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Description Of First Bitcoin Improvement Proposal

08:45 26/01/2019
Description Of First Bitcoin Improvement Proposal



As we mentioned in the previous article, first two Bitcoin Improvement Proposals are about standards and norms. They both define the common structure of BIP, its content, desired quality. BIP 1 is considered obsolete right now since it was replaced by BIP 2. Still, it is a great source of traceable changes in the standardization approach. Sometimes, these changes are even more interesting than the content itself.


Most of header elements and main text parts are similar, though several options were added, removed and changed. Let’s consider BIP 1 as a source point of this improvement.


General information


Both proposals are placed on the correspondent GitHub pages:  BIP 1 and BIP 2. Main content of both BIPs includes several components. Let’s begin with the first BIP.


What is BIP?


This section holds general description of Bitcoin Improvement Proposal and explains why we need it. BIP serves two purposes: information provision or description of some technical changes. The main reason for BIP creation is to collect a community's opinions on the topic. However, there is a responsible person who is to support consensus achievement.


BIP types


There are three standard types of BIPs:


  • Standards Track BIP. This type is used when some changes are applied to Bitcoin core components or rules.
  • Process BIP. This type is used when changes are applied to Bitcoin surrounding. Everything except the protocol.
  • Informational BIP. This type is used when no practical implementation is proposed, still an important topic is described.


BIP workflow


Here, BIP’s lifecycle is explained: from the idea that appeared in the community to its application in the protocol. This section includes information on a responsible person, preliminary quality estimation, a community's discussion, topic focus rules, BIP editing, status change, and others. The most interesting component is the status change scheme.

BIP workflow
Status change scheme

Successful BIP components


This section is strictly structured and formatted. It contains ten requirements for BIP content. Interestingly, BIP 1 doesn’t correspond to this section when BIP 2 does. In addition to desired BIP components, some description rules are also proposed.


BIP header preamble


This section describes the header of each BIP with details. For each proposed detail, several options are given if they have a limited number of options. Several possible ways to input information are provided for ambiguous options. Reasoning about proposed options is provided as well.


Transferring BIP ownership


Sometimes, a responsible person can’t keep working on BIP for some reason. In this case it is important to select another responsible person — reliable and willing to continue BIP development. The current section describes such cases.


Responsibilities of BIP editor and workflow


Each BIP should be checked several times during discussion, approval and implementation phases. An editor is a person responsible for the general BIP approvement and development supervision. His duties and rights are described in this section.


There are several more sections, namely: “BIP Formats and Templates”, “Auxiliary Files”, “BIP Editors”, “History”, “Changelog”. The purpose of each section is evident from its title.




BIP 1 shows how developers imagine the evolution process in the very beginning of Bitcoin lifetime. Some of above mentioned options remained in BIP 2. However, the second proposal follows its own requirements, which makes it more preferable and explains the reasons why the replacement was made. The content of BIP 2 will be described in our next articles.

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