The First Maker Foundation Internal Hackathon Produces Great New Solutions for Dai

27 August 2020

The first Maker Internal Hackathon was held in June, and it was a great success! A total of 14 developer teams participated in the event over two full days and an optional weekend, ultimately delivering some hugely valuable projects focused on different areas of the Maker Protocol and ever-expanding ecosystem. 

The internal hackathon provided a fantastic opportunity for Maker developers to take time out from their day-to-day work and focus on building creative new solutions for the MakerDAO project. The event was held virtually (thanks to the realities of life during the COVID-19 pandemic), and hacks did not have to be Maker- or even DeFi-related, though this was encouraged. 

Set-Up, Presentation, and Voting Categories

Hackathon teams were limited to five developers. Everyone was encouraged to work with people from outside their own Maker Foundation teams to inspire cross-team collaboration, new friendships, and foster friendly competition. 

Teams were told that should they be prepared to present projects on an All-Hands call, after which a vote would be held to choose winners in four categories:

  1. People’s Choice
  2. Best UI/UX
  3. Ecosystem Award (Best Composability/Integration with the Crypto/DeFi Ecosystem)
  4. Best Developer Tool

On the Monday after the event, eight of the 14 teams chose to present, and Maker Foundation members were given one week to consider their choices.

Maker Internal Hackathon Winners

While there was no declared theme for the hackathon, many teams created solutions that improved the decentralization of different aspects of the Maker ecosystem

People’s Choice: The Keg

Team Members: Nik Kunkel, Maker Foundation’s Head of Backend Services; Lucas Manuel, Smart Contract Developer; Philip Bain, Software Engineer; Gonzalo Balabasquer, Software Engineer.

The Keg is a decentralized payments system for MakerDAO. After complete decentralization of the DAO, it could be a vital means to pay contributors directly via the Maker Protocol, without any middlemen. The Keg is designed to do just that: Governance would vote to “brew” (cue dank beer memes), which results in Dai being “sucked” from the Surplus Buffer and then deposited to the “Keg”, which is a pool. From there, the Dai would be “poured” into a third-party address used to pay people. The Keg would also make it possible to delegate the ability to “sip” (withdraw) Dai and put it into another address for greater security, or “chug” that account to drain it entirely. 

While there’s plenty more to do before the Keg can be released, it (or something similar) is critical to the operation of a self-sustaining MakerDAO.

The Keg was a well-deserved winner, taking 59% of the People’s Choice votes and earning the team Maker Foundation-paid entry into the next Ethereum Global Hackathon.

Best UI/UX: Oasis Pay

Team Members: Krzysztof Kaczor, Software Engineer; Jakub Wlodarczyk, JS Developer; Chris Bradbury, Product Manager.

Oasis Pay is a decentralized payments system that uses a layer-2 scaling solution (one that moves transactions off-chain from the layer-1 Ethereum network) to make fast Dai transfers, easily. Despite the benefits that blockchain technology brings, cryptocurrency payments still have drawbacks, including periodic slow transfer times and high costs (thanks to gas issues), and UX hurdles due to cumbersome private key management. Oasis Pay addresses these using ZK-Rollups (special transaction bundles), making transactions faster than the Ethereum mainnet without sacrificing security. Think of it as a type of decentralized PayPal that allows fast, trustless, and safe Dai payments. The email login for Oasis Pay, with additional (third-party) authentication via Magic link, is simple and convenient, improving usability by abstracting away unnecessary steps and providing an overall more seamless experience for users. Finally, it’s even possible to lock funds in the DSR with Oasis Pay.

Oasis Pay took an impressive 72% of the Best UI/UX vote.

Ecosystem Award: ds-deed

Team Members: Brian McMichael, Software Engineer.

ds-deed is a dapp.tools-compatible NFT token implementation. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are used in a variety of ways within the blockchain space, including to represent unique works of digital art, in-game items, and custom rewards for specific activities. 

The “deed” in ds-deed is a reference to property deeds, as NFT's represent an ownership claim to a digital asset in the way that a real estate deed represents ownership of a land asset.

Brian built the project from the ground up, following dapp.tools’ style syntax, semantics, and, most importantly, memes. As Dai is part of the dapp.tools suite of development tools, ds-deed will ultimately make it easier to create and use NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain—for example, as badges of recognition, or to reflect participation in votes.

ds-deed took the prize with 19% of the Ecosystem Award vote.

The entire Maker Foundation Team at Devcon5 in Japan (Oct. 2019).

Best Developer Tool: Ethereum Monkey

Team Members: Ed Noepel, Software Engineer; Marc-André Dumas, Senior Integration Engineer.

Ethereum Monkey is a JSON-RPC proxy that accepts RPC commands and forwards them to an Ethereum node (Parity) or testchain (Ganache). The tool meddles with a certain proportion of these, injecting errors, such as dropping transactions and introducing delays, to help developers ensure the code is robust before deploying it to end users. It’s inspired by Netflix’s open-source tool Chaos Monkey, which randomly terminates services within the company’s cloud infrastructure, helping engineers implement resilient services. Ethereum Monkey is designed to mimic on an Ethereum testnet the kinds of issues associated with congestion on mainnet, since public and local testnets do not replicate real-world conditions well. 

Ethereum Monkey took 56% of the Best Developer Tool vote.

The Bar Is Set, and It’s High!

The dev teams at Maker never stop working to drive the organization toward complete decentralization, and the first Maker Internal Hackathon resulted in several solutions that could eventually be adopted into the Maker ecosystem. 

If you’re inspired by the first Maker Internal Hackathon, explore building your own applications on the Maker Protocol using the many Developer Guides on Github to self-integrate Dai

27 August 2020