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Bitcoin Cash: ABC and BU Announce Roadmap for 2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes by on November 30, 2017 Bitcoin, Blockchain, News, Tech

The different developer teams of Bitcoin Cash met in London. The two most important, ABC and Unlimited, presented their roadmap for the mid-term future. In the roadmap, you find exciting, but sometimes daring goals.

Seven teams of developers came together in London, to talk about the future of Bitcoin Cash; Bitcoin ABC, Bitcrust, Bitprim, Bitcoin Unlimited, ElectrumX, nChain, and Parity. This appears to be more than it really is, the teams are very small, but it illustrates aspiration of Bitcoin Cash to be a project of different teams.

“We were very excited by the vision shared by all attendees for Bitcoin Cash to massively scale to become a fast, low-fee, global peer-to-peer electronic cash system!”, Bitcoin Unlimited reported on its website.

The leading team of Bitcoin Cash is without Bitcoin ABC, as was demonstrated with the last protocol changes, which have all been implemented and enforced by Bitcoin ABC. In that respect, the roadmap ABC announced should be the most important document for the future of Bitcoin Cash.

First, Bitcoin ABC commits to the same vision for Bitcoin Cash as Unlimited:

“Our top priority for Bitcoin Cash is to keep improving it as a great form of money. We want to make it more reliable, more scalable, with low fees and ready for rapid growth. It should ‘just work,’ without complications or hassles. It should be ready for global adoption by mainstream users, and provide a solid foundation that businesses can rely on.”

To get there, ABC plans to do two hard forks in 2018, they call them “protocol upgrades;” on May 15 and November 15. The code for the forks is scheduled to be ready three months in advance.

For the next hard fork upgrade ABC has the following features in mind:

  • Increase the block size further and move towards an “adaptive block size limit,” similar to what Bitcoin Unlimited already has,
  • Move toward canonical transaction order, which could be important to enable future scaling technologies like Graphene,
  • further improve the difficulty adjustment algorithm,
  • and reactivate some disabled opcodes.

The so-called “opcodes” are commands of Bitcoin’s internal script language, which is mostly used to validate transactions. For reasons of security, Satoshi disabled some code in Bitcoin’s early days. To explore the features Bitcoin is missing by the disabling, ABC wants to reactivate these opcodes carefully.

Similar, but reaching further, is the roadmap of Bitcoin Unlimited. The developers announced that they will support the two hard forks in 2018.

  • Besides having already implemented an adaptive block size limit, BU suggests to further increase capacity by decreasing block intervals to one, two, or 2.5 minutes. This should enhance the user experience at the same time,
  • Like ABC, BU supports the reactivation of old opcodes but also proposes to implement new codes, like OP_GROUP or OP_DATASIGVERIFY, which could enable “representative token and binary contracts,” among other things,
  • BU agrees with ABC to announce a new address format, to reduce confusion, which results of users sending Bitcoin Cash to Bitcoin addresses. A new format called Cashaddr was recently suggested by ABC. It is based on Pieter Wuille’s bech32 format,
  • Further, BU wants to evaluate the implementation of “Bobtail,” which has the potential to “reduce inter-block time variance, increase double-spend resistance, improve the DDA, and achieve better mining,”
  • Also, BU wants to evaluate the implementation of Graphene.

The roadmaps which come together, are dedicated and pick up some new ideas which circulate the talk about scaling Bitcoin. Graphene and Bobtail have just recently been discussed on the Scaling Bitcoin Workshop in Stanford; they have the potential to make Bitcoin scale better in several areas. You can see the presentations of these technologies on the Scaling Bitcoin workshop website.

The idea to reduce block intervals, seems strange, as most people are used to Bitcoin having 10-minute block intervals. It has its merits, as it scales better and makes faster confirmations possible, but it could be very confusing for users and investors.

An exciting venture is a reactivation of old and the implementation of new opcodes. For a long time those codes have been not needed, but in light of Ethereum’s massive catch-up, it seems to be a good idea to explore all scripting options available. Especially OP_GROUP, proposed by Bitcoin Unlimited’s Andrew Stone, has the potential to establish tokens on Bitcoin, which can work as well as Ethereum’s ERC20 token, with transactions, which are naturally verified on chain, other than Colored Coins. However, it should be noted, that new script commands tend to always increase complexity and bear the risk of new exploits. Extensive and diligent tests will be a must.

Whether the developer’s succeed in realizing this mid-term roadmap is yet to be seen. The ‘protocol upgrades’ could become a starting point for Bitcoin Cash to find it’s own path and outgrow just being “Bitcoin with possibly larger, but empty blocks.”

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