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Near at ETHDenver 2023

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This article is sponsored by Near

It feels like a long time ago since CoinGecko first covered Near in early-2022, but despite the bear market the budding ecosystem has continued to grow in number of users as well as overall usage. 

Source: NearBlocks.io

Just to recap, Near launched in 2020 as a sharded, delegated proof-of-stake blockchain with the same smart contract functionality we see in other popular Layer 1 chains. Near has set itself apart from other L1s by combining and reiterating on the best features of other chains, on top of having a strong focus on user experience, developer friendliness, and interoperability. Since Day One, Near has been compatible with EVM, Rust, and WASM, while offering a number of user-friendly features such as default human-readable addresses (e.g. address.near) and a web wallet with the option to set up / recover account via email or mobile for convenience.

But as Near co-founder Illia Polosukhin announced at ETHDenver, Near is now more than just a blockchain. Near is the Blockchain Operating System. An industry-first category, the Blockchain Operating System is a common layer for browsing and discovering open web experiences, compatible with any blockchain. The Blockchain Operating System will make Near the entry point for the Open Web, for users and developers alike. A crucial development in Near’s “Web2.5” strategy, the Blockchain Operating System will make both Web3 and Web2 easier than ever to access and navigate. 

Near developers have been hard at work throughout 2022, and made a number of other notable announcements during ETHDenver this year. We jump into some of the latest developments within the Near ecosystem, including more details on the Blockchain Operating System.

 

Near is the Blockchain Operating System (BOS)

The largest unveiling on Near Day at ETHDenver was Near’s ambitions to be the Blockchain Operating System. From its initial starting point of building a highly scalable and performant L1, it is now moving up the blockchain stack by introducing a fully composable front-end it calls the Blockchain Operating System (BOS). 

Source: Near Blog

BOS aims to tackle several critical challenges around building front-ends for Web 3.0 apps, including access, security, composability, and agility. With BOS, users always have the ability to locally run blockchain applications, which helps assure robustness and censorship-resistance, while maintaining a user-friendly experience.

The BOS brings together many elements that the Near team has been working on all in one place, and presents it in a very user and developer friendly manner. The three pillars which make up the BOS are Gateways, Components, and Blockchains. We’ll examine each pillar in turn.

 

Gateways

A gateway consists of a specially designed virtual machine that loads and runs frontends for dapps built on blockchains such as Ethereum, L2s, and other Layer 1s like Near. Think of them as a landing page, or browser, from which users can interact with different dapps via their front-end. For example take alpha.near.org, the new BOS homepage launched by Near. 

When you first arrive you land on the Social Activity Page, which displays a front end for the Near Social dapp. However, as you move through the different pages, you’ll realize by hovering over the “Discover” button in the top banner that each page is actually a different component (more on components later!). So, what’s happening? Well, alpha.near.org is loading and running each of these components from their source code stored on-chain on Near. By selecting Discover -> Components, a user can browse through all existing available components on alpha.near.org.

In addition to alpha.near.org, other examples of gateways include bos.gg, near.social, and Cantopia.

 

Components

Components are really the fundamental building blocks of BOS. They are frontends for dapps (think Lido, Uniswap, Aave) that are stored entirely on-chain. Because each component is “just” a frontend, they still rely on the underlying dapp to provide the core functionalities, but presented in a different manner. A notable example of this is comparing the Social Activity Page for alpha.near.org and the homepage for Near Social itself. Both are reliant on the same underlying near.social dapp, but use a different layout for the various functions and features. 

Components are coded in a limited version of JSX (JavaScript with ReactJS) and are completely stored on the Near blockchain. Each component is a standard unit of software that packages up code and dependencies for rapid and reliable execution. Because of this, anyone could easily examine the source code for these components through a Gateway, similar to how you would examine a smart contract code on a block explorer such as Etherscan. 

However, what’s even more powerful is that with BOS, Near provides the tools for developers to easily fork a component. If you like a particular frontend but want to make some changes to meet your own needs, just go ahead and fork it, make the requisite changes, and then republish it as a new component. 

Having components stored on the Near blockchain also has other advantages. As the code is visible by anyone, it is open source by default. The blockchain automatically tracks any new releases by the developer, while also keeping an archive of older versions, thereby enabling automatic version control. This degree of transparency also allows anyone to audit the code before using any frontend to verify its integrity, and that it’s not doing any funny business.

Any developer just needs a Near account and some NEAR tokens to deploy components. You can view and create components at bos.gg.

 

Blockchains

Finally, none of this would be possible without the dapps being built on blockchains. Components can call functions on any blockchain, with current support for all EVM chains / L2s and Near. Given Near’s longstanding chain-agnostic approach, expect support for more chains to come in the future. 

 

Other Announcements from ETHDenver 2023

Near JavaScript SDK 1.0

Pagoda (formerly Near Inc.), announced the v1.0 Release of Near’s Javascript SDK. The JS SDK allows developers to build smart contracts on Near using JavaScript, the most popular programming language today. This is in addition to Near’s native programming language, Rust. 

Flowcarbon Building on Near

Flowcarbon, which counts former WeWork founder Adam Neumann as one of its co-founders, announced that they will be building their carbon-market ecosystem on Near. The company seeks to tokenize carbon credits on the Near network, which can then be traded onchain. As part of this partnership, Near plans to offset its carbon footprint through Flowcarbon with the aim of becoming a carbon-negative blockchain.

Flow Carbon’s carbon credit token will be launched on both Near and Aurora. Validators will be set up for the purpose of offsetting, and large Near holders will be able to stake with these validators.

Few and Far Raises $10.5M in Funding

Few and Far, a leading Digital Collectibles Web3 platform on Near, announced that it had secured $10.5M in a funding round led by Pantera Capital. The round also includes Cypher Capital, Huobi Ventures, Hypersphere, Metaweb, Mantis Partners, K5 Global and many more. 

The new funds will help expand the platform’s capabilities, enhance user experience, and increase the number of Web3 developers. IP owners also stand to benefit from the platform. Few and Far features an all-inclusive platform available to carry out everything related to next generation digital collectibles, including a suite of developer tools. 

Stack Sports Partners with Near to enable Royalty-Free NFT Minting

StackNFT, a subsidiary of Stack Sports, announced a partnership with Near to offer an NFT platform that allows youth athletes of all ages and skill levels to create and capture their favorite sports memories digitally. Through the platform, youth sports parents and athletes can effortlessly mint royalty-free NFTs on Near, without any advanced knowledge of the minting or wallet creation process. 

The platform has a simplified three-step process where users can upload their favorite youth sport moments, decorate the picture with background templates and design tools, before minting it as NFTs.

Calimero, Private Shard Infrastructure Built on Near, Comes Out of Stealth

Calimero is a customizable sidechain built on top of Near. It is a solution for companies to deploy private shard infrastructure for their applications. Through Calimero, companies can spin off their own private shards (think of them as small private blockchains) with their own set of validators, but still be able to communicate between shards, as well as with other networks. Transactions within shards can be set to be free, while assets are still able to interact cross-chain with open networks and their dapps, e.g. DeFi and NFTs.

By building on Near, Calimero’s private shards have all the benefits of Near in terms of high performance, security, and sustainability.

Calimero is targeting so-called “Web2.5”, seeking a way to connect Web3 and Web2 worlds. For Web3 startups, Calimero provides a unique way to scale their products and leverage the privacy features, giving access to target Enterprise customers and getting access to new audiences. For classic Enterprises, Calimero offers a way to build new products and onboard chosen Web3 mechanics to find new areas to grow their businesses.


Try out the Alpha at alpha.near.org to experience the world’s first Blockchain Operating System. If you’re a developer, see how easy it is to fork components and create new Web3 apps and experiences. And if you’re an end user, see how easy it is to explore Web3 experiences, social media, and news all in one place.

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