Conquering browser based Substrate development with Talisman

Build resilient dApps on Substrate with Talisman's tools. Insights from Jonathan Dunne on browser light clients at Sub0 2024.
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In a recent tech talk titled “The Application Layer: Conquering Browser-Based Substrate Development with Talisman,” Jonathan Dunne, a key figure at Talisman, delved into the intricacies of integrating Subzero into the browser environment. His presentation offered valuable insights into building performant applications on Substrate with Talisman. Here are the key takeaways from his talk.

Introduction to Talisman Wallet

Jonathan Dunne began by introducing Talisman, a product-oriented team dedicated to helping users navigate the Substrate ecosystem with their suite of products. These include a well-known extension wallet, a web portal, and a lesser-known multisig suite, which is expected to gain more recognition following upcoming discussions at the Subzero conference.

Understanding the Tech Stack

Dunne provided a simplified overview of the Substrate tech stack. At the base are low-level technologies like peer-to-peer networking and protocol cores. Middleware sits above these, and at the top, right before reaching the user, is the application layer. Talisman operates within this application layer, focusing on the role of wallets and other tools to enhance user experience.

Building Applications in the Application Layer

Given that this was a developer-focused talk, Dunne shifted the conversation to how developers can build effective decentralized applications (dApps) in the application layer using Talisman’s tools. He emphasized the importance of utilities developed by Talisman to facilitate rapid iteration and testing of products.

Talisman Key Utilities for Development

  1. Sign in with Substrate:
    • This utility allows users to authenticate using their Substrate key pair, similar to the “Sign in with Ethereum” protocol.
    • It’s useful for combining off-chain and on-chain data, enabling developers to validate business cases and product ideas before delving into runtime code.
    • The utility supports a variety of applications, including multisig projects and any scenario requiring authentication without storing data on-chain.
  2. Encryption and Decryption with Keypairs:
    • Talisman’s wallet extension now supports encrypting and decrypting strings using keypairs, which can be leveraged for secure messaging applications or encrypted data storage.

Seamless Market Integration

Dunne highlighted Talisman’s Chain Data Repository, which aids developers in ensuring seamless integration of their applications with Talisman’s wallet. By adding their network and asset metadata to this repository, developers can achieve instant support without requiring users to manually configure their wallets.

Enhancing Application Resilience

A significant portion of the talk was dedicated to enhancing the resilience of dApps:

  1. Browser Embedded Light Clients:
    • Dunne advocated for integrating browser-embedded light clients using libraries like Substrate Connect. This approach allows users to connect directly to the peer-to-peer network, enhancing resilience by avoiding dependency on a single node provider.
  2. Human-Readable Transaction Verification:
    • Talisman’s wallet provides a human-readable breakdown of transaction data, allowing users to verify the details before signing. This feature ensures transparency and reduces the risk of malicious transactions.
  3. Resilience through Standardization:
    • Upcoming changes like Papy (a new API) and enhanced metadata standards are expected to simplify the development process and improve the user experience.


Jonathan Dunne’s talk underscored the importance of building resilient and user-friendly applications within the Substrate ecosystem. Talisman’s tools and utilities provide developers with the necessary resources to iterate quickly, integrate seamlessly, and build robust applications that maintain the core principles of Web3, such as decentralization and user sovereignty.

Future Prospects

Looking ahead, Talisman aims to continue refining their products and contributing to the broader Substrate ecosystem. Developers are encouraged to leverage Talisman’s utilities and stay tuned for upcoming enhancements that promise to make building on Substrate even more accessible and effective.

By incorporating these insights and tools, developers can not only improve their dApp’s performance and security but also ensure they are well-positioned to meet the evolving demands of the Web3 landscape.

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