NEAR Community Update: April 19, 2019

April 19, 2019

We started this journey by building the application layer of the platform so developers could make apps even before everything on the blockchain layer was production-ready. This makes sense since we’re building a technology which benefits heavily from market feedback and iteration… not launching rockets into space.

In this spirit, while the research, engineering and product teams continue to bring us to a full TestNet, NEAR will be hosting our first online hackathon (“Hack One”) starting on April 27. This kicks off a series of lightweight virtual hackathons which are designed to help developers from different backgrounds and domains build applications on the platform.

The theme of Hack One, which is described in greater detail here, is the creation of virtual worlds where users permissionlessly generate their own content. This highlights a set of fun, low stakes use cases where participants can create applications that are both collaborative and blockchain-native. The event, which lasts for 2 weeks, will be judged by Linda Xie of Scalar Capital and Peter Kieltyka of Horizon Games and offers prizes for strong finishers.

We’ll be hosting additional educational content leading up to this event so new developers have an easy way of ramping up as well. If you’re interested, sign up on (or share!) the event page.

Helping spearhead this effort is Jessica Watson Miller, who recently joined NEAR to be the primary interface with our community and the architect of everything that surrounds it. In addition to working across the product spectrum in the blockchain space, she also has the unique distinction of having run a circus and bodypainted competitively. That’s just the right combination for the unique vibe that we’re working hard to create.

Community and Events

With Jess’s new focus on the experience of prospective and current community members, expect to see more changes in how the community is supported during the coming weeks. Hack One is just the beginning of this.

Recent Events

  1. [Sydney] April 8–13: EdCon
  2. [SF] April 10: NEAR, Cosmos & Fluence: Devnet & Mainnet Demo Night I
  3. [Santa Clara] April 11: NEAR, Cosmos & Fluence: Devnet & Mainnet Demo Night II

Upcoming Events

  1. [ONLINE] April 27 — May 11: Hack One Online Hackathon
  2. [NYC]: Consensus Week (various events)

If you want to collaborate on events, reach out to [email protected]

Writing and Content

We’ve spoken at length about the usability (or lack thereof) of current blockchains and their applications. More recently, CEO Alex Skidanov has highlighted what specific changes need to be done on the protocol level to support this:

  1. On Usability in Blockchain Applications by Alex Skidanov
  2. Alex’s Talk on Usability at Berkeley
  3. Whiteboard Series Ep14: Alistair Stewart from Polkadot
  4. Whiteboard Series Ep15: Izaak Meckler from Coda
  5. Alex Skidanov on the Let’s Talk ETC podcast
  6. Bonus: A rough sharding design proposal called “Whale Fishing”

Engineering Highlights

Development on the application layer has been focused primarily on making sure the wallet accomplishes our user experience goals while development on the blockchain layer has focused on building, testing and benchmarking TestNet using a couple of example consensus algorithms. Research continues on finalizing both economics and the sharding design.

There were 63 PRs in nearcore from 7 different authors over the last couple of weeks. As always, the code is completely open source on Github.

Application/Development Layer

Blockchain Layer

  • Added ~100 integration tests;
  • Created a load testing tool for TestNet;
  • Changed the format of the blocks to compute twice fewer BLS signatures.
  • Added testing infrastructure and improved testing coverage
  • Alex began discussion around a new model of sharding called Whale Fishing.

How You Can Get Involved

Join us! If you want to work with one of the most talented teams in the world right now to solve incredibly hard problems, check out our careers page for openings. And tell your friends 🙂

Learn more about NEAR in The Beginner’s Guide to NEAR Protocol. Stay up to date with what we’re building by following us on Twitter for updates, joining the conversation on Discord and subscribing to our newsletter to receive updates right to your inbox.

Reminder: you can help out significantly by adding your thoughts in our 2-minute Developer Survey.

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