Solana blockchain has been operating since March 2020 and despite being pretty young it already has a considerable ecosystem where DeFi and NFT markets shine. One of the main features the team highlights is high network throughput, fast transactions confirmation and very low fees, that would enable processing many more transactions per second than Bitcoin, Ethereum and many other blockchains. Solana block times are measured in a few hundred milliseconds instead of minutes.
Solana offers the ability to run Smart Contracts using C, C++ and Rust, which are more likely to be well known by developers than Ethereum’s more specific languages, but Solana is not EVM compatible, meaning smart contracts will not be easily reutilized. Consensus in Solana is achieved through Proof of Stake (PoS) based validators, which risk staked funds if they act maliciously.
Solana addresses look different, these do not start with a 0x as your Ethereum, Polygon, BSC address do.
⚠️ Solana addresses are case sensitive, always copy and paste your address from your wallet. Do not manually type it into other places as changing one single letter from uppercase to lowercase or viceversa means you will lose funds sent to that modified address.
Another difference users might encounter while using Solana compared to Ethereum based chains is that NFTs are not identified by a contract hash and a token ID, every non fungible token in Solana has its own address, it being unique for each NFT. Also, tokens are held by Associated Token Addresses which are unique to the owner (main) address and that specific token (mint), despite this difference all a user needs to provide to receive any Solana token is the main address, the sending party will automatically calculate what is the ATA associated to that token and address, and if it doesn’t exist yet it can be automatically created.
A way to earn crypto in Solana is by staking SOL with a validator, which gives more voting power to it in the network and in return you can get a percentage of the reward depending on your stake. Unlike staking in a dApp, this allows you to be safe since funds can easily be returned since the smart contract is designed to never lose total property over your funds, but having them “frozen” for the validator until you unstake it.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Solana projects out there:
- Raydium: this platform allows users to provide liquidity, trade, finance new projects and execute swaps. Fees are pretty low and currently there are several stablecoins available, like Solana’s USDT and USDC. https://raydium.io/
- Serum: this project was born inside FTX, one of the main cryptocurrency exchanges, and is also supported by Binance and other companies. It leverages Solana speed, smart contracts and low fee transactions to provide a orderbook based, non-custodial protocol where users can create their own Decentralized Exchange or participate in the orders. Raydium is built using Serum protocol. https://projectserum.com/
- MagicEden: definitely the most popular Solana NFT marketplace, providing a platform that allows users to list, buy and browse unique creations. https://magiceden.io/
- Solanart: this is the second most popular Solana NFT market, allowing users to discover, list and buy NFTs. https://solanart.io/
- Orca: this exchange is one of the most popular Solana projects, allows earnings by providing liquidity and has a pretty easy to use interface. https://orca.so/
- Solana Name Service (SNS): users can associate a domain name with an address, similar to DNS where a domain name can be used to determine an IP address. You could register for instance: alice.sol and when a transaction references that domain name it will be sent to its respective Solana Address. A service that allows this is provided by Bonfida https://bonfida.org/
- Star Atlas video game: if you are into gaming this is definitely one of the biggest projects and you may want to take a look at it. Star Atlas uses Solana Blockchain as a platform to allow the existence of its main currencies: ATLAS and POLIS, aiming to create a metaverse with its own economy.
When it is time to get our hands dirty with a blockchain one of the first things we need to consider is how to browse, validate, query and audit the contents of it. Solana’s most notable blockchain explorers are:
- Solscan: user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, no doubt one of the most popular options out there. https://solscan.io
- Solana Beach: this one is specially useful to understand stakings and information about Solana as a blockchain, e.g. how many validators are there, geographic distribution, etc.
- Explorer.Solana.com: despite using Solana’s official domain and looking like the default tool, can be harder to use for a new user. https://explorer.solana.com
- Step Finance: this is a pretty good tool to display your assets in an easy to navigate interface that resembles a wallet, and in their website there are other services apart from this functionality. https://app.step.finance