Building the Future of Money
Conversations with third-party Nano developers
This blog was written by and based upon series of interviews carried out by Nano community manager RockmSockmJesus. Emphasis and formatting edits have been added to quotes for clarity and readability.
Communities have extraordinary power. The collective attitudes and efforts of its members have the potential to affect significant change, from micro to the macro scale. Thriving communities are able to gain momentum and overcome great hurdles from the seemingly small (and sometimes large) actions of their individual members.
The Nano community was in its infancy throughout 2017 but began to grow at a pace in early 2018, and has continued its impressive trajectory ever since. Some community members are now Nano protocol developers and are creating the foundation for other community developers to build and creating on top of.
Arguably the most important development work is carried out by community members who create the third-party tools that both enable the growth of the ecosystem and invite further creative expansion. With people from all walks of life contributing to the goal of revolutionizing world currency, we have seen the creation of ingenious new tools that have added incredible functionality to, and become the basis for, the important Nano ecosystem we have today.
Within this article we’ll explore some of the experiences and similarities these third-party developers shared when learning and eventually creating with Nano.
A spark of curiosity
These community members-turned contributors start out much like many of us in the digital currency space; learning about digital currencies, usually by word-of-mouth, from other excited people. Some start with purely financial interests but soon engage after learning of the many outlets for this breakthrough technology.
Andrew Mitchell, the creator of the Nano Tip Bot for Twitter, shares his story of finding Nano:
I first heard of cryptocurrencies back in college around 2012, where I thought it was just some way to buy drugs off the internet. Then I picked back up interest in 2016 when I was chatting with a friend looking at prices. That piqued my curiosity so I dug into some exchanges and started casually trading in 2017. Once I saw nano was fast and feeless, I thought it would be perfect to develop on because I could test with no worry of losing any value.
Andrew’s curiosity led to the development of his Nano Tip Bot for Twitter, enabling a platform of over 300 million active users to easily send and share Nano with friends.
Yekta, the co-creator of the Natrium mobile wallet, shares a similar story of discovering Nano and being intrigued by the possibilities:
My brother […] introduced me to it, and I got interested quickly. It was purely financial for me at the start though. Then I started looking into tech aspect and researching, it seemed interesting too so I continued […] At the time we were searching for new projects with my brothers, reading whitepapers, looking into the communities of their projects, trying to evaluate how useful they are etc. And Nano was a pretty good match
Natrium also was the subject of a recent speed-test video comparing the fast transfer speeds in Nano to email and SMS speeds. Some creators, like Zily88 of the Reddit Tip Bot, were drawn to developing with Nano after being frustrated with the scaling issues faced by other approaches to digital currency:
[…] then in early December my cousin, who is barely into crypto, sent me an article about “Raiblocks” As I read about it, I was fascinated with how well it worked and that they were attempting to make a feeless instant coin, something which other coin creators scoff at. Then, Bitcoin became way more popular. The price, along with its fees, skyrocketed. Combining that with the rivalry of the BCH community, I sort of lost a bit of faith in BTC and decided most of my holdings should go to Raiblocks.
The spark ignites into the flames of inspiration
These creators, interested in this new and revolutionary technology, are inspired to create when they see an opportunity present itself. Some see more natural ways to share Nano with others, and other creators see opportunity in introducing Nano to new platforms and audiences.
Ty Schenk, CEO and co-founder of BrainBlocks, recounts his and co-founder Daniel Brain’s motivations for starting the service:
So Daniel actually started BrainBlocks in early January of 2018. Around that time there wasn’t really any way to pay merchants online and he wanted to fix that by building a platform to pay online using his experience in payment platforms. I joined Daniel just a day or two after launching BrainBlocks with the intention to build a mobile app where you can accept Nano locally like a point of sale. Additionally, I wanted to build some SDKs that could wrap around BrainBlocks and make it straightforward for anyone to accept Nano. I would say my main drive behind contributing was that I believed in Colin’s vision and I wanted to do anything I could to help enable his vision. I wanted Nano to be used around the world
Daniel and Ty saw an opportunity to add something new on top of Nano and decided to create something that adds the functionality needed to further Nano’s goal of being used worldwide. This incredible talent to identify potential and to develop solutions sits as the bedrock of our community. Their company, BrainBlocks, provides a full-featured wallet and global payment service for Nano.
The potential for improvement is not always clear, however, and concepts that are intrinsic to Nano (and cryptocurrency in general) also have to be solved in the push for adoption. Decentralization is a core feature in the composition of a true cryptocurrency, and its importance can never be understated. Nano builds its decentralization on a unique Open Representative Voting (ORV) consensus algorithm which requires users to select representatives that they trust.
BitDesert of MyNano.Ninja found his opportunity in creating better transparency for representatives in the Nano network. MyNano.Ninja is a website where people can see their representative, and choose a better one if needed.
BitDesert had the following to say about him finding his opportunity:
Nano is based on representatives, but how do you know which representative you should choose? So I build My Nano Ninja where the representatives can link their address to social profiles and add more information. Additionally we get more information about the rep with uptime tracking, age and the scoring system. Then everybody can easily see which reps are good and switch to them. […] Without decentralization any crypto is worthless. and for nano the most important part are the representatives, and the [Nano] system is pretty unique if you compare it to e.g. bitcoin, so we need a new system [for tracking representatives]
Paul.b, the creator of the convenient Chrome extension Nano Pay, also had a similar epiphany when he realized a useful tool for the ecosystem simply didn’t exist yet. Nano Pay allows anyone using Chrome to send Nano to addresses found on the web seamlessly. This is an essential first step toward eventual interoperability between platforms, and Nano is the perfect messenger.
Paul.b commented as well on the creative possibilities within the Nano ecosystem:
I started to search for a way to simplify tipping on the web with nano. I was at first very surprised no tool like mine already existed. I mean that’s something that makes your life way more easier. That made me realize that at the moment there is almost no software developed on top of the nano protocol to make usage of it. You could almost rewrite any type of software ( Games like rpgs. , tipping like Patreon , micro-transaction in chat etc) to make use of the nano currency. The potential is incredible
Not everyone who starts on the journey toward creating a new tool or extension for Nano knows quite how they are going to solve the problems they have identified. Some developers have a less clear path ahead than others, but that doesn’t stop them from starting. Those who take it upon themselves to learn new programming languages for the sake of creating something new are essential to the community and are well suited to the dynamic, and ever-changing space Nano currently finds its self in.
Others use the opportunity as a way to showcase their programming skills in hopes of creating a more innovative portfolio of work. Zily88 remarked on some of his motivations regarding the creation of the Reddit Tip Bot:
I recently moved and am in a job search. I took up Python about 5 years ago and had used it for a lot of data analysis. By writing the Reddit Tip Bot, I was able to show off my c̶r̶e̶a̶t̶i̶v̶e̶ innovative programming skills by putting it on GitHub. As for why I made the tip bot specifically, as opposed to other projects, I had built the NanoBrewed kegerator which really helped familiarize me with how to work a Node and how to send transactions by programming. I started off writing the tipbot thinking “ah, there’s no way I’ll be able to actually write this. I need SQL, a Reddit interface…”
A functional and productive community can help solve these issues, and after reading of other people who embarked on the same project, and learning what they did and mistakes they made, it made the process more clear.
I asked around, got a few answers with some difficulties [I] encountered. I think Colin chimed in when I was asking about it in December haha, encouraging me not to reinvent the wheel […] So I started writing it. Got my node running locally, learned how to use SQL (over Christmas break) then learned I would have to rewrite a lot of stuff. I kinda fell off for a few weeks, until a redditor asked the Nano community for a tipbot for his subreddit, and I was like “oh yeah, I was working on that!” and deployed the first prototype in Late January.
Bbedward, creator and lead developer of the highly regarded (and Nano community funded) Natrium mobile wallet, shared his motivations and stated what he’s learned throughout Natrium’s production.
A lot, a much deeper understanding of the nano protocol that came from implementing the low-level nano operations in Dart, I learned modern Android development conventions such as constraint layout, learned the Dart programming language and the Flutter framework. Anytime I take on a project in my spare time I try to use it as an opportunity to learn something new.
Don’t let your ideas smolder away — Light the fire!
We’d like to thank these people for investing their time and talent into the ecosystem and taking the time for sharing their story. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our resources here or drop by the Discord and say hi!
Our interviewees would also like to share a few words of encouragement to anyone who sees an opportunity involving Nano now or in the future and may be considering starting development:
— Bbedward of Natrium
I would say the best thing is to push yourself to learn more, build more, and try more. Things may be hard to figure out but there is always a way.
— Ty Schenk of BrainBlocks
I would recommend everyone to stop getting caught up on ideas and discussing them endlessly and start actually building things, with a plan, and if it fails, try again. And I would suggest them to never assume they can’t do something because it’s not their “area”, or they don’t have the “talent” for it, as long as they are interested in it, I think they should just start building. […] I was neither an interface designer, nor a coder a year ago, so I can definitely say it’s possible
— Yekta of Natrium
Do it son ! This project is not only about you and the profit you can make building a software. Think about the real world possibilities you could offer to the human civilization. You’re building the future!
— Paul.b of the Nano Pay Chrome Extension
My only advice is to just start. There are a number of great resources available to learn, and people are eager to answer questions if you’re truly interested. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot just by stumbling around!
— Andrew Mitchell of the Twitter Nano Tip Bot
Just start with anything (: Nano is a great place to try new things out
— BitDesert of MyNano.Ninja
Just get started on a simple project. It’s a pain to learn all the skills (e.g. node RPC) but once you learn it, you can learn new ones and build a project. Once that project gets built and you start to truly realize what Nano is, a world of possibilities starts to open from free and instant transactions. And talk to people on Discord if you run into trouble lol. There are a lot of great people who love to help out.
— Zily88 of the Reddit Tip Bot for Nano
So to sum up, ideas rarely matter until someone executes them
— Yekta of Natrium
Nano Foundation does not endorse or approve products and/or services used or developed by third parties. Any links to third party software or sites are for informational purposes only. Nano Foundation bears no responsibility for the operability, accuracy, legality or content of third party products and/or services. Any questions regarding third party material should be directed to that party.