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7x faster builds gives Solana the freedom to experiment

Solana has promised to be "fast forever", so when their development team started struggling with slow builds and painful feedback cycles, they were quick to find a solution. After switching to Next.js on Vercel, builds went from 40 minutes to complete to less than 10.

Along with increased speed, the move helped Solana and their Solana Labs team improve developer experience and make changes more efficiently and effectively—without impacting their customers. Thanks to the interplay between local development of Next.js and production environment of Vercel, they were able to ship their most recent web project in half the time.

“The way our previous solution handled plugins and versioning was convoluted, and the development environment was unfriendly. At the end of the day, it was really tough to get things done. Now with Next.js, it’s an order of magnitude easier for our devs.”

- Ryan Shea, Head of Web at Solana Labs

Next.js made updating to new versions seamless and allowed Shea’s team to spend more time building their product instead of hunting down bugs.

"A lot of the errors that would prevent sites from building or showing up in development mode in our previous framework are easily fixable with Next.js, and don't stop progress. You no longer have to go dig into this deep obscure bug for an hour looking at various StackOverflow or old articles. That time isn't really lost as much with Next.js."

Prior to Vercel, the team only had one notion of staging and production. So testing on live infrastructure was difficult. Today, Vercel Preview Deployments allow Solana to view changes for every commit, making it easier to receive feedback.

“Vercel makes it easy to collaborate with the rest of Solana Labs. We’re able to effectively chart progress and share the most recent deployments," says Shea. "All of that is seamless and turnkey. We don't have to worry about managing the staging pipeline and ensuring that it reflects production accurately. Vercel makes it simple.”

Thanks to Vercel and Next.js, the Solana Labs team is no longer constrained by slow builds or data sourcing. With more time for experimentation, the possibilities are endless—from advancing cryptocurrency to bringing Web3 innovation to a global audience.

Want to learn more about how you can build better developer experiences with Vercel? Get in touch with us.