Not So Secret Handshake, Demystifying the HNS Ecosystem
Part 1: Urkel Labs
In this series I’ll be covering all the projects building on Handshake. After writing a short article with a high level take on the project I decided to take a deeper dive. If there is a project or person you’d like me to cover, reach out to me on Twitter.
Project Feature: Urkel Labs
Using phrases like “the first” or “early adopter” when it comes to Handshake is a bit redundant. The mainnet is only two months old so technically if you’re reading this you are an early adopter. That being said, the Urkel Labs team are building some of the core infrastructure that is required to make the ecosystem work and they’ve been at it for the last year and a half.
Lets meet the team at Urkel Labs:
The team seems to be based out of Minneapolis, which makes a lot of sense when you think about their companies namesake. Urkel Labs is named after the Urkel Tree an “an optimized and cryptographically provable key-value store for decentralized naming.” In short, it’s the data structure that underlies the Handshake blockchain. Why does a data structure have anything to do with Minneapolis? Because as you may have guessed, it’s named after everyone’s favorite nerd Steve Urkel, who lived in the nearby city of Chicago. There is probably no real geographic significance to their naming choice, but it makes for a nice paragraph; did I do that?
Other than excellent pop culture references, what do they do?
Great question. The Urkel boys, as I have just lovingly dubbed them, are responsible for three projects you’ll want to get familiar with.
If you’re not into crypto mining you may not immediately know what this is. HNSPool is a mining pool for the Handshake blockchain. Joining a pool allows you to earn a portion of block rewards with your mining rig even if you didn’t find the solution. You’re “pooling” resources to make sure that even the little guy can participate. The Urkel team was responsible for a lot of early tooling and utilities that helped jumpstart the community, and their pool is no exception.
Every blockchain needs a block explorer. In fact I think there is a country song with that lyric, but I digress. HNScan is a full featured block explorer for Handshake. If you’re wondering whether you’ve won your TLD auction, or if that OTC dealer was legit, you can watch your address for movement. They also have a nifty chart for general chain data like daily transaction volume, which is neat.
The more cross-compatible fullnode client implementations your public chain asset has, the more resilient its developer community, as more can contribute to the codebase and aid in the growth and adoption of the protocol. Written in Rust, this client is meant to complement HSD (the main reference implementation of Handshake, written in Node.js). Though still a WIP, the addition of more client libraries/fullnodes means that HNS is maturing quickly.
What else should you know about the Urkel?
Beyond these two essential tools they were also founding members of the Handshake Alliance (which dissolved post launch according to the profile from Messari). They’re a seemingly self-motivated group of early-adopters who are thumbing their nose (especially during social distancing) to bring you so much handshake goodness it’ll make your head spin.
This organization is working on a consortium of projects being built on Handshake that can work together to solve some of the early communities’ biggest needs.
How can you find them?
The entire project is open source and you can find their Github org here. They all seem to have contact information published on their prospective pages, but it appears their preferred contact email is email@example.com — and you can follow them on Twitter @UrkelLabs.
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Edited By: Steven McKie