Recap: Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021 – Day 1

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By Jamie McKane Published: May 18, 2021
Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021 Day 1

The much anticipated Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021 kicked off last weekend, providing new and experienced developers alike with fresh insight into the world of Bitcoin development. The event took place on May 15-16 – both days packed with comprehensive and interactive sessions that looked at everything from how to become a Bitcoin developer to the exciting new tools being built for the Bitcoin SV blockchain.

Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021 was hosted by Bitcoin Association in partnership with WeAreDevelopers and nChain. The event focused on development on the Bitcoin SV blockchain, which is the blockchain most closely aligned with the original vision of Bitcoin as outlined in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 white paper. Bitcoin SV offers unbounded scaling, ultra-fast and cheap transactions, support for a fully-featured scripting language and smart contracts, as well as a stable and secure protocol – making it the best choice for blockchain developers around the world.

The first day of Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021 offered a variety of content to attendees, with industry experts explaining everything from how to get started with Bitcoin development through Bitcoin SV Academy to the various tools and transaction types available on the Bitcoin SV network.

The day ended with a fireside chat featuring nChain CTO Steve Shadders and nChain chief scientist Dr Craig S. Wright.

In case you missed the live stream, we have pulled together some key highlights from the event. You can also watch the full Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021 Day 1 stream here.


Opening remarks – Steve Shadders and Jimmy Nguyen

Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen and nChain CTO Steve Shadders took the stage first up to officially open the event, kicking off Day 1 of Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021.

Nguyen and Shadders gave an overview of what to expect from the event, as well as explaining the role played by Bitcoin Association and nChain in the development of the Bitcoin SV ecosystem.

Nguyen explained the structure and agenda for the DevCon event, adding that a promotion was being conducted during the breaks between sessions where attendees could win $1-worth of BSV sent directly to their HandCash wallet by scanning a QR code.

Shadders also provided background on the evolving toolsets for Bitcoin SV and gave viewers an idea of what to expect from each session.

‘We are going to showcase a whole lot of tools. The tooling ecosystem in Bitcoin SV is always growing,’ he said.

He noted that a live Q&A session would follow each presentation, with each expert given the opportunity to respond to written questions from the audience.

Before taking us to the next session, Shadders highlighted the recent launch of the Bitcoin SV Node Software v1.0.8 beta release, which raised the default ancestor limit to up to 10,000.

‘The ancestor limit has been the top of the agenda for the last two years – there have been challenges in getting that rolled out – but we have now increased the limit to up to 10,000. We think we could push it a lot higher, but out of an abundance of caution we are doing testing first,’ he said.

Shadders then officially kicked off the event by introducing the next speakers from Bitcoin SV Academy.


Bitcoin SV Academy and Introduction to Bitcoin Development

The first session of the day focussed on the tools available to learn Bitcoin development.

Four Bitcoin Association members – training and development manager Brendan Lee, content creator Connor Murray, curriculum specialist Evan Freeman and curriculum contributor Kapil Jain – took the stage to speak about the recently-launched Introduction to Bitcoin Development course on Bitcoin SV Academy.

Bitcoin SV Academy is a free online learning platform run by Bitcoin Association which offers university-style, academia-quality Bitcoin education for both new and experienced developers. Upon completion of each course, users are awarded with a shareable certification.

The academy currently offers courses in three verticals – Bitcoin Theory, Bitcoin Development and Bitcoin Infrastructure. The Introduction to Bitcoin Development course was launched earlier this year, with the first introductory infrastructure course set to launch later in 2021.

Bitcoin SV Academy’s Introduction to Bitcoin Development course focuses on the mechanics behind the Bitcoin SV blockchain, how to create transactions on and interact with the blockchain and the wide selection of tools available to build applications on-chain.

‘We set forth one year ago to build the greatest Bitcoin SV educational resource in the galaxy,’ Evan Freeman said.

‘We did so because we knew just how dangerous ignorance can be to a growing ecosystem.’

Bitcoin SV Academy’s courses focus on the original vision of the Bitcoin whitepaper and how these ideas are applied to the Bitcoin SV blockchain.

Brendan Lee told viewers that in the near future, introductory courses will be available across all three aforementioned sections in the Bitcoin SV Academy, with each one designed to take around nine hours to complete.

Connor Murray also formally announced Bitcoin SV Academy’s Bitcoin Essentials stream, which will comprise shorter courses that clear up misconceptions about Bitcoin and focus on specific topics.

The first of these courses is named Bitcoin Basics and takes between two and three hours to complete. Bitcoin Basics provides users with more information on the background of Bitcoin, its basic mechanics and what is important about the technology.


DotWallet, Windtalker and DotID – Lin Zheming

Next up, Mempool co-founder and CEO Lin Zheming took the stage to speak about his DotWallet service and its new Windtalker and DotID tools.

DotWallet is much more than just a standard BSV wallet – it offers a variety of development tools and supports the creation and management of tokens on Bitcoin SV.

Zheming outlined how these tools work and how developers can interact with the range of DotWallet APIs for building payment and data functionalities.

He explained the challenges of using Bitcoin-based payment services such as PayMail in countries like China, where it is more difficult to pronounce and share English words and characters.

‘We present two new techniques to help solve this problem. The first one is Windtalker, which is a trustless message forwarding service,’ Zheming said.

‘The second is DotID, which is a decentralised identity protocol.’

Both tools run on the Bitcoin SV blockchain and aim to make validating identities and forwarding messages to others easier.

In his presentation, Zheming explained that the Windtalker forwarding service utilises payment channels, is integrated with PayMail and retains privacy of communication due to its peer-to-peer trustless infrastructure.

DotID also offers significant potential for Bitcoin SV developers, as it functions as an address book for different public keys that is compatible with PayMail, and it is this technology that provides the underlying identification data for Windtalker.


Chronos Labs Suite and Univrse – Aaron Russell

Chronos Labs founder Aaron Russell took the stage next to speak about the diverse range of tools he has built for the Bitcoin SV blockchain.

These include Operate BSV, a tool for building smart contracts on Bitcoin SV using the Lua programming language; TxForge, which allows developers to easily build interoperable data transactions; and PayPresto, which allows users of Bitcoin SV apps to pay for data transactions from any Bitcoin SV wallet.

Russell’s presentation covered his personal motivation for the development of these tools and their focus on interoperability. He also spoke about the current state of development tools for Bitcoin SV and how these could be improved.

‘When it comes to putting data on chain, the de facto standard has been Unwriter’s Bitcom, the adoption of which has been huge,’ Russell said.

‘The majority of Bitcoin SV transactions are data transactions and the majority of those follow Bitcom’s standards.’

However, Russell said Bitcom and other existing standards have a few issues which may be improved to further the interoperability and accessibility of Bitcoin SV applications. One of the most significant of these is the capacity for human error in implementing these data transaction standards.

To address this, Russell revealed a brand-new protocol which aims to reduce the potential for errors when implementing or interacting with data written to the blockchain. The solution is based on CBOR, which is a protocol similar to JSON that is used for serialising binary data.

‘What I’ve created is called Univrse. It is a universal schema for serialising data with signatures and encryption built-in as a first-class citizen of the protocol. It allows us to serialise any arbitrary piece of data in a concise, binary-friendly format,’ Russell said.

Russell provided a live demonstration of the Univrse protocol implementation using the tool’s JavaScript library, showing how easy and reliable the tool makes data serialisation on the blockchain, even for complex data payloads.


Bitcoin data transactions – Alessio Pagani and Jack Davies

The next session shed light on how Bitcoin transactions can be used to embed data on the blockchain and was presented by nChain researcher Alessio Pagani and nChain research and development scientist Jack Davies.

This session covered the basic mechanics of Bitcoin SV transactions and the different mechanisms that can be used to embed data on or read data from the Bitcoin SV blockchain.

Pagani and Davies covered everything from basic standards of Bitcoin SV transaction processing to key considerations when writing or reading data on the blockchain. They also showed a walkthrough demonstration of how to create Bitcoin SV transactions.

‘The primary functionality of a Bitcoin transaction is to transfer custody of Bitcoin from one user to another,’ Pagani said.

He went on to explain the basic format of a Bitcoin transaction, including its various fields and the nature of unlocking and locking scripts. Using these scripts, users can transfer data through the blockchain.

‘Scripts are important for us because they help us to carry data. You can think of transactions as packets that we will use to include our data,’ he explained.

Davies provided viewers with a live, in-depth demonstration that showed how to create Bitcoin transactions using JavaScript and the BSV library.

He also walked attendees through how to interact with Bitcoin scripts, generate key pairs, and more.

Davies and Pagani’s demonstrations conveyed deep and thorough explanations of Bitcoin transaction mechanics, as well as chronicling and explaining the entire process of transaction creation and validation.


Scaling Bitcoin for global adoption – Jad Wahab

Next up, nChain software engineer Jad Wahab outlined how Bitcoin SV can be scaled as a peer-to-peer payment and data protocol using standards like Simple Payment Verification (SPV).

Wahab demonstrated how a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment protocol can function and how true P2P transactions can be enabled using a lightweight client toolbox, which offers SPV along with a collection of associated tools.

SPV involves users storing a chain of block headers and a Merkle proof, which can be used to cryptographically prove transaction validity.

‘Users don’t need to run a node and they shouldn’t have to validate every single transaction on the planet instead of just caring about their own,’ Wahab said.

He pointed out that this argument was backed up by communication from Satoshi Nakamoto in 2010, confirming that the implementation of SPV is aligned with the original vision of Bitcoin.

Wahab also listed the available tools which enable SPV on Bitcoin SV and those which are still missing, highlighting the direction further development towards scalable peer-to-peer transactions must take.

He encouraged developers interested in solving the problem of SPV implementation and peer-to-peer transaction scaling to reach out and contribute to the creation of an SPV client and protocol.

‘The sooner we can sort out scaling Bitcoin’s user aspect, the better for everyone and the faster we can move on to other things,’ Wahab said.


Fireside Chat with Dr Craig S. Wright

To round out day one of the Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021, Steve Shadders sat down with Dr Craig S. Wright for a candid discussion on the historical development of Bitcoin and the differing design decisions surrounding the protocol and white paper.

The conversation began with a discussion around the broadcasting of transactions to all nodes on the network as laid out in the white paper. Wright explained how the broadcasting of blocks and block headers worked on Bitcoin in relation to good practice for network nodes.

He noted that when Bitcoin nodes receive block headers, it is important for them to understand how well-connected other nodes are in relation to the rest of the network to optimise network traffic.

‘Optimising network traffic is only going to occur if you can start working out what connectivity [another node] has, if they are responsive, if they forward, and all sorts of things like this,’ Wright said.

‘You are going to work out, for your particular connectivity and network computation power, what is the optimal methodology to send everything around the network – and it is going to vary.’

Shadders also asked Wright to unpack the definition of a Bitcoin node with Wright to determine how a node with multiple controlling actors fits into this definition, to which he answered that the actor who makes the decision of which transactions to validate and who to pay the mining reward to functions as a node from an agency perspective.

They also spoke about the intricacies of blockchain governance and the advantages and disadvantages of the three-pronged governance model, which comprises Bitcoin rules, consensus limits and local policies.

Shadders and Wright broke down various hypothetical situations with regards to miner collusion, network attacks, encouraging consensus and node autonomy in relation to default settings.

Their conversation ranged across various topics related to Bitcoin development, the role of nChain and Bitcoin Association in furthering Bitcoin development and the nature of the blockchain industry as a whole.

If you want to learn more about the wealth of content offered in these sessions, check out the full livestream of Bitcoin SV DevCon 2021 Day 1 below.