As you probably already know, the Particl development team met in South Africa from the 16th of November to the 24th for a series of important development meetings that would shape the short to mid-term path forward for the project.
Contrary to previous meetings held in Prague and Switzerland where mostly the core group met, this one was planned to gather most of the developers as well as some members of the communications team together. It presented itself as a great opportunity for the team members to meet the co-workers they’ve been working with for some time (and in some cases, years), as well as being the perfect opportunity to get as many heads working together and brainstorming as possible.
There’s one thing that is absolutely sure and that definitely stands up the minute these meetings start: the level of expertise, knowledge, and passion within the team is simply out of this world! On their own, each of the team members is quite impressive in terms of skills. When they get together, however, that’s when the magic happens.
Getting Particl Marketplace Beta Ready
The meetings were, for the most part, exclusively focused on the development and management of the project with a particular look on the short to mid-term.
The development team first focused on what needed to be done more urgently in regards to the finalization of the Beta version of Particl Marketplace. Suffice to say, we are definitely getting to the very end of the Alpha stage of development and only minor tweaks and additions (notably linked to software stability and governance) are still left to add. While that is not necessarily fresh news, it does confirm that we might only be weeks away from the release of the long-awaited Beta version of the marketplace, on testnet first of course.
It was also discussed that Particl Marketplace Beta might release initially as a Lite Beta, then followed by more frequent than now Release Candidates, each of them adding a new feature not present in the previous version. For example, it is very likely that the very first Release Candidate of Particl Marketplace Beta might not contain RingCT/CT privacy features integrated into the escrow system as Tecnovert is still working on improving the RingCT protocol with privacy-enhancing tweaks as well as Bulletproofs.
It was also heavily considered by the team that Particl Marketplace Beta, once stable enough and properly tested, might hit mainnet before Particl Marketplace 1.0 is fully completed. The timeline of the mainnet release is of course not available as a lot of it depends on moving targets and at how fast the platform can be made stable enough to use with real money. This early mainnet period will be extremely useful to test the dynamics of the many decentralized mechanisms in place within the platform such as MAD escrow, anti-spam measures, governance, and etc.
Another very important task of this series of meetings was to draw an internal roadmap of development tasks and decide on what is going to be worked on after the release of the Beta version of the marketplace. One of the decisions the developers took was to now mostly focus on one feature at a time instead of working on many at once. This will definitely help in releasing new features with each Release Candidates and publish them in shorter timeframes as they are right now.
DISCLAIMER: What follows is a list of items the development team will most likely be working on after the initial release of Particl Marketplace Beta. Items are placed in no particular order and there is no public timeline available for these. As with everything development-related, some of these items may be abandoned and new ones might start being worked before others, and thus none of what follows can be interpreted as “promises”. The purpose of this list is only to give you a general idea of what the team currently has in mind.
IPFS: IPFS stands for Interplanetary File System, and is a decentralized data storage network (DSN). Particl Marketplace will use IPFS to store messages and data, which is expected to reduce listing fees as well as increase the quality of the uploaded data (i.e. listing pictures in higher quality).Note that, while IPFS will make it more affordable to use the marketplace, it does not provide the user with the same level of privacy as SMSG, Particl’s current default DSN. This is why the marketplace will likely default with IPFS and allow to manually change the default DSN in the Settings page. Follow the link below to get more information about IPFS.
Reputation System: Many of you will be happy to see this item. Vendor reputation is an almost necessary information for buyers when shopping online and has been requested by a lot of you from the community. While the exact implementation and mechanism still remain unsettled for the moment, this is one of the items that will eventually make its way onto Particl Marketplace.Payment Gateways: As a core aspect of our vision, Particl Marketplace is designed to be a marketplace where many different cryptocurrencies are accepted. Thus, a gateway, initially one for Bitcoin-only, will be integrated on Particl Marketplace. The initial integration might probably be a third-party integration, but as proper decentralized solutions rise up, expect the team to keep a close eye on them and work towards integrating solutions aligned with our own vision.
Price Pegging: Important for a smooth user experience as well as mainstream adoption, price pegging is the ability to price an item according to the currency of your choice. It means a vendor could decide, for example, to sell an item for $150 USD, and that item would still remain listed at $150 regardless of the PART coin price fluctuation. Price pegging will also make it possible for people to display posted listings in the currency of their choice.
Vendor/Buyer Communication: The ability to message the other party in a mutually assured destruction scenario, the game-theory scenario on which Particl Marketplace’s MAD escrow is designed), is tricky.
On one hand, it is necessary for vendors and buyers to be able to communicate between each other. On the other hand, it needs to be done in a way that reduces the risk of the vendor blackmailing the buyer to a minimum. Ultimately, if there is no way for involved parties to communicate within the platform, it is simply going to be taken off-platform.
This is why the team has decided to craft a special communication system where blackmailing possibilities will be reduced to a minimum. We will give more details about the messaging system once we are getting closer to its release
Messaging System: While not exclusive to the marketplace, the messaging system will also be available, in full, but without buyer/vendor relationship. This will render possible individual and group chats directly from within Particl Desktop, a feature that will make secure messaging as easy and effortless as writing a normal message on any other application. This messaging system will be particularly useful for Particl Bubble members (people possessing the Market ID of private/community markets) to really bond together and foster sub-communities within the marketplace itself.
Fiat Payment Gateways: Fiat payment gateways are integrations that allow users to pay for items on Particl Marketplace using more traditional means of payments such as a credit card. It’s important to note that, for convenience and legal reasons, this particular item may never make its way onto Particl Marketplace at any point in time. While this is an item that is being seriously considered and actively researched by the team, a payment solution would need to be compatible with our own vision and not require the user to go through numerous tedious steps in order to be integrated into Particl Desktop.
Escrow Refunds & Recovery: One way Particl’s MAD escrow can become problematic is if one of the two parties isn’t able to access the smart-contract anymore, thus making it impossible to retrieve any funds or complete a transaction. This is why the team will be focused on building a refund and recovery option for the escrow system in order to make it more secure and resilient to unforeseen problems.
Code refactoring: As Wikipedia puts it, “code refactoring is the process of restructuring existing computer code — changing the factoring — without changing its external behavior.”. This refactoring process, already underway, will make Particl Marketplace much faster and smoother to use. This aims at giving the marketplace the same level of responsiveness you would expect from web-based platforms.
Translations: Not exclusive to the marketplace, translations will eventually make their way onto Particl Desktop. It will then be possible for you to register on the Particl translation team and contribute on making Particl Desktop available in your favourite language using Transifex.
Shipping Carrier Integration: A possible, yet not guaranteed, integration the team has been wanting to have is for shipping carrier information to be able to be tracked directly from within the marketplace itself. In other words, this integration would allow you to track your orders without having to leave Particl. Another good step towards convenience!
Follow a Vendor: This self-explanatory feature will allow you the follow your favorite vendors on the marketplace. The exact implementation hasn’t been decided on, but it is likely that, for privacy reasons, it will be an opt-in option for vendors to allow their customers to follow them around.
Latest Bitcoin Codebase: As always, we are committed to keeping the Particl codebase up-to-date with Bitcoin’s. This allows the project to benefit from all the breakthroughs made to the Bitcoin codebase, some of which being directly included into this list.RingCT Improvements: As stated for a few weeks now, our Lead Cryptographer & Core Developer, Tecnovert, has been making a few tweaks on the RingCT protocol. These tweaks are specifically intended to make the RingCT protocol more private than it currently is on other coins’ implementations. Because of the nature of these tweaks, we cannot reveal any detail at this moment as to keep the exclusivity on the improvements.
Bulletproofs: The Bulletproofs protocol improvement allows RingCT transactions to be dramatically reduced in size, making them cheaper to send as well as more lightweight on the blockchain. This will greatly help the Particl blockchain to stay as scalable and fast to sync as possible over a long period of time.
Lightning Network: The Lightning Network allows transactions to be sent at a near-instant speed and at near-zero cost. The implementation of this protocol is expected to be one of the main areas of focus for Tecnovert this year. It will help with the execution of atomic swaps, the scalability of the network, as well as potentially be made available with private transactions.
Sidechains: Another area of interest for 2019, as mentioned by Tecnovert, is the research and development of side-chain solutions for Particl. As defined by HackerNoon, a “sidechain is a separate blockchain that is attached to its parent blockchain using a two-way peg”. No additional information concerning sidechains on Particl is publicly available yet, so stay on alert for more information about this in 2019!
All in all, the South Africa team meeting has been super productive and have really helped pave the way for the next few months to be impactful for the project. With new developers, like Rob, jumping on board, it can only be expected that the development pace is going to keep increasing as time goes. The team is now really well organized with development managers and agile methodologies which makes Particl’s future really look bright.
P.S.: Don’t miss our blog post early next week where we will reveal a big conference Particl will be attending next year with a booth, a presence that was concretized while we were in South Africa!