If you have been following Mastercoin for some time now or just beginning this post is meant to get everyone up to speed on developments over the last 2 months as well as provide guidance on future developments. We have some learning to do, especially regarding how to develop and operate as a decentralized organization. Our progress is quite remarkable, but there are some definite lessons to be taken here to improve our performance.
Top 10 Developments
10. Decentralized Exchange (DEx) and MSC Wallets Status
The development of the Wallets and DEx functionality is taking longer than anticipated. Primarily this is due to lack of definition of specific edge cases, as well as consensus issues with Simple Send transactions.
To address this issue Maran Hidskes is appointed to the role of interpreting the Master Protocol specification and it’s application in the multiple implementation underway; Maran has also organized a virtual hackathon this coming weekend for the development team to work out the rest of these issues so that we can get to wider-scale community testing.
Additionally, Zathras has created a tool to check the validity of transactions across the four Mastercoin explorer implementations. The tool can be accessed at https://masterchest.info/consensus.aspx. If you are trading or sending Mastercoins it’s always recommended you check your balance afterwards on this consensus page for the time being, report any transaction lacking consensus at talk.mastercoin.org.
9. Master Protocol Renaming
A lot of people get confused with the difference between bitcoin (btc), the token, and Bitcoin the distributed, p2p ledger network used for the mining and transacting of bitcoins. Mastercoin faces the same issue in addition to being lumped in with all of the clone alt-coins out there (there is even an alt-coin trading as mastercoin/mst). So we wanted to differentiate Mastercoins (msc) and the underlying protocol which uses the tokens for the various functionality outline in the protocol specification.
We debated various names and a pull request (https://github.com/mastercoin-MSC/spec/pull/18) was created to change the name to Master Protocol.
8. New Forums & Wiki
Earlier this year we had a few threads going on the bitcointalk.org forums, but the level of development quickly began to outgrow this particular forum. Some people thought there was more talk about Mastercoin development efforts than pure Bitcoin technology talk which resulted in some negativity from the broader community, so the decision was made to start our own forum dedicated to the community. The new forum is approaching 200 registered members. Forums can be accessed at Talk.mastercoin.org.
During December we also concluded our Wiki writing contest and have well over 100 items on the wiki; this will be a major informational resource for developers and users in the coming months. If you would like to contribute you may request an account at http://wiki.mastercoin.org/index.php/Special:RequestAccount and add in something in your bio about your interest in Mastercoin as it is important that we have trusted community members work on this.
7. Hiring Developers
A major priority for the Foundation has been to get developers to work on the Master Protocol and related applications full time. Assembling the core team has taken time as folks transition away from their previous employers, but is critical for consolidating development work and improving our performance.
Our first announced hire was Peter Todd as Chief Scientist for the organization who will join full time starting in February 2014. Meanwhile Maran Hidskes and Jeffrey Wilcke who you may know as the developers for Mastercoin-Explorer.com have joined starting January 2014; Jeffrey will focus his effort on a reference implementation of mastercoind (think bitcoind) in Go; if you would like to learn more about them Maran has written an introduction blog at http://blog.mastercoin.org/2013/12/31/introducing-first-two-full-time-mastercoin-developers/.
Additionally, we can announce that a few others, Faiz Knan (Developer), Curtis Lacy (Developer) and Marv Schneider (QA and User Experience Expert), have joined coming over from Engine.co, a company operated by one of the Foundations board members, David Johnston. We are borrowing them temporarily and their primary focus right now is to speed up a client-side web wallet utilizing the work done by Grimentz and Grazcoin, the developers for Masterchain.info who are working on a bounty basis.
6. Development Updates
One of the biggest challenges common to all open-source, distributed efforts, besides the technical challenge of converting the protocol specification into working code, has been to stay up to date on what is going on within in the various development work streams.
Having this knowledge easily accessible and available to the community at large will make it easier for developers around the world to jump in work on bounties, join as Role-based Bounty developers, or simply build Master Protocol capabilities into their applications whether that application is tracking crypto-currency market capitalization or a crypto-currency exchange like Cryptsy.
Our 1st Development Update happened a couple weeks ago and can be access on our blog at http://blog.mastercoin.org/2013/12/19/mastercoin-development-update-1/. Our intent is to have updates from development team members on Mondays and consolidate their summaries into a blog post that will be available on Wednesday. Thus there will be a separate blog post in the next 24 hours outlining progress and what is to come in the next couple weeks.
5. Consortium of Decentralized Applications (CoDA)
During Inside Bitcoin Las Vegas Mastercoin Foundation announced joining CoDA, a self-regulatory organization (SRO) to ensure the continued free operation of new decentralized applications and protocols in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
4. Double-Spend Attempt
At the end of December one exchange specializing in BTC to MSC exchange was able to identify a double spend attempt. This was not a problem with the Master Protocol but an ‘abused’ bug on Mastercoin-explorer which has been fixed. Thanks for helping us identify it using a very unconventional method.
You can read more on Reddit.
It is important to check transactions at https://masterchest.info/consensus.aspx and remember to ensure that just like with bitcoin enough confirms have occurred that a transaction is secured in the blockchain.
3. Operations: RBB, Voting Rules, Monthly Expense Tracking, and Dashboard
Mastercoin Foundation’s goal is to be able to dissolve itself and allow PoS voting in making decisions. With that in mind we have been working on establishing the ground rules for how Role Based Bounties and Voting Rules work.
What are Role Based Bounties (RBB)?
RBBs are here to provide an incentive for people to dedicate themselves full-time to the development of the Master Protocol. Currently, there are fifteen (15) individuals engaged in RBBs. More information on how they operate is on Github at https://github.com/mastercoin-MSC/spec/blob/master/RoleBasedBounties.md
Voting Rules currently reflect that decision making for budget allocation is driven by the Mastercoin Foundation Board of Directors which number seven (7) individuals as opposed to Proof of Stake, which is dependent on further development of the Master Protocol stack. We have worked out a voting process for one time expenses, one time bounties, hiring process for RBBs, a monthly burn cap, recurring expenses, discretionary funds and board quorum.
If you want to see the document it can be accessed on GitHub at https://github.com/mastercoin-MSC/spec/blob/master/VotingRules.md
Monthly Expense Tracking
The expected RBB burn for January is approximately $52,000. About 45% of this is going into Research & Development RBBs (Smart Property Lead and Chief Scientist roles being “Research”, while development roles being “Development”). That rate should increase to between 59% to 74% for the following month depending on if the the contract with Social Radius our PR firm and the chapter planters are extended. Bare in mind these figures do not include the 300 BTC bounty which is a pure development expense over the period from commencement of the bounty in October until completion.
The Mastercoin fund Ledger can be access on Google Drive at http://ow.ly/snItC
We have a new dashboard for tracking progress. Currently the stats focus on consensus, network transactions, addresses in use, in addition to website visitors, newsletter subscribers and sources of traffic to mastercoin.org.
The dashboard can be accessed at https://www.leftronic.com/share/xCbcHt/#xCbcHt
2. Coinmarketcap.com, MasterXchange.com and Mcoin.io
The month of December saw the addition of Mastercoin (msc) to coinmarketcap.com the go to website for crypto-currency total values. Additionally we saw the launch of two exchanges masterxchange.com and mcoin.io.
Additionally graphs and depth are now available at cryptocoincharts.info and mastercoin.it.
1. Distributed Applications Whitepaper
Entitled “The Emerging Wave of Decentralized Applications” the paper was co-authored by David Johnston, Steven Mason, Farzad Hashemi, Ron Gross, and Sam Yilmaz. The paper outlines a new emerging model for building successful and massively scalable applications. Bitcoin led the way with its open-source, peer-to-peer nature, cryptographically-stored records (blockchain), and limited number of tokens to power the use of its features. A must read for any investor, developer and entrepreneur who is interested in distributed applications, their classification and variations in models for concepts such as BitShares, ColoredCoins and Master Protocol.
The authors propose that Decentralized Applications will one day surpass the world’s largest existing software corporations in utility, user base, and network valuation due to their superior incentive structure, flexibility, transparency, resiliency, and distributed nature.