Vital Point Pulse (Feb 2022) 

 February 28, 2022

By  Aaron Luhning

Here we go with the Vital Point Pulse - where you find out what the guild has been up to in support of the NEAR ecosystem and what it's planning to do in the coming month.  Let's get to it.

Aaron's Random Thoughts

It's unbelievable that another month has passed and we're staring March 2022 in the face.  The speed at which time is flying by is both exhilarating and concerning at the same time.  Exhilarating because it means things are happening.  So many things in fact, that I'm rarely present enough to notice time tick by.  And that's the concerning part - that time is relentlessly ticking away.  Hard to enjoy the journey when one is constantly planning the next thing.

No matter how busy you think you are, slow down time by paying attention to it. Force yourself to be present.

Overall, February was eventful for Vital Point AI as you'll soon see.  It's not always obvious what impact the Guild is having on the ecosystem, but when we wrap it all up and put it on a page, one can't help but say "damn" we might be having an impact here. (but, can always do more...)

The Pistol Shrimps - Metabuild Hackathon

The guild put a team together and entered the NEAR Metabuild hackathon.  Two more experienced guild developers partnered with and mentored four brand new developers with zero hackathon/NEAR experience to form the Pistol Shrimps.

The Pistol Shrimps created and submitted Space Gem (built with NEAR, Ceramic, The Graph, and React).  It's what we think is the first open web app that enables people with space to connect directly with people needing space.  It was born out of a real-world need for office and parking space sharing that many of the shrimpers experience daily.  

Here's the demo video - and be sure to check out the full Space Gem origin story (give the shrimps a like if you like :))

Catalyst Undergoes User Testing

On the heels of the Gen-C Marketing hackathon (Dec 21), the Catalyst prize was finally awarded to Mr. Mike Grossman, a brilliant writer and creative strategist based out of Brooklyn, New York.

Mike has been helping us since late January and throughout February to get to the heart of what Catalyst needs to help it take its place among the many great apps already running on NEAR.  That's not to say Catalyst isn't in use - we use it for both Vital Point AI and Vital Point Academy to manage opportunities for members.

But we know Catalyst can be much, much more and that's where Mike's work is helping.

Big shout out to the Open Web Sandbox.  As Mike needed users to do user testing with, we reached out to the OWS who helped source some motivated individuals interested in helping us take a look at how we can make Catalyst even better than it already is.

While the engagement with Mike is still ongoing, we've already uncovered several insights that are being worked into the platform.  Development continues, although for the next little while, it's going to take a back seat to some other exciting projects we have on the go.  Read on to find out what they are.

NEAR Subgraphs for Everyone

Following the release of our The Graph for NEAR course (free to take) in Vital Point Academy (our NEAR education initiative), we started receiving a lot of interest/inquiries looking for help building subgraphs.

I won't cover the benefits of subgraphs here other than to say they make it easier for people to build more performant applications.  If you have an app making a lot of RPC calls or relying on a lot of data from the chain, you can usually get massive useability improvements by using an indexer.  Subgraphs are an alternative to running an indexer of your own (and avoiding all the cost/complexity that comes with it).

Given the demand, we applied for funding and I'm happy to say NEAR is supporting us in building a subgraph directory for NEAR subgraphs.  Further, we're able to offer subgraph building services to the NEAR ecosystem at NO CHARGE for the foreseeable future.  So, if you want a subgraph for your project, reach out to us and we'll add it to the list.

We've already built several subgraphs this month that are being used by other applications in the ecosystem (and you're free to use them as well).  They include subgraphs for: ref.finance subgraph, Paras subgraph, Cheddar subgraphs, and others.

AND we're also holding facilitated courses of The Graph for NEAR.  The first one ran in early February and we trained up four people to build subgraphs.  We're looking to train more and you can be next to join Vital Point AI and get paid to build subgraphs for the directory.  We'd love to have you join the guild and if you want to get into development, NEAR subgraphs are a perfect starting point.

Contact us if you're interested in learning how to build subgraphs.  We'll schedule the next course once we have a small group ready to go. 

Let's Talk Onboarding: Guilds and Individuals

A few days ago, I published a post explaining how a better onboarding flow will improve NEAR's chances of hitting a billion users in five years.  That post dealt was a bit of an introduction to the challenge and focused on new NEAR Guild Onboarding.

It came about following establishment of a council focused on an on-chains guild platform of which I am a member providing input and collaboration.  It became clear after some discussion that there is a real opportunity to improve how we bring new guild leaders and individuals into the ecosystem.

Of course, Vital Point AI decided to act on that opportunity and the result is/will be fourfold:

  • An application to improve guild leader onboarding and engagement;
  • An application improving guild management and communication;
  • An application that improves individual onboarding and engagement; and
  • A service to provide customized front ends for NEAR guilds that incorporate these onboarding flows.

February saw us push out the first version of the guild onboarding application (testnet: https://mynear.xyz) that includes the beginnings of the management functions.  The functionality is pretty awesome already and it's only going to get better.  Take a look and share any feedback you might have.

Vital Point Academy - NEAR Certified Dev Trg

At Vital Point AI we currently have a NEAR Certified Instructor and we're going to start delivering our version of NEAR Certified Developer Training very soon.  It's the same necessary standard of training needed to get the NEAR Certified Developer title, but we're adding a few things to it so when you're done, you're more comfortable building full on applications with some other important web 3 integrations.  That training is about 60% complete.

Those integrations include Ceramic.Network, The Graph and some more emphasis on the front end development using React.  Our reasons for doing this are selfish - we want you working on Vital Point AI projects and we tend to use all these technologies in what we build.  

That said, we won't force you to work on our stuff even though you will earn NEAR for doing so...  Even if you do decide to do something else, the training will be an excellent starting point for where ever you end up.

This initiative and some regular training we're running are NEAR education initiatives. We sincerely appreciate the NEAR support in helping us teach these skills to new developers.  If you want to learn to develop NEAR applications, then consider joining Vital Point AI.

Vital Point Guild (VP Guild) exists to teach and spread the word about near protocol as a means to achieve widespread web 3.0 adoption... 

Looking Ahead to March 2022

So, with February under our belts, what's on the plate for March.  Well, we are aiming to:

NEAR Subgraphs Project:

  • Build and deploy the first version of the subgraph directory - so that anyone wanting to use subgraphs for NEAR projects in their own projects can easily find and do so;
  • Looking to build and deploy at least five new subgraphs for the directory.  If you need a subgraph for your project - please reach out and let us know.  Likewise, if you are developing an app, there's some things you can do to make your contracts compatible with The Graph - let's discuss them (it's basically ensuring you emit logs that are ideally NEP-297 format).
  • Run another iteration of The Graph for NEAR training.  Get your name on the waiting list if you want to make some NEAR building subgraphs


  • Implement recommendations from final user-testing report from Mr. Grossman with a view to further testing/positioning in the coming months.

Onboarding Project:

  • develop and deploy (testnet) individual onboarding application
  • continue building out management application for guild leaders/guild program (messaging, reporting flows)
  • continue providing input as member of the on-chain guilds management council
  • develop and deploy (testnet) proof of concept for OWS onboarding (customized front end/onboarding)

Vital Point Academy:

  • Finalize Vital Point AI's NEAR Certified Developer Training lessons/curriculumn (approx 60% complete now)
  • Continue lunch n learns within professional sphere (day job)
  • Plan/strategize course schedules for Apr/beyond (facilitated (virtual/in-person), self-directed)

And That's a Wrap...

See you again in a month for another Pulse check.  In the meantime, happy developing on NEAR.  

Note - you can leave comments/ask questions below - feel free to do so/start a conversation.

Aaron Luhning

I'm the husband of an amazing wife and father to two fantastic kids. I spend my time immersed in blockchain, data science, and mixed reality to automate processes, eliminate bureaucracy and create mind-blowing decision support solutions. When I'm not doing that, I'm running ultra-marathons, skydiving or boxing. Oh, and I don't do this stuff professionally. About sums me up.

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