NEAR Community Update: February 22, 2019

February 22, 2019

Lately it’s been a blur of events as we talk to developers both in and outside of the blockchain ecosystem and learn more about what they need in a decentralized platform. This weekend, we’re at the SF Developer Week hackathon helping developers work with the platform (and awarding a number of challenge prizes). If you’re in town, stop by and say hi!

Community and Events

We’ve touched Denver, Boston, San Francisco and multiple locations in Asia with no sign of stopping yet. A key upcoming event actually doesn’t have a specific location — on March 5 at 4pm PT / 7pm ET, we’ll host an online Decentralized App Development Workshop where anyone can code along and see what the platform can do.

If you want to host a local NEAR meetup in your city or see if we can meet with yours, reach out to [email protected].

Recent Highlights

  1. [Denver] Feb 12: Sneak Peak Workshop: NEAR DevNet with ETH Denver
  2. [SF] Feb 13: Blockchain 101 Onramp: DApp Development Basics
  3. [Denver] Feb 15–17: Judging the Eth Denver hackathon (Illia Polosukhin)
  4. [SF] Feb 19: NEAR Protocol DevNet Test Drive with ABC Blockchain

Alex Skidanov speaking at SF Developer Week:

Upcoming Events

  1. [San Francisco] Feb 23–24: Developer Week Hackathon
  2. [Boston] Feb 23: Harvard Business School 2019 Crypto Club (with Alex Skidanov)
  3. [Beijing] Feb 23: Blockchain 3.0 — The Evolution in Blockchain DApps
  4. [SF] Feb 26: Giving power back to developers: Preview of a new computing platform (@Github)
  5. [Oakland] Feb 27: Near Protocol — DevNet Workshop (@Oakland Developers)
  6. [SF] Feb 27: Blockchain 101 Onramp: Best Practices for Developing DApps
  7. [Shanghai] Feb 28: Blockchain 3.0 — The Evolution in Blockchain DApps
  8. [Mountainview] Feb 28: Learn Blockchain Tools and Technologies that Enable Smart Contracts
  9. [ONLINE] March 5 @ 4pm PT / 7pm ET: Decentralized App Development Workshop
  10. [Paris] March 8–10: Events around Eth Paris
  11. [Austin] March 14–16: Events around SXSW
  12. [San Jose] March 21: Blockchain Developer Meetup
  13. [SF] Mar 28: Decentralized Computing with WASM @ Github

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

Writing and Content

Alex Skidanov spoke to Justin Drake of the Ethereum Foundation in the latest installment of our Whiteboard Series about the design and implementation of Ethereum Serenity, beacon chains, shard chains, randomness, cross-shard transactions, LMD ghost and Casper FFG. Yes, it ran a little long…

We’ve also translated the Beginner’s Guide to the NEAR Blockchain into Japanese. If you want to make a translation yourself, please reach out to [email protected].

Engineering Highlights

Now that our single-node DevNet is active, we’re focusing on making the user experience better and the technology behind it more robust. That means continuing to build out documentation, stabilize the node and smooth out the user experience throughout the NEAR Studio IDE. Upcoming weeks will see big upgrades in all of these areas as well.

The next blockchain milestone is the multi-node AlphaNet, expected out in early March. We’ve updated to a newer, simpler consensus called Nightshade.

There were 40 PRs in nearcore from 8 different authors over the last couple weeks.

DevNet update

  • Initial working API for cross-contract calls using AssemblyScript.
  • Benchmarks for the client excluding network and consensus.
  • Launched NEAR Place app ( as a showcase for the current development and user experience.

AlphaNet update

  • Finalized the design and implementation of a new consensus for beacon and shard chains called “Nightshade”, replacing previously used consensus “TxFlow”. See a draft of a paper for an early DAG-based version of Nightshade here, and a simplified version without a DAG here.
  • Started integrating Nightshade with the existing infrastructure.
  • Implemented an initial version of mempool and starting hooking it in, replacing the gossip DAG that was used previously.

NEARlib update

  • Improved API for connecting to DevNet
  • Integration tests for connecting to DevNet
  • Switched from Parity WASM interpreter to WASMER JIT. Got 100x raw improvement and 18x improvement when other components factored in.

NEARStudio update

  • Updated nearlib and corresponding fixes
  • Minor fixes to templates
  • AssemblyScript/bindgen
  • Updated bindgen to work with latest version of AssemblyScript
  • Fixed bug with duplicate bindings generated for encoding arrays of base types

How You Can Get Involved

Join us! If you want to work with one of the most talented (and humble?) teams in the world right now to solve incredibly hard problems, check out our careers page for openings.

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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