February 26, 2020Blockchain Development

Joe Lubin Answers the Question, “Who Is an Ethereum Developer?”

How the Ethereum ecosystem can think bigger about who’s building Web3 and reach one million devs.
by Joseph Lubin

At the ETHDenver hackathon and community event last week, I shared with the hackers a question we’ve been thinking about since Devcon V, where I challenged our ecosystem to grow to one million developers building on Ethereum: who is an Ethereum developer? 

About a third of the attendees in Denver were new to blockchain, so my ConsenSys colleagues and I wanted to make them feel welcome, share knowledge, and show a clear path into our community. At ConsenSys we have lots of Ethereum or Web3 developers. And recently––in the context of driving towards one million Ethereum devs––we’ve been trying to come up with a definition of exactly what an Ethereum developer is.

A Python developer uses the Python programming language and tool chain most of the time to develop what she wants for platforms that are relevant to her application domain. She might also call herself an AI developer if that is her problem domain.

And of course a Python developer might be an Ethereum developer, as there is an Ethereum client—Trinity—developed in Python and maintained by Denver’s own Piper Merriam of the Ethereum Foundation.  But as brilliant as Piper is, he is not the most famous Python Ethereum developer. Vitalik Buterin has been building Cryptography, Bitcoin and Ethereum libraries for years in Python. This was his research workbench. And of course he played a large role in developing the first Python Ethereum client.  

Ethereum’s superpower is its developer and evangelist community––the largest, most vibrant and probably most friendly in the blockchain space. Many of us have chosen to spend our careers, our nights and weekends, building with decentralized protocol technologies because we believe we are paving the next steps toward a better web, a more economically and politically empowered global citizenry, and a healthier means to collaborate on a new trust foundation. That long term goal and vision very much begins at events like ETHDenver, with a bunch of coders figuring out how to solve problems. An ecosystem grows in the same way a decentralized network does: node by node, peer by peer, connection by connection, friend by friend.

But what does it actually mean to have a million people working on the Ethereum platform? It’s not just about funded projects and full time blockchain engineers: hackers, students, Web2 developers integrating elements of Ethereum into their existing work are also Ethereum devs. The more inclusive, frictionless blockchain-based systems we are all trying to build will be emergent. They will take shape incrementally, via bridges between legacy systems and new pathways, via small experiments and inspired hacks.

So, perhaps we should think bigger about who is an Ethereum developer? 

  • It’s a Javascript dev who has a package or library for every feature except trust, which they realize is now available to them with a simple import of Web3.js or Ethers.js. 
  • It’s an iOS dev who decides to integrate a Web3 wallet into their app. 
  • It’s an Android dev who discovers MetaMask mobile and deploys a Snaps plugin that enables over a million MetaMask users to access his app from within the wallet.

  • It’s a Java dev frustrated with the institutional ossification of her industry who explores how Hyperledger Besu can enable much faster multi-party settlements.
  • It’s a .Net dev who learned how to access the Ethereum chain via Nethereum.
  • It’s a protocol dev who has an interest in the design of the Ethereum Virtual Machine or Ethereum 2.0 execution environments.
  • It’s a Drupal dev who wants to offer the latest payment methods on their shopping cart.
  • It’s a WordPress developer who uses Automattic’s NewsPack to enable publishers to maintain verifiable ownership over the content they create and get paid for their contributions.
  • It’s the Go, Rust, or Java dev who understands the importance of strengthening our private distributed systems and appreciates how building on blockchain protocols gives you so much infrastructure for free.
  • It’s an embedded dev hacking away on a Raspberry Pi who finds a Kauri tutorial on how to set up a full (yes, full, not light) Ethereum Node on the RasPi that syncs easily.
  • It’s a Cobol dev learning about the possibilities of DeFi on the mainframe. Um, never mind.
  • It’s an Hyperledger Fabric developer who’s building a Fabric-Ethereum bridge so two supply chain networks can interoperate.
  • It’s a Ripple dev plugging XRP into Ethereum’s magic internet money lego decentralized finance infrastructure.
  • It’s a finance nerd who notices the attractive interest rates available on DAI and ETH and joins the open decentralized finance, or DeFi revolution, and attends her first hackathon.
  • It’s all of us who believe Ethereum is a better way for humans to coordinate our actions and enrich, not erode, our culture by empowering people with technology

So who is an Ethereum developer? It’s you, of course.

Whatever your skill set, whatever your experience level, my ConsenSys colleagues and many other excellent teams in the Ethereum community are working to make it easy and empowering for all. From the Infura infrastructure to the MetaMask wallet, Truffle libraries to 3Box identities to uPort’s data management SDKs to our on-demand blockchain developer program, we’re here to get you started. Be one in a million.

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