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Going Beyond the Node Standard With Tenderly’s Full-Stack Infrastructure

Tenderly's full-stack infrastructure relies on network virtualization and node customization. Learn all about how we go beyond the standard node experience.

Andrej Bencic
Andrej Bencic
Apr 14, 2023 · 5 min read

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How Tenderly's Full-Stack Infrastructure Goes Beyond the Node Standard

When we started out, the blockchain was chaotic (and it still is at times, but don’t tell anyone 🤫). Its open-endedness often shaped our approach to developing new products. We focused on building flexible features you could use for anything you could think of and in any way you’d like. We didn’t want to put too many constraints on them because the space didn’t have them either.

But as Web3 continued to evolve and mature, more specific applications took shape. Best practices started to emerge, projects (including ours) became better scoped and defined, and the blockchain started to be less chaotic (at least a little bit).

Over time, we’ve had many opportunities to work with some of the most innovative teams in the space. Inspired by all the creative work unfolding before us, we wanted to meet your needs in a more precise and defined way. So, we, too, have been growing with you, dev frens.

With that in mind, our Tenderly crew has been working on a few projects over the past few months. By considering developers’ needs first, we’ve been building on top of the current node technology to offer an experience beyond the industry standard.

So, our efforts to make the blockchain even less chaotic and significantly friendlier to you resulted in a couple of cool things we call network virtualization and node customization. And we’re happy to share them with you.

The obstacles of the current node landscape

Today, a JSON-RPC node is an essential part of every developer’s tech stack and the underlying infrastructure behind every dapp. However, it still lacks the configurability and usability developers need, often forcing them to make the most of what they have.

With the continuing growth of the blockchain, several specific challenges have emerged. The (in)flexibility and performance of the standard node system leave you with:

  • The constraints of traditional testnets, including insufficient test tokens, lack of resources, and unavailability of the data and contracts you need. As a result, you’re forced to spend significant resources setting up your own development and testing environment that needs to be backed up by Mainnet data. And even then, you don’t have everything you need to test your dapps as if in production.
  • A limited set of endpoints supported by a specific node provider, forcing you to think of alternative solutions. With a limited set of APIs, you often end up creating a complex custom backend and offloading part of your dapp logic to your frontend. Of course, the complexity of such a system brings an even greater overhead because you need to maintain the system in addition to working on your dapps.
  • A network bottleneck that you end up with even when you invest significant effort and time into rolling out your own solution. Your custom system still needs to process a long list of endpoint requests, which ultimately slows it down and affects the experience of your users.

And while solutions to these problems show great creativity, we can do more to overcome the limitations hindering progress and innovation.

Going beyond the standard node experience

At Tenderly, we want to extend the possibilities of the current node infrastructure landscape. We also want to provide you with support throughout your entire Web3 development journey, where the development phase is just as important (or even more) than the production phase. So, we’ve been building on top of the standard node infrastructure, extending it to cover each stage of development and customizing it to meet the unique needs of your projects.

As a result, we’re able to offer a full-stack infrastructure that builds upon the existing solution. Our infrastructure takes the advantages of the Mainnet, testnets, and local nodes, combining them into a single, unified experience. As a step beyond the traditional node, our full-stack infrastructure facilitates dapp development both on-chain and during development, backed by customization possibilities.

To help unify and customize your developer journey, we’ve been working on a way to bring what we call network virtualization and node customization to all developers. These two cool aspects of our production node are available through Developer Networks (DevNets) and Node Extensions.

Let’s take this online: network virtualization

We’ve been tinkering with different ways to combine the data and availability of the Mainnet, the forgiving environments of testnets, and the flexibility and control of local development. In our attempt to find the right answer, we took our simulation and forking technology and layered it on top of the traditional node experience. What we ended up with is a way to provide zero-cost network virtualization on top of our Web3 Gateway node, giving us the ability to spawn a seemingly unlimited number of forks on top of any existing network.

We created a development solution that allows you to spin up your own private networks with agility, speed, and fast time to value. This way, you can work on your dapp in an isolated environment against production data and with freedom to make mistakes. And network virtualization is the underlying technology that brings together the best of the Mainnet, testnets, and local nodes.

Our idea behind this is to elevate, enrich, and improve the experience you currently have during local development. We want to provide you with a clear development path, supported by essential tools and guided by the best industry practices. And by opening a new segment of development, we’re able to offer a full-stack infrastructure.

What does this look like in practice? Enter DevNets. 😎 Developer Networks are a managed, zero-setup dev environment based on real-time production data. With this solution, you can test safely against the most recent on-chain data, forget about faucets and Goerli constraints, and still get the connectivity and flexibility of local development.

Tenderly Developer Networks (DevNets)
Tenderly Developer Networks (DevNets)

What’s better than a node? A fully customizable node

So yes, the blockchain industry is growing rapidly, which means more advanced dapps, more defined projects, and greater diversity. Yet all of these diverse dapps still rely on the standard node experience and the limiting JSON-RPC interface. So, how does this scale for each of them? It doesn’t really.

Web3 developers are forced to use general-purpose nodes and then work around their limitations, such as offloading computations to dapp frontends and creating complex and brittle custom backends. As a result, new problems arise: poor user experience, degrading dapp performance, and, in some rare cases, even catastrophic dapp failure.

These challenges have driven us to make our production node fully customizable and adjustable to each dapp. And our way of doing so is through Node Extensions, a highly performant, scalable node solution that you can customize to fit your dapps perfectly. By deploying custom code directly within our production node, you combine our fully integrated, highly performant environment, with all the benefits of writing complex, custom dapp endpoints yourself.

Yes, this means that you can completely customize how you interact with the blockchain through the Tenderly node. In fact, you can make the JSON-RPC interface fit your dapp, not the other way around. Plus, you can support your dapp development with ready-made extensions that amazing devs shared with the community to contribute to its growth.

Tenderly Node Extensions
Tenderly Node Extensions

Let’s build the future of Web3 together

Looking back, it’s really amazing to see how far the entire community has come. We’ve all been working hard, inspired by the innovations and potentials of the Web3 space.

And as you, dear dev frens, continue to build powerful solutions for industry problems, you also inspire us to create solutions designed to facilitate your journey. The best of all? We’re yet to uncover new opportunities for making the Web3 future our reality.

So, are you wondering where to start building that future? Start by experimenting with our brand-new DevNets or customizing your own node extension. We’re in this together, so let’s make it happen!