Building on NEAR: a developer’s point of view
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Often described as a developer-friendly platform, NEAR offers comprehensive guides and useful resources to build dApps and smart contracts.
To learn more about what it’s like to build on NEAR, we talked to Ivan Rajkovic, Sr. Backend Engineer at Finoa. He spoke about his experience with NEAR, building the NEAR liquid staking infrastructure at Finoa, and what makes this network unique.
Tell us about yourself. How did you end up working in crypto?
I have been a developer for the last 15 years. I started with web development, then moved on to embedded and real-time systems, mostly centered around C and C++ in Linux environment.
After working in the aerospace and automotive industry for more than 3 years, I decided that it was time for a change. Initially, I thought that crypto as a finance sector would be too business-oriented for an engineer like me. But after one and a half years at Finoa, I’m glad to say that I was wrong. Blockchain is quite technical and there are always new and intriguing math and engineering challenges.
What’s unique about NEAR from a developer's perspective?
Throughout my time at Finoa, I have worked with a few different chains and protocols. What I can say about NEAR is that it is quite approachable. The documentation is comprehensive, there are a lot of resources and it’s very easy to jump in on NEAR as they have a testnet with a built-in wallet application where you can easily get tokens. With other networks, we’ve faced some problems where it was really difficult to get access to the tokens, making it troublesome to conduct a test run.
Recommended read: Report: The NEAR network in review, from core technologies to use-cases
What challenges did you face during the recent NEP-141 integration?
Most challenges surrounding the integration were specific to how the system works. At Finoa we had previously dealt only with NEAR native tokens.
When we decided to integrate the NEP-141 tokens, we knew that we had to extend the service to all the different kinds of tokens. One aspect that makes Finoa stand out is that we are self-reliant, meaning that we do everything on our own, without the use of any third party. We index the blockchain by talking directly with the blockchain nodes and we construct all transactions, sign them, and dispatch on our own.
Integrating NEP-141 meant that all these processes needed to be extended to support the NEAR token standard, which required a lot of cross-collaboration between the product and engineering teams.
What does Finoa's NEAR liquid staking infrastructure look like?
From one perspective, stNEAR, the liquid staking derivative of NEAR, is just a NEP-141 token. You can simply buy the tokens and transfer them to your Finoa wallet. On the other hand, stNEAR is a derivative that corresponds to your staked NEAR, and that opens a can of worms on the engineering side of things. Up to this point, users could only stake or unstake NEAR with us. But now, you’ve got stNEAR, which is not only a token but also enables you to unstake the NEAR that you never originally staked.
This adds additional complexity and from a user’s viewpoint, this process can look complicated. Finding the simplest way for everybody, from the users to the developers and the platform is the current challenge that we’re working to solve.
Would you recommend NEAR for beginner web3 devs?
As someone who was in the same spot a year ago, I can genuinely say that NEAR is a developer-friendly platform.
The network provides extensive guidelines along with media content like videos that are easier to follow and understand. NEAR documentation is gathered in a way and format that is targeted toward audiences with varying experiences. The collection has lots of helpful content that ranges from basic intros, like how to create a wallet, to staking contracts and code reviews by developers. The staking contract and the source codes are published which means you can always go back to the basics.
How do NEAR developer tools compare with other blockchains?
Most blockchains have open-source materials, but NEAR provides you with a gradual introduction at a business level. It answers questions ranging from “what is NEAR”, and “what is the purpose of this component,” all the way to elementary code.
In other blockchains, there is sometimes a disconnect between the marketing materials and the technical documentation. Added to that, the overuse of technical jargon and lack of connection between the tutorials, make engaging with the protocol a challenge. In contrast, NEAR provides a natural progression and easy-to-follow learning path.
What does the future look like for the tech team at Finoa?
The future is unknown but what we do know is that we’ll keep integrating more products. Every new integration gives us the opportunity to grow our systems and adapt the technical infrastructure to be more versatile. As we progress, we gather more momentum, making it easier to integrate future products. We gather knowledge of new tools, processes, and structures.
Things can change and evolve and the only way to survive is to adapt and grow.