Getting data out of the blockchain and into the wider world
With the first public release of MultiChain, way back in 2015, we saw interest in blockchain applications from a surprising direction. While we had originally designed MultiChain to enable the issuance, transfer and custody of digital assets, an increasing number of users were interested in using it for data-oriented applications.
In these use cases, the blockchain’s purpose is to enable the storage and retrieval of general purpose information, which need not be financial in nature. The motivation for using a blockchain rather than a regular database is to avoid relying on a trusted intermediary to host and maintain that database. For commercial, regulatory or political reasons, the database’s users want this to be a distributed rather than a centralized responsibility.
The Evolution of Streams
In response to this feedback, in 2016 we introduced MultiChain streams, which provide a simple abstraction for the storage, indexing and retrieval of general data on a blockchain. A chain can contain any number of streams, each of which can be restricted for writing by certain addresses. Each stream item is tagged by the address of its publisher as well as an optional key for future retrieval. Each node can independently decide whether to subscribe to each stream, indexing its items in real-time for rapid retrieval by key, publisher, time, block, or position. Streams were an instant hit with MultiChain’s users and strongly differentiated it from other enterprise blockchain platforms.
During 2019 our focus turned to MultiChain 2.0 Enterprise, the commercial version of MultiChain for larger customers. The first Enterprise Demo leveraged off-chain data in streams to allow read permissioning, encrypted data delivery, and the selective retrieval and purging of individual items. As always, the underlying complexity is hidden behind a simple set of APIs relating to permissions and stream items. With streams, our goal has consistently been to help developers focus on their application’s data, and not worry about the blockchain running behind the scenes.
The Database Dilemma
As MultiChain streams have continued to evolve, we’ve been faced with a constant dilemma. For reading and analyzing the data in a stream, should MultiChain go down the path of becoming a fully-fledged database? Should it be offering JSON field indexing, optimized querying and advanced reporting? If so, which database paradigm should it use – relational (like MySQL or SQL Server), NoSQL (MongoDB or Cassandra), search (Elastic or Solr), time-series (InfluxDB) or in-memory (SAP HANA)? After all, there are blockchain use cases suited to each of those approaches.
One option we considered is using an external database as MultiChain’s primary data store, instead of the current combination of embedded LevelDB and binary files. This strategy was adopted by Chain Core (discontinued), Postchain (not yet public) and is available as an option in Hyperledger Fabric. But ultimately we decided against this approach, because of the risks of depending on an external process. You don’t really want your blockchain node to freeze because it lost its database connection, or because someone is running a complex query on its data store.
Another factor to consider is technology and integration agnosticism. In a blockchain network spanning multiple organizations, each participant will have their own preferences regarding database technology. They will already have applications, tools and workflows built on the platforms that suit their needs. So in choosing any particular database, or even in offering a few options, we’d end up making some users unhappy. Just as each blockchain participant can run their node on a wide variety of Linux flavors, they should be able to integrate with their database of choice.
Introducing MultiChain Feeds
Today we’re delighted to release our approach to database integration – MultiChain Feeds. A feed is a real-time on-disk binary log of the events relating to one or more blockchain streams, for reading by external processes. We are also offering the open source MultiChain Feed Adapter which can read a feed and automatically replicate its content to a Postgres, MySQL or MongoDB database (or several at once). The adapter is written in Python and has a liberal license, so it can be easily modified to support additional databases or to add data filtering and transformation. (We’ve also documented the feed file format for those who want to write a parser in another language.)
A node need not subscribe to a stream in order to replicate its events to a feed. This allows MultiChain’s built-in stream indexing to be completely bypassed, to save time and disk space. Feeds also reflect the retrieval and purging of off-chain data, and can report on the arrival of new blocks on the chain. In order to save on disk space, you can control exactly which events are written to a feed, and which fields are recorded for each of those events. In addition, feed files are rotated daily and there’s a simple purge command to remove files after processing.
Why are MultiChain feeds written to disk, rather than streamed between processes or over the network? Because we want them to serve as an ultra-reliable replication log that is resilient to database downtime, system crashes, power loss and the like. By using disk files, we can guarantee durability, and allow the target database to be updated asynchronously. If for some reason this database becomes overloaded or disconnected, MultiChain can continue operating without interruption, and the database will catch up once things return to normal.
Getting Started with Feeds
Feeds are integrated into the latest demo/beta of MultiChain Enterprise, which is available for download now. Get started by reading the documentation for the MultiChain Feed Adapter, or reviewing the feed-related APIs. We’d love to hear your feedback on this feature and how we can expand it in future.
With the release of feeds, version 2.0 of MultiChain Enterprise is now feature complete – see the Download and Install page for a full comparison between the Community and Enterprise editions. Over the next couple of months we’ll be completing its testing and optimization, and expect it to be ready for production around the end of Q1. In the meantime, for information about MultiChain Enterprise licensing or pricing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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Organic growth? Bitcoin SV activity up 761% ahead of BSV conference
Active addresses and transaction counts on the Bitcoin SV network saw unbelievable growth in the two days leading up to the CoinGeek Live conference in New York this week.
Active BSV addresses grew from 110,000 on September 28, to 947,400 addresses today.
That’s an astonishing growth rate of 761%, in just two days leading up to CoinGeek Live, which kicked off on September 30 at 9am New York time, and will run until October 2.
The spike in active addresses raised eyebrows on Crypto-Twitter. Bitcoin SV and Craig Wright antagonist Arthur van Pelt reposted SirToshi’s chart that calls attention to the fact BSV has managed to overtake the Ethereum network in the middle of a DeFi boom. He said sarcastically:
“Seems legit. Organic Growth I think. Has nothing to do with #CGLive I bet’.”
Bitcoin influencer ‘Holdlonaut’ responded with a facepalm emoji.
Transactions on the Bitcoin SV network more than doubled in the same period, from 715.6K to 1,751K today. That’s growth of 145% in the 48 hours leading up to the conference. Average transaction values meanwhile, fell by two-thirds over the same period.
However, it’s possible the spike could simply be a coincidence, as the network does see some unusual bursts of activity on occasion. Active addresses spiked to over 1 million briefly on June 24, and transactions spiked to 5.5 million on July 10.
The CoinGeek Live conference is mostly an online affair and features speakers including nChain’s controversial chief scientist Wright, Bitcoin Association President Jimmy Nguyen and Fundstrat Global managing partner Thomas Lee.
In his opening address, Nguyen said that Bitcoin SV has incentives to discourage bad behavior and noted that the original Bitcoin whitepaper mentions the word “honest” 15 times.
According to CoinGeek’s report on Nguyen’s address, Bitcoin SV currently processes more 2,800 transactions per second on its mainnet, and is aiming for 50,000 in the near future. The forthcoming Teranode enterprise-tier protocol aims to have 1TB transaction blocks.
Nguyen said that Bitcoin SV is “the foundational rule set for an entire network,” and is “re-inventing the internet.”
In somewhat related news, the Supreme Court of Norway has rejected Craig Wright’s jurisdictional appeal. The Satoshi claimant had been trying to sue Hodlonaut for libel in the UK but will now have to go through Norwegian courts.
Hodlonaut said the court has awarded him another $6000 in costs on top of the $60,000 in costs already awarded:.
Supreme Court in Norway today rejected CSW’s jurisdiction appeal, awarding me costs of $6,000 on top of the $60,000 already owed.
His perfect loss record is intact. (4 out of 4)
The real case will now go forward in Norway where another loss surely awaits him.
Welcome to law! https://t.co/Ue4TL4P5gp
— hodlonaut ⚡ (@hodlonaut) September 30, 2020
President Maduro: Venezuela Seeks Opportunities To Use Cryptocurrency For Global Trade
- Venezuela’s cryptocurrency story continues as the country’s President Nicolas Maduro has presented new use cases.
- A recent report informed that the South American nation is studying the possibility of using digital assets in trades alongside the national Petro.
- President Maduro has presented new anti-sanctions law in the Constituent National Assembly. In a recent speech, he asserted:
“The anti-sanctions law is the first response to give new strength to the use of petro and other cryptocurrencies, national and global, in domestic and foreign trade, so that all cryptocurrencies of the world, state and private, could be used. This is an important project that is under development.”
- The news comes after Maduro suggested last year that his country could adopt cryptocurrency payments.
- Additionally, Venezuela signed a new tax agreement this summer that enabled the nation to start collecting taxes and fees in the Petro.
- A study reported by CryptoPotato revealed that digital assets already play an essential role in the country’s struggling economy. Venezuela’s intensifying financial crisis has catalyzed significant interest in cryptocurrencies as people seek opportunities to escape the devaluating national currency.
- The Bitcoin peer-to-peer volume exemplifies the growing interest in the primary cryptocurrency within the country. As per data from coin.dance, the BTC P2P volume on LocalBitcoins has been continuously surging in the past several months.
Leader That Allowed Scams: TRON’s Justin Sun Responds to Claims by Ex-Employees
Yesterday The Verge published an elaborate article portraying a picture of Justin Sun’s leadership at BitTorrent post the peer-to-peer file-sharing site’s acquisition by the TRON foundation.
Sun later responded to the ‘false-claims’ made by TRON/BitTorrent’s ex-employees in the article with ‘An Open Letter to Anyone Who Cares to Read’ on Medium.
Claim: Megalomaniac Leader; Response: True Libertarian
In the supposedly expose piece, author
Refuting the above portrayal of his leadership, Sun, in his response, stated that he has devoted his entire life ‘to being a responsible, global citizen’. Adding to this, Justin said that is a true champion of libertarian principles for a significant portion of his life.
I have devoted myself to being a responsible, global citizen throughout my entire life, spending significant portions of my personal and professional life to activities promoting universal values of respect, liberty, equality, and kindness.
The TRON and BitTorrent chief impressed further on his ‘global’ approach to things. He explained that the TRON Foundation harbors a ‘global team of talented contributors and developers’. And that he takes ‘pride in working’ with this global community to make TRON ‘one of the greatest decentralized blockchain protocols’.
Claim: Freedom Suppressor; Response: Upholder Of Human Rights, Individual Values
Dunaway reportedly engaged in conversations with folks who are/were associated with the TRON brand and the work culture. From what he gathered, Justin enforced a draconian company culture, with employees officially following the ‘9-9-6’ norm.
According to the article, TRON’s HR had Slack replaced with its Chinese counterpart DingTalk. The communication platform had an in-built surveillance mechanism that would use ‘Apple Health to count people’s steps’. Also, DingTalk used to ping employees literally all the time.
To this, Sun responded by saying that he has left no stone turned in, establishing a work culture that respects.
diversity and individuality through a culture that cherishes fundamental human values freedom of speech, user privacy, intellectual property protection, kindness, a diversified working environment, and compliance with legal standards.
Justin went on to comment that TRON and BitTorrent operate with a ‘globally collaborative team’. One that upholds and respects the ethos of cross-culture teams. Sun claimed that the folks at TRON folks have ‘worked hard’ to create a collaborative work culture. One that values freedom of speech and individual privacy.
Claim: Suppressed Criticism, Allowed Scams; Response: No Control Over Protocol Functioning
The Verge piece mentioned that ‘decentralization’ was just a facade for what was happening behind the curtains. Justin Sun and his core officials exercised strict control over content moving about and within the TRON network.
This involved allegedly paying a Redditor to ‘erase negative posts’. Which later drew the ire of the community.
Free speech is part of the ideology of decentralization, where ideas flow without gatekeepers. Tron started deleting any post it wanted.
The article also claimed that TRON’s administration team was silent and allowed the perpetration of scams on the network. While this happened, scammers and the scammed continue to grow in numbers while the management did nothing to interfere.
Justin, in his Medium post, said that he and the entire TRON administration team function sans control. Even though the team at TRON works to upgrade the platform, they do not exercise any censorship/regulation.
…we have no control or discretion over what applications use the protocol, what data is transmitted, or how its community members use it.
Sun went to add that he and his team are proud of TRON and BitTorrent’s achievement over the years. He went to quote that both have collectively ‘served 2 billion users around the world. These include ‘numerous enterprises, universities, and governments’.
Lastly, the TRON and BitTorrent boss struck down all claims made by ex-employees Lucasz Juraszek, Richard Hall, and Cong Li. Justin declared that the TRON foundation’s legal counsel has submitted all the requisite proofs and evidence pieces to the court. “We believe the decision will speak for itself”, he said.
BTT and TRX’s price didn’t seem to undergo any correction following the release of the bitterly scathing Verge piece. On the contrary, BTT is actually up 2.3% in the last 24 hours.
Featured image courtesy of QZ.com
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