Which Blockchain Is Best for You?
Tech Deep Dives

Which Blockchain Is Best for You?

7mo ago
5m

Opinion: A pragmatic guide from Covalent to choose which chain is best for your project.

Which Blockchain Is Best for You?

Table of Contents

As the multi-chain future becomes a reality, developers now have the task of deciding which blockchain to build their project on — with the growing number of blockchains, the amount of factors to consider when picking one grows right along with it.

Criteria for Choosing the Right Blockchain:

  1. General: What is interesting, new, different? 
  2. Ecosystem: Who else is there, and who else is coming, and what initiatives are being taken to increase adoption of the chain, and grow dapps?
  3. Technical: How much heavy lifting will need to be done, and what type of knowledge base is required to launch something based on the current skill set of the team?
  4. Support: What type of support is available, and what does it look like from a technical and non-technical perspective?
  5. Grants: Is there funding available to allow us to cover the costs to enter these ecosystems?

Each blockchain option is outlined below along with a number of considerations taken. This list does not encompass every chain available, but at the time of this piece being published, these are the ones researched. 

The pros and cons are written from the point of view of Covalent in their development journey, but can apply to any developer interested in learning more about the blockchain options out there.

Solana

Block times on Solana are nearly instantaneous, so anyone looking for speed will build on Solana. Solana’s novel architecture is driving adoption from various projects from other chains to the ecosystem. 

Pros

  • Live and developing DApps
  • Lightning fast chain
  • Building an ETH bridge
  • Very generous grants program
  • Great list of projects migrating (KIN, AUDIUS, etc..)

Cons

  • Steep learning curve for developers used to Ethereum
  • Because of fast block times, it can be very difficult to index

Near

Near has a sharding architecture which is still in the works, which makes the blockchain almost infinitely scalable. The team has a similar hacker culture that feels like it has been ported over from Ethereum.

Pros

  • Very responsive team
  • Has a bridge to ETH
  • Grants program
  • Feels like an extension to ETH in terms of culture

Cons

  • Not enough DApps for us to index 
  • Time-intensive to learn the specifics of the WASM-based chain (anything that is not Ethereum-based)

Polkadot

Polkadot feels like the 500-pound gorilla that has come out of nowhere (for those not in crypto). The Polkadot network is live, with the planned launch of parachains not too far in the future. There is a very large community, but because of the scope of Polkadot, it feels infinitely more complex, which makes the ecosystem difficult to navigate. 

Pros

  • Excellent community
  • Lots of traction in the ecosystem
  • Multiple projects launching
  • Grants programs
  • Business mentorship programs
  • Many parachains building their own respective projects
  • Other EVM parachains building on Polkadot

Cons

  • Time- and resource-intensive to build a parachain
  • Many teams are not familiar with Substrate

Cosmos

Cosmos is similar to Polkadot in a lot of ways, but it has been in the public market longer. Cosmos has a longer track record of shipping great products, but has a lot of fundamental overlap with Polkadot. 

The documentation at Cosmos is excellent. They are not the loudest blockchain in the ecosystem, but they are constantly delivering and launching new projects such as Terra, Band, Kava and many more.

Pros

  • Very active ecosystem with many notable large projects in market
  • Battle-tested by a team through the bear market
  • Trusted by large infrastructure projects

Cons

  • Each blockchain using the Cosmos SDK is its own entity, and it is difficult to work with from a cross chain perspective
  • Not everyone needs their own blockchain, and setting one up feels like a lot of work
  • Each product is really its own chain, so having a multi-chain approach is more difficult here

Algorand

If most central bank digital currencies exist in the future on Algorand, it would not be surprising. The chain is fast, the documentation is superb. You can tell there is an enterprise focus. 

Pros

  • Clean documentation
  • Very professional
  • Responsive
  • Everything is very intentional
  • Lightning fast chain
  • Feels very enterprise

Cons

  • Does not serve much of a multi-chain community
  • Very focused on large scale infrastructure (or appears to be)
  • No visible bridge to ETH
  • Each product is really its own chain, so having a multi-chain approach is more difficult here

Elrond

Elrond has made a decision to go on their own and play by their own rules. Instead of just building a blockchain, they have built the premier DApps that will exist on it as well.

Their blockchain is lightning fast, and is well suited for DApps, but there is currently no plan to go multi-chain. 

Pros

  • Very fast
  • Clean documentation
  • Accessible and open
  • Grants
  • Has trust by major global brands (Samsung & more)

Cons

  • No intention to build an ETH bridge
  • Not enough DApps live in ecosystem today

Avalanche

Avalanche has three chains, one of which is EVM-based. This was a big deal, because it means less work for those familiar with the Ethereum tool kit.  

Pros

  • Has an EVM chain
  • Great community
  • Feels professional, but start-up focused
  • Good team
  • Sterling reputation
  • Fast & scalable

Cons

  • Not enough projects to index at the time

Points to Consider Where Choosing to Build:

Does your project require any of the following:

  • Decentralized exchange (DEX)
  • Stablecoins
  • Oracle
  • Lightning-fast settlements
  • Complex smart contracts
  • Is your project geo-centric to a specific location?
  • Are there multiple-potential customers or users in that potential ecosystem which could be opened up?
  • Are your customers retail or enterprise focused?
  • Are your customers already in the crypto space?

Covalent needed:

  • Low gas fees
  • Something that runs on an EVM
  • Multitude of live DAPPS, wallets, and network activity

Conclusion:

As we enter a new era of the internet, we believe in a multi-chain future at Covalent. There is room to grow, and we know that there is more than enough room at the table for all parties. 

There are already a plethora of fantastic blockchain protocols, each catering to different needs. I urge each team to do their own due diligence, get to know other teams and gain a comprehensive understanding of which blockchain is best suited for their project.

One way to ensure that there is no single-point of failure in your data in the future is to migrate to a globally distributed data store, using crypto-primitives to keep the network running.

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