Alex Staff Agency

Blockchain & DeFi development in 2021

Research: IT and HR analytics

We looked in detail at Outlier Ventures' report, which is based on a study of the codebase in leading blockchain projects, and analyzed the trends and, conversely, the fading stars of the industry.

What should a blockchain developer study and work with in order to be up to speed today and in the near future?

Why did we choose this particular report to study? We appreciated that all of the methodology, data sources, and code used for it are open source and available in a corporate repository on GitHub. Thus, they can be checked and verified by mathematical logic.

Blockchain protocols

Last year's highlights

Among blockchain protocols, three are leading in terms of the number of commits:

  • Ethereum (42457)
  • Cardano (37327, the decline in activity during the year)
  • Bitcoin (21614)

Ethereum also leads in the number of monthly active developers. All this in general gives grounds to rank it among the most promising directions in the blockchain.

Protocols such as Polkadot, Cosmos and Avalanche are generating a lot of interest and have seen steady growth in the number of active developers and their contributions. The number of Avalanche code commits quadrupled, Polkadot doubled the number of monthly active developers, and Cosmos saw 60% more commits during the year.

Filecoin, a decentralized storage platform, was officially launched last year and immediately made it into the top 5 most actively developed projects.

Ethereum's main competitors — Tron, EOS, Komodo, Qtum — showed a decline in the main indicators of development and the number of active developers.

In corporate blockchain, Hyperledger is the most active in the development, while Corda is growing in terms of volume of operations.

In addition to the most active projects, such projects as The Graph, Dash, ZCash, Zilliqa, Tezos, Decred, Solana, Oasis and developed steadily during the year.

On the rise: technologies that are gaining traction

The Ocean Protocol (10 times the number of commits compared to the beginning of the year), Terra (5 times the number of commits), and Avalanche (4 times the number of commits by the end of the year) are already showing significant growth in development volume and are not slowing down. At the same time, the number of Avalanche and Terra developers increased sharply, and the number of those working with Ocean Protocol doubled.

Hedera Hashgraph and IOTA are showing moderate growth.

More and more developers are working with Polkadot and Cosmos.

Filecoin has seen a consistently high level of monthly active developers, peaking around October when Mainnet was launched. As we mentioned earlier, it is one of the growth leaders in the blockchain world as a whole.

Also, more and more developers are paying attention to Solana (36%), Monero (35%), Zilliqa (33%), Tezos (30%) and Near Protocol (22%).

Outsiders: projects that are losing ground in the market

The development of these projects is the slowest, and professionals are increasingly choosing other cryptocurrencies and technologies.

EOS, Tron, XRP, Qtum, Komodo, Nano, Handshake and WAX are down 50% or more in commits. Meanwhile, the latter switched to the NFT market, which adheres to closed-code, which is probably the reason for the outflow.

Ethereum Classic and Bitcoin SV declined over the year. At the same time, Ethereum, Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash retained their positions.

Hyperledger, after a good start, faced a significant decline in development. Corda saw an increase in the number of commits in the first half of the year, which returned to previous levels by the end of the year.

DeFi protocols

The year 2020 passed under the sign of DeFi. Over the year, the total value (in U.S. dollars) recorded in DeFi's records increased from just under $700 million to about $15 billion.

Most of DeFi's development is in smart contracts, and that necessarily involves open source.

Last year's highlights

Maker retains its position as the most actively developed DeFi protocol.

The most active projects were and still are Maker, Gnosis, and Synthetix. Gnosis shows the greatest consistency in high development activity throughout the year (an average of 276 weekly commits). Synthetix shows the greatest growth (+58% of commits).

Balancer, NexusMutual, Uniswap, and Loopring are in a stable position.

On the rise: technologies that are gaining traction

The largest increase in the number of commits during the year was demonstrated by:

  • Aave (763%)
  • Bancor (264%)
  • Set Protocol (161%)
  • mStable (153%).

SushiSwap and started in 2020 and immediately showed significant growth, followed by Curve Finance, PieDAO and Synthetix. has already surpassed Synthetix and Uniswap in the number of monthly active developers.

Balancer (190%), Aave (144%), Bancor (133%), mStable, Loopring, Uniswap, and Set Protocol grew by more than 50% each month.

Outsiders: projects that are losing ground in the market

Developers are mostly moving away from the "old guard" projects, giving preference to fresher technologies. Thus, Maker, the most developed by the number of people and commits, lost more than a third of developers. It still retains its position, but most likely not for long.

Projects where the number of code commits decreased by more than 33% over the year: bZx, Maker, Opyn, InstaDApp, Alpha Homora, dYdX, Compound, Augur, RenVM, and MCDEX.

NFT & Metaverse technologies

The growth of non-playable tokens (NFTs) since the second half of 2020 has become a notable market trend. Based on technologies and standards that have existed for a long time, such as ERC721 and ERC1155, NFT has gained significant traction in games and digital art.

From Global Lockdown 2020 onward, virtual reality, the meta-universe, and anything that enables people to leave the home and boundaries in which they are physically trapped, have been growing in popularity.

Outlier Ventures encountered some difficulties in evaluating this industry, because NFT and meta-universes traditionally have closed source code, and the methodology of the report involves analyzing only open-source sources. A notable exception in the NFT sector is open source Decentraland. In terms of developer activity, it is on par with some of the larger DeFi protocols.

Due to the unrepresentativeness of the sample, we decided not to present the data from the report here, but to release specific material about the trends and prospects for developers associated with NFT and Metaverse in the future. However, at the end of this article there is a link to the full report where you can read that data as well.

We took a detailed look at what technologies are in demand and/or showing active growth in the blockchain and De-Fi world right now. If you are interested in jobs in this field, we have posted them at the bottom of this page. Send in your CV!

This article is based on a report by Outlier Ventures, the full report is available here.