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Why build on Solana? (w/ Vidor from Solflare Wallet)

By Solfate

Published on 2023-12-07

Discover why Solflare Wallet's founder chose to build on Solana, exploring its unique features, performance, and developer-friendly ecosystem.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!

Why Solana? Insights from Solflare Wallet's Founder

In a recent episode of the Solfate Podcast, Vidor, the founder and CEO of Solflare Wallet, shared his insights on why Solana stands out among blockchain platforms. As the creator of one of the first wallets on the Solana blockchain, Vidor's perspective offers valuable insights into the technical and practical advantages that make Solana an attractive choice for developers and users alike.

The Journey to Solana

Vidor's journey in the blockchain space didn't start with Solana. Before focusing on the high-performance blockchain, he and his team had experience building on more than ten non-EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) blockchains. This extensive background provided them with a unique vantage point to evaluate new technologies, understanding the various architecture patterns and trade-offs involved in different blockchain ecosystems.

The Solana Difference

What set Solana apart for Vidor and his team was not a single feature, but a combination of factors that demonstrated Solana's potential to revolutionize blockchain technology. Let's delve into the key aspects that caught their attention and ultimately led to their decision to build Solflare Wallet on Solana.

Parallel Runtime: A Game-Changing Approach

One of the standout features of Solana that impressed Vidor was its parallel runtime. With a background in computer science and software engineering, Vidor was particularly intrigued by Solana's approach to parallel software execution. He explains:

"When I just like, high level went into Solana's like parallel runtime and needing to like specify what accounts are readable, what accounts are writeable, and that like little overhead the developer needs to make for the underlying execution layer to be so performant, that wasn't something that we've seen before."

This innovative approach to parallelism in blockchain execution was a significant departure from what Vidor had encountered in other blockchain platforms. The requirement for developers to specify which accounts are readable and writeable might seem like a small overhead, but it enables Solana's underlying execution layer to achieve unprecedented performance levels.

Benchmarks That Hold Up

In the world of blockchain, performance claims are often met with skepticism. Many projects boast impressive benchmarks that don't translate to real-world performance. Vidor and his team took the time to run and compare benchmarks across various blockchains, including Solana. What they found was refreshing:

"We've also like compared to relevant benchmarks of other blockchains, and we even run these benchmarks. And we've seen that like Solana wasn't lying on their benchmarks as some others might have been at the time."

This honesty in reporting performance metrics was a breath of fresh air for Vidor. He noted that many blockchain benchmarks don't make sense in real-world scenarios, often ignoring critical aspects like signature verification. Solana's benchmarks, on the other hand, stood up to scrutiny and reflected achievable performance in production environments.

Low Fees with a Sustainable Model

Another aspect that caught Vidor's attention was Solana's approach to transaction fees. While low fees are attractive to users, what impressed Vidor was the sustainability of Solana's fee structure. He explains:

"We've seen that the fees are so low and they're not like, they're not low because like it's a governance parameter that is just for the time being until the network gets saturated."

Instead of artificially lowering fees as a temporary measure, Solana's low fees are a result of its efficient architecture. Vidor points out that signature verification, typically the most expensive operation within a transaction, is handled so efficiently in Solana that it allows for consistently low fees even as the network scales.

Speed and Throughput

Solana's speed was another factor that stood out to Vidor and his team. With 400 millisecond block times observed even in the early days of Solana's mainnet in 2020, the potential for high throughput was evident. This speed, combined with the promising benchmarks and sustainable fee structure, painted a picture of a blockchain capable of handling massive scale without compromising on performance or cost-effectiveness.

Developer-Friendly Ecosystem

Beyond the technical specifications, Vidor was impressed by the receptiveness and responsiveness of the Solana founding team. He recounts an instance where they suggested a potential improvement to an RPC endpoint, and the Solana team quickly implemented it. This level of engagement and willingness to collaborate with developers was a stark contrast to what Vidor had experienced in other blockchain ecosystems.

The Technical Edge of Solana

Delving deeper into the technical aspects, Solana's architecture offers several advantages that make it an attractive platform for developers like Vidor.

Rust Programming Model

Vidor mentions that his team had previous experience with Rust in other blockchain environments. However, Solana's implementation of the Rust programming model for smart contracts (called "programs" in Solana) was particularly appealing. The combination of Rust's safety features and Solana's performance optimizations creates a powerful environment for developing robust and efficient blockchain applications.

Validator Requirements

While Vidor acknowledges that running a Solana validator might require a slightly higher initial investment in hardware, he argues that the performance gains more than justify the cost:

"Obviously there were like an array of reasons after that that we've seen how like, okay, you might need like a few hundred dollars more to run a validator, but like these benchmarks are like more insane than anything else that you're trying to build."

This trade-off between hardware requirements and performance is a key consideration for blockchain platforms aiming to achieve high throughput and low latency.

Building Solflare on Solana

The decision to build Solflare Wallet on Solana was not taken lightly. Vidor's team's extensive experience with multiple blockchain platforms allowed them to make an informed choice based on both technical merits and ecosystem potential.

Wallet Development Challenges

Creating a wallet for a new blockchain comes with its own set of challenges. For Solflare, building on Solana meant adapting to a unique account model, transaction structure, and programming paradigm. However, these challenges were offset by the benefits of working with a highly performant and developer-friendly platform.

Leveraging Solana's Features

Solflare Wallet was able to take advantage of Solana's fast block times and low fees to offer users a seamless experience. The wallet's ability to confirm transactions quickly and at a minimal cost has been a significant factor in its adoption within the Solana ecosystem.

The Future of Solana and Solflare

As Solana continues to grow and evolve, Solflare Wallet remains at the forefront of innovation in the ecosystem. Vidor's insights suggest a bright future for both Solana as a platform and for the applications built on top of it.

Scaling for Mass Adoption

With its high throughput and low fees, Solana is well-positioned to support the mass adoption of blockchain technology. Solflare Wallet, as one of the leading wallets in the ecosystem, plays a crucial role in making Solana accessible to a wide range of users.

Continued Innovation

The receptiveness of the Solana team to developer feedback, as experienced by Vidor and his team, bodes well for the ongoing improvement and innovation within the ecosystem. This collaborative approach ensures that Solana can adapt to the changing needs of developers and users alike.

Conclusion

Vidor's journey from experimenting with multiple blockchains to focusing on Solana with Solflare Wallet offers valuable insights into what makes a blockchain platform attractive to developers. Solana's combination of technical innovation, performance, and a supportive ecosystem has positioned it as a leading contender in the blockchain space.

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, platforms like Solana that can deliver on the promises of high performance, low costs, and developer-friendliness are likely to lead the way. With wallets like Solflare providing user-friendly access to the Solana ecosystem, the future looks bright for both developers and users in this rapidly growing blockchain community.

Facts + Figures

  • Vidor and his team had experience building on more than 10 non-EVM blockchains before focusing on Solana.
  • Solana's parallel runtime requires developers to specify which accounts are readable and writeable, enabling high performance.
  • Solana's benchmarks were found to be accurate and achievable in real-world scenarios, unlike some other blockchain platforms.
  • Solana achieved 400 millisecond block times in the early days of its mainnet in 2020.
  • Signature verification is noted as the most expensive operation within a transaction on blockchain networks.
  • Solana's efficient handling of signature verification contributes to its consistently low fees.
  • Running a Solana validator may require a few hundred dollars more in hardware costs compared to some other blockchains.
  • The Solana founding team demonstrated high responsiveness to developer feedback, implementing suggested RPC endpoint improvements.
  • Solflare Wallet was one of the first wallets built on the Solana blockchain.
  • Solana's use of the Rust programming language for smart contracts (programs) was appealing to the Solflare team.

Questions Answered

What made Solana stand out to the Solflare team?

Solana stood out due to its innovative parallel runtime, accurate performance benchmarks, and sustainable low-fee structure. The team was impressed by Solana's ability to deliver on its promises of high throughput and fast block times, as well as the responsiveness of the founding team to developer feedback.

How does Solana's parallel runtime differ from other blockchains?

Solana's parallel runtime requires developers to specify which accounts are readable and writeable within a transaction. This additional step, while creating a small overhead for developers, enables the underlying execution layer to achieve significantly higher performance compared to other blockchain architectures.

Why are Solana's low fees considered sustainable?

Solana's low fees are considered sustainable because they result from the platform's efficient architecture, particularly its handling of signature verification. Unlike some blockchains that artificially lower fees as a temporary measure, Solana's fee structure is built on its fundamental design, allowing for consistently low fees even as the network scales.

How did the Solflare team verify Solana's performance claims?

The Solflare team ran and compared benchmarks across various blockchains, including Solana. They found that Solana's benchmarks were accurate and achievable in real-world scenarios, unlike some other platforms that presented unrealistic or misleading performance metrics.

What role did the Solana community play in attracting developers like the Solflare team?

The Solana community, particularly the founding team, demonstrated high responsiveness and willingness to collaborate with developers. This open and supportive ecosystem was a key factor in attracting developers like the Solflare team, as it fostered an environment of continuous improvement and innovation.

How does Solana's use of Rust for smart contracts benefit developers?

Solana's implementation of the Rust programming language for smart contracts (called "programs" in Solana) combines Rust's safety features with Solana's performance optimizations. This creates a powerful environment for developing robust and efficient blockchain applications, appealing to developers with experience in systems programming.

What challenges did the Solflare team face in building a wallet on Solana?

While specific challenges weren't detailed in the transcript, building a wallet on a new blockchain typically involves adapting to unique account models, transaction structures, and programming paradigms. However, these challenges were offset by the benefits of working with Solana's high-performance and developer-friendly platform.

How does Solana's validator hardware requirement compare to other blockchains?

According to Vidor, running a Solana validator might require a slightly higher initial investment in hardware, potentially a few hundred dollars more compared to some other blockchains. However, he argues that the performance gains justify this additional cost, as Solana's benchmarks significantly outperform other platforms.

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