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Blockchain library comparison: Web3.js vs. Ethers.js

Blockchain library comparison: Web3.js vs. Ethers.js
Header image that is a visual representation of the blockchain.

Blockchain is a decentralized and distributed digital ledger technology that allows multiple parties to share and maintain a tamper-evident and transparent chain of transactions or information. The features of blockchain technology allow for changes in numerous industries, from finance and supply chain management to healthcare and voting systems, has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. The idea of decentralized, transparent, and secure transactions using a distributed ledger is the basis of blockchain technology.

There are several blockchain libraries available for developers who want to build applications or systems that utilize blockchain technology but I will be distinguishing web3.js vs Ethers.js, which are the two popular ETH libraries.

Defining the Blockchain Javascript Framework

JavaScript is a well-liked programming language that can be utilized for outsourcing blockchain development. It gives you the adaptability and flexibility you need to create decentralized applications (dApps) and operate with blockchain networks. These developments are often made possible using the web3.js library, a popular JavaScript library for the Ethereum blockchain.

The popular programming language JavaScript is frequently used in web development. It is a high-level, interpreted language that can be used both on the server and the client (in web browsers with the aid of frameworks like Node.js).

Install Nodejs by running this code in your terminal:

/home/ricmoo/some_project> npm install ethers

Browser (ESM)

The bundled library is available in the ./dist/ folder in this repo.

<script type="module">
import { ethers } from "./dist/ethers.min.js";
</script>

What is Ethers.js?

A JavaScript framework called Ethers.js offers a quick and effective way to interface with the Ethereum network. It is frequently used to create smart contracts, decentralized apps (dApps), and other Ethereum-related projects.

To make it simpler for developers to engage with smart contracts, send and receive transactions, query blockchain data, and execute other operations, Ethers.js strives to abstract away the difficulties of communicating with the Ethereum network. It offers a high-level, user-friendly API that makes working with Ethereum easier.

Features of Ethers.js

Unlike Web3.js, Ether.js provides broader blockchain network interoperability, enhanced performance, native ethers TypeScript support, intuitive contract abstraction, integration with popular development frameworks, as well as advanced debugging and testing tools.

  • Web3 Provider Management: Ethers.js allows you to connect to Ethereum nodes using different providers such as HTTP, WebSocket, or custom ethers providers. It provides a consistent interface for managing the connection to the blockchain.
  • Smart Contract Interaction: Ethers.js provides a convenient way to interact with smart contracts deployed on the Ethereum network. It allows you to instantiate contract instances, call contract methods, and listen for contract events.
  • Transaction management: The creation and signing of Ethereum transactions are made easier with Ethers.js. It manages transaction serialization, estimates gas, and offers tools for the nonce and gas price management.
  • Support for wallets: The wallet implementation provided by Ethers.js enables users to control their Ethereum accounts, sign transactions, and safely store private keys. It supports a range of wallet types, including hardware wallets, software wallets, and phrase wallets.

Advantages of Ethers.js

  • Its library size is very small (~88kb compressed; 284kb uncompressed)
  • Compatibility and Flexibility: Ethers.js is compatible with both Node.js and browser environments, allowing developers to build Ethereum applications across different platforms. It can be used with popular frameworks like React, Vue.js, and Angular, providing flexibility in integrating Ethereum functionality into existing web applications.
  • Support for TypeScript: TypeScript, a typed superset of JavaScript, is used in the development of Ethers.js. This ensures accurate typing and a better developer experience by identifying any problems at the time of compilation.
  • Well-Maintained and Reliable: Ethers.js is actively maintained and updated by its developers. This ensures that the library remains up-to-date with the latest Ethereum standards, security practices, and performance optimizations. It is a reliable choice for Ethereum development, with regular bug fixes and improvements.
  • Friendly API: Ethers.js offers a high-level, accommodating API that makes interacting with the Ethereum blockchain easier. It simplifies many of the Ethereum development's intricacies, making it simpler for programmers to create decentralized applications and communicate with smart contracts.

Disadvantages of Ethers.js

  • Dependencies: Ethers.js has dependencies on other packages, which means it relies on these packages to function properly.
  • Ethers.js lacks a Native Web3 Provider: You will need to configure and connect to an external provider, for example, Infura, to interact with the Ethereum network. This implies that Ethers.js does not include a built-in Web3 provider like some other Ethereum libraries.
  • Limited Blockchain Support: Ethers.js primarily focuses on Ethereum development and may have limited support for other blockchain networks.
  • Ethers.js is relatively new, which might make it challenging to find answers when you run into a problem.

Modules of Ethers.js

Ethers.js is composed of several modules, each serving a specific purpose in Ethereum development. Here are some of the core modules of Ethers.js:

  • Ethers/utils: The utility functions for Ethereum development are contained in the utils module. It has functions for creating Ethereum addresses, computing Ethereum-specific values like gas limits and gas pricing, encoding and decoding various data kinds, and more.
  • Ethers/contract: This module provides utilities for interacting with smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. It includes classes for deploying contracts, instantiating contract instances, calling contract methods, and listening for contract events.
  • Ethers/wallet: The wallet module offers functionality for managing Ethereum accounts and private keys securely. It includes classes for generating wallets from mnemonic phrases, importing wallets from private keys, interacting with hardware wallets, and signing transactions.
  • Ethers/providers: This module contains implementations of Ethereum providers, which are responsible for connecting to the Ethereum network and retrieving blockchain data. It includes providers for HTTP, WebSocket, Infura, Alchemy, and other custom provider options.

What is Web3.js?

An interface for communicating with the Ethereum blockchain and decentralized apps (dApps) that are created on top of it is provided by the JavaScript library Web3.js. It is a component of the larger Web3 ecosystem, which intends to make it possible to create decentralized applications and make it simpler to incorporate blockchain technology into web applications.

Developers may communicate with Ethereum nodes using Web3.js, which enables them to connect to a node, send transactions, implement smart contracts, and access blockchain data. It provides a streamlined API for developers to deal with smart contracts and other Ethereum-related functionality while abstracting the difficulties of interfacing with the Ethereum network.

Features of Web3.js

In contrast to Ether.js, Web3.js focuses primarily on Ethereum blockchain integration.

  • Interaction with Ethereum nodes: Web3.js enables connections to Ethereum nodes via a variety of transport protocols, including HTTP, WebSocket, and IPC (Inter-Process Communication).
  • Communications with smart contracts: Web3.js allows programmers to communicate with smart contracts that have been installed on the Ethereum blockchain. They have the ability to invoke smart contract methods, submit transactions to change the state of the contract, and listen for events that the contracts emit.
  • Account management: Web3.js provides functions for managing Ethereum accounts, such as creating new accounts, signing transactions, and handling account balances.
  • Blockchain data access: Developers can use Web3.js to query blockchain data, including account balances, transaction histories, block information, and contract data.

Advantages of Web3.js

  • Integration of smart contracts: Web3.js offers a practical means of interacting with smart contracts set up on the Ethereum blockchain. Developers can use it to call contract methods, send transactions to adjust the status of contracts, and get data from smart contracts. The development of decentralized applications that take advantage of smart contracts is made simpler by this seamless connectivity.
  • Detailed ethereum support: Web3.js provides in-depth Ethereum support and its ecosystem. It gives programmers access to accounts, the ability to send and receive transactions, the ability to create and use smart contracts, the ability to listen to events, and the ability to query blockchain data. It is an effective tool for developing Ethereum because of its broad range of functions.
  • Compatible with multiple networks: Web3.js supports multiple Ethereum networks, including the mainnet, testnets (such as Ropsten, Rinkeby, and Kovan), and private networks. This flexibility allows developers to test and deploy their applications on different networks, depending on their needs.
  • Support in the ecosystem: Web3.js is widely adopted and supported by various tools and frameworks in the blockchain ecosystem.

Disadvantages of Web3.js

  • Web3.js is constantly evolving, and new versions are released regularly. This can lead to compatibility issues and make it difficult to find up-to-date documentation and resources.
  • Web3.js has dependencies on other JavaScript libraries and frameworks, such as Node.js and web3 npm (Node Package Manager).
  • Despite being a sophisticated toolkit, Web3.js can be difficult for developers to grasp, especially those who are new to blockchain development. It necessitates a solid grasp of Ethereum fundamentals like smart contracts, transaction management and the JavaScript programming language.

Modules of Web3.js

  • Web3.Utils: The Utils module includes various utility functions for working with Ethereum-related data, such as converting between different data formats, handling Ethereum addresses and units, and cryptographic operations.
  • Web3.Shh: The Shh module enables communication and interaction with the Whisper protocol, which is Ethereum's decentralized messaging protocol.
  • Web3.Bzz: The Bzz module is used for interacting with Swarm, Ethereum's decentralized storage and content distribution platform.
  • Web3.Eth: The Eth module is used for interacting with Ethereum accounts, contracts, and transactions.

Comparison of Web3.js vs Ethers.js

We will be comparing the two libraries using the following features:

  • Developer experience
  • Popularity
  • Documentation
  • Usability
  • Performance
  • Maintenance

Developer Experience

Popular JavaScript libraries used for creating dApps on the Ethereum blockchain include Web3.js and Ethers.js. Despite having comparable functions, there are some significant variances in Web3.js vs Ethers.js development experiences. The development experience with Web3.js and Ethers.js can be summed up as follows:

Web3.js:

  1. Compatibility: Web3.js is designed to work with multiple Ethereum networks, including the mainnet and test networks. It supports a wide range of Ethereum standards and protocols.
  2. Popularity: Web3.js has a larger community and ecosystem, resulting in more documentation, tutorials, and community support. It has been extensively used in many dApps and has a longer history of development.

Ethers.js:

  1. Simplicity and Modernity: Ethers.js aims to provide a more intuitive and developer-friendly API compared to Web3.js. It embraces modern JavaScript features and follows a more modular design approach.
  2. Type Safety: Ethers.js is built with TypeScript, which offers enhanced type safety and improved development experience for developers using TypeScript.

Popularity of Web3.js vs Ethers.js

Two well-known JavaScript frameworks for dealing with blockchain networks, primarily Ethereum, are Web3.js and Ethers.js. To join a blockchain network, send transactions, engage with smart contracts, and retrieve data, they both give developers the necessary tools and utilities.

One of the first libraries to be widely used in the Ethereum ecosystem was Web3.js, which was created by the Ethereum Foundation. It has been around longer and has a bigger user and developer community. Building dApps and web interfaces that connect with the Ethereum blockchain uses Web3.js, which has a wide range of functions. It offers a complete set of APIs and tools for managing accounts and working with smart contracts.

On the other side, the Ethereum development community has grown to love the more contemporary library Ethers.js. It is regarded by many developers as a more developer-friendly alternative to Web3.js because of its clear and simple API architecture. With a focus on offering a clear and effective interface for interacting with Ethereum, Ethers.js facilitates the use of smart contracts, accounts, and transactions by developers. With its modular architecture, developers can pick and choose only the capabilities they require.

Ethers.js vs Web3.js Documentation

Web3.js has additional documents and a protracted documentation procedure, while with Ethers.js there is less robust documentation.

Usability of Web3.js vs Ethers.js

Depending on personal preferences and the particular needs of your project, Web3.js and Ethers.js may or may not appear to be more user-friendly. Web3.js might be a better option if you desire a higher-level, feature-rich API with robust community support. On the other hand, Ethers.js can offer a more streamlined experience if you prioritize performance, simplicity, and a more modular approach. To find out which library better fits your development approach and project objectives, it is advised to read the documentation and give each a try.

Web3.js vs Ethers.js Performance

Web3.Js is quite slow because it uses an older version of the javascript scripting language, while Ethers.js has a somewhat faster load time and might perform better due to its significantly smaller size.

Web3.js vs Ethers.js Maintenance

Both Web3.js and Ethers.js have their own maintenance strategies and community support, but as the Ethereum ecosystem grows, how maintenance is perceived can change. Making sure you are updated with the latest releases, bug reports, and security advisories from the library maintainers, and actively participating in the respective communities to ensure you are aware of any maintenance issues can help you make more informed project decisions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the decision between Web3.js vs Ethers.js depends on the needs of the individual project and the preferences of the developer. With a larger community and interoperability with a wider range of technologies, Web3.js is a more established library. On the other hand, Ethers.js provides a more up-to-date API architecture, an enhanced developer interface, and greater TypeScript compatibility. Choose the library that best suits the requirements of your project after weighing the trade-offs.

Take a look at our JavaScript code samples to save a collection of code snippets right into Pieces for later reuse and referencing!

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