Bitcoin Developers Sharpen the Focus for Future Development
The developers of Bitcoin Core recently published a transcript about the software priorities and overall vision for Bitcoin’s future development. They truly dream of having bitcoin a globally accepted currency, as well as creating various implementation software. At the recently held Bitcoin Core developers Annual Meeting, the team’s most active developers came together to discuss code, priorities, decision making, and technical hurdles.
Transcribed by code contributor Bryan Bishop, the conversation provides a sneak-peek into long-time Bitcoin Core developers like Pieter Wuille, Matt Corallo, and Cory Fields. Bitcoin’s developers now have a huge responsibility on their hands, given that the code they create and change secures more than $120 billion.
The majority of the conversation centers around the thought process behind how the team reviews and adds new code. One of the major problems is that while many developers submit a lot of code changes every day, only a handful of developers have enough understanding of the system to ensure it isn’t hit with a bug or technical snag. There is absolutely no chance for error, given the amount of money involved.
One developer was quoted saying, “As a reviewer, there’s no way I’m going to get through all of this, and it’s actively discouraging.”
Due to the enormous workload, some code changes do get lost, with a developer calling the lost code as “a dead graveyard of cool ideas.”
Although the above does give an idea about the amount of work involved, it doesn’t stop developers from working on other new features.
A contributor from MIT, Cory Fields, has been long involved in ensuring all the nodes are connected in the peer-to-peer network code. He stated that the team is working through the peer-to-peer code for years, still trying to figure out the technology made way back in 2009. In the transcript, he describes his work as “almost done.”
No “Managers,” Developers Choose What to Work On
Working on open-source code means that each developer works on whatever he or she chooses. The developers are in constant touch via the internet, but none have any real idea of what someone is doing until they post it to a public forum, and the official mailing list.
However, this doesn’t mean that all developers are private about their work. Pieter Wuille, Bitcoin Core developer responsible for SegWit, was very open about his much-lauded scaling code change.
The most technical update was given by Matt Corallo, who described how he is breaking down the codebase into smaller portions to make it easier for developers to manage. Matt is among the developers who are focused on making node software more user-friendly and fully accessible to non-technical people. The node set-up is the most secure way to transfer bitcoin. However, it is difficult to set up and takes days to download.
The reason for making the code easy to run was explained by Alex Morcos, a Bitcoin Core developer and Chaincode co-founder.
“Though there’s a ‘cultural push’ to run nodes, and many users don’t understand the ‘real reason’ to run one. The code needs to be ‘sovereign,’ or being able to tell if transactions are valid or not without trusting anyone else – basically the point of bitcoin in the first place,” said Morcos.
Making Bitcoin’s Code Accessible Is The Logical Next Step
Because the software is so large, Bitcoin’s code cannot be handled by everyday computational devices, like smartphones. Due to this inaccessibility, the software is permanently present in one place, such as a home computer or business. Essentially, this makes the node an “immovable asset.”
But Morcos believes there’s a way around this. One day, users will hopefully be able to connect smartphones to the nodes running at home, boosting their security. “And then it’s ready to go wherever you go,” he said.
Morcos added, “Certainly a goal is to make the time to get things set up and running as short as possible.”
Bitcoin Evangelist Antonopoulos Expects Big Developments in 2018
Andreas Antonopoulos, best known for publishing Mastering Bitcoin, also spoke about the future developments that Bitcoin would need going forward in 2018. Communicating via YouTube stream, Antonopoulos was of the opinion that a hard fork would be needed for a permanent block size increase for Bitcoin.
“Yes, I do think the block size will go for one megabyte. In fact, right now the block size is over one megabyte, SegWit was a block size increase, but I expect we’re going to see additional block size increases including ones implemented with a hard fork.”
An increase in block size would lead to faster transaction times, as more transactions take place per block.
He also spoke about the need to implement Schnorr Signatures, which is a type of signature that allows for multiple transactions from multiple addresses to be confirmed via a single signature, when sent to a single receiver. As with block size increase, the Schorr signature can increase transaction speeds, and prevent spam attacks which sabotage the entire network.