AxLabs have released Neo Playground, lowering the barrier to entry for new developers within the Neo ecosystem. Neo Playground is a VS Code-based Neo IDE and node that runs entirely in the browser. It was designed to bring Java developers into the Neo ecosystem and introduce them to the neow3j toolkit.

AxLabs senior software engineers, Dr. Guilherme Sperb Machado and Claude Muller, recently joined the Neo News Today podcast. They talked about the neow3j suite of tools and paving the path to mainstream blockchain use through improving the developer experience.

Accessing tools and reading the documentation can be a cumbersome process for developers exploring new ecosystems and languages. Just to get started building a smart contract, a developer needs to download neow3j tooling, import the compiler, and ensure the latest version of Java and most recent Neo node is installed on their local machine.

Overall, AxLabs’ Neo Playground aims to capture a software engineer’s attention. The neow3j SDK and compiler power a seamless front-end that allows Java developers to quickly run Neo examples or templates without installing anything. Machado said:

You just go there. Say I want to choose this template, these examples. I’m going to create a playground. Then a container gets instantiated in the cloud. And, then you start playing, you have all the tools already installed – your VS code, the neow3j compiler, [the current version of] Java. So, it’s pretty easy for tutorials, workshops, and to try things out.

Beyond offering a simple environment for exploration, the Neo Playground allows developers to replicate and share issues much more effectively. Currently, this is somewhat limited within GitHub. Following a detailed description of the problem, there is often a back and forth with more inquiries. Machado posited:

Imagine when you open an issue, you just go to a Neo Playground, make your smart contract, reproduce an issue, problem, situation, or scenario. Then, you copy this Neo Playground URL, paste it in the issue, and people can easily click and reproduce exactly what you see in your machine.

Though, the AxLabs team noted the Neo Playground is currently an MVP and that the NNT podcast was “getting some breaking news, because [it isn’t] really released.” Muller noted, “In the future, the first thing we want to show newcomers and developers [is the Neo Playground].”

Looking forward, AxLabs intends to continue expanding the web-based platform and offer more tutorials and workshops. Further, they plan to continue integrating support for Kotlin and other languages by using the tooling built by other developer communities in the Neo ecosystem.

Episode 43 of the NNT podcast with Dr. Guilherme Sperb Machado and Claude Muller is scheduled to go live on Monday, November 2nd.