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What is a release engineer and how to become one?

  • By Victoria Li
  • Published on March 14

The world of Web3, built on the foundations of blockchain technology, is revolutionizing how we interact with applications. Unlike traditional apps, decentralized applications (DApps) operate without a central authority, offering exciting possibilities for transparency, security and user ownership. However, this decentralized nature also presents unique challenges.

One critical aspect of success in Web3 lies in ensuring smooth and secure application launches. Unlike traditional software releases that can be patched or updated relatively easily, a buggy or compromised DApp launch can have far-reaching consequences. With code often immutable on the blockchain, vulnerabilities can be permanent, potentially leading to lost funds, compromised user data and a tarnished reputation for the project.

Here’s where the crucial role of a release engineer in Web3 comes in. These specialists are vital in bridging the gap between development and deployment, overseeing the entire software release lifecycle for DApps. They are the architects of a smooth and secure transition from the initial coding stages to a fully functional DApp running in production.

A release engineer: The orchestrator of the release process

A release engineer in Web3 wears many hats, acting as the orchestrator of the entire deployment automation process. They leverage tools and methodologies from the world of continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) to streamline the journey from code changes to a live DApp.

Here’s a glimpse into the role of a release engineer:

Version control and code integration 

They ensure meticulous tracking of code changes using version control systems like GitHub. This meticulous record-keeping allows for easy rollbacks or the identification of specific code versions that may have introduced issues.

Building and packaging

Release engineers configure build tools to transform the developer’s code into a format suitable for deployment on the blockchain. This involves tasks like compiling code and creating software packages.

Quality assurance (QA) and testing

Working closely with the QA team, release engineers establish robust testing procedures to identify and eliminate bugs before deployment. This can involve unit testing, integration testing and potentially security audits to ensure the DApp functions as intended and is free of vulnerabilities.

Deployment pipelines and infrastructure as code (IaC)

Release engineers are experts in crafting deployment pipelines — automated workflows orchestrating the entire deployment process. These pipelines leverage tools like IaC to provision and configure the necessary infrastructure on the blockchain for the DApp to run smoothly.

Deployment strategies and release management

Depending on the specific DApp and project needs, different deployment strategies may be employed. Release engineers carefully select and implement these strategies, ensuring a controlled and secure rollout to the target environment.

Change management and monitoring

A successful release doesn’t end with deployment. Release engineers monitor the DApp’s performance and identify potential issues after launch. They also work closely with developers and other teams to implement necessary changes or updates through a well-defined change management process.

Roadmap to becoming a release engineer

As we’ve seen, these specialists play a critical role in ensuring the smooth and secure launch of DApps, the building blocks of this decentralized future. So, how do you carve your path into this dynamic field? Here’s a roadmap to guide your journey:

The first step is establishing a solid foundation in software development principles and technologies. This includes a thorough understanding of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and various stages in bringing software from concept to reality. Familiarize yourself with core concepts like version control using tools like Git, which meticulously tracks code changes and allows easy collaboration and rollback if needed.

Gain proficiency in the tools and methodologies that underpin continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD). CI/CD pipelines automate the software release process, enabling frequent and reliable deployments. Learn about build tools that transform code into a format suitable for deployment on the blockchain and explore concepts like configuration management to ensure consistent infrastructure configurations across environments.

While a strong software development foundation is crucial, a Web3 release engineer requires additional knowledge specific to this decentralized space. Start by familiarizing yourself with blockchain technology and understanding how it works and the unique challenges it presents for software development. 

Explore popular smart contract languages like Solidity, which are used to program DApps on blockchains like Ethereum. Consider taking online courses or attending workshops geared explicitly toward Web3 development and release engineering.

The best way to showcase your skills and gain practical experience is by actively contributing to the Web3 ecosystem. Many open-source projects in the space are constantly evolving, and contributing to these projects allows you to learn from experienced developers and get hands-on experience with real-world DApps. 

As you participate in these projects, document your contributions and build a portfolio highlighting your build and release management skills, deployment automation and understanding of deployment strategies specific to Web3.

The Web3 landscape constantly evolves, and staying connected to the community is vital. Network with other developers and release engineers, attend industry events and conferences, and actively engage in online forums and discussions. This continuous learning will keep you updated on trends, the latest tools, technologies and best practices in Web3 release engineering.

When applying for Web3 release engineer positions, don’t just showcase your technical skills. Highlight your passion for the underlying principles of Web3, such as decentralization and transparency. By combining your technical expertise with a genuine enthusiasm for the future of Web3, you’ll be well-positioned to land your dream role as a release engineer in this exciting space.