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How to Develop NFT on Solana?

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Yuri Musienko
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You probably know that most NFT projects are built on the Ethereum network. And while the Ethereum chain remains the most popular solution for minting and buying and selling NFTs, many market participants are looking for a replacement due to the general congestion of the network and the rapid growth of gas prices. Solana (SOL) is one of the possible and very interesting alternatives, the cost of which has grown from $ 1.60 to $ 225 since the beginning of the year and continues to grow rapidly.

Like Ethereum, the Solana blockchain is designed to create smart contracts and decentralized applications, including launching various NFT projects - from art collections to marketplaces for minting and selling various non-fungible tokens. This article will focus on just such projects - we will tell you how to develop your own NFT solution based on Solana, and why you should choose this particular blockchain, and not Ethereum or another blockchain.

Solana Blockchain Review

Founded by former Qualcomm, Intel and Dropbox engineers in late 2017, Solana is an open, decentralized blockchain network focused on providing scalability without compromising transaction costs, decentralization, and security. Basically, it is a faster, safer and more censorship-resistant counterpart to Ethereum, providing the open infrastructure needed for global blockchain adoption.

Solana is powered by an improved Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. The main feature of Solana PoS is the Proof-of-History (PoH) protocol, which allows each node to generate timestamps locally with SHA256 computations. This eliminates the need to broadcast timestamps over the network, increasing the overall efficiency of the Solana network, which allows for very high speed and scalability of the blockchain.

The project has its own coin - SOL. As with the Ethereum network, SOL can be used to initiate smart contracts and decentralized applications, and pay network fees. At the time of launch, in the spring of 2020, SOL was sold for $ 0.60, now its price exceeds $ 225 (that is, the rate has grown 375 times in a year and a half).

Graph of course-changing of Solana (SOL) in comparison with BTC and ETH

Graph of course-changing of Solana (SOL) in comparison with BTC and ETH. Source: TradingView

7 benefits of Solana for NFT

The explosive growth of the SOL rate, which we have not seen on the market since 2014-2018, is explained by the advantages of Solana in comparison with its main competitors - Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain, including for launching NFT solutions. What's more, in just a year since launch, Solana has become the second most popular NFT launch space after Ethereum, with multiple projects launched every day.

It is considered by many to be a true “Ethereum killer” as the  Solana network can process up to 65,000 transactions per second for as little as  $ 0.00025 per transaction. Moreover, in the future, the Solana development team promises to achieve a throughput of 700,000 transactions per second. By comparison, the Ethereum network is capable of processing an average of 16.5 transactions per second, while the average transaction fee is $ 46 (December 2, 2021). That is, the Solana network is almost 4,000 times faster and 185,000 times cheaper than Ethereum.

When it comes to NFT processing, the difference becomes even more significant. Minting and sending non-fungible tokens on Ethereum requires more computing resources than sending regular ETH and ERC-20 tokens, because NFT processing requires interacting with a custom smart contract. Consequently, gas charges will be even higher— sometimes over $ 100, which can be more expensive than the NFT asset itself. Whereas the minting of NFT on Solana is only 0.00001 SOL, or $ 0.015.

The speed and cost of processing non-fungible tokens are not the only advantages of the new blockchain. Here are some other benefits you can look forward to if you decide to develop your NFT solution based on Solana.

1.  Solana is easier to program

Ethereum is based on the Solidity programming language, which was specially designed to work with smart contracts. It is an object-and-domain-oriented JavaScript-like language that only appeared in 2014, which is why it suffers from "youth problems". Solana is powered by Rust, one of the most popular programming languages. Rust can be used to build a wide variety of applications, such as new blockchains, marketplaces or games, and is easy to use and more familiar than Solidity. This makes the Solana blockchain more accessible to deploy applications than Ethereum, which, together with low fees, has led to the exponential growth of the Solana ecosystem.

We will also note that Rust has one of the most active developer communities behind it. For example, Github has over 24,000 users who have made edits to Rust, while Solidity, the Ethereum programming language, has only 3,500 users. Obviously, in the case of the Solidity language, we are talking about users whose activities are directly related to Ethereum, while Rust is used in a huge variety of projects besides Solana. However, the fact remains that it will be much easier for you to find a good developer to run an NFT solution on Solana than on Ethereum. And the cost of their work is likely to be lower.

But that's not all. It is not necessary to use Rust to develop smart contracts, applications and NFT solutions on Solana. The Solana team has created a dedicated LLVM protocol for compiling smart contracts and Dapps written in other languages for WASM compilers. With LLVM, developers can easily and quickly migrate their Dapps from other popular WASM networks like Dfinity, EOS, Polkadot and Ethereum 2.0 to the Solana ecosystem.

2. Solana has no problem with mempool

Mempool is a waiting area where all valid transactions await confirmation by the network. One of the main advantages of Solana over Ethereum and many other blockchains is that the new blockchain does not have a waiting period for processing a transaction and adding this transaction to the blockchain. Essentially, Solana doesn't have a mempool - all transactions are confirmed almost instantly within 400ms. Whereas in Ethereum, it takes up to four minutes to confirm a transaction, if not more - when the load rises, transactions get stuck in the mempool.

3. The Solana ecosystem is expanding much faster

While Ethereum still hosts the most of smart contracts, decentralized apps, and NFT solutions, they face many challenges related to price, speed, and scalability. There are no such problems in the Solana blockchain, due to which the number of smart contracts, Dapps and NFTs on this network is growing exponentially. Apart from this, Solana can also support more coins than Ethereum. Thanks to these things, the Solana network is increasingly being chosen for launching blockchain startups and NFT projects.

4. Solana is more sustainable and uses fewer resources

All blockchains have the same task - data exchange. Imagine a blockchain with 100,000 active members. When a new block is mined in such a network, this information must be independently transmitted to all computers almost 100,000 times. If the blockchain is "slow", it has bandwidth problems, which slows down the ecosystem.

Solana solves this problem with the Turbine protocol, which splits each block into different packets, transfers each packet to a group of computers, which then transfers the data to another group, which in turn transfers it to another group, etc. In this way, Turbine reduces bandwidth usage, minimizes processing time and makes the network more resilient to failures.

5. Solana is a greener ecosystem

The main Ethereum network still uses the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm for block mining, which requires high computing power, which is why maintaining the network leads to high electricity consumption - Ethereum already consumes more electricity than Belgium or Israel. Thus, Ethereum contributes to the increase in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and, therefore, to the intensification of global warming.

The Solana blockchain uses an improved Proof of Stake (PoS) algorithm that is 99.9% more energy efficient than PoW. This means Solana is simply better for the environment, making it more attractive to run NFT.

6. Higher capacity

We already wrote above that Solana greatly outperforms Ethereum in the number of transactions per second (TPS). So, processing one transaction (block mining) in the Ethereum network takes from 10 to 15 seconds, and the network as a whole can only process from 15 to 45 transactions per second. In contrast, Solana only takes 400 milliseconds to mine a block, and can process up to 65,000 transactions per second.

It is worth noting, however, that Ethereum will upgrade to Ethereum 2.0 in 2022 and the network is expected to have a capacity of up to 100,000 transactions per second thereafter. Solana says that by this time, their network capacity will also increase, and the speed advantage will remain with their project.

7. Transaction processing cost (commissions)

Ethereum fees are also likely to change after blockchain transitions to PoS in 2022. However, even then, the transaction costs on the Ethereum network are likely to be higher than on Solana. This is because Solana uses PoH and Turbine protocols to speed up data processing. In addition, Solana also works differently with smart contracts, and this also reduces the load on the network, and therefore the cost of transactions. This is especially important when launching NFTs, since the system always turns to smart contracts to process them.

Features of Solana smart contracts

To enable smart contract and application developers to take full advantage of Solana's high-performance network, the project team created a hyper-parallel transaction processing engine called Sealevel. It is designed to scale horizontally between GPUs and SSDs. Please note that the rest of the blockchains are single-threaded systems. Solana is the only blockchain currently working (not an idea) that supports parallel execution of transactions (not just signature verification) in one segment.

A high-level view of the Solana development workflo

A high-level view of the Solana development workflow. Source.

In terms of Solana's smart contract architecture, Sealevel offers a smart contract model different from traditional EVM blockchains. In traditional networks, code / logic and contract state are combined into one contract deployed in a chain. In Solana, a smart contract ( or program) is read-only, stateless, and contains only programmatic logic. After deploying such a smart contract, it can interact with external accounts.

In Solana, accounts that interact with programs store data related to interaction with programs, which creates a logical separation of state (accounts) and contract logic (programs). This is the fundamental difference between Solana and EVM smart contracts. That is, we can say that accounts on Ethereum are not the same as accounts on Solana. So, in Solana, accounts can store data (including information about wallets), as opposed to Ethereum accounts, which are links to wallets.

In addition to this, Solana offers CLI (Command-line Interface) and JSON RPC APIs, that Dapps can use to interact with Solana. In addition, they can also use one of the existing SDK, to enable customers to communicate with blockchain and Solana programs. Here’s more about it.

Here are some of the benefits of developing smart contracts with Solana.

  • Launching smart contracts and Dapps on Solana is cheaper.
  • Developers can easily port their smart contracts and Dapps created for other WASM networks to Solana using the compiler.
  • Developers can tailor their products to specific requirements.
  • The code of Solana smart contracts can be changed by software developers / owners in accordance with the necessary requirements.
  • A large number of training materials.
  • Solana provides high security.

How to run an NFT project on Solana?

If you are thinking of launching your own NFT platform, wallet or other project, Solana can be a great environment to deploy your product thanks to its low fees and high transaction speed. In addition, it will also be easier from a technical point of view, since developers will be able to use Rust, C, C ++ or another programming language, not just Solidity. At the same time, the process of developing an NFT solution itself will follow the usual algorithm.
  1. Analysis and drafting of requirements. At this stage, you need to clearly understand what kind of product you want to create, as well as draw up requirements for design, functionality and external integrations. In addition, you also need to think about the legal aspects. Different jurisdictions have different rules for launching NFT projects.
  2. Hunt for a development company. Once you understand what you want to create, you can start looking for a technical partner who will implement your idea in code. Since you want to create an NFT product, you need a team with blockchain, DeFi or NFT development experience like Merehead. Since 2015, we have been developing blockchain solutions of any complexity - from smart contracts to exchanges. You can study our portfolio and find out the terms of cooperation by contacting us through sales@merehead.com or by phone number +1 206-785-16-88.
  3. Development of UI- / UX-product design. A well-designed UX and UI is the key to the success of any project, especially if it is aimed at users who have little understanding of what they need to do. And since NFT is a very recent market, almost everyone is new to this market. Hence, your NFT solution should have a simple and intuitive interface design.
  4. Writing program code. At this stage, the code of smart contracts is written, wallets with NFT support are connected, the Back-end and Front-end parts are implemented in the code, etc. If necessary, a mobile version of the product and various related solutions are also developed, for example, extensions for browsers or API and SDK to easily run projects on your platform.
  5. Product testing. Make sure everything is working properly. Fix bugs and glitches. Test smart contracts with independent auditors. Prepare a beta version of your product. With its help, it is possible to collect high-quality feedback with a small sample of end users.
  6. Deployment, release. Once a product is designed and tested, it is moved from working environment to processing environment. The mobile application is published in the App Store, Google Play, Microsoft Store, Amazon App Store. If the project has its own token, it is added to the listings of major exchanges.
  7. Product support. The work on the project does not stop with the release. After deployment, you will need to establish the work of a support service that will help users and solve their problems, and at the same time collect feedback to further improve of your product.

Cost of running NFT on Solana

The cost of developing NFT projects on Solana depends on their complexity and the location of the development team. For example, launching an NFT wallet will cost from $ 25,000 (Eastern Europe) to $ 70,000 (US), while creating an NFT marketplace will cost from $ 35,000 to $ 100,000. Here are more detailed calculations of the cost of running an NFT platform on Solana.

Cost of running NFT on Solana

Conclusion

Solana is one of the most modern blockchains. The developers of this project managed to create a high-performance network with very low cost of commissions without compromising the security of the platform. And if you want to develop your own NFT solution, then feel free to choose this blockchain - the future belongs to it!


How to Develop NFT on Solana? key takeaways:
  1. Solana Blockchain Review
  2. 7 benefits of Solana for NFT
  3. 1.  Solana is easier to program
  4. 2. Solana has no problem with mempool
  5. 3. The Solana ecosystem is expanding much faster
  6. 4. Solana is more sustainable and uses fewer resources
  7. 5. Solana is a greener ecosystem
  8. 6. Higher capacity
  9. 7. Transaction processing cost (commissions)
  10. Features of Solana smart contracts
  11. How to run an NFT project on Solana?
  12. Cost of running NFT on Solana
  13. Conclusion
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