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History Behind Substrate

Substrate, at its origins, was created very close to the conception of the Polkadot network. The two are usually tightly coupled - where the improvements to Substrate funnel into Polkadot and vice versa. Parachains that connect to Polkadot are also built using Substrate, generally using some abstractions such as FRAME and Cumulus.

Setting the context is crucial to understand Substrate's role in web3. Polkadot is a relay chain that uses Substrate libraries and FRAME. Substrate is a blockchain developer framework. It enables the creation of solo chains or parachains. Initially, much of what was Substrate came from Polkadot due to necessity. The reasoning behind this choice was if parachains were to be built, it would be sensible to make all standard blockchain protocols and primitives available to parachain developers.

The Polkadot SDK

As of August 25th, 2023, Substrate, Polkadot, and Cumulus were merged under a single monorepo after being in three separate repositories.