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A Closer Look at One of the First NFT Marketplaces on Algorand: Interview with AlgoWorld

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A Closer Look at One of the First NFT Marketplaces on Algorand: Interview with AlgoWorld

August 11, 2022
, by 
Mateusz Raczyński

The first mover’s advantage cannot be overlooked in the tech space. Introducing a product early enough can give a solid advantage over the competitors, which is why being able to act early on a new trend can significantly increase the chances of a project’s success.

This is what Al and Matt did with AlgoWorld, one of the first project-specific NFT Marketplaces on Algorand. If you’d like to know more about the team and what was the story behind this project, as well as how could they leverage OpenNFT to go to market quicker in desired form–here’s our interview with Al.

Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background?

My name is Altynbek (Al). I am a Software Engineer working in the industry for the past 6 years with expertise ranging in mobile and full-stack development. 

And AlgoWorld? What’s the idea behind it?

AlgoWorld was originally created by Matt, an engineer from France who also discovered Algorand as his side passion, and he used the L1 capabilities of the chain to create a collectible card game representing various countries around the world. 

The community started off as a simple Telegram channel, and while the idea itself wasn’t novel (you can trace similar projects dating back to 2017 on other chains like Ethereum), reliance on Algorand chain and its capabilities allowed for an easy, cheap and fast minting process and management of these cards. 

I discovered Matt’s community on Reddit and was an active participant in the early days, however, I quickly realized that there is a need to improve it even further by introducing a more automated approach to allow for community members to perform card trades in a trustless but secure manner. 

Hence, AlgoWorldExplorer was born in early May that year and was initially a centralized solution that was built on Anvil that relied on Atomic Transactions and existing wallet clients available at that moment throughAlgoSigner.

When did you launch AlgoWorld? I can see that the earliest blog post is from May 2021 and the Twitter account was created in April. 

It would be safe to assume that early April was the beginning of the Telegram community. May was the beginning of the AlgoWorldExplorer platform. 

The NFT boom had started only 3 months earlier on other chains–were you the first to introduce NFTs to Algorand?

It would have been an honor to do so, however AlgoWorld and AlgoWorldExplorer are not the first `literal` NFTs minted on the Algorand chain. However, I am pretty confident in stating that we were one of the first project-centric trading platforms in the Algorand ecosystem, as well as an NFT project working for our community and building incentive mechanisms for them. 

In other words, we were optimizing for our own NFT series only while there were many generalist marketplaces and explorers like RandGallery, AlgoGems, AlgoxNFT, and NFTExplorer being funded and/or developed at that time by enthusiasts and larger teams. 

It was a truly amazing experience to both learn and compete with various projects in space at that time. AlgoWorldExplorer was also among the first projects to collaborate with the Algorand Mobile Wallet team (also known as Pera Wallet these days) to integrate and beta test their WalletConnect based client. 

How long did it take you to release AW? From the idea to launch?

First AlgoWorldExplorer prototype on Anvil was made by myself in a few days. This was largely due to the flexibility of the Anvil platform. As the community grew, a need for smart-contract-based trading has been expressed, and I considered developing a newer and better solution. 

Creating the V2 version based on OpenNFT took me around 2 months, with the first half being mostly getting comfortable with stateful smart contracts in TEAL.

How many people are on board the AW Team?

Matt and Me. Matt has been a great colleague, and he continues his primary work on managing the community and tokenomics of the project, while I took most of the responsibilities on all things dev related.

Since you’ve used OpenNFT to speed up the development process–what parts of it have you used?

The biggest challenge for me back then was lack of good open source examples of stateless auction based contracts, tools like Reach and AlgoBuilder were great, but were still at rather early development stages and had certain hardware limitations, such as the lack of Apple Silicon compatibility and my personal bias towards Python tooling. Hence, the primary use case for OpenNFT was figuring out how your contracts were developed and were working. 

What customizations have you done so far?

I had to take out AlgoBuilder, Google Cloud deployment code, and certain chunks from both Django backend and Vue frontend. There was a certain learning curve to figure out the inner nuances of the OpenNFT codebase in the beginning and I even had a few consultations scheduled with members of the Ulam Labs team for which I give kudos. Thank you for open sourcing this codebase! I hope you will continue evolving and improving it as the Algorand ecosystem has grown to become a lot more mature if you compare it with the state in early 2021. 

And do you remember how you found OpenNFT?

It was a matter of exploring GitHub directly by going over Algorand related tags for white label solutions. It was great timing for me to discover it at that time because it was an exact use case providing a starting point for both frontend, backend, and smart contracts setup for our NFT Marketplace.

Why did you choose Algorand in the first place? I guess it has something to do with your nickname ;) 

I discovered it after listening to a podcast on the same topic and initially, I had a tiny playground project called millionalgos (hence my username), where the idea was to use procedural generation to create randomized images and sell them as non-fungible tokens. This is when I started learning the basics as well as getting my hands on the Anvil platform that later served as the V1 version of AlgoWorldExplorer. Reflecting back on that first project, it was a really silly idea, but the learning experience certainly came to be useful afterwards.

Let’s stick with Algorand for a bit. How long have you been active in this space?

Since pretty much the first day I discovered it in early April 2021. After watching a podcast with Silvio Micali on the same topic.

Would you recommend Algorand to other builders, and have you tried other blockchains?

Algorand was my first experience trying out blockchain development and I have no regrets at all. It is still relatively young and has a lot of challenges to overcome in terms of maturing the ecosystem and increasing adoption, but I see a lot of potential for the core technology and the things they provide in their layer 1 capabilities. 

In short, I highly recommend it. Would love to try out other prominent chains in the future as well–if time allows. 

Is AlgoWorld the only project you released on Algorand?

After AlgoWorld grew to a certain extent I had time to work on smaller open source things such as tinybar.app, awesomalgo.com and algofractals.com. All of them are open source and available on GitHub with Awesomealgo recently becoming a podcast as well that I am having a lot of fun maintaining.

How's the development experience so far with each of them?

Most of the tools are really experimental projects and are less refined than things I open source under AlgoWorld, but any contributions to the codebase are more than welcome.

What are your future plans for AlgoWorld and the other projects?

Managing AlgoWorld swapper and explorer comes at a great sacrifice of free time despite it being very close to my heart, and I always tried to do my best given the limited availability I have. 

Hence, over the past 3 months, I have been committed to open source the entire AlgoWorld tooling. These efforts will be finalized by October this year, and afterward, it's really up to anyone in the community to continue evolving it without having a centralized dependency on my active contributions.

Good luck! Would you like to tell anything more to those who want to build on Algorand?

Official Algorand documentation is a great start, the list I compiled on awesomealgo.com can also serve as a great introduction into tooling available. I would also highly recommend listening to the talks from Silvio Micali explaining the consensus mechanism and keynotes from Cosimo Bassi who is a solution architect from Algorand working on really interesting tooling in the ecosystem.

Building on Algorand

As Al told, using Algorand as the base blockchain is a good way to start a new blockchain-based project and release it in a timely manner. Not only that, the qualities of the chain itself are quite unique by the means of speed, scalability, and security. It is one of the go-to platforms for decentralized applications if you’re looking for an alternative to Ethereum.

While OpenNFT is our contribution to the open source community using Algorand, it can also be used for the efficient development of highly customized NFT Marketplaces. If you’d like to build your own or have a project that is not related to NFTs, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’ll help you launch it.

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