NEO Global Development (NGD) Seattle has released the first version of the Neo Blockchain Toolkit, now available for download on the Visual Studio Marketplace. The toolkit is available as an extension for VS Code, providing developers with an all-in-one solution for running a Neo private network and building, debugging, deploying, or testing smart contracts.

The team recently released a preview version of the toolkit following the product release announcement at the NCA 2019 press conference. John deVadoss, head of NGD Seattle, introduced the tool at the event and highlighted the importance of doing the heavy lifting for developers so that they can focus on building their projects.

Visual DevTracker

One notable improvement over the preview build is the inclusion of the Visual DevTracker, an additional extension that allows users to interact with neo-express blockchains from within VS Code. The tool will automatically detect any neo-express node files within the workspace, and provides a block explorer to allow on-chain operations to be monitored and analyzed.

Viewing block data from a private neo-express blockchain

The DevTracker can also be used to view block data from the Neo MainNet and TestNet, making it a potentially useful tool for development teams that are testing applications on the public networks. Visual DevTracker can be easily opened by expanding the “Neo RPC Servers” context menu, found in the lower left corner of VS Code, and selecting the desired network to monitor.

Toolkit Quickstart

Developers looking to get started with the toolkit can read the quickstart guide, which contains all the necessary information for installation. Additionally, the quickstart offers walkthroughs for creating contracts, running a private Neo blockchain, and transferring assets on the network.

A command reference for neo-express has also been created, which describes the available commands and introduces useful features such as the checkpoint system. Checkpoints are used to save the state of a neo-express blockchain, allowing changes to be reverted.

The blockchain can be run from the checkpoint in memory instead of on disk, making it a useful tool for testing as any changes will be discarded when the network is shut down. As of the latest version, it is possible to create checkpoints while the blockchain is still running.

Future Plans

NGD Seattle intends to continue fleshing out the toolkit by providing useful smart contract templates, assorted debugger improvements, and by building the NEO-FX library. NEO-FX is intended to provide developers with a unified programming model, enabling a “consistent and highly productive developer experience” regardless of which SDKs they are using to build applications.