What is NEAR?
NEAR is a sharded, developer-friendly, proof-of-stake public blockchain, built by a world-class team that has built some of the world's only sharded databases at scale. The blockchain is built from the ground up to make it easier to:
decentralized applications easily as a non-blockchain developer
users with a smooth experience, even if they aren't familiar with crypto
throughput cost-effectively via sharding once your application is wildly successful
In order for decentralized applications to make a big impact on the world,
they have to be easy to build, use, and maintain even when they scale to millions of users.
Why should I build on NEAR?
Better Blockchain Dev Tools
Develop with the tools and speed you're used to from the Web2 world.
Well-Supported OSS Stack
Online IDE + Fast Deployment
Create and deploy your first app to the NEAR blockchain in seconds with no setup required by using our online IDE and its range of example contracts. Try out NEAR Studio here.
Earn a percentage of the transaction fees generated by your smart contract, which opens up a whole range of automated royalty and licensing-based business models that were previously hugely difficult to implement as smart contracts on a blockchain.
Blockchain UX, Simplified
Let your users forget they're using a blockchain.
Let your users try your decentralized app the same way they try all other apps – for free. Prepay transactions for them so they don’t need to buy tokens or use a credit card just to start using your app.
Allow your users to sign up with just an email address and password or NEAR’s SSO… no keys and no browser extensions required until the user is ready to upgrade the security of their account and you can securely and atomically transfer them their account.
Let your users use your app without ever knowing they’re committing to a blockchain. Users can give apps permission to sign blockchain transactions on their behalf, and can revoke those permissions at any time. No signing transactions in the middle of a heated final battle.
How does NEAR Protocol work?
Sharding & Scalability
In 2017, a single Ethereum dApp became so popular it clogged the network, slowing all transaction processing almost to a halt. But at its peak, this dApp – Cryptokitties – had only ~14,000 users. First-generation blockchains like Ethereum are slow in part because every validating node must process every transaction.
Sharding allows the work of validating transactions to be broken up amongst many ‘shards’, each of which is validated by different nodes. This lets the work of validating transactions scale with the number of shards, making it easier for the network to handle large transaction throughput.
Sharding is a difficult engineering problem that has rarely been successfully implemented, and the NEAR team has previously built one of the only sharded databases in production at scale today (which is used by Uber, Goldman Sachs, and Comcast). For a better understanding of the NEAR sharding design called “Nightshade”, see the technical overview here.
Consensus & Validation
NEAR uses a novel Proof-of-Stake mechanism to ensure that transactions are validated correctly and that it is difficult and expensive for an adversary to attack the network and validate false information. Validators stake tokens in order to produce and verify blocks, and in return they earn block rewards that come from token supply inflation, transaction fees and storage fees. Three types of validator nodes contribute to securing the NEAR network:
- Chunk producers, who collect transactions for a shard and produce and communicate shard blocks, called chunks
- Block producers, who produce a single block containing all current chunks
- Fishermen, who watch and verify that state transitions in different blocks are accurate
Usage costs are paid in a native token called NEAR, which is used by the system to pay the validators who provide the scarce compute and storage resources that power the network.
Transaction fees are priced based on their complexity and storage fees are priced based on the amount and duration of space used. The system compensates validators using a static inflation rate which is offset by burning the tokens received for transaction and storage fees.
Both of these fees are set in a unit called “gas” which is priced in NEAR tokens by using a simple market-driven process that gets smoothed out by the system’s ability to dynamically add or remove capacity via resharding.
To learn more about NEAR’s economics, see the Economics Paper.
About the Project
NEAR Protocol is built in public, on an open-source codebase. You can contribute to the development of the core protocol by working on an open issue. The team working on the core protocol is actively involved in the Web Assembly and Rust communities, as well as contributing to public research knowledge around Proof of Stake.
Near Inc is building the core infrastructure and tooling of the NEAR Protocol, and has assembled an award-winning team of ex-Google, Facebook, MemSQL and Niantic engineers who have shipped the only sharded databases currently deployed at scale.
- ICPC Gold Medal (2008)
- ICPC Bronze Medal (2005)
- ICPC Finalist (2008)
- ICPC World Champion (2012)
- ICPC World Champion (2013)
- ICPC Gold Medal (2008)