NEAR

Over the last three weeks, as part of MetaBuidl, hackers from across the world have been busy creating incredible new ideas and projects that will shape the future direction of crypto as we know it. 

With a total of $1 million in prizes to give away, we had more than 1,600 participants and over 70 submissions across DeFi, gaming, DAOs, and NFTs. 

We also launched hacknodes: physical spaces where hackers could come together in Nigeria, the US, Portugal, Ukraine and China. In a very special town hall event held online, we announced the winners of the competition, which you can more details on below. 

If you’d like to get in touch with any of our winners, join our Discord channel. 

Work Hacks 

This category was for projects related to utilities, governance, DeFi, and other business applications.

In third place was Alevoro, an NFT project that allows holders to borrow against their assets to help collectors generate instant liquidity. 

In second place was NEAR-DRPC, a decentralized RPC network for NEAR that helps infrastructure providers provide fast, smooth service without the need for middlemen. 

In first place was the NEAR-DAO Agency, this project built a one-page interface that allows anyone to build a DAO. Think of it as a DAO in a box, anyone can spin up a DAO on NEAR in just a few clicks. 

Play Hacks 

This category was for dedicated to prizes for challenges related to gaming, art, and memes.  

In third place was Hunt for the Lost Cryptocubes, a choose your own adventure card collecting adventure. 

In second place was Spaceship Wars 13k, a multiplayer spaceship battle game that lets users fight others for the right to earn and collect NFTs. 

In first place in the Play Hacks category was 2Dver.se – a metaverse that can be constantly experienced on any device. Go to a gallery as you shop for groceries, or chat on regular social media while talking to random strangers on a digital street. 2Dver.se is making the metaverse an easier, simpler place for people to discover the world of Web3. 

Grand Prize Winner 

The project that scooped the grand prize for MetaBuidl was Roke.to, a real-time token streaming service built for the NEAR ecosystem. 

Judges were amazed by the way the project has re-invented pay-roll by allowing tokens to be streamed to users’ wallets instantly with just one click. No more individual transactions, just click and stream.  

Roke.to also allows projects to issue grants without step-by-step payouts, and send money easily to community members for repeatable tasks. The potential of Roke.to is a future where people can take control of their finances in a predictable and accessible way without third parties and gatekeepers.  

We like to thank everyone that took part in MetaBuidl and to look out for more hackathons coming up very soon! 

Below is a summary of all the winners. 

Work Hacks Prize Winners

Dedicated prizes for challenges related to utilities, governance, DeFi, and other SRS BZNZ.

3rd Prize ($10,000) – Alevoro

2nd Prize ($20,000) – NEAR-DRPC

1st Prize ($30,000) – NEAR-DAO

Play Hacks Prize Winners 

Dedicated prizes for challenges related to gaming, art, memes, and blue-sky thinking.

3rd Prize ($10,000) – Hunt for the Lost Cryptocubes

2nd Prize ($20,000) – Sponsorship Wars 13k

1st Prize ($30,000) – 2Dver.se

Grand Prize Winner 

Roketo – $40,000 

Missed the event? You can watch the whole thing here.

NEAR is launching phase 0 of its roadmap towards a fully sharded blockchain. This phase, nicknamed Simple Nightshade, will kickstart a year of changes and additions to the NEAR blockchain that when complete, will make it super-fast, incredibly secure, and capable of onboarding millions of users into the world of Web3 without skipping a beat. 

Since NEAR released the design for the protocol back in 2019, it was always designed to be a sharded blockchain. However, when we were preparing for the launch in early 2020, we realized that there was no need to launch a completely sharded network. Sharding is a very complex piece of technology, and the network was brand new. It didn’t need to be capable of handling hundreds of millions of transactions at launch. 

We decided to focus on the stability of the network first and launch sooner, so developers and entrepreneurs can start building on the NEAR Mainnet as soon as possible. However, after a few months, demand shot up. 

We have seen the average number of daily transactions rising to 300k. With the emergence of more and more projects building on NEAR, the number of transactions is only going to increase in the coming months. While the network is still currently using only 5% of the total capacity, we wanted to start the transition to sharding now to avoid any unpleasant surprises and ensure we can support all the applications on NEAR.

Like with our mainnet launch, we’ve taken a cautious and pragmatic approach to roll out any new features on NEAR to ensure our community is able to keep building without losing key functionality. As a result, we have created a four-stage rollout of sharding, which we’ve detailed below.  

Phase 0: Simple Nightshade

Increasing the Throughput of the Network

In this initial phase, we will shard the state, but not processing. We are going to split the current state into four shards while still having all validators track all shards. Nonetheless, the throughput of the Network will significantly increase.

In this step, we have built a mechanism to split a shard into multiple parts through live upgrades, which will serve as the foundation for dynamic resharding in the future. Meanwhile, because every shard is still validated by all validators, the safety guarantees remain the same. We plan to launch phase 0 in November 2021.

Phase 1: Chunk-Only Producers

Further Decentralizing the Network

In this phase, we introduce a new role: chunk-only producers, who only validate one shard. They produce chunks (shard blocks) for some specific shard and only need to run inexpensive hardware. Because they neither produce blocks nor contribute to the approvals, the security of the chain is not affected. 

The introduction of chunk-only producers also helps increase the total number of validators and improve the decentralization of NEAR as a whole. Once this phase is complete, we will have 200-400 validators and only a fraction of them (block producers) need to run more expensive hardware. We expect to deliver phase 1 in January 2022.

Phase 2: Nightshade

Increasing the Accessibility for Validators

In this phase, we finish the implementation of challenges, thereby eliminating the need for any validators to track all the shards. Once this step is completed, both state and processing will be fully sharded. This will also further lower the hardware requirements of running a block producer on NEAR, making the network more accessible for validators. We expect to deliver phase 2 in Q3 2022.

Phase 3: Dynamic Resharding

Unlocking NEAR to Infinite Scale

After phase 2 is complete, we will have a fully functional sharded mainnet with a fixed number of shards. In phase 3, we want to expand on that and create the ability for the network to dynamically split and merge shards based on resource utilization. This will make NEAR almost infinitely more scalable and resilient to short-term usage spikes. We expect to deliver phase 3 in Q4 2022.

Sharding is not the final phase of evolution for NEAR Protocol. Rather, we hope it’s just the beginning. We are simultaneously working on a number of improvements on the protocol level to build a secure, developer-friendly, and scalable blockchain that can support mainstream usage and adoption. 

For more details, please check out the protocol development roadmap

Aurora, an Ethereum scaling solution that allows projects built on Ethereum to utilise the cutting-edge technology of NEAR has teamed up with Etherscan, the leading block explorer for Ethereum to allow developers to use the same familiar tool. 

While Aurora utilises NEAR as its foundation, it has always envisioned a future in which projects can move seamlessly between blockchains to suit their needs. The partnership with Etherscan is a significant step in that direction. 

“Etherscan provides the familiar interface of the explorer,” says Alex Shevchenko, the CEO of Aurora Labs. “Users and devs won’t need to educate themselves on how to use the Aurora block explorer, instead they would get the familiar tool.”

While Etherscan is most commonly known as a block explorer for Ethereum, it’s capable of so much more: from statistics, and token transfers and listing; to smart contract source code verification and ability to issue read and write calls directly from the UI. Making those tools available to a greater number of devs is key to Aurora’s mission. 

“Aurora is always focused on making the experience of devs and users as seamless as possible,” says Shevchenko. 

The explosive growth of DeFi and NFTs frequently causes surges in Ethereum gas prices––a problem that economically limits the participation of many users, and prevents dApp developers from scaling their businesses to their full potential. Helping developers to grow their business is a mission Etherscan shares with Aurora.

“We are happy to utilize our experience in building block explorer solutions into supporting Aurora, and extend our own vision of providing equitable access to blockchain data”, says Matthew Tan, Founder & CEO of Etherscan.

While today marks the start of the integration process, the product will be available later in the year. Stay tuned for updates on the release and other upcoming ones from the Aurora team.


About NEAR

NEAR Protocol is a high-performance blockchain platform for developing Open Web applications. Easy to build on and easy to use, NEAR will bridge the users of today’s internet to the blockchain-based web of the future.

NEAR Protocol is built by a world-class team of engineers and entrepreneurs, including world champions of ACM-ICPC, Google Code Jam, and TopCoder Open. NEAR is backed by top VCs such as A16Z, Pantera Capital, Electric Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Blockchain.com, and Baidu Ventures.

Join NEAR’s community:

Telegram: https://t.me/cryptonear
Discord: https://discord.com/invite/UY9Xf2k
Twitter: @NEAR_Blockchain & @NEARProtocol

About Aurora

Aurora is an EVM built on the NEAR Protocol, delivering a turn-key solution for developers to operate their apps on an Ethereum-compatible, high-throughput, scalable and future-safe platform, with low transaction costs for their users.

Join Aurora’s community:

Telegram: https://t.me/auroraisnear
Discord: https://discord.com/invite/dEFJBz8HQV
Twitter: @Auroraisnear

In July 2021, Textile launched the Filecoin-NEAR bridge, taking the first step to provide simple, permissionless storage for smart contracts on NEAR — a sharded layer 1 blockchain protocol for building user-friendly decentralized applications. The novel storage bridge creates a seamless way for NEAR applications, smart contracts, or NFTs to integrate Filecoin-based storage of any form of data. In addition, to encourage utilisation of the bridge, storage costs on Filecoin via the bridge have been and will be provided free.

Today we are excited to deepen the collaboration between the Filecoin ecosystem and the NEAR ecosystem with the launch of a $300,000 joint grants program designed to support developers interested in exploring new opportunities at the intersection of these two protocols. Upon receiving a grant, projects will also gain access to the global collectives of both NEAR and Filecoin to support product development and user growth.

About NEAR: A Developer Friendly, Sharded, Proof-of-Stake Public Blockchain

NEAR is a decentralized application platform built to bridge the users of today’s Internet to the blockchain-based web of the future. NEAR is a PoS layer 1 blockchain platform, built with UX and DevX in mind. NEAR’s novel sharding mechanism, Nightshade, parallelizes computation on chain and automatically increases capacity when needed, resulting in theoretically infinite scalability.

NEAR Protocol is built by a world-class team of engineers and entrepreneurs, who have won two ICPC world championships and medals, Google Code Jam and TopCoder. NEAR is backed by A16Z, Pantera Capital, Electric Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Blockchain.com, and Baidu Ventures. To learn more about NEAR, please visit their official website or follow their Twitter and Telegram.

More than just Storage: Filecoin offers a unique Web3 Building Block

Filecoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer data network, allowing anyone to store or validate data within its network. Under the hood, all Filecoin nodes use the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), one of the most widely-used data distribution protocols for Web3.

The Filecoin Network offers the following features that make it attractive for both Web2 and Web3 use cases and developers.

  • Content Addressable Data — Filecoin is a decentralized storage network built on content addressable data at the heart of Web3.
  • Verifiable Storage with Proofs — The Filecoin blockchain verifies that all data is continuously stored on the network every 24 hours; proof of this can be bridged to other smart contract systems.
  • Decentralized Storage at Scale — The Filecoin network is onboarding more than 1PiB of storage capacity every hour.
  • Flexible Storage Options — A global network of storage providers, each offering different features and local optimizations, allow for maximal composability and emergence.

Filecoin brings a unique building block to the Web3 ecosystem and the intersection of NEAR and Filecoin promises new applications and use cases. You can learn more about business opportunities on Filecoin in this video.

Joint Grants for Filecoin and NEAR Application Development

Filecoin and NEAR are offering a $300,000 grant pool to developers. Any project that demonstrates or enables integrations between Filecoin and NEAR are encouraged to apply and all eligible projects will receive funding towards further development.

Here are some potential areas of exploration:

  • Decentralized Storage SDK + Demonstration app: An SDK for NEAR users to seamlessly employ Filecoin’s decentralized storage network, along with a demonstration application. The accompanying demonstration application should showcase the functionality of the SDK, as well as serve as a reference architecture for other NEAR developers.
  • Database APIs: Database overlays to make interacting with raw storage on Filecoin easier and more efficient.
  • New Web3 Applications:
  • Novel Web3 interactions such as Data Bounties, DataDAOs, Verifiable Computation, Perpetual Storage, Layer 2 Protocols, etc., leveraging verifiable storage on Filecoin, smart contract abilities on NEAR, and data bridge built by Textile.
  • DeFi applications that interact with textile.io or other reputation indexes for Filecoin storage providers. These applications can also utilize the Aurora Bridge.

If you would like to participate in the Filecoin-NEAR Grant Program, please apply here by October 31, 2021 for consideration. Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so early submissions are encouraged.

We are excited to announce the first in a series of NEAR MetaBUIDL hackathons with $1M in prizes until the end of the year! While most activities at these hackathons will be online, in a novel mixed physical-virtual format several cities will be hosting hackers in-person. We’re opening the floodgates to showcase what’s possible in the NEARverse. Come hack with us and build the apps that will onboard the next billion users to Web3.

The first MetaBUIDL Hackathon runs from Aug 27 to Sep 12.

We’re encouraging the next wave of BUILDers to choose NEAR because it’s the only blockchain platform that is ready to support the mass adoption of dapps. The NEAR wallet offers a hassle-free experience for Web2 users on mobile or desktop. Fiat on/off ramps are available all over the world. NEAR developer tools work across familiar Web2 languages like Rust and TypeScript, along with common Web3 tools like Solidity and Substrate chains.

A series of three hackathons from August through the end of this year will provide endless possibilities to boost groundbreaking business ideas. By joining these epic events, participants will  get access to countless community-driven innovations from across the NEAR ecosystem.

Hackathons

The NEAR MetaBUIDL hackathons will feature exciting themes focused on solving real-world problems when combined with the new reality of Metaverse and Blockchain. All developers are welcome to ideate and build on existing concepts or develop their own.

NEAR Foundation has committed up to $1M in prizes linked to specific tracks and bounties. The MetaBUIDL theme explores how web3 technology meshes with our work and play. All developers and ecosystem members building in one of these areas, or interested in exploring them with a team, are encouraged to apply.

Hack-Nodes

All NEAR Hackathons will be hybrid physical-virtual: Online for global accessibility with  in-person meet-ups in select cities for a more social, traditional team-building experience. The NEAR Community team will spin up events––called Hack-Nodes––in  a minimum of three cities per hackathon. These Hack-Node activations will include local presentations, judging, and live-streamed events.

Community members are welcome to spin up local Hack-Nodes in their areas. The details for creating local Hack-Nodes are open source. We encourage Guilds and community leaders to start Hack-Nodes wherever they are in the world to welcome friends and colleagues into the NEAR experience. NEAR will contribute funds to support local events and even dedicated prize pools to encourage participation.  Due to continuing COVID-19 concerns, Hack-Nodes will be required to comply with local regulations and take appropriate safety precautions.

The MetaBUIDL Goal

Hackathons are essential to educate and excite novice and seasoned BUILDers alike about the possibilities of crypto and Web3 and we’re excited to bring this series to the NEAR community. . Many of the biggest and best companies in the ecosystem began as hackathon projects, including 1inch, which is now the second-largest decentralized exchange by usage.

MetaBUIDL Hackathon winners who choose to pursue their projects beyond the hackathons will be  eligible for grants and investment from NEAR ecosystem funds such as  Open Web Collective, NEAR Foundation, NEAR Asia, and major VCs who will participate  as judges.

Any participating team is also encouraged to explore funding opportunities and support beyond the hackathon, even if they don’t win a bounty or prize category. For example, the  NEAR Grants Program and Community Fund, which is run by a series of DAOs, offer support and funding to turn hacks into real products.

The time for mass crypto adoption is here and it will happen on NEAR. Whether you are a seasoned Web3 engineer, an experienced developer exploring crypto, or a novice excited to learn what’s possible, there is a place for you in the NEAR ecosystem. Apply to participate in the MetaBUIDL Hackathon series by August 27th!

The NFT.HipHop marketplace auction of the Hip Hop Heads collection began on Juneteenth and will run for 37 days, until July 25. A celebration of the history of hip hop and its most iconic artists, the pop-up marketplace also highlights some engineering innovations that highlight the advanced NFT developer and user experience on NEAR. NFT.HipHop incorporates seamless NEAR account creation, the ability to purchase NFTs with a credit card, customizable royalty splits that follow NFTs across marketplaces, and the debut of NFTs displaying in the NEAR wallet. 

Inside the User Experience

The NFT.HipHop auction marks a radical change in the way that NFT marketplaces can be executed. The user onboarding flow makes the process universally accessible and as familiar as any Web2 purchasing experience. With this new creative approach, end users with no existing crypto knowledge can easily purchase NFTs without the hurdles of onboarding to an exchange, purchasing cryptocurrency, or choosing and connecting a wallet. Thanks to the app’s wallet faucet and NEAR’s human-readable account naming system, all a user has to do is choose a NEAR name and the application handles the rest.

Marketplace credits for placing NFT bids can be purchased with a credit card. There is no complex, multi-step process of purchasing crypto through an exchange and paying high transaction fees as would be required with other NFT marketplaces today. Using crypto can be a confusing process for a novice, but by employing this progressive onboarding flow, the barrier to entry for crypto has been all but eliminated. The goal is to make NFTs accessible to all kinds of hip hop fans, not just crypto-native fans.

Inside the App

At its core, the NFT.HipHop marketplace is a standard React application with state management. dApp developers retrieve on-chain state using the NEAR API Helper, which interacts with the NEAR blockchain via CloudFlare. This tool allows caching heavy queries when the user lands on the page, as there are 103 portraits in the Hip Hop Heads collection and 37 available editions of each Head. As the user explores the marketplace, they’re only viewing one basic type of NFT. The canonical tokens, or “gem tokens,” are stored, and individual edition bids and sales are visible to the user within each gem. When clicking on an individual token, one sees which editions are for sale and the bidding history is pulled from the marketplace contract.

When the user is ready to bid on an NFT, a React component handles the flow of creating a NEAR account; if you already have a NEAR Wallet, you go straight to buying credits. Then the user gets a prompt to add “credits” to their account using Stripe. This happens through a custom-built stripe-payment-sandbox, which converts fiat into credits that are actually native fungible tokens usable only on the NFT.HipHop app.

This Stripe payment fiat onramp is accomplished by wrapping the fungible token standard with a custom API to ensure that only transfers to the marketplace or started by the marketplace are possible, in addition to tracking Stripe charges used to mint the tokens. The latter makes it possible to automate refunds when the auction concludes. The standard contract methods are wrapped so that an “assertion” can be added, verifying that transfer requests involve the marketplace. If the assertion fails, the smart contract will “panic,” displaying an alert indicating that “only transfers from the marketplace are allowed.”

Inside NFT Royalties on NEAR

Nearly all of the backend accounting is done transparently on the blockchain and is visible on NEAR Explorer, allowing for transparency paired with a real ability to illustrate the flow of funds. Using the Standard for a Multiple-Recipient-Payout mechanic on NFT Contracts, royalties on NEAR follow the NFTs in perpetuity. This allows for royalty enforcement across different marketplaces and applies to secondary sales. A user could have an NFT in their NEAR wallet and go to a different marketplace on NEAR, such as Paras or Mintbase, for a potential resale. With the royalties embedded in the actual NFT token, they must be respected in order to complete the transfer of that NFT. Completely customizable, royalties can be split between multiple contributors, beneficiaries, and even DAOs. This standard is the first of its kind and a key differentiator for NFT developers, artists, and users alike.

When the 36-day marketplace draws to a close, every auction winner will see their NFT displayed in their NEAR wallet––in fact, all NEAR NFTs from any marketplace are displayed in a collectibles tab in the wallet. Like art hanging on a gallery wall or in your home, the user’s collection is accessible within a few clicks, and not just within an individual marketplace. 

Inspired? Start Building!

Supporting documentation and open source repositories for building NFT marketplaces on NEAR are available to all. Any developer can utilize the concepts in this marketplace and model their dApps on this construct or remix different elements as part of a new idea. Head over to NFT.HipHop to see how NEAR’s seamless and easy tech can empower builders to create accessible, delightful user experiences.

No spam. Never shared. Opt out at any time.