Turning to the dark (and light) side

The City of Zion is extremely pleased to announce the release of Neon Wallet 2.0. Our engineers and designers have been hard at work over the past year taking the community’s feedback and transforming the Neon Wallet into a world-class decentralized application designed for the crypto novice and expert alike. We are excited to bring the smart economy to the lives of millions with the new streamlined and simple user experience and updated design. Myself and Maxwell Lasky are respectively the product and engineering leads on the build of the new Neon Wallet.

I’d like to give you a bit of background on how I came to work on the latest Neon Wallet, so let me take you back…

A little over a year ago, I didn’t even know of the existence of NEO, let alone the notion of trading crypto assets and storing them in a wallet. That changed when a close friend of mine suggested that I look for investment opportunities by considering a project called NEO because, well, he was invested in it. After a bit of background research into the space as a whole and into NEO specifically, I tentatively invested a small sum… just to get a feel for things.

To store my newly acquired assets, I downloaded my first wallet — NEON Wallet. It was clear that I was dealing with a very powerful tool but every button tap made me feel like a caveman prodding a fire. I was roundly outside of my comfort zone. From this position of curiosity and trepidation, I had a dig around, unsure of what I was doing and what the effects of my actions would be… I looked to my friends and the CoZ community to help me find my way and get the most out of my new wallet.

Since then, it’s been a wild ride.

Earlier this year, I was asked to join the fantastic and incredibly capable Moonlight team (www.moonlight.io). Then in April this year, Ethan Fast (@unignorant) reached out and asked if I’d work with him on the NEON Wallet. The brief was simple: create a new identity, revamp the look and feel of the application and introduce a number of additional features to the product that support the increased capabilities of the NEO network.

Discussions around the functionality and feature set of the new application were long and varied, in many ways also setting me back to square one. It quickly became clear that I was at ‘ground zero’ (again) and had a number of new terms and ways of working to familiarise myself with.

So, where did we start? Understanding. The first step in the iterative development cycle of any product is to understand what you have that your current users find useful and refine the next iteration with functionality they actually NEED. Next, we needed to understand what we already had by using the architecture of the existing application as a foundation. We then conducted a task analysis of what actions our users needed to perform on the system as well as looking at the new capabilities that were identified in feedback from the community. With this understanding we redesigned the interface around these core tasks with a suite of high level tabs to provide a sense of context and clarity for the functionality within. We then arranged the content so that each state of the application now has a clear task associated with it.

Like most product designers I’m always asking questions, such as “what problem is this solving?” or “under what circumstances does this happen?”. I’ve found that it always benefits the product to approach the inclusion of features from a position of “why would someone need this?”. This attitude really set the tone for working with Max (@comountainclimber), Evgeny (@evgenyboxer) and the rest of the CoZ wallet development team. It seems trite but I hope that our solutions consider the needs of all user types, and that we’ve succeeded in our goal of creating a truly simple-to-use yet powerful application.

There are a few key features that enhance the capabilities of the Smart Economy that I’m particularly proud of. The first was to implement a system that allows the wallet owner to generate a QR code that requests a payment. The code contains their public address, the type of asset they require and an amount of said asset. The aim is to minimise the inherent risk of errors during data entry and to eliminate the loss of assets. The second was to offer a clear process for prioritising transactions. We created a four-tier priority fee structure to give users a better sense of how to achieve faster and more reliable confirmation times for their transactions.

Overall I’m sure there are things we can improve upon, hopefully through feedback from you - our community. I’m relishing the chance to continuously improve and iterate on a product we’re all genuinely proud of.

I’d now like to hand over to Max (@comountainclimber), one of a number of very talented developers who have made me feel very welcome and who have summoned the dark arts to make this product release happen…

Maxwell Lasky:

One of the greatest parts of contributing to the NEO ecosystem is the insanely welcoming and helpful community. In addition to the supportive community, the City of Zion and other organizations have cultivated a robust infrastructure of documentation, decentralized applications, and developer tools making it a joy to build an application on top of the NEO blockchain.

It’s really inspirational to see an international community of open source developers and designers across multiple continents and language barriers all working so seamlessly together. None of this would be possible without the extraordinary efforts of CoZ. I especially want to thank Ben Hallowes for spending countless late nights with me on Slack working out many of the UX/UI problems that arose along the way. This beautiful application would not exist without his dedication and hard work. Jakub Mucha (@drptbl) worked tirelessly to ensure high quality assurance standards and assist with product decisions along the way, his help was critical to our success. Also this release would not be possible without the work of contributors @evgenyboxer, @nickfujita, @FredrikOseberg @zsiglin and @mhuggins. Here are a few highlights of some of the new features that the release will provide:

Decentralization

  • NEON will always remain a decentralized application relying on your computer and the NEO network to drive 99% of core functionality without relying on third party APIs or services.
  • Extensive work and testing so that users can always rely on NEON v2 to accurately reflect their token and asset balances 100% of the time.
  • Enhanced ledger support.

Wallet Activity

  • Easily browse your wallet’s entire transaction history and add contacts easily in a simple and beautiful new Activity tab.
  • NEP9 payment requests and parsing
  • Users of NEON will now be able to request payments for any asset on the NEO network using our convenient and intuitive NEP9 receive user experience.
  • The ability to parse NEP9 QR codes in order to quickly and easily send assets across the network.

Wallet Management

  • V2 supports both the creation and importing of existing private keys through a dramatically simplified wallet management user experience.

Token Sale

  • NEON now supports a much cleaner and simpler experience for participating in future token sales with ability to add network fees to token sale contract invocations.

Component Library

  • A new component library was refined and developed for future reuse by contributors with flexible and advanced features.

Contacts

  • V2 has simplified the process of managing your personal contacts across the network.
  • Node selection
  • NEON now supports the ability for users to manually (or automatically) choose a network node (on both main and test nets) giving substantially more control of wallet functionality to our users.

Security

  • The security of your digital assets is our top priority bar none. The application had many iterations of security auditing including a full audit by the folks over at https://cure53.de/ (sponsored by NEX)

These new features along with the solid new foundation of internal developer APIs and UI components will make future releases of NEON more robust and lay the groundwork for more rapid prototyping and development. After months of dedication and hard work across the entire City of Zion organization on this effort it gives me great pleasure to announce the release of NEON wallet 2.0!