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What Bitcoin Cash Developers are Building Right Now: (Unofficial) Bitcoin Cash BCH 2021 Roadmaps
Bitcoin Cash developers are newly energized and building lots of improvements, new features, new projects and businesses in the wake of the successful ecosystem collaboration on the new ASERT difficulty adjustment algorithm (DAA) and the resounding defeat of the Bitcoin ABC infrastructure funding plan (IFP).
Bitcoin Cash has no official roadmap but developers say they remain committed to the spirit of the early BCH roadmap. Bitcoin Cash is a true marketplace, where anyone can build anything — no permission needed!
So it only makes sense to realize that no single person or organization can or should limit the vibrancy of the BCH marketplace with any single plan or roadmap document. The global market is always moving forward, and BCH moves with it.
It goes without saying that all teams remaining after the 15 November 2020 network upgrade support the preservation of Bitcoin Cash’s sound money properties as well as the total supply limit, emission schedule, the SHA-256 mining algorithm, low fees and other basic characteristics that Bitcoin Cash is known for.
Bitcoin Cash is pushing forward with adoption, creating products that will delight consumers, new features that support complete consumer and merchant solutions, and plans to onboard hundreds of thousands of new users, developers, investors and more.
Bitcoin Cash is peer-to-peer electronic cash for the world, where no one is excluded by nation-state laws nor excessive transaction fees. Bitcoin Cash is for everyone, everywhere to safeguard value, spend, save, transact, remit and build.
This piece is a long read but it is also a unified, indexed reference. So please share it with journalists, investors, anyone denying that Bitcoin Cash has a "roadmap" post-ABC and anyone else who wants to take a deep dive into what Bitcoin Cash is working on for the future. Thanks in advance. Questions and feedback welcome.
Independent developer Jonathan Toomim announced on 6 October 2020 the creation of a new testnet infrastructure for Bitcoin Cash. Testnet4 permits Bitcoin Cash developers to try out new transaction formats and applications. Testnet4 blocks are CPU-mineable and should sync fast on low-end hardware.
Scalenet, on the other hand, serves to stress-test large BCH blocks, and starts with an initial default block size limit of 256 MB. Scalenet is a cooperative endeavor of multiple full node software projects where different teams and developers may actually compete to create the best scaling solutions for Bitcoin Cash
“Scalenet is intended to be a high-volume blockchain which is ideal for spamming and stress testing software. It comes with a 256 MB initial default block size limit, and uses aserti3 parameters that make it more suitable for accurately simulating mainnet mining difficulty (though it retains the 20-minute difficulty rule).” — Jonathan Toomim, Bitcoin developer #
Tom Zander, founder of the Flowee full node software, reported his intention to implement double-spend proofs in Bitcoin Cash on 25 September 2020.
To double-spend a UTXO successfully on Bitcoin Cash requires that two transactions be signed with the same key. Double-spend proofs rely on this fact to identify any such double-spend attempts and send a message to the recipient SPV wallets to make the appropriate payment recipients aware that a given transaction may be a double-spend attempt.
The developer claims this will solve 99% of double-spend issues on Bitcoin Cash.
The BCHD and Bitcoin Cash Node full node softwares are expected to include double-spend proofs soon, and the feature has been active in the Flowee and Bitcoin Unlimited full node software for some time.
“The DSProof is a message that uses the fact that two transactions spending the same coin will need to cryptographically sign that coin. Once per transaction. These two signatures are the essence of a double spend proof. Users can verify those signatures to independently confirm that the proof is valid. That there really was a double spend.” — Tom Zander, founder at Flowee #
Jonathan Toomim announced that faster transaction relay had been merged into the Bitcoin Cash Node full node software on 29 Oct 2020.
By shortening the delay for BCH nodes to share new transactions with each other, this improvement is expected to enhance user experience (UX) and facilitate Bitcoin Cash scaling.
“A delay of 2 seconds per connection with 20 connections means that a node will broadcast an inv to one peer every 100 ms on average. This delay, coupled with the natural network ping times of ~100 ms, and the 1.5 RTT communication needed to send a tx, means that the number of nodes who have a transaction will double roughly every (100 ms + 150 ms) = 250 ms if all network nodes used a 2 second delay with 20 peers. If the network is comprised of 8192 nodes, it would take around 3.25 seconds for a transaction to propagate through the full netowrk. This worsens BCH's UX by making transactions feel slower in 0-conf mode, and gives a much larger time window for double-spends than is desirable.” — Jonathan Toomim, Bitcoin developer #
In the Bitcoin Cash Network Discussion livestream on 4 Oct 2020, Bitcoin Cash Node developer Calin Culianu announced his intention to increase the chained-transaction limit on Bitcoin Cash to 500 in the short-term, and even higher in the future.
One way that improvements in the chained-transaction limit might be implemented is by weakening or removing the child-pays-for-parent (CPFP) functionality, which Culianu says is hardly used.
Chained transactions are when a UTXO, or coin, is spent over and over again in between blocks. Online gambling and gaming apps as well as BCH distribution apps such as gifts.bitcoin.com are affected by the current chained-transaction limit of 50. It also represents an inconvenience when airdropping Bitcoin Cash at meetups and conferences, or when making many purchases in a small period of time from a single wallet.
“Emergent_reasons”, a developer for both Bitcoin Cash Node and AnyHedge, aims to improve Bitcoin Cash script calculations by enabling larger numbers and a new op code.
“Having larger numbers in script will simplify scripts involving arbitrary satoshi amounts and other calculations. Perhaps even more importantly, it will make those scripts safer where the scripts are currently required to use additional artificial calculation techniques. It is possible that it will increase the number of use cases as well, for example where artificial calculation techniques may not cover all needs or may be impossible to fit in script size limits.” — emergent_reasons, Bitcoin Cash Node developer #
Bitcoin Unlimited developer George Bissias announced on 31 August 2020 his intention to improve the security of Bitcoin Cash zero-confirmation (“zero-conf”) transactions using the Tailstorm protocol.
Tailstorm is a hybrid of Storm and Bobtail that introduces a concept called subblocks. Subblocks would ensure that no double-spends are included within any given subblock, and would become the components of full blocks as we know them today. Subblocks would be incentivized with a fraction of the block reward.
Because subblocks would be assigned a calculated probability of inclusion into the next full block, they would represent an important step towards instant finality of Bitcoin Cash transactions.
This technology may also make it more difficult for miners to pick and choose which transactions to include in any given block, which could result in stronger censorship-resistance for BCH.
“Beyond zero-conf capabilities, the protocol's minimization of block interval variance dramatically improves UX for certain types of transfers, notably any type of live exchange where two users are waiting for at least one confirmation. This type of exchange is important for many P2P use cases…” — George Bissias, Bitcoin Unlimited developer #
BCHD is a full node software for Bitcoin Cash written in the Go programming language that is forked from BTCD. BCHD’s gRPC interface, in particular, is fast, well-designed and widely used by BCH apps. Furthermore, the BCHD client already has no chained transaction limit, unlike other options on the market. The BCHD team includes developers Chris Pacia and Josh Ellithorpe.
The BCHD team is working on the following.
double-spend proofs integration is 95% complete.
network compatibility, including writing tests and backport code from scratch in Go.
a new SLP transaction index that will be accessible via BCHD’s gRPC API and is shipping this month.
BitCash is the main Python library for Bitcoin Cash and is maintained by Corentin Mercier and Teran McKinney. The team is working on making it as easy as possible for new developers to get started with Bitcoin Cash apps via BitCash.
Bitcoin Cash developer pokkst maintains and develops the bitcoincashj library, which is a Java implementation of Bitcoin Cash that apps such as the Bitcoin.com Bitcoin Cash Register and the Crescent Cash wallet depend on.
Expected near-term improvements to bitcoincashj include the following:
Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) is a membership-based organization with a long history of supporting big-block Bitcoin. BU develops a Bitcoin Cash full node software called Bitcoin Cash Unlimited.
BU is focused on the following priorities:
OP_GROUP, which is a proposed new op code that would permit the holding of non-fungible tokens on the BCH blockchain, perhaps representing non-chain assets such as stocks, other tokenized securities and fiat currency. With OP_GROUP, BU aims to create best-in-class asset definition on Bitcoin Cash.
increasing the chained-transaction limit, which is already at 500 in BCH Unlimited
developer onboarding via the Bitcoin Cash specification project at reference.cash.
Bitcoin Verde is a Java full node software for Bitcoin Cash that is maintained by a team of 4 developers based in Columbus, Ohio led by Josh Green. The team is focused on the following.
removing the chained-transaction limit.
creating a non-indexing module in order to become a viable BCH mining full node software.
creation of a block template validation service that would permit miners to run different BCH full node softwares with a reduced risk of chain split or orphans in service of the goal of Bitcoin Cash full node diversity. (Expected for May 2021.)
adding Memo support to the Bitcoin Verde block explorer.
“There is a risk that blocks mined by miners could cause a chain split or be orphaned due to being incompatible between node implementations. From a miner's perspective, even a small risk associated with these incompatibilities can have a large impact on profitability. This incompatibility risk increases the incentive for miners and pools to all run the same implementation, which greatly reduces node-diversity between miners. This block template validation service (TVS) aims to reduce the risk of the miners creating an invalid block to near-zero by validating the template block against other implementations before any work is performed on the block template.” — Bitcoin Verde flipstarter #
CoinKit is a cryptocurrency tipbot service created and run by Blockcurators GmbH. CoinKit, unlike other tipping bots, creates all its transactions on-chain, thus eliminating the need for a permissioned database behind the scenes.
CoinKit includes all the common tipping commands, already supports many coins and works on Slack, Discord, Telegram and Twitter.
The Electron Cash wallet is foundational to many use cases and projects in Bitcoin Cash. Here is what the team is currently working on:
SLP token support.
Reusable private addresses (RPAs) enable users to disconnect the public address they give out for payment with the actual public key address that gets paid to, and to have multiple public key addresses in use under one RPA seamlessly in order to maximize user privacy.
Flipstarter is a fundraising tool that uses assurance contracts to ensure only fully-funded proposals have their pledges turned into actual funding transactions. The Flipstarter team is implementing a series of improvements.
Flowee is a line of complementary Bitcoin Cash software products that are aimed at making it easier for BCH app builders. Tom Zander is the founder of Flowee, and is working on these projects:
a new payment protocol called “next” that would supersede BIP70 and related payment protocols, reduce fraud risks and include more information about payments in wallets.
research into how to enable miners to select transactions for block creation based on various factors that might assist in keeping spam under control as BCH adoption increases.
a new wallet in collaboration with other teams and developers that permits anyone to skin it to suit their branding and other needs.
“I believe that the number one reason we are not growing faster is the user experience for merchants and buyers. Both on the Internet as well as in brick/mortar stores there is a lot that we can still improve upon. The positive impact is hard to measure, but essentially this will be a boon for adoption.” — Tom Zander, founder of Flowee #
Jochen Hoenicke of Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg and the creator of a popular website on mempool statistics is working on increasing P2SH addresses from 160-bit to 256-bit in order to reduce the risk of collision attacks in smart contracts.
“This is both a consensus change (soft fork) and a wallet infrastructure change. If wallets don’t support the new address format, they obviously cannot be used to fund a smart contract using the new addresses. This also affects withdrawal addresses on exchanges or hardware wallets. The wallet change doesn’t have to be deployed by all wallets at the same time, though, since a different wallet can be used to fund the smart contract address.” — Jochen Hoenicke, Chair of Software Engineering at Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg #
Jonathan Silverblood is the Lead Developer at General Protocols, the company building AnyHedge. In addition to General Protocols projects, he is also working on adding multiple OP_RETURN fields to Bitcoin Cash in order to make OP_RETURN-based protocols interoperable.
“By supporting multiple OP_RETURNs in a way that makes it possible to have interoperable OP_RETURN protocols, we signal to developers that are interested in making such protocol that BCH desires their business. This would allow new use cases as well as empower existing use cases, ultimately working towards more adoption and a stronger network effect for BCH.” - Jonathan Silverblood, lead developer at General Protocols #
The Knuth full node project is run by lead developer Fernando Pelliccioni, formerly of BitPrim, an experienced C++ developer and long-time Bitcoin developer.
Knuth is not currently widely used for mining but aims to change that by ensuring interoperability between their node and other mining nodes in the BCH ecosystem.
Knuth also aims to add these features to its full node software:
removal of the chained transaction limited.
incorporation of double-spend proofs from Flowee.
addition of a high-performance SLP full indexer.
a mining API with better performance than existing options.
scalenet & testnet4.
Xthinner to improve BCH block propagation.
improvement of block validation times and block template creation via Merkle-root algorithm optimization.
Knuth is also working to facilitate new developer onboarding by creating a set of libraries in a variety of programming languages aimed at simplifying wallet and app development on Bitcoin Cash. Languages Knuth is developing these libraries for include:
Mark Lundeberg is an independent Bitcoin Cash developer and former physicist who first developed the new ASERT difficulty adjustment algorithm (DAA) that will be deployed to the Bitcoin Cash mainnet on 15 November 2020 (thanks to further work by Jonathan Toomim and others). Mark has worked on SLP tokens, OpenSwap, Schnorr signatures, Cash Fusion and more in the past.
Going forward, he is focused on the following:
continued improvements to CashFusion permissionless coin mixing.
Member.cash is a censorship-resistant social network where user identities are based on Bitcoin Cash public key addresses and and data is stored on-chain. The lead developer is FreeTrade68, who also works on memo.cash — another BCH social network which essentially interoperates with member.cash.
Member.cash is working on the following:
marketing in order to onboard new users and generate an increase in on-chain transactions for Bitcoin Cash.
quote re-members (like quote retweets).
more extensive notifications to increase stickiness.
Although Bitcoin Cash has no official roadmap, lead developer or “core team”, a diverse and capable group of BCH developers are creating a vibrant marketplace of development options and directions for the future of Bitcoin Cash.
They are building the next generation of Bitcoin Cash — a new beginning — collaboratively and cooperatively right now.
You can be a part of it. Build your business, get up to speed on Bitcoin Cash, learn to code, develop an app, start mining, invest or just buy your first BCH at local.bitcoin.com. There are no limits on your development in the world of Bitcoin Cash.
Stay tuned for more exciting developments in the Bitcoin Cash BCH space, including a mini-documentary where you can hear direct from some of these developers about what they are working on to create world-scale, censorship-resistant peer-to-peer electronic cash — Bitcoin Cash.
Roadmap is a tricky word in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem because investors want to know the ecosystem is moving towards something. They want to be able to hold the developer community accountable, or at least be able to recognize when something is wrong so they can exit or reduce their BCH holdings.
Or buy more Bitcoin Cash if they see promising new developments.
In the minds of many holders, no roadmap means they are blind.
But there are others for whom "roadmap" is a dirty word that suggests centralization and dictatorship. Bitcoin Cash is not a company or a centralized software team. The network has no roadmap. It is a pure market that responds to market signals, needs and incentives.
In the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem, there is no official roadmap but individual teams have their own plans, goals and directions for their work on Bitcoin Cash that can fairly be represented as "roadmaps".
In this way, we can bridge the communications gap with people who do not (yet?) value decentralization as highly as we do. We can meet more mainstream value creators where they are and invite them to add their value to the Bitcoin Cash network in a way they can easily understand.
I welcome feedback and conversation on this point.
I take full responsibility for errors and omissions. If I have a mistake here or left you out, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me at t.me/georgedonnelly. Thanks in advance for your help and patience!