Welcome to my DeFi Playbook. I am a career programmer who is interested in transitioning to programming specifically for cryptocurrency and DeFi. Two months ago I decided that actually getting my hands dirty as a DeFi user would be a good idea. Since the Ethereum gas fees were already on their way up I decided to move a bunch of Matic tokens that I happened to own over to the Matic network and see what I could find over there. It turned out to be a good move for several reasons not the least of which has been the sudden influx of new DeFi apps and new users that has made this a great network for learning the ropes about DeFi. I started detailing some of my experiences with DeFi to my friends in a private chat and the interest was so strong that I decided that blogging about this topic made sense.
First Things First
I do not intend this blog to only focus on the Matic Network (now rebranded as 'Polygon') but that is where I cut my teeth on DeFi and so that is where I will focus first. I already have ten articles planned and so it may be weeks before I start looking at other networks. Fortunately a lot of the dapps and tools are the same across many of the key DeFi networks and so some of this material may apply to you even if Matic/Polygon is not your network of choice.
Setting up Metamask for Matic
Matamask is the most popular wallet for DeFi and it is the wallet I use every day for my activity on the Matic Network. I specifically use the Chrome extension for Metamask. I won't provide a tutorial on it's use but here are the docs that the Metamask team provides for configuring Metamask for the Matic Network. There is also a relevant blog post here on Publish0x.
Expanding Your View
One thing that it took me a few days to discover is that you don't have to settle for the "pop-up" nature of the Metamask Chrome Extension. As convenient as it is, using Metamask in this way can slow things down once you are performing a lot of back to back transactions. This slowdown can directly impact your bottom line and so I rarely use that mode anymore. Instead he first thing that I usually do when I open the Metamask extension is to select the 3 dots to the right of the account name (labeled as "Account Options") and then select "Expand View". Now Metamask is open in a persistent window that I can get to it quickly when necessary.
There are two drawbacks to using the persistent window. The first is that it is easy to forget to close it when you are done with a DeFi session. This is probably a bad idea from a security perspective although I am not aware of any specific exploits along these lines. In general keep in mind that Metamask is best treated as a "Hot Wallet" and that ideally large sums are moved to a more secure "Cold Wallet" whenever that makes sense.
The other problem is that it is possible to accidently open up two different Metamask windows and when that happens then a confirmation window might appear in a place where you won't expect to see it and even get accidently dismissed. This can leave you wondering why your transaction is not making progress so try to be careful not to make that mistake.
You Never Node
In rare circumstances you may discover that your access to Polygon is incredibly slow or even seems to be halted. This far, knock on wood, there have been no network outages on the Matic Network, but you can still have problems nonetheless. What is likely happening is that the node that you use to access the network has become overloaded or temporarily inoperable. How can you tell? Try switching metamask to a different network like Ethereum and see if that is responsive. If so, then the problem is definitely not on your end.
The way to fix things is to point Metamask to a different RPC node in your Matic Network configuration. There are many RPC nodes to choose from but most newbies start with maticvigil since that is the one specified in most "Getting Started with Matic" tutorials. Accordingly that RPC node will bog down from time to time. Specifying a different RPC node often fixes things up your response time issues right away.
Here is my pro tip: Instead of editing the rpc node, specify a new network in Metamask and put the alternate rpc node in that network. Select 'Custom RPC' from the network pulldown and fill out the form in the usual way but this time with a different RPC node specification. Use the normal Matic Chain ID of 137. You can also edit the 'Network Name' field to whatever you want as that name is just for your own convenience. Save it and viola, now you can switch PPC nodes as easily as changing the network. I use the names "Matic Mainnet (vigil)" and "Matic Mainnet (quicknode)" so that I can tell at a glance which RPC I am using at the moment.
That's All for Now
That is enough for one blog post. If Metamask is still sluggish for you then check out this related blog post.
In my next post I will discuss some basic wallet management techniques for adding and hiding tokens as well as a killer trick for finding tokens you might not even knew you had.