Hi NEAR, Dennis from the DevRel team here! NEARCON 2022 was a load of learning and good fun! I had the opportunity to meet many interesting engineers from a variety of backgrounds seeking to either learn about the ecosystem for the first time or get some help building their application. I enjoyed every second of it, and time flew by, so now that we're all back and NEARCON wrapped up... I'll be sharing a recap of how the NEARCON experience was for Pagoda at the conference's floor!
The NEARCON Warehouse
Located just off the Tagus river with a fresh breeze that served as a good refresher in between talks, the NEARCON warehouse kept surprising me. The inner entrance was decorated with walls of green leaves, strobe lights that lit the floor and neon logos that stood out like fireflies in the night.
Once inside, the metallic warehouse roof was at least a dozen meters high and the walls spanned wide across in what felt like a tech Valhalla. I was given a goodie bag with my badge at the registration desk and everywhere I looked I could see screens, plants and neon lighting.
The Pagoda Booth
Our booth was located further towards the eastern end of the warehouse, just before a wide exit decorated with plants dancing with the wind’s coming and going. We had three areas at the booth; a large screen with chairs to demo Pagoda, an area to pick up swag and the place I found myself most often - an area to help answer questions for developers building on NEAR.
Seeing my colleagues and the community for the first time in person was great! I was surprised when meeting my colleagues, however, as I thought I would have been able to recognize everyone immediately as I have spoken to them often and seen them through videoconferencing. However, it took me a few times for some of them! As for the community, I knew it would be a challenge since I had only seen their avatars on Discord and occasionally heard their voice during Office Hours.
The Flood That NEARly Ended It All
Shortly after the venue opened on the first day, a storm swept through Lisbon. The winds and rain were so intense that water started pouring in from the roof onto booths and the hall. It kept pouring too, for at least an hour or two. My excitement quickly turned to despair as I believed the event might be canceled.
Nonetheless my despair was proved wrong. The event continued, hackers coded with water sprinkling on their keyboards, assistance came very quickly, the floors were dried and the roof was patched. The weather also turned for the better and it ended up being a great week!
Lots of developers and members of the ecosystem came by to ask genuine questions on how to develop on NEAR, what Pagoda’s role is in the ecosystem, what the relationship is between the NEAR Foundation and Pagoda, and more. One of the most memorable questions I got was why I joined NEAR instead of Ethereum!
The first kind of questions were generally answered by referencing our docs or examples. Pagoda’s relationship with NEAR Foundation can be inferred from the NEAR white paper, but I found it easiest to just say that we’re the team that has been building the Open Source NEAR Protocol.
And, on that last question about why I did not join Ethereum; back in January when I started, The Merge was yet to be delivered while NEAR already had Proof of Stake with sharding. NEAR’s entire design was created with Dynamic Sharding in mind from the very beginning. So, for me, that choice was easy!
We dedicated half of our space to demo Pagoda Console - a handy tool where you can set up alerts for network events or function calls and cool analytics for smart contracts. One of the cool things we demoed was to set up analytics on Sweatcoin as it launched. We reached peak capacity on several graphs and those very high numbers interested a lot of people who were passing by.
508 hackers took part of the Hackathon challenges, and many Devs came by our booth with questions on how to implement their applications. Not only it was great to chat with builders and help see each project through in just 48hs, but we got so much amazing feedback on NEAR's developer tools, and infrastructure! All of it has been taken (and of course we welcome more!), so feel free to reach out to us anytime - we'll grow and improve these for hackers together. You can view the Dragon's Den pitches on the video below, or find the hackathon's recap on this other article!
NEARCON was an exhilarating experience which I would undoubtedly recommend. I only managed to get at most 5 hours of sleep every night and somehow that was enough for every day. If you’re into writing code, like to venture into new domains and enjoy interacting with smart people then you must not miss next year’s NEARCON!