NEAR Community Update: January 25, 2019

January 25, 2019

Everybody approaches blockchain from a slightly different entry point. Some are crypto natives who have ridden these waves before while others are still distracted by the PR disaster of the ICO bubble. Education is one of the most important components of building a great community so we figured the best place to start is by explaining what *we* do at NEAR in plain English. Check it out on our blog.

Beyond education, the other major conversation which has informed our strategy is the one around usability, end-user experience and developer experience. Crossing the next chasm of adoption requires us to build something people actually want and that their users will actually use.

As part of that, we’d like to ask your help: if you’re a developer and/or entrepreneur who is considering developing (or already are developing) on a blockchain, please help us build the platform you actually want by taking the 2-minute Blockchain Developer Survey.

I promise it’s less painful than trying to use a DApp today.

Don’t mess with the EOS hashtag army… ?‍♂

Community and Events

We’ve always operated under the philosophy that it’s best to ship and iterate. While we haven’t released an official TestNet yet, we’re at the stage where we’re welcoming curated feedback on the platform. We’ll be reaching out to more and more developer communities over the upcoming weeks to test drive the platform and its tooling, including the first (official) external-facing workshop next Tuesday in SF.

In the thread of user experience research, this week we held a workshop on designing onboarding flows for DApps. It resurfaced a number of clear takeaways for protocol design but mostly continued to hammer home how important it is to allow developers to hide tokens and wallets from end-users until later in the user’s journey. That’s music to our ears.

Recent Highlights

  1. [SF] Blockchain 101 Onramp: The Design of Blockchain-Based Apps (DApps) (Video, Slides)

Upcoming Events

  1. [SF] Jan 29: Sneak Peak Workshop: TestNet Test Drive with NEAR Protocol
  2. [Online] Jan 29–30: Decentralized Summit (with Erik Trautman)
  3. [SF] Feb 6: Blockchain 101 Onramp: DApp Development Basics
  4. [Denver] Feb 15–17: Judging the Eth Denver hackathon (with Illia Polosukhin)
  5. [SF] Feb 27: Blockchain 101 Onramp: Best Practices for Developing DApps
Alex presenting on sharding at GraphCon in SF today

Writing and Content

Again, if you’re looking for a plain-English explanation of what we do, check out the aforementioned explainer post.

We’ve continued the “Whiteboard Series with NEAR” in Episode 3: Jun Li from Ontology on our YouTube channel.

Engineering Highlights

We are getting ready to unveil the DevNet, so a lot of clean up & documentation work has been done:

  1. Launched the documentation website, which hosts quick starts, tutorials and API docs for node and JS/Python libraries.
  2. Major improvements to nearlib.js. Deployed it to NPM and CDN.
  3. Putting finishing touches on TxFlow consensus simulation, which we will be releasing together with the paper and blog post next week.
  4. Refactored networking, simplifying the code and reducing the number of external dependencies (e.g. complex rust-libp2p which doesn’t match our requirements).
  5. Added default JSON serialization for structs/classes in smart contracts on the compiler level to AssemblyScript. Continue expanding the standard library.
  6. Created default account creation flow. Built an example in-browser wallet app for DevNet & TestNet.
  7. The first version of block explorer is up to help debug DevNet and in future TestNet.
  8. Keep assembling TestNet: running TxFlow and producing blocks between a fixed set of verifiers.

How You Can Get Involved

If you want to stay up to date with what we’re building at NEAR, follow us on Twitter for updates, join the conversation on Discord.

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