If 2023 was the year of building foundations, 2024 could be the year of Solana.
At least that’s what a series of reports that have come out over the last few months have said. And despite a worldwide industry downturn, developers have stuck around the Solana ecosystem throughout 2023 and stayed busy building. Now, businesses and users are starting to take notice.
- There are currently 2,500+ developers in the Solana ecosystem, according to the Solana Foundation’s open source service measuring developer activity.
- The same report found that of those 2,500+ devs, 52.5% are more senior developers with more than three years of experience.
- According to Messari’s State of Solana report, there was an average of 40.7m daily user transactions in Q4 2023, with a high of 405k daily unique fee payers.
- An external deep dive from Visa found that “low and predictable costs helped drive payments efficiencies.”
Developers from across the ecosystem and beyond have been working hard at building the foundations for the next generation of blockchain projects. The infrastructure is here, and devs have a lot to get excited about when it comes to new tooling.
Here’s just some of the things that developers can look forward to in the coming year.
The long wait is almost over! In early 2024, token extensions will bring new features to make token creation on Solana more flexible.
Token extensions, which were built in collaboration with large institutions, bring functionality to the token program level, without having to use any third-party programs. This makes it much easier to build an open and customizable token program while maintaining compatibility. Some early token extensions you can look forward to:
- Confidential transfers: Enable confidential token transfers on transparent blockchains, with opt-in confidentiality and optional auditability.
- Transfer hooks: Invoke custom programs to control token transfers.
- Metadata pointer: Designate canonical sources of truth for token metadata, which could allow for authoritative verification of genuine metadata
Combined with future runtime upgrades, the Solana ecosystem is building an open and customizable token platform. Find more information in the documentation here.
Firedancer and additional validator clients
Hold me closer, Firedancer 🔥💃 At Breakpoint 2023, it was announced that the first version of the ground-up rebuild of the Solana validator client being built by Jump was live on testnet.
The complete code rewrite of a Solana validator optimizes networking, runtime, and consensus components. Early benchmarks show processing over 1 million TPS per core on commodity hardware in a test environment. Firedancer removes software bottlenecks so the Solana network can scale with future hardware advances.
Firedancer is one of several different validator clients being built as alternates to the original Solana Labs client:
- Jito-Solana: A forked update of the Solana Labs client, built by Jito Labs
- Sig: A ground-up rewrite of a Solana validator client in Zig, by Syndica.
- TinyDancer: A light client.
Additional validator clients make the Solana network more resilient, stable, and secure. Learn more in the most recent Validator Health Report.
The last twelve months also saw a number of announcements from large, traditional institutions extending foundational support to the Solana ecosystem.
Solana blockchain node development blueprints became available on AWS. Enterprises looking to build on Solana will be able to deploy their own consensus and RPC nodes with minimal technological effort. Learn more here and start building.
Additionally, Solana data is now live on Google Cloud’s BigQuery. See how Floor is using the data.
A mature building ecosystem
It's time for devs to build — the tooling is ready for them.
According to the recent State of the Solana Developer Ecosystem report, there has been a large influx of tools, educational courses, and documentation over the last twelve months. Some important things to keep in mind:
- Both in-person and online courses have proliferated, teaching new generations how to build on Solana.
- Builders can now write in up to 12 programming languages through either SDKs or program frameworks, including Solidity, Python, and C++.
- Tooling exists for EVM development, including Neon EVM and Hyperledger Solang.
- For most tools in the EVM ecosystem, there exists a Solana equivalent.
Beyond the foundational tooling for developers, there are also specific updates that are currently live or in development. Here’s a small sampling:
- Solana Labs launched Gameshift, a new gaming API to easily integrate blockchain features into games — making it easy to build web2-friendly games on Solana without web3 development experience. Read the documentation, and get an overview from Breakpoint 2023.
- Armada Markets created a toolkit to improve token launches, liquidity, modular tokenomics, and staking for DAOs. See more at their Breakpoint 2023 talk.
- Solana Permissioned Environments, or SPEs, are customizable SVM instances for private enterprises — enabling large businesses to take advantage of Solana’s scalability in customized SVM instances. See how Pyth uses SPEs.
- The new web3.js, a next generation library for bundling dApps on Solana, could reduce bundle size by 5x. Learn more from Steven Luscher at Solana Labs.
- The Solana Pay x Shopify plugin makes it easy for businesses to accept payments in USDC.
- Runtime v2, which is still in development, focuses on faster execution, simpler APIs, and native support for composability. Key additions include generic interfaces for inter-program communication, a unified VM, and enhanced type safety.
The Solana ecosystem is ready for your new project — it’s time to get started.