CF8: Project Completion Report

CF8: Project Completion Report

Project Delivered!

We are thrilled to announce the official publication of our Catalyst Fund 8 Project Completion ("Close Out") Report. Our report provides a look back on the achievements we've made in bringing this goal to fruition and the value-add capabilities we have brought to the Cardano ecosystem. In this article we share the highlights and the full report can be found here.

The birth of NFTCDN

Our goal at NFTCDN is to make building products and services that seek to integrate NFT media content simpler, quicker and cost-effective with the aim of making Cardano the blockchain of choice for NFT application.

In May 2022 after successfully securing the support of the Cardano community in support of our proposal, we set out to create:

  • A service that abstracts away the complexities of being able to display optimised NFT media content, allowing developers to focus on the development, growth and success of their core product offering.
  • A service that delivers every NFT's Content, with a focus on NFT images and NFT metadata within our proposal, reducing the number of middleware and consequently eliminating a substantial amount of technical debt for developers.
  • A service that delivers optimised NFT media content at high-speed  powered by a global Content Delivery Network, enabling a user-experience that our customers' end-users would love and remember.

Our product was successfully delivered in December 2022 and as of writing is being used by several products (NFT marketplaces, wallets and bespoke projects) within the Cardano ecosystem.

Challenges Addressed

By using NFTCDN projects are able to avoid the substantial up-front costs and effort required in designing, building, testing and maintaining an end-to-end infrastructure to deliver NFT media content quickly, efficiently, reliably and cost-effectively to end-users on their products and services.

  • Cost Challenge – OPEX/CAPEX: It costs c. $100,000 to build an end-to-end solution to display NFT media content and c. $10,000 per month to maintain it. Using a "pay-per-API-call" pricing model, we make it financially viable for projects to integrate NFT media content within their products and services at a fair price and also enjoy discounts as they scale through our tiered pricing structure.
  • Timing Challenge – Time to Market: Developing an end-to-end solution like NFTCDN could easily take up to 12 months. Our low-code ready-to-deploy solution can be integrated seamlessly within minutes by developers, allowing projects to quickly test, develop and deliver products and services to their end-users.
  • Complexity Challenge – Evolving Standards: The continually evolving Cardano ecosystem has a number of metadata standards that a NFT could use, requiring a host of modules to handle each type. We abstract the display of NFT media content through a unified endpoint with standardised input parameters ensuring predictable outputs regardless of the underlying metadata standard used.
  • Complexity Challenge – Exceptional Cases: With millions of NFTs on Cardano, errors in their metadata can hinder display. With our extensive experience in the domain, we have developed a vast library of exceptions cases and are able to assure a high-confidence output in our service delivery.                
  • Complexity Challenge – Multi-Source Media Content: As NFT Media Content is hosted on various platforms like IPFs, Arweave, HTTP sources and on-chain, we act as a multi-source aggregator, offering abstracted API endpoints to ensure comprehensive content accessibility.
  • Performance Challenge – Availability, Speed and Reliability: NFT Content hosted on decentralised technologies pose availability and speed challenges, notwithstanding response times and rate-limiting restrictions affecting end-user experience. We have built an enterprise-grade global Content Delivery Network (CDN) with redundancies in every point of the value chain ensuring NFT Content is cached to guarantee availability and faster response times through our strategically located Points of Presence (PoPs).
  • Complexity Challenge – Multi-Format Media Content: There is a vast number of NFT media content types and even larger array of formats. For NFT images, we tackle NFT display complexities by rasterising images, optimising with a bespoke algorithm, and converting to the WEBP format. This guarantees a seamless, efficient and secure user experience.
  • Performance Challenge – Bandwidth: NFT images' varying dimensions and file sizes caused slow-loading times, particularly impacting mobile users on expensive data plans. To improve user experience, we deliver NFT images in the optimised WEBP file format, reducing bandwidth usage for end-users. This not only enhances user experience but also leads to significant cost savings for businesses due to reduced egress bandwidth.
  • Environmental Challenge – Carbon Footprint: We strive to tackle the carbon footprint resulting from duplicated computational efforts in NFT media content delivery. By optimising the process, we reduce environmental impact and carbon emissions. Leading by example, we encourage others in the Cardano ecosystem to adopt our solution, promoting a more sustainable and greener future.

Project Outcomes

  • Optimised NFT Image Content Delivery – We have launched an infrastructure-less, no-code API endpoint to enable NFT image content delivery for Cardano. This capability fulfils a critical need for developers in the ecosystem, enabling easy integration within <img> HTML tags on any website or app. The API provides fast and secure delivery of NFT media content.
  • On-Demand Re-scaling/Re-sizing for NFT Image Files – Our NFT Image API possesses features for on-demand re-scaling/re-sizing capabilities for NFT images hosted on various sources. Users can now use query parameters in our API endpoints to select their preferred display sizes, providing greater flexibility and customisation options.
  • Automatic Image Format Optimisation – Our NFT Image API features automatic optimisation of the delivered NFT media, regardless of the underlying metadata standard and file format used.
  • Image Caching for Faster Delivery – We deployed an image caching  layer using our enterprise-grade worldwide Content Delivery Network (CDN) for faster NFT media content delivery.
  • Worldwide CDN with Geographically Targeted PoPs – Our targeted Points of Presence (PoPs) across North America, Europe and Asia deliver impressive response speeds in double-digit milliseconds. An API call made on any PoP is simultaneously pushed to all PoPs to ensure a higher HIT-to-MISS ratio.
  • Additional Capability: Full NFT Metadata – We also delivered a faster method of acquiring NFT metadata through an innovative method that is free to our users!
  • Additional Capability: NFTCDN for Cardano Testnets – We also replicated our infrastructure to serve both Cardano's Preview and Preprod testnets to test our capability that is free for anyone to use!
  • Additional Capability: Fungible Tokens – Our Image and Metadata API endpoints also features the delivery of media content and metadata information for Fungible Tokens (FT) on Cardano!
  • Additional Capability: CIP-25 (v2) & CIP-68 Compatibility – Our Image and Metadata API endpoints were also developed to cater for these new standards that were released over the course of our project!

Wrap-up Video

With many thanks to...

We would like to extend our gratitude to the Catalyst Fund, the members of its team and the voters who supported us in securing the votes to fund our work, enabling us to successfully bring NFTCDN to Cardano.

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