Proposals For Development And Growth Of Bitcoin
After Bitcoin software was first released in 2009, it is constantly improved by the development team, and these improvements are natural for the network life cycle. All programs are growing, evolving and adjusting for the community demands. The only difference is that Bitcoin is essentially created by the community. This makes things a bit complicated.
First of all, an open-source code can be examined and checked for backdoors that might possibly lead to loss of funds. Secondly, since all users can take part in the development of the project and offer ideas in different forms, the discussion may get confusing. This requires some arrangement and communication rules. As for Bitcoin, such rules were formalized in a series of BIPs — Bitcoin Improvement Proposals.
More detailed about BIP
Let’s take a look at a BIP. What it is, what is its purpose, and are there any alternatives?
What is BIP?
As an object, each BIP is a simple explanation to improvements or enhancements. It might be used to fix a recently found bug, add functionality that was accepted by the community, modify the code to improve efficiency, etc. As its name states, BIP is used exclusively for Bitcoin. It has several important properties that should be satisfied.
- It must be formalized according to the rules;
- It must be informative yet short;
- It must be available for implementation.
Formalization is important since community members can offer a theoretically excellent idea; however, its practical implementation can be difficult. They should follow common steps of description to bring their idea in a form that will be clear and self-explaining. Otherwise, the proposal may be rejected, if the community does not understand its benefits.
Informative content is important since each BIP has an influence on the whole community. But if a single proposal consists of several dozens of pages, it might be boring to dig deeper into details. The high point of the improvement may be lost in the text.
Implementation availability should be taken into account since there are many different technologies implemented in the Bitcoin code. Some of them might be combined with others. Others are unique and their substitution requires hundreds of work hours which is not always relevant. Moreover, some proposals may threaten the ideological basis of Bitcoin.
From the functional point of view, each BIP merely proposes the idea to the community. But this is just the top of the iceberg. Every time the proposal is posted, it allows other developers to analyze its effect and compare their own thoughts on the topic with the formalized explanation. As a rule, a BIP reveals a problem that is well-known to other community members, and suggests a way to solve it. Such a broad explanation given by one participant encourages others to come up with new ideas.
There are several ways to substitute BIP approaches but they all are intended to resolve other kinds of problems or to solve the same problem but in a different way.
- Forum discussions. This solution is very useful when we need to have a big variety of different thoughts on a topic. Forums gather people with different experience and skills. This combination can bring surprisingly useful results. Unfortunately, some reasonable ideas might get buried under useless posts.
- Software development tracking records. This solution is highly efficient because it is supported by people that are aware of the project and know exactly what they should do and why. On the other hand, this step is usually taken after the proposal was discussed and approved.
- Oral discussions. This is inappropriate for a big and heterogeneous community. You neither can gather them all in one place nor can set the discussion rules to let everyone share their opinions.
Bitcoin continues to successfully develop. Thus, we can claim the BIP-system has time-tested advantages. Many questions that were not disclosed in this article require a separate explanation. In our next articles, we will take a look at several BIPs in more detail.