Confessssions of a Snek
Update On Winning, Failing, And Learning
Dear Snek frens,
The past three months have been both exciting and turbulent for the Basilisk team. Exciting, because we have managed to lay the groundwork for several key initiatives which will propel the future growth of the project. Turbulent, because we got bogged down and did not deliver the LBP within the promised timeframe.
In this post, we discuss both our successes and our failures. Perhaps more importantly, we would like to share with you our learnings. We did our best to transform the mistakes we have made into opportunities for improvement. Especially this early in the project, we are humbled and grateful to have such a patient community and the chance to enhance our future delivery.
We might as well say that the last couple of months could be summarized by the meme below:
Let’s start with a TLDR before the deep dive. The growing Basilisk team has been occupied developing several key items across our product range. The LBP is further delayed due to reasons which are discussed in this post. We will be conducting an LBP testnet to make sure that the product is mature when it is launched. While we cannot set a fixed date for the LBP testnet yet, we promise to keep the community updated on the progress.
What went well
The first point that we are happy to share with you is that the Snek team is growing. We have onboarded additional Rust engineers (2), front-end devs (3), a product manager (1) and communication support (1). More to come, as Snek is still hungry for additional talent (reach out to us - you know where to find us!)
Our Rust engineers have been busy working on several fronts. The most important milestone to mention here is LBP - the backend part is as good as finished. Besides that, we have been developing a liquidity mining functionality which will be used after the LBP has ended.
Furthermore, we have booked great progress on another important Snek initiative - NFTs. The backend for our in-house NFT marketplace is approaching its final development phase. In yet another trajectory, we also managed to deliver on our first milestone in the Web3 Foundation Grants Program for building an auction platform for NFTs.
Our front-end engineers have also been doing serious heavy lifting. The much needed foundation for the front-end app has been laid, which has allowed us to speed up the onboarding of additional engineers. This has also unlocked the development of the LBP and XYK interfaces which is still ongoing.
Last but not least, our infra one-man-army has been battling the infrastructure needed for setting up an LBP testnet using cutting-edge technologies which enable greater speed of development and delivery (Kubernetes).
What did not go so good
It is now time to address the elephant in the room - why is the BSX LBP still not delivered? There are several reasons for this which we would like to briefly discuss with you.
The key factor behind the delay is the fact that we underestimated the front-end work. We were blinded by the quick progress in the development of the blockchain part, which distorted our perception of the amount of UI work that needed to be done. Drafting the backbone of our front-end app turned out to be a heavy task by itself.
Creating the middleware needed for caching and indexing the data only made matters more complicated. A special shoutout goes to the Subsquid team, which has helped us greatly by responding quickly to our requests.
Another connected issue is that we were heavily understaffed at the front-end. We had been focussing on onboarding great Rust talent (super hard to get) and thus neglected hiring people on the front-end. The shortage of human resources made it an impossible task to come up with an accurate timeline for delivering all the work needed for the UI part.
There were also considerable distractions for our blockchain engineers which should be mentioned here. They were focussed not only on delivering the LBP, but also on liquidity mining for the XYK trading pools. As the BSX LBP will transition into an Uniswap-like XYK pool at its end, we need to have liquidity mining ready and tested right after LBP launches. The influx of Substrate runtime upgrades which the team was required to perform on a short notice to the Basilisk parachain has only added a layer of frustrating context-switching.
These circumstances brought a dilemma upon us: Should we take shortcuts, or continue focussssing on delivering the product as we have envisioned it? The decision was not hard to make. We would never allow ourselves to follow the mistakes of others in the blockchain space by delivering an immature product because of pressure.
Haters gonna hate, and flippers gonna flip. We cater to the long-term supporters of the project, and it is their interests which we seeked to protect when we made the decision to postpone LBP until we are confident that the product is in great shape.
There is not much going on in Kusama and we had an option to launch an empty blockchain with a liquid token attached to it. Our core thesis of bringing proper degen action to Kusama would then be compromised. We do not want that. We want adoption therefore we’ll launch when the product is ready and usable.
What did we learn
The first lesson for young Snek is that it needs more front-end muscle. We acted quickly and ramped up our hiring efforts. We managed to hire 2 front-end engineers, and also decided to involve an independent contractor for (short-term) help with some of the UI components. We still have many job openings which we would like to fill for the longer term, please follow our social media channels where the positions will be announced.
We also realized that we could share some of the work with our great community. We are confident that there are enough capable front-end engineers out there reading this, who are willing to give a helping hand (Snek offers generous bounties). For that purpose, we have started creating detailed Github issues which can be picked up by anybody (see an example here). If you are interested, please also check out the other Github Issues.
Besides making it easier for everyone to contribute, we are also working on improving our planning capabilities. We are investing more time in scoping and describing the tasks that need to be done, as well as better monitoring developer velocity.
To make sure that our newly developed products meet the high expectations, we have decided to move forward by conducting an LBP testnet. While this will further delay the actual BSX LBP, there is also good news. The testnet will be incentivized, meaning that you will be rewarded for your participation. Yes, more tokens. The testnet will also give us enough time to carry out much-needed UX research for improving user frenliness.
We are currently in the process of finalizing the preparations. Unfortunately, due to the amount of open UI tasks and the uncertainty of how many people will be helping out, we cannot commit to a deadline for the launch of the LBP testnet. However, we promise to start issuing regular updates on the progress by the engineering team.
As always, Snek remains highly appreciative of its vibrant and equally patient community, and can’t wait to drop that testnet for you to try and break.