It has been an exceedingly busy summer at MaidSafe and it seems like a good point to recap on what we have working on and how we see things rolling out as we move forward. Since our last major update, when we announced the network running end-to-end, we have been adding some pretty significant features and making several enhancements.
Amongst the highlights, we implemented Unified Structured Data, a change that enables the network to only recognise two primary data types; immutable and structured data. The repercussions for what this enhancement brings to the network is significant. Not only do they allow the reduction of network traffic (reducing load and making it more efficient), it also removes much complexity and enhances the security of the network. It is anticipated that Unified Structured Data will lay the groundwork for features such as smart contracts and global computation. For those looking for more technical detail you can visit the proposal as it was implemented here.
We also recently completed work on the Decentralised Naming System (DNS), essentially the SAFE Network’s version of Internet domains. Keen to avoid many of the issues that we experience with the existing system, such as being centrally controlled by an entity, the SAFE Network provides a way to look up data related to any name. So, no more ‘http’ and a lot more ‘safe:’. At the end of August we released an example application showing this functionality and the example itself can be downloaded here.
This was a really exciting development as it enabled us to get more (in addition to the Crust, Self Encryption and Routing examples released early summer) software into the hands of users. In essence, the DNS example enabled users to set up a local network, add files to it (even a website) and then view them using a Firefox extension across multiple platforms. MaidSafe focus a lot on usability and it is therefore great to see comments like this (from Justin Chellis):
“I am not great at things like this, but it worked very easy for me..”
Receiving positive feedback is a real motivator for all at MaidSafe, it’s proof that we are making very clear progress toward our goal of providing the average man, woman and child, access to technology that keeps their digital information safe.
In addition to adding features, we have also had to spend some time going back and tidying up sections of code that were inevitably less than perfect given the pace at which we are working. A technical debt sprint has just finished and we are pleased to see much increased stability in the network. This effort is all being helped by our recently launched bounty program which enables MaidSafe to benefit from the work of several community developers, who between them submitted 12 pull requests over a 2 week period. It’s great to be able to harness the passion of external developers in a way that is mutually beneficial and we are really looking forward to seeing the bounty program flourish.
In the immediate future we are planning the next round of development and there are some big ticket features being planned, these include:
uTP Hole Punching – This will enable the nodes (clients and vaults) to talk to each other beyond NAT boundaries and facilitate users to join and become part of the network by contributing their computing resources. Crowd sourced infrastructure has arrived!
Messaging Infrastructure – This will be a really fun deliverable, but is also a big one. The messaging APIs for inter-node communication would be put in place and potentially the addition of the MaidSafe Public Identity in this iteration. It would allow chat engines and clients to work on SAFE-Network.
Messaging Infrastructure and Launcher implementation – It is anticipated that Launcher would be the only application that users gives their credentials (PIN, Keyword and Password) to. Launcher would then authorise apps on behalf of the user, giving each one of them a sandbox environment to work with. This not only prevents Apps from knowing the user credentials, but also removes the ability for them to tinker with folders/data of other Apps or user’s files and folders.
So, we think that 2 more development sprints will see us reach Dev Bundle 2, a network that anyone can join remotely, store and retrieve data and farm for test safecoin. At this point, it will also be possible for third party developers to start building apps for the network. As we continue the roll out of the network, we will be replacing the existing MaidSafe website with two new sites, one that is focussed toward end users and farmers, and the other to provide developers with a clear channel into using the network.
All in all, very exciting times ahead and we’re very grateful to have you on this journey with us.