DappStarter Entity Collection: Interview with TryCrypto Web Developer Traci Fong

May 19, 2020

Traci Fong is a web developer at TryCrypto. Traci’s latest project has been working on DappStarter, a custom code generator for decentralized applications. DappStarter “blocks” provide features and functionality that developers can use to build blockchain apps. Traci is also the creator of the newest block, Entity Collection, which allows developers to manage a collection of entities within a smart contract. Traci sat down to talk about this newest release, getting into blockchain development, and advice for web developers just getting started with blockchain app development.

Alright so let’s kick things off by first talking about what you’ve been working on. Can you tell me a bit about the Entity Collection block and what it does?

The Entity Collection block is a great one to look at if you’re looking for a simple example of what you can do with blockchain development. It allows you to add, update, and retrieve data; some of the basic methods you would come across if you were working with a REST API. We wanted to keep everything simple and the naming conventions generic, so that people can easily use this as a starting point for more complex blocks.

What type of use cases could you see this being helpful for?

The uses of a block like this are virtually endless. The functions of adding, updating and retrieving information are pretty much the basis of building any application. In the Entity Collection block, these functions are executed as the user fills out a form with text and a number, but you could take that one step further and add an image field and you’d have an application that can store images with a caption and numeric date. 

Can you walk me through the architecture of the Entity Collection block?

The Entity Collection block provides a simple interface that allows you to add an entity of data with a title, numeric value, and unique id to the blockchain. You can then update the title and numeric value of the entities by their ids. You can also retrieve entities by id, page, or according to which account is their creator. Each of these capabilities are separated by actions cards, and these action cards are connected to a function that calls the blockchain.

So Traci this was really your first time exploring more of the back-end and writing code for the back-end of a blockchain application. How’d that go? What was your process? Were there any unexpected moments or realizations?

Overall, I felt that it was a really great learning experience. I’ve always wanted to get into back-end development so getting that opportunity in an emerging industry like blockchain was really exciting. Like many people, I went into this project thinking that I was going to have to start from scratch in order to successfully step into blockchain development and that learning a new programming language would take a long time, but using DaapStarter really made it easy. DaapStarter allows you to see the basic structure of blockchain calls and how they’re connected to the front end. Whenever I would hit a roadblock, I would look at the other example blocks that are available out of the box and try to see how it was done there so I could apply that technique to my own. At the end of it all, I realized that the core concepts of blockchain development are similar to web development, it was just a matter of getting used to a new language and its syntax.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give a web developer who is getting into blockchain development?

Don’t get overwhelmed, take your time, and look at examples. It is also helpful to be familiar with the smart contract language that you will be working with, for me it was Solidity.

Amazing. Thank you so much Traci for taking the time, we’re really looking forward to seeing how people use the Entity Collection block.

Start building with the Entity Collection block in the newest release of DappStarter, available here.

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