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Why Developers Should Build on Bitcoin in 2023

Network upgrades, developer activity, and more. Let’s talk about what we’re proud of in 2022, and why developers should be as excited as we are about building in the Stacks ecosystem.

Type
Deep dive
Topic(s)
Hiro
Ecosystem
Stacks
Published
January 12, 2023
Author(s)
Team
What lies ahead in 2023
Contents

2022 was a roller coaster of a year. After Web3 set record highs in 2021, we came back down to Earth in a series of difficult headlines and falling prices as speculators and hobbyists exit the ecosystem. A new bear market arrived.

But as we like to say at Hiro, “bear markets are for builders.” The noise and froth are gone; it’s a time of heads down focus to ship products that deliver value. Alongside everyone in the Stacks ecosystem, we are heads down and focused on shipping code that delivers value to developers and to users all over the world.

Bear markets are for builders.

We’re incredibly excited about 2023 and everything in store for Hiro. Here’s why developers should be excited about building applications for Bitcoin in the new year.

Developers Are Heads Down Building

Despite entering a bear market last year, the Stacks developer community remains strong, and they are heads down building. We survey our developer community twice a year, and in our most recent survey conducted in Q3, 55% of developers said that the bear market increased their desire to work in Web3, and they remain satisfied with developer tooling in the Stacks ecosystem.

Importantly, while you may think bear markets are quiet and less active than their bull counterparts, the Stacks ecosystem is teeming with activity. In Q3, smart contracts deployments increased by 60% compared to Q2, a sign that developers are more active than ever.

Tooling Is Getting More Sophisticated

We are committed to providing a best-in-class experience to developers building Bitcoin applications, and last year we shipped a number of product updates to improve the experience of building on Stacks, alongside getting all Hiro products ready for the Stacks 2.1 network upgrade (more on that below). Some of those improvements to tooling include:

  • Clarinet: last year we shipped Clarinet 1.0, a local development environment that offers a number of features, including ways to debug your code, chainhooks to monitor activity on the Bitcoin blockchain, and much more.
  • Stacks API: While maintaining the API at 99.99% availability over the course of 2022, we also made numerous optimizations to dramatically reduce the time needed for event replay and API deployments while adding new endpoints and data support along the way.
  • Stacks.js: We reduced bundle sizes and made the library much lighter (some packages are up to 80% smaller), and we added new starter templates to help bootstrap developer projects.
  • Hiro Wallet: We added new fiat onramps (including Coinbase, Moonpay and Transak), Ledger support for the wallet extension, and arbitrary message signing, giving users more optionality in how they set up their wallet and enabling new use cases with the Hiro wallet.
  • Stacks Explorer: We made the explorer a more reliable tool for the community, releasing performance optimizations throughout the year, while adding new data, including a block visualizer, token images, and more.

With these products, developers can confidently build and ship Bitcoin apps, and we have many more exciting updates in store in 2023. To achieve our goals, we doubled the Hiro team in 2022, and we are still growing the team! Come join us and empower developers.

Stacks 2.1 Is Coming

In December, the community voted in favor of Stacks 2.1, and the changes of this upgrade will go live in the coming weeks. 2.1 will enable developers to build new and better applications through upcoming changes, including (but not limited to) new Clarity functions that tighten Stacks’ integration with Bitcoin, decentralized mining pools, better bridges, stacking improvements and more.

Speaking of developers building in a bear, this work took 121,928 lines of code changes, and the changes will bring many quality of life improvements for developers looking to build on Stacks.

Subnets Arrive in 2023

Stacks 2.1 isn’t the only big change coming to Stacks this year. Hiro is also gearing up to ship subnets to mainnet. Subnets are a scalability solution for Stacks that will offer a high throughput, low latency solution, so developers can provide a fast and reliable experience for their users.

In 2022, we launched subnets on testnet and conducted an NFT test case. We are in the final push of testing and integration before a formal launch. Subnets will help bring scalability to the Stacks network and also provide a way for developers to experiment with EVM-compatibility and ZK-rollups without requiring consensus-level protocol changes to Stacks.

More Big Network Unlocks on the Horizon

Looking beyond Stacks 2.1 and subnets, the Stacks community is already working on what comes next. In December, a public Stacks working group published a new white paper on sBTC, a proposed network upgrade that solves the Bitcoin write problem. sBTC solves the problem of writing to Bitcoin in a decentralized manner, enabling easy movement of Bitcoin in and out of Bitcoin layers. This unlocks hundreds of billions of dollars of latent capital into Web3 apps.

This is a proposal, and a lot of work (and community approval) need to happen in order to make this a reality, but many developers will be focusing on this in the coming weeks, and it will provide another major value unlock for the Stacks ecosystem in 2023 as Bitcoin capital becomes easier to integrate into Web3 apps than ever before.

Ready to Build on Bitcoin in 2023?

We’re incredibly excited by the great progress the ecosystem as a whole has made in the last year. We believe we’re poised to take market share in this bear market, and we want you to be a part of it. Are you ready to build on the largest and fastest-growing Web3 project on Bitcoin?

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