Protocol Edition #1: Fleek

When Cloudflare and Vercel make a Web3 Baby

Following the tradition of naming your Web3 projects based on mid-2000's hip-hop slang (see: Lit Protocol), Fleek aims the be the Nick Fury of Web3. The Avengers in this case are the different Web3 data and storage protocols you might be using now like IPFS, Filecoin, and Arweave. Fleek brings all these together to defeat the enemy of a censorable and centralized web! Or at the very least make your life as a developer working with these protocols easier.

But is Fleek the hero we deserve AND the one we need right now? Let's take a look!

Know Before You Go

The Protocol Newsletter is for developers of all experience levels in Web3. Before our journey begins, and as a responsible tour guide, I want to make sure you have packed good knowledge of some of the fundamental concepts connected with Fleek. If you have this already in your brain backpack, feel free to travel ahead safely!

What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

What is the IPFS (InterPlantary File System)

What is an IPFS Gateway?

What is a DAG Consensus Protocol?

Our journey into the world of Fleek will feature three stops - The Documentation, The Whitepaper, and The Community but let's start the trip with a quick summary of what Fleek is:

Fleek - In 200 Words or Less

You can't talk about Fleek as one thing. What took me an embarrassingly long time to understand is that Fleek is building two projects: The Fleek Network and Fleek.xyz.So that you don't get lost on the trails as I did, here is an explanation:

Fleek Network is an open-sourced CDN that aims to replace centralized monoliths like Cloudflare. It will bring what we all know and love about Web3, censorship resistance, and being trustless to the world of content delivery. The Fleek Network isn't doing this just for the sake of being able to sit at the Web3 table but they aim to also provide even better performance compared to Web3 and Web2 alternatives. We will explore more of this in the Whitepaper section below.

Fleek.xyz is a Web3 development platform. Think Netlify or Vercel but decentralized (and cool). The goal here is to provide the same cozy feelings of performance and reliability developers have come to love but build on top of a collection of different Web3 protocols. Does it match that promise? I cover that in the Developer Experience section.

First Stop - The Documentation

The first stop for any developer learning a new protocol shoooould be the documentation. Let's take a look at what Fleek has to offer in that department:

The first thing to say is that the documentation definitely feels a bit of a "work in progress" mode. But never fear travelers, the paths are not dangerous! There are some friendly graphics like the one below to help you understand more about the current and future plans of the Fleek.xyz Platform:

My first adventure with Fleek started with deploying my own writing portfolio "on Fleek" with their legacy tool Fleek.co. Setting up that project took some time as the suggested Docker images in the guides did not work. After some digging in Discord, I found one that worked and I have been impressed with the experience since.

That said, I was excited to try the new CLI tool and follow the provided guide to deploy a site all in the CLI. After installing the CLI, the pain, horror, and shock of requiring an email came over me:

Listen, I am not the type to beat up every project that uses Web2 authentication but I do find it awkward that the Fleek team requires this since they are using web3auth (without wallet support) and I have previously connected my wallet to the legacy Fleek platform. A good developer experience should be consistent with the product and its philosophy.

After a few tries (no worries, it's still beta), I was able to login in to start deploying my project! This might be my Technical Writer nitpicking but it would be great for the documentation would link directly to the guides in the blog. If you make great developer content in different places, help developers find it easier by having that content "speak" to each other.

The Sites Deployment guide has both text and a video for other fellow travelers to choose from. Beware that the text version begins with the fleek sites init command while the video version uses the fleek projects create command to get started. Again, consistency is important for this trip.

All in all, the design and feel of the Fleek Docs are great. Hopefully more content to come!

Second Stop - The Whitepaper

The whitepaper starts out being pretty approachable and lays out some of the foundations of the Fleek Network. As with most whitepapers, the more you read the deeper it goes into unknown territory for most readers. A core theme to the whitepaper is how the Fleek Network is adding a performant layer to the storage protocols we already know like Filecoin and IPFS through DAG consensus + its node architecture.

The node architecture was well explained to feature 4 types of nodes:

  • Clients - That's You and Me and we interact with the network through Gateway Nodes

  • Gateway Nodes - These nodes connect us to the closest Cache Node to us and handle the GET request.

  • Cache Nodes - These nodes handle important content operations like replication, caching, and delivery. They handle both PUT and GET requests from our clients.

  • Origin Nodes - Makes sure data is being stored long term.

To be honest, this article on how "Fleek helps Decentralize IPFS" is probably enough for most travelers to understand the power and value of what they are building. It gives a nice gentle introduction to the problem of how currently IPFS struggles to deliver the level of application performance needed and how Fleek fixes this. Well done.

Third Stop - The Community

Since no one likes to build alone, the community is important to understand not just the popularity of the protocol but what kind of support and learning you will have access to while building. Let's take a look at the Fleek community and how Fleek is serving the community:

Dev Community

From the whitepaper, the Fleek community hosts an impressive number of builders at around 40k sites/apps and over 600TB of monthly data. I have not seen much original developer content outside of their own DevRel team made yet but I imagine people will start incorporating this in more tutorials/demos as word spreads that you don't need a Vercel/Netlify for a Web3 project.

Content

Fleek has a regularly published newsletter called the Fleek Leak . If the name wasn't good enough, the content is even better. Between the GIFs and memes, you will find a good effort in keeping the Fleek community informed about releases and updates from the team. They have also provided a Public Roadmap to keep them honest and you informed traveler!

Discord

The Discord Channel has around 1,130 members at the time of writing. It is set up nicely so that you can log support tickets and it seems like the user Gonza responds to everyone within the same day or at least tells them to log a support ticket :) I can't speak to the response times after that.

The Journey Continues - The future of Fleek

Well, traveler, that was your field guide to Fleek! But the journey doesn't have to stop here. Fleek also introduced a new service they are working on called Non-fungible Apps (NFAs). An NFA uses a smart contract to control everything in a Web3 app including deployment, domain management, storage and even paying for all these services! Think of it as the conductor of the crazy orchestra of building a Web3 application.

Another major benefit to this is that you are able to mint and transfer an NFA which could unlock a wealth of riches for you by allowing you to sell a Web3 app just as easily as transferring an NFT. Just think that our friends at Developer DAO could build something amazing together and sell it in one transaction!

Until Next Time

While you wait for our next journey together, here is some other great Web3 content that you can check out travelers:

'ZK for the Rest of Us' by the legend - Tony Olendo

'Why Solana' by mert

DevNTell with DeFormed and thatguyintech / Albert and Narb -

Thanks for our time together ❤️

Your Guide - DappaDan

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