As part of the Nelumbo project, I set out to hit five specific milestones. You can actually see the original proposal, including milestones here. Today, I’m exciting to announce the completion of Milestone Two.

Before diving into what’s possible with Nelumbo so far, it’s important to understand what Nelumbo is and what problem it sets out to solve. Filecoin, a distributed storage network secured by a blockchain, launched its mainnet back in October of last year. Leading up to its launched, I participated in the Filecoin community and worked towards building Filecoin compatible storage applications. A storage application, simply put, is one that makes use of the Filecoin network without needing mining capabilities. The problem when building storage clients is that you must run a full Filecoin node in order to operate it. That means, you also have to run a node to develop.

Fortunately, Filecoin provides a local developer version of the Filecoin blockchain. Instead of trying to run a full node on your computer (which is likely impossible), you can run a local devnet and build with confidence that your code will work once deployed against the mainnet. However, Filecoin’s local devnet requires a deep understanding of command line operations, a bit of devops knowledge, and a ton of patience.

Nelumbo sets out to make the local devnet easier to use by wrapping it in a simple user interface. Rather than running the devnet through a bunch of commands in your terminal, you can launch a MacOS desktop application, click a button, and be off and running.

Now, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what Nelumbo enables so far with Milestone One and Milestone Two.

Launch the Devnet

Obviously, the most important thing is actually launching the local blockchain. This is also the hardest step in the process. It requires installing dependencies like Rust, Go, and others. It then requires setting Go environment variables. This is where Nelumbo shines. The only requirement with Nelumbo is that you have Homebrew installed on your machine already. Launch Nelumbo, and you’ll see a button to install dependencies and launch the blockchain.

Upgrades

As with other blockchains, Filecoin undergoes constant improvements. Many of these improvements require mandatory updates in order to ensure your node can sync with the rest of the chain. Obviously, a local blockchain isn’t really syncing with the rest of the network, but it’s still important to develop against the correct version.

Nelumbo has this covered. If there is an update available, a button in the top-left corner will appear. Simply clicking that button will download the newest version of Filecoin and install the dependencies.

Wallets

When creating a new instance of the local devnet version of the Filecoin blockchain, a single wallet is generated and funded. However, when developing, you often need multiple wallets with funds to test out functionality. Nelumbo solves this for you.

When launching Nelumbo, behind the scenes, 10 total wallets are created. Funds are send from the original, funded wallet to the other new wallets. This gives you wallets with FIL to get started, but Nelumbo goes a step further.

When you launch Nelumbo, you’ll see a list of all your wallets and you’ll have a button to create a new wallet with just one click. This is useful if you need an empty wallet for testing.

Explorer

A simple transaction explorer is built into Nelumbo. If you click the Explorer tab, you’ll be taken to a table view of transaction messages broadcast by your local devnet. Each message is clickable for more information.

In the event you need this data in CSV form, there is an export button that will prompt a download.

The explorer page has a simply search filter that will search across all available fields. Search for a wallet address, a message CID, or other data and see the results update in real-time.

How to Use Nelumbo And Next Steps

Nelumbo is not yet available as a production release. So if you’d like to test it early, you’ll need to visit the Github repository and build from source. The instructions to do so are in the README.

While Nelumbo is getting close to being released as a downloadable app, there are still three milestones left to deliver. I hope to be building those out and delivering on them in the next month or so.