Developer Experience Improvements and NEARCON 2022

Drew Gorton

Head of DevRel, Pagoda

October 3, 2022

NEARCON 2022 is in the books and it was an amazing event. Our team was in beautiful Lisbon Portugal along with approximately 3,000 others attending the second ever NEARCON. It was a big milestone for our community; the first NEARCON in October of 2021 was a big success at the time with roughly 600 attendees. It was mind blowing to see so many people and projects gathering enthusiastically to share about how they are building with NEAR and learn from others.


Pagoda's Introduction

This was the first time many people in our community heard or saw the name Pagoda. I was incredibly privileged to be able to present on behalf of Pagoda with Julie Bissinger, our COO, on the Main Stage. We shared a trip through NEAR’s history and Pagoda’s origins as NEAR, Inc, as well as what Pagoda is building today.


The Story of NEAR

Julie shared the story of NEAR from her perspective as a leader in the ecosystem for many years now. Some of the highlights for me were her stories of the early office in San Francisco, the launch of Mainnet in 2020, and the early decision to focus on developer experience as a way to differentiate NEAR and scale to billions of users. You can watch the full presentation on NEAR’s YouTube channel!


Better Developer Experiences

In that theme of improving developer experience, we had three major announcements to celebrate at NEARCON.

1: Celebrating Sharding

Our first big announcement was the major release of our next phase of sharding. NEAR has been sharded since the launch of Mainnet and our 4-stage plan to further scale and deliver a dynamically shared blockchain hit a huge milestone at NEARCON. The next phase of sharding is now live on Mainnet. There was no downtime, no disruptions and no negative impact on builders or users. Everything just got better, faster and more decentralized. 

2: Celebrating our JavaScript Stack

The next big thing to celebrate was the launch of our JavaScript SDK. While this had technically been live for about a month, it continues to be huge news for NEAR and web3 as a whole. One of the barriers to blockchain development has been programming languages. Rust and Solidity are the most prominent programming languages for Layer 1 blockchains but there are fewer than 2.5 million developers worldwide who use them.

JavaScript, however, is used by more than 20 million developers worldwide. As Illia put it, “Developers can spend less time learning a new language and more time building. Enabling millions of developers to build on NEAR is a critical step in achieving our vision of reaching a billion users.”

3: Celebrating Pagoda’s Launch

NEAR was built to scale massively. But as Julie shared, having the capacity to scale without people to use it isn’t particularly useful. That led the founding team to focus on making NEAR as easy to build on as possible. After Mainnet launched, or, as Julie put it “once the first hard thing was done”, Developer Experience became the next major focus for Pagoda. 

At NEARCON we unveiled Pagoda’s biggest release yet. Our goal at Pagoda is to save you time and increase confidence in dApp development on NEAR. We spent the week demoing Pagoda at our booth, getting your feedback and talking with teams about how Pagoda can replace bespoke tools that teams have built (like triggers and alerts) and let them focus more time on the high-value features for their dApp.


Getting Better Together

One of my personal highlights from the event was a conversation I had with two who devs stopped by to talk about Pagoda. One of them had tried an early release of Pagoda and noted that the preliminary version of our alerts functionality didn’t include the full alert information in the JSON object returned. This meant the devs needed to do an additional lookup to find out more on how to respond. Not a huge problem, but definitely sub-optimal. 

I started to ask them for more info when Charles, one of our Engineering Managers, walked up. Charles was immediately aware of the issue and mentioned that someone had already shared this feedback in GitHub and, in fact, his team had already implemented it. 

It was a great moment when we all collectively realized that this was the person who’d left the feedback and he was now talking with the team lead who had addressed it. This is part of the magic of getting better together as a community. This is how it’s supposed to work. I love it when a community comes together to learn from each other, listen and improve together.


All in all, it was a great week for us. We had a chance to meet our colleagues, interact with 500 hackathon participants, meet the community, see NEAR’s growth and more. We’re thrilled to have announced these major improvements to Developer Experience at NEARCON and look forward to many more to come in the future. Let’s build together!

Meet the first-ever

Web3 Startup


All the tools you need to build, launch, and grow your Web3 startup.