Case Study: Boba Guys Build Loyalty with Blockchain

https://solana.com/news/case-study-boba-guys

So what are the implications for brick-and-mortar retail establishments across the nation? Chen sees them leveraging the blockchain for even more decentralized infrastructure solutions in the future. 

Chen views the Passport program as both a loyalty program and a stepping stone towards normalizing blockchain technology as a standard item in the retail owner’s toolkit. He also mentions the potential future benefits of blockchain technology, like decentralization, which could offer solutions to common retail problems, such as POS system downtimes.

“I think there’s something to be said about this idea of decentralization,” he said, alluding to the imperfect nature of centralized financial service providers. “We’ve had Square go down in the past, and it’s extremely disruptive to not be able to take a transaction in our stores and be held kind of hostage to that.”

He adds that he doesn’t think web3 payments is “a world that we’re going to jump into immediately,” but that it’s “prudential” for retail companies to “at least know what’s out there.”

“Own your own destiny and protect yourself,” he advises.

For businesses considering a blockchain rewards program, Chen recommends giving Solana a hard look due to its speed, composability and active ecosystem. He emphasizes the importance of shipping real, usable products rather than getting caught in hype cycles.

“Solana’s ecosystem is deep and broad, with new products and projects launching almost every week that are genuinely useful in real-world settings,” said Chen. “This constant development is what makes Solana stand out.”

02-06-24 Solana Mainnet Beta Outage Report

https://solana.com/news/02-06-24-solana-mainnet-beta-outage-report

This report was originally published by Anza.

On 2024-02-06 at 09:53 UTC Solana Mainnet Beta block finalization halted. Engineers from various ecosystem teams immediately began triaging the situation, determining the cause to be consistent with a bug that had been identified during the investigation of a recent Devnet outage and for which a patch was to be imminently deployed. This patch was slightly modified so that it would take immediate effect upon cluster restart and a v1.17.20 release cut to include this change. Simultaneously, validator operators had been coordinating restart instructions, determining 246,464,040 to be the highest available optimistically confirmed slot from which to start the cluster and preparing appropriate snapshots from that point. v1.17.20 release binaries and finalized restart instructions were published around 12:34 UTC. Consensus progress resumed again at 14:55 UTC, resulting in a total incident duration of approximately five hours.

The Solana Labs validator implementation JIT compiles all programs before executing a transaction referencing them. To avoid excess recompilations, the JIT output of frequently used programs is cached. 

Historically, this cache had been implemented via ExecutorsCache, whose structure was copied to each new block from its parent, duplicating accounting information and costing an additional recompile for the breadth of any forking events. With the v1.16 release branch, ExecutorsCache was replaced by a new implementation called LoadedPrograms.

The relevant objectives of LoadedPrograms were to make the cached programs view global, and fork-aware, reducing accounting information duplication, and allow transaction execution threads to cooperatively load new programs, preventing JIT compilation conflicts that could cause threads to block each other’s progress. Part of the fork-awareness implementation is keeping track of the effective slot height (the slot where the program becomes active) for each program deployment to detect when a cache entry is invalidated by the on-chain program data being replaced. The cooperative loading strategy maintains usage statistics for each program that has been referenced by another program, including those whose JIT output has been unloaded due to eviction or invalidation to improve eviction performance.

For programs deployed with a modern loader, LoadedPrograms is able to use accounting information stored in a program’s on-chain account to look up its most recent deployment slot and use this to calculate the effective slot height. However, for programs deployed with legacy loaders, the deployment slot is not retained in the account, so LoadedPrograms uses a sentinel effective slot height of zero whenever a legacy loader program is encountered. There is an exception to this rule when an actual deploy instruction is observed, signaling that a program’s bytecode has been replaced. In this case,  LoadedPrograms inserts a corresponding entry into its accounting table with a true effective slot height regardless of which loader is used to deploy the program. This entry though, is highly susceptible to eviction since it has never been referenced by a transaction. When this occurs, the JIT output is thrown away and the program’s accounting entry is replaced with one denoting its status as unloaded and retaining the effective slot height

The next time a transaction references this program, LoadedPrograms rightly requires that it be recompiled due the unloaded status. When compilation is complete, a new accounting entry is inserted at the program’s effective slot height. On the next iteration through LoadedPrograms‘s main loop, the newly loaded program is now visible and returned for transaction execution. However in the case of a legacy loader program, the new JIT output is inserted at the sentinel effective slot height of zero. This makes it effectively invisible to LoadedPrograms as the new entry is placed behind the unloaded entry. So every iteration through the mainloop triggers another recompilation of the same program as it always appears to be unloaded. This created a classic infinite loop.

On its own, this would only be sufficient to stall a leader attempting to execute the transaction referencing the affected program. The corresponding block would never be broadcast and the triggering transaction would not be propagated to the rest of the cluster. However, in v1.16 LoadedPrograms did not have the cooperative loading feature implemented, so was not vulnerable to the degenerate case. This allows for the triggering transaction to be packed in a block which is then distributed to the rest of the validators, who then hit the infinite loop during replay. Since at the time of the outage, more than 95% of cluster stake was running 1.17, nearly all validators were stalled on this block. Since everyone was stalled in a recompilation loop, no one was voting and as a result, consensus halted irrecoverably.

This bug had been previously identified as the cause of a Devnet outage the previous week. Of the two legacy loaders that could trigger the bug, one (“v1”) was already deploy-disabled and the other (“v2”) was deprecated and scheduled to be deploy-disabled during the v1.18 release cycle. The chosen mitigation was to backport the v2 deploy-disable changes to v1.17, and remove the feature gate, making the “v2” deploy-disabled  immediately upon cluster restart. This fix eliminates the ability to create the preconditions required to trigger the bug, which was a simpler resolution. A more complete fix will be included with further improvements to LoadedPrograms and allowed to stabilize with the regular release cycle.

The deploy-evict-request cycle of a legacy loader program triggered an infinite recompile loop in the JIT cache.

Case Study: XP Tackles ‘the Tickmaster Problem’

https://solana.com/news/case-study-xp

The ticket industry is broken, and its number-one issue can be summed up as the “Ticketmaster problem.” 

It sounds familiar: A musical artist comes to town, and you decide to buy tickets online. The venue advertises the price of admission as $55, but upon adding the ticket to your online shopping card and clicking “buy now,” at least three unique types of fees pop up — service fees, processing fees and delivery fees — bringing the final price to $80, a 37% markup from face value.

Then there’s the lack of transparency. You don’t know who gets a cut of these fees, whether Ticketmaster or its now-parent company, Live Nation. But you do know one thing: Artists and performers won’t receive a portion of those extra fees, even though they frequently pay Ticketmaster-affiliated vendors a slice of their merch sales and split revenue from ticket sales. In fact, the issue is so problematic that the U.S. Senate held a hearing in January 2023 to question why some 70% of tickets are sold through a single vendor.

The so-called “Ticketmaster problem” could be solved through decentralized technology. 

XP, an independent blockchain ticketing platform, uses the Tamperproof protocol to offer a more transparent, efficient, and cost-effective way to buy and sell tickets. Behind the scenes, XP’s transactions use Solana’s blockchain, denominated in USDC, to help buyers easily make the switch and rival the user experience (UX) of incumbent vendors — just without the junk fees. 

XP encrypts ticket codes as nonfungible tokens (NFTs), allowing for the seamless exchange between buyers and sellers, who can see when a ticket is redeemed.

The Tamperproof protocol has the ability to encrypt or “seal” ticket claim codes within a special type of NFT known as “Tamperproof NFTs” (tpNFTs). This ensures they remain inaccessible until the holder decides to break the seal. 

This unique sealing feature addresses the need for security and authenticity, both major concerns when selling any kind of real-world asset on a secondary marketplace. Transactions are secure, transparent and verifiable, thanks to the public visibility of the blockchain and instantaneous updates of a tpNFT’s sealed or unsealed status on the Solana public ledger.

At the time of publication, XP has an inventory of roughly 34 million tickets, spanning over 110,000 events — a wide selection for prospective attendees.

Solana blockchain node development blueprints available on AWS

https://solana.com/news/solana-blockchain-node-development-blueprints-available-on-aws

As revealed live on the Breakpoint 2023 stage, Solana nodes are now available for quick deployment on AWS with the help of infrastructure as code app in AWS Blockchain Node Runners repository. Now, enterprises looking to build on Solana will be able to deploy their own consensus and Remote Procedure Calls (RPC) nodes with minimal technological effort and overhead to connect their dApps to the blockchain.

“This represents a step forward for the Solana ecosystem,” says Dan Albert at the Solana Foundation. “The expertise needed to run a node has dropped significantly, making it easier than ever to deploy on Solana.”

Using Blockchain Node Runners, an open-source initiative for deploying self-service blockchain nodes, enterprises will be able to deploy Solana validators with a few commands:

  • Consensus nodes.
  • Base RPC nodes, which do not include any secondary indexes.
  • Extended RPC nodes, which include all secondary indexes.

“We are excited to see Solana blockchain nodes available for deployment on AWS to harness the best from their blockchain workloads to increase accessibility to innovative cloud native technologies like decentralized web,” says Nikolay Vaslov, senior solutions architect at Blockchain Nodes Services, Amazon Web Services. 

Cloud-based nodes are ideal for large traditional finance firms or web3-native projects that want to use a lot of nodes, but do not have the infrastructure or finances to build them themselves. For new projects hoping to deploy an RPC node to interface with Solana, Blockchain Node Runner could be a simpler, out of the box solution tailored for launching dApps quickly and take advantage of Solana’s enterprise-scale throughput and low fees.

Solana is only the second blockchain to be supported by Blockchain Node Runner, after Ethereum.

Learn more about Amazon Web Service’s Blockchain Node Runners here.

Solana | The Solana Foundation and Polygon Labs Host Inaugural Crypto Policy Bootcamp in D.C.

https://solana.com/news/crypto-policy-bootcamp-solana-foundation-polygon-labs

Polygon Labs and the Solana Foundation collaborated to host the first Crypto Policy Bootcamp in Washington D.C. yesterday. 

The Bootcamp focused on the United States and aimed to give participants the knowledge and skills required to effectively engage in policy conversations on Capitol Hill and beyond.

Founders, CEOs, VCs, and other stakeholders in the space heard from policy experts and Congressional staffers about the current state of crypto legislation, different types of advocacy, and how to effectively tell stories about the value of blockchain. 

“Learning to effectively engage in the political process is foundational to a healthy, functioning democracy,” said Amira Valliani, Head of Policy at the Solana Foundation. “I’m proud that we were able to collaborate across industry to educate builders on becoming engaged citizens.”

Policy work for an emerging sector like blockchain is not a solo effort. 

It requires bringing together a range of stakeholders — and to that end, Solana Foundation and Polygon Labs collaborated on this event in order to enact the kinds of relationships required for effective policy making.

“Our first Bootcamp was nothing short of energizing — it was inspirational to see legal and regulatory experts, staffers, builders and founders come together for a common goal of creating a foundation of knowledge for effective advocacy for the industry, especially with those who never engaged before,” said Rebecca Rettig, Chief Legal & Policy Officer at Polygon Labs.  “As a group, we created specific action items that will create new pathways for engagement, which will empower the industry for effective engagement.”

After a day of workshops, participants left the Bootcamp with a few key takeaways, but the most important one is: policy is a “doing” word. 

Below, we provide a quick summary about what was covered to become an effective advocate for a more open and accessible web.

Individuals can become effective advocates, even if they don’t live in D.C. or have access to policymakers, especially as builders, executives or enthusiasts  in a budding industry. The day was filled with sessions that covered a range of topics, including the state of play of blockchain policy and the myriad forms that advocacy takes.

A few key takeaways.

1. How to be an effective advocate.

  • Reach out to your member of Congress (in your District). It’s surprising how few members hear about blockchain from operators and builders in the space.
  • Let your expertise shine. Industry stakeholders are reliable sources of expertise. Members of Congress and staff are eager to learn from experts. 
  • You can be a guide. Consider showcasing how your project works. 
  • Offer relevant and unbiased information relevant to a state or district. Industry experts have the opportunity to become reliable sources of expertise and can more easily remain engaged in policy as it is developed.
  • Not sure who your Member of Congress is? Find them here.

2. Storytelling matters.

  • Learn to tell your story succinctly and in plain language.
  • Be clear. There is a huge knowledge gap, and clarity is key.
  • Focus on impact. How specifically does a project have a positive impact that isn’t possible without blockchain?
  • Diversify the media where stories appear. Tell stories on social media, op-eds, and blog posts.

3. Legislation is a process, with some promising first steps.

  • Getting a bill passed into law is a long and complicated journey. 
  • And the U.S. government has numerous bodies that work in both the legislative and regulatory space.
  • Two bills recently passed out of Committee (one on market structure and one on stablecoin), which are monumental steps for crypto legislation. 

Policy is a doing word: talking, advocating, explaining, teaching. Building relationships, offline and on, to more effectively shape emerging frameworks that can help the industry thrive. 

This was the first bootcamp–an experiment in how members of the blockchain community can work together cross-industry to help people in the space engage in the democratic process. Plans for future bootcamps include sessions outside of Washington, D.C. and open to a wider group of participants.

Get Ready for the Next Solana Foundation Hackathon in March

https://solana.com/news/solana-foundation-hackathon-colosseum-events

Builders, get ready — in 2024, the Solana community is leading the way. A number of ecosystem teams are hosting hackathons, events and meetups, learning programs, and cultivating Solana communities around the world.

Solana hackathons are among the best opportunities for builders and founders to bootstrap their projects onto Solana. With high visibility and multiple prize tracks, as well as interest from the venture capital community, hackathons focused on the Solana ecosystem have become increasingly popular. The most recent Solana Foundation hackathon, Hyperdrive, broke records with more than 900 submissions from 7,000 participants around the world.

This upcoming Solana Foundation hackathon will be run by Colosseum, a new, independent organization dedicated to running online builder events in the Solana ecosystem, as well as supporting hackathon winners through an accelerator and venture fund. The next Solana Foundation hackathon (theme to be revealed soon!) will start on March 4, 2024, and will end five weeks later on April 8, 2024. While teams that have started within two months of the start of the hackathon are eligible, only the work produced during the hackathon itself will be judged. Sign up at Colosseum.org

Participants can expect a similar format as previous Solana Foundation hackathons — a kickoff, submission period, and winners across multiple tracks — with a few key differences. As a third party, Colosseum will be hosting an online event platform to facilitate hackathon processes such as cofounder matching and project submission. Colosseum will also be managing the judging process. Learn more about Colosseum and its platform here.

Find out the latest about the next Solana Foundation hackathon by signing up here. Get your teams ready – soon, it’ll be time to build!

Learn more about previous hackathons.

Beyond Solana Foundation Hackathons, the Solana community is increasingly showing its strength, sharing knowledge, and onboarding the next generation of builders.

mtnDAO v5 is kicking up in Salt Lake City, Utah on Feb. 1, 2024. The monthlong hacker house and build session will host interactive workshops, coding sessions, networking, and more — all focused on building on Solana. Apply here.

In-person meetups are popping up all over the world. Solana Allstars, a Solana community group powered by Step Finance, is hosting Solana community events in Turkey and Nigeria – two areas where users are increasingly interested what is being built on Solana. Additionally, Step Finance is hosting Solana Crossroads, a community-powered conference in Istanbul on May 10-11, 2024. 

LamportDAO recently announced Solana Scribes, a virtual hackathon for writers and marketers. Aimed at helping writers learn more about the Solana ecosystem, writers can submit research, explainers, overviews, and more about the Solana ecosystem. Solana Scribes kicks off in February. Learn more here.

Superteam continues to host events — both in-person and online — in regions around the world. Superteams have started in nations including India, Vietnam, Germany, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Mexico. See the calendar here.

Smaller community groups in Toronto, Pittsburgh, Barcelona, and Pereira are setting up everything from happy hours to learning sessions. Whether you’re new to the ecosystem or someone who wants to share their knowledge, there is a way to participate in the Solana community. You can see all upcoming events here.

Have an event coming up? Get it listed on Solana.com by adding to this calendar.

A Developer’s Guide to Token Extensions on Solana

https://solana.com/news/token-extensions-developer-guide

Now that you know what extensions are available, you can create your new token with the following command:

spl-token --program-id TokenzQdBNbLqP5VEhdkAS6EPFLC1PHnBqCXEpPxuEb create-token

With token extensions, you can mix and match based on what you need for your project. For example, if you wanted a token with transfer fees and a custom metadata, you would just use the following command to combine the extensions:

spl-token --program-id TokenzQdBNbLqP5VEhdkAS6EPFLC1PHnBqCXEpPxuEb create-token --interest-rate 5 --enable-metadata 

Note: While you can mix and match extensions, extensions cannot be added after the token mint is created.

You can combine multiple extensions together, but some extensions would either not work or not make sense to combine. (For example, you would not want to add token hooks alongside the non-transferable token extension because it would add anything to the token but still cost more to create.) 

The following extension combinations either do not work or will not make sense to combine:

  • Non-transferable + {transfer hooks, transfer fees, confidential transfer}
  • Confidential transfer + fees (available in 1.18)
  • Confidential transfer + transfer hooks (can only see source / destination, can’t act on amount)

Other than these exceptions, you have the option to customize with any combination of token extensions that suit your project’s needs.

Token extensions enable you to create custom logic with your tokens while retaining full composability with dApps, wallets, programs. The two extensions that can enable this are the transfer hooks and metadata extensions.

Transfer hooks are a powerful new extension that give token issuers greater ability to dictate how users and tokens interact. Now,any developer can insert custom logic into a program to be used with the transfer hook extension. With transfer hooks you can enable capabilities such as enforced on-chain royalties, enabling more elaborate token interactions.

It is important to note that while transfer hooks give the capability to insert custom logic within a transfer, all accounts from the initial transfer are converted to read-only accounts. This means that the signer privileges of the sender do not extend to the transfer hook program. This is to avoid potential unexpected logic executing on someone’s wallet who interacts with a token with transfer hooks, protecting the users.

Start building with transfer hooks today.

“The Metadata extension empowers token issuers by allowing them to seamlessly embed diverse key-value pairs on-chain, all within a single account. This functionality is particularly beneficial for projects like games, enabling them to incorporate custom metadata within each token. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for games to enhance the capabilities of their in-game tokens and items. Furthermore, the inclusion of custom on-chain metadata paves the way for the establishment of new standards. This presents a unique opportunity for the developer community to collaboratively explore innovative applications of on-chain metadata, all encapsulated under the umbrella of token extensions.

Start building with metadata today.

Token extensions is a new standard for tokens, but it is not a requirement that anyone migrate from one standard to another. There are reasons why you may want to stick with the original Token standard. If you only need a transfer and freeze functionality and none of the additional features of token extensions, the Token program standard will suit your project just fine. However if you want the ability to add more advanced features, token extensions can help.

There is no way to automatically convert your tokens across standards today. A migration path does exist between the token standards, but it comes with some complications:

  • All tokens of the previous standard must be burned
  • The migration will be user opt-in only

The general recommendation is that if you want token extension capabilities for your token, start with creating your token with that standard.

Solana Validators Adopt the v1.17 Update

https://solana.com/news/solana-validators-v1-17-update

On Jan. 15, 2024, Solana Labs engineers notified validators that v1.17, a proposed update to the Solana Labs validator client, is recommended for use on mainnet beta. This comes after numerous audits and the work of volunteer adopters, who were able to identify and help engineers correct earlier issues.

Version 1.17 includes a number of developments that will be activated over time. Here’s what you can expect.

  • The ZK Token proof program is ready for activation in v1.17 (delayed from its intended activation in v1.16). This will facilitate confidential transfers.
  • Gossip push message propagation has improved in v1.17. This reduces the reliance on pull requests which have been down-sampled leading to reduction in resource usage by consensus validators.
  • The tpu client connection cache has been improved by creating connections asynchronously. This will reduce transaction latency in some cases. 
  • When a validator restarts it needs information about the state of accounts. In prior versions that state comes from snapshots. V1.17 adds the –use-snapshot-archives-at-startup flag which can be used to specify whether to use local snapshots, the local state already on disk, or whichever is newer. In cases where the existing local state is newer than the local snapshots this eliminates the need to unpack and process the snapshots, leading to faster startup times.
  • v1.17 adds the capability to broadcast shreds and do repair over QUIC. This lays the groundwork to transition those protocols to QUIC.

Testnet has been running v1.17 since Oct. 3, 2023. In addition to handling public transactions testnet is stress tested regularly with high transaction volume. More recently core contributors have built a regression and capacity testing framework that is used regularly on testnet.

Solana Labs operates canary nodes on mainnet-beta including seven that run the beta branch (currently v1.17). Those v1.17 nodes have been stable for several months. To follow the canaries in real time checkout the #canaries-monitoring channel on the Solana Tech Discord.

Multiple runtime fuzzers have also been developed. Their implementations vary, but they execute partially randomized transactions against multiple versions of the runtime to ensure that the results are consistent. This is especially useful for catching edge cases or race conditions that manifest infrequently.

Version 1.17 has been audited by multiple external auditors. Reports will be published to the security-audits repo as they become available.

A small subset of volunteers updated their mainnet-beta nodes to v1.17 starting on Dec. 4, 2023. These early adopters helped identify and resolve remaining issues.

If you are not a validator, the best place to monitor for updates is the Solana Status Twitter account.

For more information about features that will be activated over time see the Feature Gate Activation Schedule.

Case Study: Culturehacker’s ‘Where There’s Smoke’

https://solana.com/news/case-study-culturehacker-where-theres-smoke

“What I’m working to do in conjunction with the Solana Foundation is figure out how to leverage the affordances and constraints of the blockchain in a way where it becomes a vehicle not only for storytelling, but ultimately for human connection,” Weiler said in an October 2023 interview. 

With an artistic impulse that’s long revolved around establishing direct relationships between artists and audiences, Weiler immediately recognized blockchain technology — and Solana’s scalability in particular — as a missing foundational layer that could eliminate intermediaries and provide a frictionless way to create a record of participants’ shared experiences.

Weiler points to the 1998 book by B. Joseph Pine II, “The Experience Economy,” which argues that the brands with the most cultural impact not only provide goods and services, but emotional experiences that unite audiences at scale. 

“Just look at Taylor Swift’s recent concert and Beyonce’s tours,” Weiler said. Combined, the tours were credited for reviving stagnant economies with record-breaking ticket and merchandise sales. In both cases, word-of-mouth marketing gained compounding momentum through social media and inexpensive yet meaningful souvenirs, like friendship bracelets and other swag. 

“People were craving a shared emotional experience,” Weiler said. And you don’t have to be a popstar to create and document a cultural moment’s lasting impact. 

To artists, effective technology is like movie magic, creating an experience behind the curtain that allows audience members to suspend their doubt and remain emotionally present. The blockchain chosen for “Where There’s Smoke,” in that case, couldn’t present attendees with a myriad of perplexing signature prompts and minting fees, lest the magic dissipates.

In “Where There’s Smoke,” guests move through the exhibition with flashlights and headphones to mimic the sensation of being a firefighter. Data capture and live NFT mints occur in the background, but in organic, additive ways.

Read along for the journey:

What Solana Devs Can Look Forward to in 2024

https://solana.com/news/what-solana-devs-can-look-forward-to-in-2024

Hold me closer, Firedancer 🔥💃 At Breakpoint 2023, it was announced that the first version of the ground-up rebuild of the Solana validator client being built by Jump was live on testnet.

The complete code rewrite of a Solana validator optimizes networking, runtime, and consensus components. Early benchmarks show processing over 1 million TPS per core on commodity hardware in a test environment. Firedancer removes software bottlenecks so the Solana network can scale with future hardware advances. 

Firedancer is one of several different validator clients being built as alternates to the original Solana Labs client:

  • Jito-Solana: A forked update of the Solana Labs client, built by Jito Labs
  • Sig: A ground-up rewrite of a Solana validator client in Zig, by Syndica.
  • TinyDancer: A light client.

Additional validator clients make the Solana network more resilient, stable, and secure. Learn more in the most recent Validator Health Report.

The last twelve months also saw a number of announcements from large, traditional institutions extending foundational support to the Solana ecosystem.

Solana blockchain node development blueprints became available on AWS. Enterprises looking to build on Solana will be able to deploy their own consensus and RPC nodes with minimal technological effort. Learn more here and start building.

Additionally, Solana data is now live on Google Cloud’s BigQuery. See how Floor is using the data.

It’s time for devs to build — the tooling is ready for them.

According to the recent State of the Solana Developer Ecosystem report, there has been a large influx of tools, educational courses, and documentation over the last twelve months. Some important things to keep in mind:

  • Both in-person and online courses have proliferated, teaching new generations how to build on Solana.
  • Builders can now write in up to 12 programming languages through either SDKs or program frameworks, including Solidity, Python, and C++.
  • Tooling exists for EVM development, including Neon EVM and Hyperledger Solang.
  • For most tools in the EVM ecosystem, there exists a Solana equivalent.

Beyond the foundational tooling for developers, there are also specific updates that are currently live or in development. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Solana Labs launched Gameshift, a new gaming API to easily integrate blockchain features into games — making it easy to build web2-friendly games on Solana without web3 development experience. Read the documentation, and get an overview from Breakpoint 2023.
  • Armada Markets created a toolkit to improve token launches, liquidity, modular tokenomics, and staking for DAOs. See more at their Breakpoint 2023 talk.
  • Solana Permissioned Environments, or SPEs, are customizable SVM instances for private enterprises — enabling large businesses to take advantage of Solana’s scalability in customized SVM instances. See how Pyth uses SPEs.
  • The new web3.js, a next generation library for bundling dApps on Solana, could reduce bundle size by 5x. Learn more from Steven Luscher at Solana Labs.
  • The Solana Pay x Shopify plugin makes it easy for businesses to accept payments in USDC.
  • Runtime v2, which is still in development, focuses on faster execution, simpler APIs, and native support for composability. Key additions include generic interfaces for inter-program communication, a unified VM, and enhanced type safety. 

The Solana ecosystem is ready for your new project — it’s time to get started.

The 2023 State of the Solana Developer Ecosystem

https://solana.com/news/2023-state-of-solana-developer-ecosystem

Widespread blockchain adoption hinges on the availability of robust infrastructure and developer tooling to enable seamless onboarding and continued development. When selecting an ecosystem to build within, developers are guided by several key factors:

  • Developer Experience: How easy is it to learn and build applications?
  • Maintenance: How much work is required to maintain and monitor applications in production?

As the Solana ecosystem continues to evolve, the expectation is that each of these areas will also mature and become more accessible to developers.

The developer experience is a key part of any ecosystem — the resources available and maturity of tooling can make or break a developer’s build process. Today, the Solana blockchain has a maturing tooling ecosystem and a plethora of learning resources for developer onboarding. Going forward, there is opportunity to release more resources around building a project end to end that can help accelerate newer developers, as well as tooling that helps debugging and understanding usage of compute resources.

The parallel processing that the Solana protocol has become known for is only possible by having developers declare what part of state they are working with up front. Because of this up front work, developers need proper frameworks and tooling to make it easier to manage all the state. A developer deciding if they want to build on Solana would be asking questions on:

  • Documentation and Examples: How easy is it to reference available documentation and resources while building?
  • Programs and Courses: What education is available for developers?
  • SDKs and Frameworks: Do common SDKs and frameworks exist to accelerate my development?
  • Local Development Tools: How malleable are the local tools so that I can quickly prototype a new application?
  • Tooling Parity: How does Solana compare with other ecosystems?

Documentation and Examples

The current documentation on the Solana blockchain is largely conceptual and includes guides to help developers getting started building on Solana. This past year a large number of program examples have been created to help anyone building on-chain applications on Solana, which has helped to jumpstart the onchain developer ecosystem. Solana Cookbook has a comprehensive selection of client code examples, including hundreds of code snippets with at least three different programming languages each. 

For developers looking for more information on how the Solana protocol works, there currently is a lack of up-to-date information on the latest internals. This is in part due to the fast-pace of Solana protocol updates. The Solana Improvement Documents and protocol specifications will be built out to fill in the missing gaps by putting documentation before implementation. As Solana continues to mature and more researchers like Umbra Research start writing about the internals, up-to-date information should be more common in the documentation.

Educational Programs and Courses

At the time of publication, there are multiple full-length educational programs and courses that can help developers onboard into the Solana ecosystem. These include both self-serve courses and instructor-led, cohort-based programs. A varied structure to educational development programs helps developers learn in their preferred way, keeping accountability high and improving the participants’ chance of success.

Self-serve educational programs and courses over the last 12 months include:

Additionally, some of the instructor-led programs are:

SDKs and Frameworks

The Solana developer ecosystem has a strong foundation of SDKs impacting the majority of developers. On UI-frameworks, the Solana blockchain has a high concentration of React and Next.js tools. For each language, we can evaluate the available tooling with the following:

  • Solana SDK: The SDK to interact with RPCs and create transactions to interact with the blockchain.
  • Program Framework: The ability to create Solana programs with a specific programming language.
  • Developer Impact: Measured by the percentage of developers working with a programming language or UI Framework.

SDK Availability

2023: The Year of the Solana Community

https://solana.com/news/solana-solstice-2023-community-review

Is it another Solana Solstice already? 2023 seemed to fly by — an eventful year marked by challenges and opportunities. And as the community looks back at another year, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come.

The beginning of 2023 was the depths of the coldest winters, a difficult time for people across the Solana ecosystem and the greater blockchain community. The Solana community not only stuck around, but doubled down. 

An organic rallying cry, “only possible of Solana,” encapsulated the attitude of those who kept building. The Solana ecosystem may be the place where low fees and high throughput unlocks new use cases, sure, but it’s also the place where an engaged, vibrant, organic community leads above all. The highlights and victories from 2023 aren’t the work of any one team or any individual, but belong to the greater collective of builders, artists, leaders, and users that makes Solana Solana.

Solana belongs to you. From those of us at the Solana Foundation, thank you.

Here’s how you made 2023 the year of the Solana community.

In December 2022, people started receiving something strange in their wallets: a token with a shiba inu logo. They got them for using Solana dApps and projects, for joining events, and being active participants in the Solana community. 

One year later, Bonk mania has swept the web3 world.

State Compression Unlocked ‘Cambrian Explosion for Digital Assets’

https://solana.com/news/state-compression-update-december-2023

While the first phase of NFT development was driven by digital assets defined by scarcity, exclusivity, and pursuant speculation, compressed NFTs rewrite the value model by making NFTs available and affordable, instead defined by abundance, inclusivity, and utility. Compressed NFTs lower the barrier for entry and the barrier for access to NFTs for startups, enterprise, and users alike. “It’s not about one person with a million NFTs,” explains Jon Wong, technical lead of the Ecosystem Engineering team at the Solana Foundation. “It’s about a million people with one NFT.” 

Lowering costs and increasing availability presents the first clear path towards mass NFT use cases like access, identity, membership, loyalty programs, governance, and in-game assets. For example, enterprises — primarily concerned that the cost of transacting on blockchain is not viable at enterprise scale — can offer membership, rewards, or loyalty programs to millions of customers without spending millions of dollars. In games, compressed NFTs mean unshackling digital assets from sluggish usability, stifled efficiency, and limitations due to cost. 

“State compression is generic. That means you can do it with any kind of chain state. NFTs just happen to be the first use case,” explains Wong. “I envision a whole host of other use cases whereby basically any state that you want to use in the context of a smart contract can be injected into Solana and used in a smart contract.”

It’s important to note that state compression does add complexity to the backend of web3 platforms making use of it, particularly in regards to communication between RPC providers and app developers. Additionally, the lower bar to entry for minting NFTs will come with new challenges in regards to spam for marketplaces and wallets. The ecosystem-wide effort to develop state compression — which incorporated the Helius, Triton, SimpleHash, Phantom, and Solflare teams with support from the Solana Foundation — shows that tackling these challenges and generally improving the technology will be a group effort.

Compressed NFTs are the first example of what looks to be a new phase of blockchain development. Or, as Norby explains: “We’ve assumed that blockchains are about decentralized money, but compression allows us to think about decentralized everything.”

Solana | Case Study: How Pyth is Catalyzing a New Era of Permissioned Environments

https://solana.com/news/case-study-pyth

The term “oracle” conjures images of mystic wizards, divine messengers with direct links to universal truth. But today, one emerging web3 use case gives the term new meaning as an invisible algorithmic force, quietly crunching numbers and keeping up with the day-to-day data of asset pricing. 

Pyth Network, a high-frequency oracle built using Solana ecosystem technology, presents a compelling use case in data sharing for decentralized finance (DeFi), offering products like real-time price feeds and benchmarks to be used by a host of financial service providers. Its ecosystem is a thriving community hub where users can leverage information contributed by vetted data providers, become providers themselves, or simply access desired statistics from the network. And not only is Pyth Network enabling near-instant, open-source data at your fingertips, but it is growing the concept of a self-sustaining, crowdsourced DeFi resource powered by onchain governance and user participation.

For DeFi, the Pyth Network’s role is crucial: It aggregates diverse data points in order to sync on the most accurate price for any given asset.

If all this activity sounds, well, fast — it is. As Yaser Jazouane, head of product at Duoro Labs, puts it, a blockchain oracle is less about a wizard’s clairvoyance and more about the precision of deep, real-time computer analytics, which is only possible on a high-throughput, low-latency blockchain like Solana. 

In DeFi, the Pyth Network’s role is crucial: It aggregates diverse data points in order to sync on the most accurate price for any given asset. Without oracles, decentralized exchanges and other DeFi protocols would have no consensus, says Jazouane.

“There’s no global, universal truth in the world for what any asset is worth,” he explained, adding that “data-driven solutions must come to a consensus about what is the most prevalent price out there — that’s what makes an oracle.”

That’s where Pythnet comes in. Oracles like the Pyth Network aggregate “many, many views around the price,” in order to provide decentralized applications (dApps) with the most universally agreed-upon information possible.

Pythnet is a Solana Permissioned Environment (SPE), a specialized Solana appchain environment designed for custom uses. This flexibility allows for the creation of a permissioned — or as Jazouane prefers to call it, a “governed” network — where access is permissionless yet managed through the use of tokens. 

Pythnet’s main job is to gather different prices and combine them into one reliable price for each item it tracks. To do this, it actively delivers real-time market data that anyone can track, encompassing 292 feeds in cryptocurrencies, 68 in equities, 16 in foreign exchange, two in commodities, and eight in fixed income/rates at the time of publication. It distributes this data across more than 45 blockchains, enhancing a wide range of DeFi ecosystems. 

Over 90 major market players contribute to Pythnet, ensuring that over 269 applications, like perpetuals and lending protocols, receive secure, accurate and reliable data.

According to Jazouane, the choice of a Solana permissioned environment for Pythnet was influenced by several factors:

  • Solana’s fast block time — the chain creates blocks every 400 milliseconds — allows Pythnet to produce high-frequency price updates.
  • A culture of collective, collaborative expertise found within Solana’s developer community.
  • Flexibility and control provided by the Solana protocol, especially in terms of gas configuration and the cost of deploying applications to ensure focus and security for its intended use.

Solana creator community thrives at Art Basel Miami Beach

https://solana.com/news/solana-creator-art-basel-miami-beach

The Solana community is still buzzing from its debut at Art Basel Miami Beach, the leading international art fair, which took place Dec. 6-10, 2023. The Solana exhibition, entitled Artists in Residence, not only showcased the diverse creativity of Solana artists from around the globe, but also engaged attendees with  the chance to meet artists in person, as well as with interactive experiences supported by teams within the Solana ecosystem. For many attendees, including collectors and artists from the traditional art world, this was their first experience interacting with blockchain technology and learning how it can support artists. 

Over the course of the five-day show, over 3000 attendees made their way through the exhibition and experienced how Solana’s capabilities enhance ownership, earning, audience engagement, and more, for artists of all kinds. Learn more.

Solana at Art Basel Miami Beach: Introducing Artists in Residence

https://solana.com/news/solana-art-basel-artists-in-residence

Art Basel attendees are accustomed to seeing art on walls, but they don’t typically get to witness artists in action. With Artists in Residence, the Solana ecosystem is bringing a first-of-its-kind exhibition to Art Basel Miami Beach as three artists building with Solana will create works live in the space in real-time. Artists in Residence will be more than an exhibition — it will be a living studio that celebrates the process of creation, while also highlighting the intimate relationship between artists, their medium, and their audiences. Over the course of the week, the three artists on display will engage attendees in their work and take them on the transformative journey from concept to completion.

The artists on-site who will demonstrate how they incorporate Solana technology into their creative process, include:

“Solana and web3 have not just been platforms or tools — they have been catalysts, unlocking avenues, capabilities, and potential I hadn’t foreseen. They have intertwined deeply with my artistic narrative, propelling me into a new era of digital artistry.”

A pioneer of digital and generative art for decades, Jean-Jacques Duclaux (Eko33) uses custom software and a variety of coding languages to transform physical sketches into beautiful, algorithmically generated digital artworks. His distinctive creative process blurs the boundaries of the physical and digital art worlds, bringing together computer science and traditional artistic concepts. Each generated piece is completely unique, and his artwork has found critical acclaim around the world.

“Solana has enabled me to look over the horizon, learn about new technologies faster and more efficiently, using them in my own work. The Solana community (has) welcomed abstract, and fine art in general, in an incredibly genuine way.”

A gifted visual abstract painter, Lisanne Haack uses multiple mediums and techniques to bring her inner thoughts and ideas to the viewer. She continuously blends the traditional and digital fields and evolves her craft, exploring how mediums and technologies interact with each other. She has brought her abstract expressionist oil paintings to another level by incorporating technology like VR and AI software. 

“Solana has truly changed my life. I was represented as an artist in fine art galleries in Australia for years and really struggled to find authentic connections. I had minted work on other chains but found no user base who were interested in more than just a transaction. On Solana, I found this thriving community of artists, collectors, innovators, rulebreakers who were all feeding off each other’s energy in this beautiful way. It became such an engaging experience to be part of it. I felt completely free to express myself in my own way.”

Sleepr is an anonymous digital artist who challenges the art world to question the role of the artist in their work. An accomplished academic with PhD research, Sleepr combines art and science to create intriguing digital works of art. For Sleepr, anonymity is a means for exploring artistic expression in an uninhibited way and providing authenticity to collectors.

Each artist above brings a unique perspective on what led them to work on Solana and the value it has brought to their art and career. Art Basel attendees can interact directly with the artists, hear what drew them to the Solana community, and collect limited edition works minted on Solana.

Only Possible on Solana: Breakpoint 2023 Sees New Product Launches, Tech Advancements, and Next-Level Networking

https://solana.com/news/breakpoint-2023-news-announcements-recap

In a pivotal moment for the ecosystem, Dan Albert, Executive Director of the Solana Foundation, announced that the long-awaited validator client, Firedancer, is live on testnet. Firedancer will increase validator diversity on Solana, which is the key to long-term resiliency and decentralization. Firedancer is built by a team at Jump Trading Group.

Albert joined Diego Perez de Ayala, Managing Partner at Frictionless Capital, for a fireside chat discussing the past, present, and future of Solana. Together, they outlined their prediction of a new era for the network – Solana 2.0, which is “defined by a sense of community ownership”.

Solana’s Energy Use Report: December 2023

https://solana.com/news/solana-energy-use-report-december-2023

Since the first energy use report in November 2021, the Solana Foundation has pledged to regularly measure and publish the carbon footprint of the network and make the network carbon neutral via offsets. 

Today, the Solana Foundation is pleased to announce that for the first time, the Solana Foundation has offset the 100% network’s carbon footprint by purchasing carbon offsets entirely onchain. Additionally, as of March 2023, the network’s carbon footprint is tracked in real time at SolanaClimate.com.

Key takeaways of the December 2023 energy use report: 

  • The Solana blockchain’s carbon footprint totalled 4,392.9 tCO2 over the six month period from April 1, 2023 – Sept. 30, 2023, annualized to 8,785.8 tCO2. 
  • Solana energy use per transaction has declined by 25% since the last energy use update and total emissions decreased by 17.5%. 
  • In keeping with its commitment to keep the Solana network carbon neutral, the Solana Foundation purchased 10,901.2 tons of carbon credits to offset the network’s 2022 carbon footprint. For the first time ever, these credits were purchased entirely on chain and were made via ecoToken and Sunrise Stake.  

Since the last update on energy use and emissions from the Solana Foundation (the period between April 1, 2023-Sept. 30, 2023), the Solana blockchain generated 4,392.9 tons of Total Average Carbon Emission (tCO2e), an average of 732.2 tCO2 per month. The update before this covered a year-long period (April 1 2022-March 31, 2023) that included 10,651.2 tCO2e, for an average of 887.6 tCO2 per month. This indicates a decrease in carbon emissions per month in the period since the March 2023 energy use report. This decrease in emissions is due to a decrease in energy use per transaction of 25%, from 0.879k J to 0.658k J. 

The Solana Foundation purchased offsets for 100% of carbon emissions from the Solana blockchain for the 2022 calendar year, a total of 10,901.2 tons of carbon as calculated through real-time monitoring from TryCarbonara, via embedded software directly on nodes within the Solana blockchain. The Solana Foundation also commits to offsetting the network’s 2023 carbon footprint once the year is complete, in keeping with the Foundation’s commitment to keep Solana carbon neutral. 

This purchase of carbon offset credits was from two organizations: 

The carbon emissions tracker at SolanaClimate.com was developed in collaboration with TryCarbonara, a carbon data platform, and embeds software directly on Solana nodes to provide the most comprehensive and accurate measurement of the blockchain’s footprint to date. 

Below is an estimate of the network’s carbon emissions in the past 6 months since the previous blog post on the network’s emissions (April 1, 2023-Sept. 30, 2023):

Solana | Meet the winners of the Hyperdrive Hackathon

https://solana.com/news/solana-hyperdrive-hackathon-winners

The Solana Foundation is thrilled to announce the results of the Solana Hyperdrive Hackathon, an online competition focused on bringing the next wave of high-impact projects into the Solana ecosystem. Hyperdrive was the eighth Solana hackathon, bringing together founders and developers from around the world to launch products spanning Infrastructure, Mobile Consumer Apps, Payments, DAOs, AI, and everything in-between.

Hyperdrive saw more than 7,000 participants submit 907 final projects to the judges, the largest online Solana hackathon to date and the latest in a stream of growing submissions. AWS, Ironforge, UXD, Magic Eden, IO.NET, Helio, Phantom, The Network State, and EasyA joined the Solana Foundation as category sponsors for the hackathon, offering a platform for crypto startups to jumpstart their journey.

“Solana Hackathons are where new startups are made, and Hyperdrive was no exception,” said Dan Albert, executive director of the Solana Foundation. “The nearly 1,000 teams built during Hyperdrive are going to be among the ones shaping the future of entertainment, infrastructure, finance, mobile, and more.”

Browse through all the project submissions in the Hyperdrive public directory.

Without further ado, here are your winners:

FluxBot, an AI-powered chatbot that enables easy, user-friendly interactions with the Solana blockchain, received the Grand Prize of $50,000 USDC, along with passes to attend Breakpoint 2024 in Singapore Sept. 19-21.

Validator Health Report: October 2023

https://solana.com/news/validator-health-report-october-2023

Appendix A: Validators on the Solana Network

Blockchains with more validators tend to be more resilient. When a user executes on a contract on a blockchain, they need to be confident that their transmission will be recorded. Ideally, each transmission on a blockchain is recorded on every validator on that chain, which is why a higher number of validators is important: The more times that a message is recorded, the more confident a user can be that their message is accurately recorded and won’t be tampered with. 

There are two types of validators on the Solana network:

Consensus nodes: Consensus nodes are central to the functioning of the network by providing two essential functions: (1) creating and proposing new blocks to the rest of the network and (2) voting on the validity of new blocks proposed by other nodes on the network.

Each block contains many messages that are submitted by various users and applications on the network. Every consensus node independently verifies all new messages in a proposed block before voting on its validity. The more nodes that participate in this consensus process, the more confidence a user or third party has that a change to the network or a transaction was verified by a large population. 

RPC nodes: Remote Procedure Call (RPC) nodes are an application’s gateway to the Solana infrastructure. RPC node operators can offer API, indexing, or other services to provide a convenient interface for users and applications to the core Solana network. These are often commissioned or run by individual applications and are dedicated to that program’s particular task, rather than maintaining consensus on the blockchain. RPC nodes, like consensus nodes, all independently verify all new blocks and changes to the network. They do not vote. 

A large number of nodes is critical for the health of the network. There’s no clear number for how many nodes is enough. What’s important is that:

  • Users feel confident that their submission will be recorded, no matter what. This is why it’s important to have a large number of copies of the current state available on many nodes, and that they exist in a broad distribution across the world. Solana’s single global state tracks the latest contents of each account, updated in real time with the latest information. 
  • Nodes operate independently of each other. A failure of a single node or set of nodes (say, run by a single entity or in a particular geography) should not impact the functioning of the network. 
  • Users can verify the accuracy of submissions by looking at other nodes. If a single node goes down or has an issue recording a message, users can rely on other nodes to verify the accuracy of the blockchain. 
  • Having 100% uptime in the period since the last Validator Health Report intersects with the above points. Having nodes or sets of nodes act independently helps ensure the functioning of the network, while having a high uptime percentage ensures users are confident their submissions will be recorded and they can verify the accuracy of submissions.