Ethereum Remains A No-Brainer for Developers While Small Chains Are Riding High

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Ethereum Remains A No-Brainer for Developers While Small Chains Are Riding High

Ethereum stands its ground as the dominant platform for Web3 development, with more than 70% of new contract codes first deployed on the network, according to the latest report by Electric Capital.

The Ethereum chain rallies the position amidst a total decrease of Web3 developers and a striking abundance of L1 and L2 projects being released in the past few years. 

Context:

The 2023 Crypto Developer Report by Electric Capital reveals that most of the smart contract code launched on the Ethereum network is unique, while 71% of contracts are first deployed on Ethereum, making it the top blockchain choice for developers. 

Ethereum dominance in the industry is also signaled by the number of developers using it, as the chain’s monthly active developers count up to over 7,600 as of December 2023.

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Ethereum Remains A No-Brainer for Developers While Small Chains Are Riding High

Ethereum monthly active developers graph since 2016. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Eclectic Capital

Meanwhile, the number of multi-chain developers expanded in 2023. Based on the report, multi-chain developers grew from 3% in 2015 to 34% in 2023, indicating a growth of over 10x in eight years. 

Regardless, the total quantity of Ethereum developers in Q4 of 2023 decreased by 33%. The same tendency applies to the Bitcoin Network, the development score of which signaled a 17% diminish.

At the same time, the performance of Bitcoin has been boosted due to Ordinals as over 40% of open-source specialists were focused on the chain’s L2 scaling solutions in 2023.

Ethereum Remains A No-Brainer for Developers While Small Chains Are Riding High

Bitcoin Network transaction volume for January 2023 – January 2024: Ordinals vs Non-Ordinals. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital

Layer Two Solutions Trending, Small Chains Gain Performance in 2023

While Ethereum keeps its leading position as a single development chain, the focus of developers switched to smaller L2 blockchains. Thus, over 9,300 monthly active developers work on top 200 ecosystems outside of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Layer Two Solutions Trending, Small Chains Gain Performance in 2023

Monthly active developers in top ecosystems (excluding Bitcoin and Ethereum) vs other ecosystems. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital

Notably, the large networks (2000-5000 developers) have faded against small chains. To compare, BNB, Polygon, NEAR, and Solana performed below the benchmark and lost 45% of developers on average.

Such mastodons as Cosmos, Arbitrum, Avalanche, Selo, Polkadot, and Optimism fell short as well. By and large, the ecosystems lost over 23% of specialists overall.

Layer Two Solutions Trending, Small Chains Gain Performance in 2023

Overall developer growth (2000-5000 developers): Q4 2023 vs Q4 2022. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital

By contrast, the local (200-500 developers) and new L2 projects set foot in the door. Among the chains that brought in the largest number of developers are:

  • Overall developer growth (2000-5000 developers): Q4 2023 vs Q4 2022. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital
  • Scroll (+453%);
  • Aztec (+221%);
  • Celestia (+180%);
  • Aleo (+167%);
  • TON (+37%);
  • ICP (+37%).
Ethereum Remains A No-Brainer for Developers While Small Chains Are Riding High

Overall developer growth (200-500 developers): Q4 2023 vs Q4 2022. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital

overall developer growth

Overall developer growth (500-2000 developers): Q4 2023 vs Q4 2022. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital

The statistic totals up that all ecosystems with over 500+ full-time developers lost the specialists in 2023, indicating the discernible popularity of small L2 solutions in favour of large chains. 

The tendency may originate from the scalability being the key development trend for 2023, as well as from the impeccable specialists’ hunting.

The case of WB Network – a native chain on top of Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus – and its granting for developers proves that smaller L1 and L2 solutions are way more favourable for specialists compared to the vast projects. 

Bringing In Wider Statistic: Web3 Development Growth for 2020-2023

Since 2020, the number of overall Ethereum and Bitcoin developers grew substantially, as it did for most ecosystems. Thus, the number of Ethereum-based specialists doubled, and other chains added +278% specialists on average for the recent three years.

Bringing In Wider Statistic: Web3 Development Growth for 2020-2023

Overall developer growth (2000+ developers): Q4 2023 vs. Q1 2020. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital

The 2023 trend, highlighting small chain superiority over top blockchains, is conversely levelled with long-term statistics. According to the on-chain development outlook, the large projects are in fact the ones with the most intensive uprising of the specialists since 2020. The top performers are:

  • Optimism (+1315%); 
  • Solana (+888%);
  • Arbitrum (+703%;
  • NEAR (+633%);
  • Avalanche (+503%);
  • Polygon (+453%);
  • BNB (+405%);
  • Celo (+394%);
  • Cosmos (+289%).
Bringing In Wider Statistic: Web3 Development Growth for 2020-2023

Overall developer growth (2000-5000 developers): Q4 2023 vs. Q1 2020. Source: 2023 Crypto Developer Report | Electric Capital

Closing remarks

Amidst the turning tides, Ethereum manages to keep its positions firm, not least due to the upcoming Dencun upgrade – a key advancement for the chain, reported to decrease the transaction fees and increase its scalability. 

The very scalability is noted as a crucial trend in Web3 development, as the boost of small and medium-sized L2 projects in performance goes in accordance with their corporate growth.

This does not change the fact that Ethereum remains the top Web3 option, with a great deal of the industry products built on top of it.

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I am a crypto-enthusiast with 5-year experience in copywriting. Worked for web3 companies and cryptocurrency exchange, which drove my keen interest towards the industry. Been writing for different publications on cryptocurrency, technology, economics and politics.