidity code and fix security issues in the code.
EtherScripter has an easy-to-use interface used for coding basic smart contracts. With a simple drag and drop interface, developers can connect different components as jigsaw puzzle pieces for developing a contract. It only supports the Serpent programming language.
It is a wallet that connects Chrome or Firefox with Ethereum blockchain by acting as a browser extension. It can save keys for Ether and ERC20 tokens. By linking with Coinbase and Shapeshift, it allows you to sell and buy ERC20 tokens and Ethers. It can be installed simply as a Chrome extension.
9. Blockchain Testnet
Users need to pay for the gas usage and launch of an application when writing EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) programs. Since blockchain is immutable and transactions once added to it cannot be updated or removed, untested programs can result in high costs. That is why, it is essential to test a decentralized application before it is deployed on the mainnet. Ensure to test your app on Blockchain Testnet before going live.
Truffle is a framework for Ethereum that provides a development environment. The framework supports a library which can link complex Ethereum apps and offer custom deployments to make contracts coding simpler. It supports some of the features mentioned below:
- Automated Contract Testing with Chai and Mocha.
- Interactive console for direct contract interaction.
- Built-in smart contract compilation, deployment, binary management and linking.
- Network Management for deploying public and private networks.
- External script runner to execute scripts within a Truffle environment.
The list of blockchain development tools is endless. You will find numerous tools that can be used to develop blockchain apps (dApps) and smart contracts. To know which is the best blockchain development tool for your project, consult the team of blockchain experts.
How long blockchain development takes?
The duration of a blockchain project depends on the application’s requirements. The project is initiated with PoC, which typically takes 2-3 weeks. Once the PoC is done, it takes 4-5 weeks to come up with a minimum viable product with bare minimum features.
Launching an application on the mainnet takes around 2-3 months based on the requirements of a client.
If you are looking for a blockchain development partner who can help you develop a blockchain application, we have consolidated a list of some top blockchain development companies.
List of Top Blockchain Development Companies
Established in 2007, LeewayHertz is a San-Francisco based blockchain development company that offers a wide range of blockchain development services : token development, blockchain app development, smart contracts development, blockchain supply chain solutions, security token development and stablecoin development. LeewayHertz’s team of blockchain developers has expertise in working on multiple blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, Hyperledger frameworks, EOS, Tron, Corda and Stellar.
From consultation to PoC, visual and technical designs, development, deployment and maintenance, blockchain experts at LeewayHertz provides end-to-end assistance to startups and enterprises. LeewayHertz is one of the first companies which has developed a signing platform on the blockchain, WeeSign, for the Secretariat of Mexico. Some of their blockchain projects are TraceRx, WeeSign.
Somish is a technology and product development company that builds automated solutions using emerging technologies. Established in 2006, the company has been serving companies to re-engineer, design, build and implement automation systems.
Dived into blockchain technology in 2016, Somish has developed blockchain projects for governments, municipal corporations, retail companies, finance companies and various other industries.
Founded in 2014, SoluLab is a technology company that has expertise in the blockchain, mobile and web development. Specialized in Hyperledger Fabric, Smart Contract Development, Private and Public Blockchain Development, their team can build a secure and robust blockchain solution for your business.
They have the ability to work on different blockchain development tools, including Ethereum, Hyperledger, R3 Corda, Quorum, IOTA and Ripple. Their blockchain development services cater to a wide array of industries like healthcare, supply chain management, government, education, publication and media and real estate.
Venture Aviator develops, tests and deploys custom blockchain applications with an interactive and engaging approach. They develop robust blockchain solutions for growth companies and Fortune 500 companies like Allianz and Cisco. They aim to provide assistance to startups, enterprises and entrepreneurs to develop technology platforms.
SoftwareMill is one of the leading blockchain companies that focuses on delivering value to its clients with high-quality development. They have a dedicated team of skilled developers who can cater to a wide array of business requirements within the estimated budget. Based in Poland, they believe that they can resolve the industry-related issues with the digital solutions built on the latest technologies.
Consult our team of blockchain consultants to kickstart your blockchain development journey. Our experts can convert your idea into a real solution by implementing blockchain technology into your project idea.