Buildspace: Make Real Blockchain Projects
Buildspace is super cool if you want to learn about blockchain development.
They offer interactive tutorials on how to build blockchain projects and reward users with prizes for completing tutorials on time.
The tutorials are designed to be easy and fun for beginners as well as advanced developers.
I can attest. They are easy and fun!
I followed their tutorial for building a web application that users can connect to with their crypto wallets and say hi to the web application by clicking a button.
They build theirs using a React frontend. The backend is the Solidity contract that you deploy to the Ethereum test net.
Don’t worry, Buildspace makes it super easy for you to do it, too.
While following it, I refactored their code so that instead of just clicking a button to say hi, users can input a link and short description and then click a button to say hi.
Plus, instead of using their pre-built React app, I put it in my existing application.
I did it over a 36 hour period, but in terms of active time on it, it took me probably 2-3 hours at what felt like a very comfortable and slow pace.
Not only can you learn technical skills from Buildspace, like how to:
code with Solidity
write smart contracts
test and deploy smart contracts an Ethereum test networks
setup and work within blockchain coding environments
tinker and explore with blockchain technologies
and so much more . . .
You also can learn about their strategies to attract and retain users, like how they:
reward users with an NFT for completing tutorials within a week or so
create community using Discord, Twitter, their website, and scheduling
build things that are complete enough to share and use but not overly complex that you can’t understand or customize
Read below to learn more about Buildspace and some of my thoughts related to it and learning by making.
Learning By Making
Making things is by far my favorite way to learn.
I have tried a number of different ways to learn how to make software, and the most effective and enjoyable way is to make things rather than study them.
Of course, I have to study some.
But instead of learning all the concepts and then trying to apply them, what works best for me is trying to apply the concepts, and then I learn about them as I try to apply.
It is through this process that I am forced to research, study, and apply critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that make me learn faster.
Plus, the experience of learning for me is a stronger one when doing. I remember things better, longer, and faster.
Making things is more effective for me when I have a solid tutorial to follow instead of staring from my own idea and then watching videos or reading tutorials to build it entirely from scratch.
I like following the tutorial and doing it exactly how they do, and then seeing if I can refactor the project into something of my own.
It can take a long time to research good tutorials to follow, especially when learning a new technology.
I have spent days on just that.
But when you find a good one, it catapults you from total struggle to it’s working!
I started doing this approach when first trying to learn how to code years ago in Ruby on Rails, and then I started doing it while learning to code in Swift for making iOS apps.
You get to see how experienced developers organize and write their code, and then you try to see if you can mimic the techniques they used what they did to refactor it to work how you want.
Even if it is a technology I already have experience with, I always learn something new from a good tutorial.
That is why I was so excited when I found Buildspace.
Their learning-by-doing approach is perfect for me.
Although I have some experience already with Solidity, Ethereum development, and React, their tutorials are designed so that anyone can do them.
About a year ago, I pieced together two different tutorials to build an NFT auction house.
The idea was that users could sign up, auction off their NFT, and then people could bid on the NFTs.
It’s actually pretty cool and worked.
I never put it online for others to use because I think it is too complex to launch as a first live blockchain project.
I want income, not liabilities!
Buildspace is a great place to learn by doing because they provide step-by-step instructions, a robust community of developers who are willing to help one another, and code samples and more to make sure you can finish the tutorial.
Their tutorials are also designed to be complete so that you can actually show them off to people and use them.
The tutorials are complete, but they are not complex. This is good for learning and helps make the projects complete.
Plus, you can finish a tutorial in a few hours.
Many other coding tutorials online are 20—30 hours of video explanations and articles and do not provide a complete project to serve as a good starting point.
Buildspace is the opposite. Their tutorials get to the point and do not exhaust you with hours of unnecessary content.
If you want to riff on their project and make it your own, you can definitely do it.
To make big changes, however, I think it requires some existing coding experience with Solidity, Ethereum and React.
Or at least a lot of patience and persistence while you try things out, break things, fix them, and whatnot.
That is the best way to learn! When I was first starting out, the Buildspace tutorials are the exact kind of tutorial that I looked for.
If I were you, I would build as they do, and then try to make my own by making tiny changes, one at a time, to their code.
The Buildspace community is one of the coolest features.
It resembles in-person coding bootcamps and has incentives that align the community with the individual.
By aligning the community and individual interests, the community is incentivized to help the individuals and the individuals have incentives to grow the community.
Their approach with this resembles the rewards that you see in the gaming industry. You get rewards for doing things on the platform, which makes you more likely to stay and continue to stay on their platform.
For instance, you get an NFT for completing their tutorials on time. They will promote your work on Twitter and elsewhere for being active in their community. While a tweet isn’t the same as an NFT, they both are forms of rewards that create user stickiness.
One thing they do that resembles in-person bootcamps is use Discord to connect students and staff.
Discord is a popular platform for messaging and group communications. It is very popular in the gaming community.
Buildspace students can ask questions, share their projects, network, and more on Discord.
By leveraging the community instead of relying on staff to handle questions, the students get answers faster, get a wider variety of perspectives, and can make more professional connections.
They also schedule their tutorials like in-person bootcamps. Instead of the tutorials be totally on-demand, Buildspace makes their tutorials available in terms or batches.
They hold a kick-off event, give you a deadline, and go! At some point, they make the tutorial unavailable until the next term.
So if you miss this term, they open it up again later.
Not only can the Buildspace community use Discored, they actually do use it.
It is a very active community.
Discord is just one way Buildspace aligns incentives between community and individual.
Other ways include:
Offering NFT rewards to users who finish tutorials within one week or so of the launch date. This encourages students to finish the tutorials.
Encouraging students to share their work throughout the tutorial and also at the end on Discord and Twitter. Seeing others post surely motivates others to post, and it becomes a self-fueling cycle that results in a bigger community and more potential exposure for you. Pluse, you can see what others build, learn from what they did, and also get a chance to show off your work.
Encouraging students to message on Discord during the tutorials at the end of each step. Naturally, most of us probably would not do this on our own. But their encouragement helps a lot. I’m sure many students don’t actually do this, but many do. People message about code but also themselves and their projects. It’s a good way to learn technical and non-technical things about being a blockchain developer.
Holding live kick-off shows that bring together a new group of students who can work together on the tutorials. This kick-off scheduling approach makes it more likely that a student will be able to get help from and interact with other students.
Sharing your work with their communities, which helps you get your name out there and helps the community grow.
Giving away an NFT to students who complete the tutorials on time is one of the coolest, and probably most effective, strategies they use.
Although the NFT probably won’t make anyone wealthy, it is an important tool to have for working with blockchain technologies, and you do not have to buy it.
Ok, that is it for this newsletter. Currently, I’m planning to do the next Buildspace tutorial and to continue riffing on the one I already did.
You have any great tutorials to share? How do you like to learn?