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Hackathon Startup Guide

Welcome to hacking on NEAR! We're glad you're here. Let's set up the basics first:

Setting up the requirements

In this section, you'll install and set up the basic tools to create smart contracts in Rust. Along with the Rust environment, you'll create a NEAR account and install the near-cli.

Installing the Rust toolchain

The following instructions are taken from the official Rust installation guide. If you already have the Rust toolchain, you can skip these steps.

Tip: If you're new to the Rust programming language, the online book from the official Rust site is a great resource to start with.

1. Install Rustup

Run curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf | sh

2. Configure your current shell

Run source $HOME/.cargo/env

Note: alternatively you can simply relaunch your terminal window

3. Add wasm target to your toolchain

Run rustup target add wasm32-unknown-unknown

Why unknown-unknown?

Creating a NEAR account

The easiest way to create an account on NEAR is using the NEAR Wallet. NEAR has several development networks operating independently of each other with their own accountIDs. For this Hackathon guide, you'll create a new testnet account.

If you already have a NEAR testnet account, you can skip these steps.

Tip: If you have any issues, we've created this easy guide to help you out.

1. Reserve an Account ID

2. Secure your account

  • Choose your account recovery method. For simplicity, in this tutorial you can select "E-mail Account Recovery", although "Recovery Phrase" and Ledger are the most secure methods.

3. E-mail / Phone Number Account Recovery

  • Enter the account activation code that you received.

4. Success!

  • You just created a testnet account and received 200 Ⓝ! Upon recovery method confirmation you should be directed to your account dashboard.

Installing the near-cli

Now it's time to install near-cli. This is a command line interface that allows you to interact seamlessly with NEAR. This page has all of the near-cli commands with examples.

The following instructions are taken from the near-cli installation guide. If you already have the command line interface, you can skip these steps.

Note: Make sure you have a current version of npm and NodeJS installed.

Linux and macOS

  1. Install npm and node using a package manager such as nvm. Sometimes there are issues using Ledger due to how macOS handles node packages related to USB devices. [click here]
  2. Ensure you have installed Node version 12 or above.
  3. Install near-cli globally by running:
npm install -g near-cli


Note: For Windows users, we recommend using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

  1. Install WSL [click here]
  2. Install Node.js [click here]
  3. Change npm default directory [click here]
    • This is to avoid any permission issues with WSL
  4. Open WSL and install near-cli globally by running:
npm install -g near-cli

First steps

1) Now that you have an account, test out a simple testnet app and interact with the blockchain. Try out Guest Book and sign and send your first transaction on the blockchain.

2) Look around in NEAR Explorer. Here you can search for all transactions and blocks produced on NEAR. Try searching for the account you just created and see the transactions you've created with Guest Book.

3) Try running your first near-cli command: near login. This will redirect you to your NEAR Wallet and save your testnet account keys locally. Look for them in a hidden file under your HOME folder (~/.near-credentials)

4) Head to NEAR Examples and test out some example applications. You can clone and play around with the code or simply click on the Gitpod button to launch an online instance!

Understanding Smart Contracts

Smart Contracts are the back-end of your application, which lives on the blockchain. The application still needs the same front-end stuff (HTML/CSS/JS) you're used to, but all of your data, or "state," will be stored on-chain.

  • The Smart Contract runs code and stores data on the blockchain network.
  • The front-end talks to the Smart Contract using an API (JSON RPC Interface).
  • near-api-js is a JavaScript library we've created to interact with NEAR.
  • We currently support developing smart contracts in

Note: AssemblyScript smart contract development is for non-financial use cases.

Boilerplate apps

Non-fungible Token (NFT)Example implementations of tokens to represent unique assets, such as collectibles or deeds, using the NEP-4 spec (similar to ERC-721)
Guest BookSign in with NEAR and add a message to the guest book!
Fungible Token (FT)Example implementations of money-like tokens, where one token is the same as any other, using the NEP-141 spec (similar to ERC-20)
Counter example in RustSimple counter in Rust. Increment, decrement, and reset. See branches for extended usage.
Proof of Work FaucetProof of Work Faucet for NEAR accounts to gain Ⓝ (NEAR denomination) from a React app.
Status MessageSet and retrieve status messages per account with this simple smart contract.
Counter example in AssemblyScriptIncrement and decrement a counter with this simple smart contract via a web page.
Example of NEAR Wallet integrationThis example demonstrates how to integrate your application with NEAR Wallet.

Common questions and issues

1. Sending data to your contract from the front-end

Say you've got an Rust function defined in your contract that takes data:

pub fn some_method(&mut self, my_data: String) {

When you call it in the front-end, you'd have trouble sending data, much like in the error below:

"ABORT: unexpected string field null : 'YOUR DATA'".

You can fix this issue in the front-end when you call contract. Because NEAR uses a JSON-RPC-API, all methods are called using objects.

Instead of calling:

contract.someMethod("BAD"); // WRONG WAY TO CALL METHOD!

You need to send the object with the variable name that's going to be used in the back-end, just like when you call a REST API.

myData: "GOOD"

2. Where are my functions when I try to call them?!

You need to do two things in order to access your smart contract calls on the front-end.

  1. Define the methods you intend to call in your contract, and make sure they are public. (You're probably good on this one!)
  2. Declare the methods that you want to call during the initialization of the contract on the front-end. (You probably forgot this one.)
// Initializing our contract APIs by contract name and configuration.
window.contract = await near.loadContract(config.contractName, {
// View methods are read only. They don't modify the state, but usually return some value.
viewMethods: ["hello"],
// Change methods can modify the state. But you don't receive the returned value when called.
changeMethods: [],

The call to loadContract is actually making an object with your functions that gets assigned to the window.contract variable, so that later, on you can call window.contract.myFunction. Note that window is always in scope, so you can just call contract.myFunction.

3. How do I save data to the blockchain?

Please see our Data Storage / Collections for an in-depth look at ways you can store data on-chain.

The link above illustrates ways to store data using one of our two software development kits (SDKs):

Running into trouble? Reach out on our Discord channel and we'll help!