Why NFTs on Arweave and Solana Took Off This Summer
Degenerate Ape Academy, Solana Monkey Business, Aurory, Sollamas…
These are some of the most successful projects in the emergent Solana NFT ecosystem and they’re all using Arweave.
Anyone with their eye on the markets lately will have noticed that Arweave and Solana’s price move up and down as one – unlike other alts, speculation is less influenced by Bitcoin. It’s no coincidence that the momentum of one project feeds into the other – Arweave and Solana are tightly linked.
For a start, Solana’s blockchain data is stored on Arweave via a mechanism called SOLAR Bridge.
SOLAR Bridge is a connection between Solana and Arweave enabled by Bering Waters, an Arweave backer and investment group based out of Hong Kong. The bridge progressively and automatically stores ledger data from the Solana blockchain onto the permaweb, ensuring that Solana’s entire ledger history is made available on public infrastructure in perpetuity –
SOLAR was brought to life by a Gitcoin grant and announced July 2020 on the Solana Medium blog. A month later, TheLoneRonin’s GitHub submission of Solarweave Bridge was accepted and tested for production. By providing fast access to historical Solana data, Arweave removes the need remove for Solana validators to run full nodes. Here, Arweave played a critical role in keeping Solana’s performance high despite increased demand.
Solana’s low gas fees combined with its ability to process around 65,000 transactions per second make it a clear contender to Ethereum. It may be that the only thing missing is mainstream adoption, but Solana is a much newer project that is yet to embed itself as deeply in crypto culture. For NFTs, Solana is cheaper, faster, and more convenient. Like Ethereum, NFT assets are not stored on chain, but for many Solana projects, Arweave is the default choice.
Why are so many Solana NFTs stored on Arweave? Part of it could be the fact that Arweave awareness is high in the Solana community, for reasons mentioned above. But, for certain, one driving factor is Metaplex.
Metaplex is a set of tools that makes it easy for creators to set up Arweave-mintable NFTs on Solana and auction them using a customizable web front end. An example is CryptoKickers, a collection we covered earlier in the summer.
Metaplex’s default storage destination is Arweave – the obvious choice when auctioning extremely valuable, extremely 404’able assets. And so, when JPEG hype spread to Solana, it scooped up Arweave with it. Arweave at this point had already been the storage layer of choice for Beeple and JAY-Z’s first NFT, so awareness was already in place.
A feature NFT developers often need is a way to bulk upload assets with their respective metadata and capture the resulting URLs. Metaplex’s Candy Machine – a command line tool – makes this easy to do in a few commands and comes back with a Solana-compatible smart contract that can be used to auction the NFTs.
The simplicity of this method has led projects like Solana Monkey Business to go with Arweave as a smart default.
As the predominant way to launch an NFT project on Solana, we can be sure of this: the more adoption Solana sees in the NFT space, the more adoption Arweave gets in return.
Since the launch of Metaplex Candy Machine, leaps have been made by the ecosystem towards making it easier to bulk upload NFT assets to Arweave using native tooling. This leaves projects free to choose the eventual chain they want to use to launch and transact their NFTs.
Documentation for Josh Benaron’s arbundles was released today, showing how easy it is to send a bundle of data to Arweave and retrieve the transaction IDs for each asset. It’s also possible to enable bundling with arkb (
Since NFTs have made this so relevant, we’ll be following this up with a dedicated article on uploading data bundles to the permaweb soon.