Officially launched only on August 31, the ICON Developers Portal is admittedly a work in progress, as its sparse content immediately attests. But Lena Kim, managing partner of De:Nexo, the blockchain ecosystem builder entrusted by ICON with managing the new portal, promises that it won’t stay that way.
“Even though we admit we’re in the initial stage, we’re going to add a lot of content,” she says. “We’re going to be a good channel to communicate with developers and ICON. Developers cannot talk directly with ICON, but we can see and monitor the developers’ voices with the site.”
The ICON Developers Portal aims to promote the growth of the ICON platform’s DApp ecosystem by serving as a one-stop center for all your developer needs, including development resources, knowledge sharing and community updates. Its managers also hope to provide a place where developers can inspire the ICON community by sharing their projects and, just as importantly, how they got them done. “We want many developers to come to the site, to make great stories, to make great projects,” says Kim. “We’re going to support them.”
Though a bit on the bare bones side currently, the portal already boasts a few useful items. The tutorial for T-Bears, ICON’s suite of development tools for the ICON network’s smart contract, SCORE, walks the uninitiated through the installation and setup process. You’ll find helpful lists of commands and information on how to create sample SCORE projects. Another tutorial teaches you how to write SCOREs using the T-Bear suite.
More is in the pipeline. De:Nexo is busy putting together additional resources, including trouble-shooting guides, reference materials and – when they become available – case studies. Developers will soon be able to register their DApps through the portal, too.
The importance of the portal should only grow. “The developers portal is the first channel to communicate with developers and investors,” says Kim.
“We can see what their concerns are, which are most pressing. We can see if many developers want us to fix a particular problem, or see a particular tutorial. We can report this up the chain.”
In addition to sharing information, the ICON Developers Portal will serve as a venue for communication among ICON’s interested partners. This, the managers hope, will help satisfy the ICON community’s desire for more information. “So far, ICON hasn’t communicated much with developers or users,” says Kim. “So many people are simply saying, ‘good job, great job. Keep up the good work.’ We take it as meaning we should go further, that they are hungry for our voices. They want to know.”
De:Nexo is particularly interested in making the portal a fun place to be. “We want many people to come to the site and enjoy it,” says Kim. “We want them to put questions on the forum and get answers – not just professional or tech answers, but casual answers.”
“We don’t want the site to just push content from our side. We want other developers to develop content and collaborate.”
Admittedly, the portal has a long way to go before this becomes a reality. Says Kim, “This is because we have limited resources, but this is not going to be an excuse.”
As of writing, the English language community forum had just 10 posts. To be fair, this was 10 more than in the Korean language forum, where there wasn’t a single post. The lack of a delete function – a quirk wryly noted in the very first comment of the English forum – has scared off some users, especially on the Korean side. The delete function – or won’t thereof – was a feature, not a bug, albeit a feature the managers are now reconsidering. Kim says, “We’re in the blockchain world. We’re tracking every history.”
De:Nexo has put together a task force to develop more content. The task force, composed of people from ICON, De:Nexo, AD4th and other stakeholders, will set content priorities. “The portal should generate exciting questions and answers and back-and-forth. We know this, but we haven’t generated it yet,” says Kim. “I think this is because we should provide informative content first.”
Some in the crypto community voice concern that developers will stay away from ICON while the platform’s core chain remains closed. In early August, ICON announced it would be releasing source codes and documents to its Github over the course of two months. The Developers Portal already has links to the API References for Java and Python.
Releasing the source codes is no easy task. “It’s not just opening the source,” says Kim. “There should be some information and description about the source and how to use. Developers cannot use it if we just upload the open source because there should be information.”
Indeed, managing the Developers Portal is a handful in and of itself. The endeavor involves developers from ICON and AD4th, who are responsible for creating the documents, and De:Nexo personnel, who take responsibility for communication, including the forum, as well as for posting events such as meetups. Outside experts are involved, too. Getting everyone on the same playbook can result in some sleepless nights. Kim says, “We sometimes work 20 hour days.”
The Developers Hub will also play a role in promoting ICON to a global audience, including in the West, where developers prefer platforms such as EOS and Ethereum. “Because we have limited contact points with Westerners, even though we are doing things like Twitter, developers want to know about core platform and development-related content or some event,” says Kim. “So if developers want to know about development, they come to this site, where we’re gathering and archiving information so that they can see what’s going on and what’s coming next.”
De:Nexo is taking part in a series of events to promote its new portal and ICON more generally. They plan to hold meet ups in Western locations and offer practical help to developers, such as hackathons and seminars.
Prior to joining De:Nexo in April, Kim spent a long career at some of Korea’s biggest IT firms, including eBay Korea and Naver. Moving from traditional tech to the fast-paced world of crypto has proven a challenge. “In the conventional world, there’s an expectation of completeness,” she says. “In the crypto world, we should work fast and cover everything from the first release, enhancing and enhancing again.”
The challenge has been an exciting one for Kim, however. “It’s very interesting because there’s a lot to learn, a new ecosystem, so I’m really enjoying it,” she says. “In the conventional world, we are developing based on the current business model. In the crypto world, we are creating a new ecosystem and creating a new market, so perfection is a secondary priority, even though it’s still important. But going fast is a higher priority.”