From Ethereum to NEAR Protocol: A Developer’s Guide

Anton Ioffe - March 26th 2024 - 6 minutes read

In the ever-evolving landscape of blockchain technology, developers are continuously seeking platforms that offer not only improved scalability and efficiency but also maintain a user-friendly development environment. As we journey from the groundbreaking era of Ethereum, known for its pioneering smart contract capabilities, to the cutting-edge frontiers of NEAR Protocol, a new paradigm of blockchain innovation emerges. This article dives into the heart of this transition, exploring the unique offerings of NEAR Protocol that attract developers, assessing the practical implications of building on NEAR versus Ethereum, and bringing to light real-world applications and success stories. Join us as we navigate the shift, uncovering the reasons why developers are migrating to or choosing NEAR Protocol, and what this means for the future of decentralized applications.

The Evolution of Blockchain Platforms

The evolution of blockchain platforms has been marked by a series of significant technological advancements, starting with Bitcoin. Introduced as the first decentralized ledger technology, Bitcoin revolutionized the concept of digital currencies with its secure, peer-to-peer transaction system. However, its functionality was primarily limited to that of a digital currency, with little room for additional applications. This limitation sparked a quest for more versatile blockchain solutions, capable of supporting a broader range of decentralized applications, beyond mere financial transactions.

Ethereum emerged as a pioneering solution in this quest, introducing the revolutionary concept of smart contracts. These self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into lines of code, expanded the blockchain's utility far beyond Bitcoin's original scope. Ethereum's platform allowed developers to create decentralized applications (dApps) and deploy them on a global, permissionless network. Despite Ethereum's groundbreaking capabilities, it soon encountered its own set of limitations, particularly relating to transaction speed, cost, and scalability. These challenges became significant barriers to mainstream adoption and highlighted the need for further innovation within the blockchain space.

Enter the NEAR Protocol, a next-generation blockchain platform designed to address the scalability concerns that have beset earlier platforms like Ethereum. Leveraging a unique sharding mechanism known as Nightshade, NEAR seeks to dramatically increase transaction throughput without compromising on security or decentralization. This innovation represents a crucial step forward in the blockchain's evolution, promising to unlock the technology's full potential by enabling high-performing, cost-efficient dApps that can scale to meet the demands of a global user base. By focusing on scalability, ease of use, and developer-friendly infrastructure, NEAR Protocol offers a compelling solution for the next wave of decentralized applications, setting a new standard for blockchain technology.

Understanding NEAR Protocol's Unique Offerings

NEAR Protocol distinguishes itself through a unique array of offerings that tackle some of the most pressing issues faced by legacy blockchain technologies, particularly scalability, security, and developer accessibility. At the heart of NEAR's innovation is the sharded, proof-of-stake blockchain architecture powered by the Nightshade consensus mechanism. This innovative approach allows for the processing of transactions and smart contracts in parallel, significantly enhancing the network's capacity without compromising on security or decentralization. As blockchains like Ethereum grapple with high gas fees and slower transaction times during peak periods, NEAR's scalable solution presents a compelling alternative that promises near-instant transaction finality at a fraction of the cost.

Moreover, the introduction of foundational technologies such as the Rainbow Bridge and Aurora layer-2 solutions further amplify NEAR's appeal, especially for developers entrenched in the Ethereum ecosystem. The Rainbow Bridge facilitates a seamless transfer of assets and tokens between NEAR and other blockchain networks, staring with Ethereum. This not only opens up avenues for richer interoperability across the blockchain spectrum but also enables projects to leverage the liquidity and established communities of different networks. Aurora, on the other hand, extends a lifeline to developers looking to migrate or deploy Ethereum-based applications on NEAR, offering them the scalability benefits of NEAR without the need to redesign their applications from the ground up.

These unique offerings are pivotal in addressing the blockchain trilemma of achieving scalability, security, and decentralization simultaneously. By providing a sharded, developer-friendly, and proof-of-stake based ecosystem, NEAR Protocol stands out as a blockchain platform that does not force developers to compromise between scale, functionality, and user experience. Coupled with its forward-thinking solutions for Ethereum compatibility and cross-chain interoperability, NEAR not only makes a strong case for developers considering where to build their next project but also sets a new benchmark for what next-generation blockchain platforms can achieve.

The Practicalities of Developing on NEAR vs. Ethereum

When comparing the development experience on NEAR versus Ethereum, a key distinction emerges from the choice of programming languages. Ethereum's development landscape is primarily dominated by Solidity, a language specifically designed for creating smart contracts on its platform. This specificity, while contributing to optimized contract performance on Ethereum, presents a learning curve for developers not already familiar with its syntax and peculiarities. In contrast, NEAR offers support for more universally familiar languages like Rust and AssemblyScript. These options empower developers with a background in web and software development to transition more seamlessly into blockchain development, leveraging their existing skills to craft smart contracts and decentralized applications.

From an infrastructure perspective, both platforms furnish developers with a robust set of tools designed to streamline the development process. Ethereum developers have at their disposal a variety of Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), testnets, and frameworks such as Truffle and Hardhat, which facilitate smart contract creation, testing, and deployment. Similarly, NEAR enriches its development environment with comprehensive SDKs for JavaScript and Rust, alongside plugins and extensions that integrate with popular code editors, enhancing the development experience with features like syntax highlighting and code completion. The platforms also provide sandbox environments and local testnets, which are invaluable for rigorous testing without risking real assets. This ensures that despite the differences in language and tooling, developers on both platforms can count on a conducive environment for building and deploying applications.

Community support and resources play a pivotal role in aiding developers navigating either platform. Ethereum, being the older and more established platform, boasts a vast, active community and a wealth of learning resources, forums, and documentation. This ecosystem provides a robust support network for developers, from beginners to experts. NEAR also actively fosters its community of developers, offering extensive documentation, tutorials, and technical resources. Although NEAR's developer community is smaller relative to Ethereum's, it is growing rapidly and is characterized by an ethos of collaboration and innovation. This sense of community is instrumental for developers making the transition from Ethereum to NEAR, as they can access guidance and advice from those already experienced with the platform's nuances and capabilities.

Case Studies and Real-World Applications

Through a close examination of Mintbase, a platform that leverages blockchain for the minting and trading of NFTs, we uncover a telling narrative on the evolution of blockchain application development. Initially built on Ethereum, Mintbase faced several challenges including slow transaction speeds and prohibitive gas fees, which seriously hampered user experience and scalability. The decision to transition to NEAR Protocol was driven by the search for a solution to these challenges. The outcomes on NEAR were notably positive, manifesting in significantly faster transaction speeds, lower fees, and an overall enhanced user experience. This move not only alleviated the technical obstacles previously encountered on Ethereum but also opened new avenues for Mintbase in terms of scalability and potential market reach.

Another case study focuses on Flux, a decentralized open market protocol. Originally grappling on Ethereum with issues akin to those faced by Mintbase, including scalability and high operational costs, Flux's migration to NEAR Protocol was pivotal. The decision was largely influenced by the need for a more scalable and cost-efficient environment to facilitate its operations, which include creating markets, trading, and providing open access to real-world data for various decentralized applications. Upon transitioning to NEAR, Flux noted a dramatic increase in transaction throughput and a substantial reduction in costs. This transition not only enabled Flux to operate more efficiently but also to significantly expand its service offerings, reinforcing the value proposition of migrating to a more accommodating blockchain ecosystem.

Lastly, the case of Paras, a digital art card marketplace that leverages the blockchain to create, trade, and collect unique art cards, provides insightful perspectives into the strategic rationale behind platform choices. Initially navigating the crowded and competitive Ethereum landscape, Paras encountered challenges related to high transaction fees and network congestion, which stifled user engagement and platform growth. The shift to NEAR Protocol was strategic, aimed at leveraging NEAR’s low transaction costs and high throughput capabilities. The outcome was transformative for Paras, leading to an exponential growth in user activity and transactions on the platform. This case vividly illustrates the tangible benefits of NEAR Protocol in supporting scalable, user-friendly applications, marking a significant step forward in the broader adoption of blockchain technology.


In the article "From Ethereum to NEAR Protocol: A Developer’s Guide," the evolution of blockchain platforms is explored, highlighting the unique features and advantages of NEAR Protocol. The article discusses how NEAR Protocol addresses the limitations of Ethereum in terms of scalability, transaction speed, and cost. It also examines the practicalities of developing on NEAR compared to Ethereum, including the choice of programming languages and available tools. Case studies of projects that have migrated from Ethereum to NEAR are presented, showcasing the benefits of improved performance and user experience. Overall, the article emphasizes NEAR Protocol's appeal to developers and its potential to shape the future of decentralized applications.