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
Write blockchain smart contracts using familiar languages – Typescript and Rust, for starters – that compile to WebAssembly. Writing apps for the blockchain is easier when you don’t have to learn a niche domain-specific language, as well as new test suites and deployment tools. Typescript lets you write fast and tap into a vast pool of existing web developers to build your team, while Rust gives you the advantage of strong type safety and formally verified runtime to prevent costly smart contract bugs. Eventually, you’ll be able to write smart contracts for the NEAR blockchain in any language that can compile to WASM. Learn more about the NEAR dApp stack here.
Online IDE + Fast Deployment
Create and deploy your first app to the NEAR blockchain in seconds with our online IDE. You don’t need to worry about setting up a node or a deployment process in order to create an app – NEAR Studio handles that for you. Focus on features and not on basic infrastructure. Try out NEAR Studio here.
Get paid for creating contracts that are used by other projects. It’s straightforward to set a developer fee percentage that is charged in addition to transaction fees any time your smart contract is called. This 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 work out how to buy crypto tokens on an external exchange (or plunk down credit card details upfront) in order to start using your app.
Let your users sign up for a wallet the same way they would sign up for a regular account – with their email address and a password, or even with Single Sign-On. They can beef up their account security once they’re ready to commit. No browser extension needed (bye bye Metamask!), no need to keep their private keys safe from the get-go.
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 validated by different nodes. This lets the work of validating transactions scale with the number of shards, which makes it easier for the network to handle large transaction throughput. Sharding is a difficult engineering problem that has rarely been successfully implemented, and our team has previously built one of the only sharded databases in production at scale today, used by Uber, Goldman Sachs, and Comcast. For a better understanding of the NEAR sharding design Nightshade, see the technical overview here.
Consensus & Validation
NEAR uses a 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
To learn more about the different kinds of validators and their roles, read the Nightshade overview.
Block rewards, transaction fees and storage fees are paid in a native token called NEAR. While block rewards are dependent on inflation, transactions fees and storage fees have a fixed price, for either gas (to process the transaction), or per byte of data stored. These prices will be set via community governance processes. Because the network can expand and contract with the number of shards, this fixed fee allows validators to decide whether to contribute to the network based on the current demand for validation.
Fixed pricing makes it easier to budget for running your app based on its current and future usage.
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)