This Bitcoin Developer Is Working Hard to Prepare Projects for Segregated Witness
Nicolas Dorier is the main developer behind NBitcoin, which is a comprehensive Bitcoin library for the .NET framework. NBitcoin is used in the backend of multiple Bitcoin services such as Lykke, BitKong, Teambrella and BTCTrader.
Recently, Dorier has been working on various projects intended to assist developers who wish to implement the upcoming Segregated Witness (SegWit) improvement in their own wallets, exchanges and other Bitcoin-related services. Dorier, who is also a Bitcoin Core contributor, updated his book on Bitcoin programming to show people how to use SegWit in NBitcoin and also released a number of developer tools, such as checktx and checkscript, to help developers better understand how SegWit transactions work.
In addition to his work on these developer resources, Dorier has (perhaps more importantly) implemented SegWit in NBitcoin and bitcoinj. In a recent interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Dorier shared his thoughts on Segregated Witness and how it will affect the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Thoughts on the Adoption of SegWit by Bitcoin Services
Many have said Segregated Witness is a set of complex code that will be difficult for wallets and other Bitcoin services to implement, but Dorier does not see things that way. The NBitcoin developer agrees with Bitcoin Core contributor Eric Lombrozo that it should take less than a week to implement this Bitcoin improvement. Dorier explained:
“Most of the users use abstractions above raw Bitcoin transaction programming with the classes Coin, ScripCoin and TransactionBuilder. Programmers using that don't really have to know how SegWit works, as it is similar to normal P2PKH or P2SH payments.”
To illustrate his point, Dorier noted that Smartbit, an Australian Bitcoin exchange, was able to add support for SegNet (the Segregated Witness test network) in less than an hour. Dorier explained how this was possible:
“The reason is that they only needed to update the NBitcoin libraries, run a new bitcoind, and it worked without them changing any code at all.”
Dorier also shared the following thoughts on how long it will take for all Bitcoin users to start using SegWit transactions:
“As with all technological progress, adoption will follow an S curve. I guess within two years, 90 percent adoption will be reached. We can probably compare that to how much time it took for P2SH to be supported widely, except that this time there is also a financial and technical incentive to do so.”
BitcoinJ and NBitcoin are Ready for SegWit
Dorier implemented SegWit in both NBitcoin and bitcoinj, but the changes are not yet active in bitcoinj. NBitcoin has supported SegWit since January, but bitcoinj maintainer Andreas Schildbach (whose work is now sponsored by Bloq) wants to wait for the code to evolve further. Dorier told Bitcoin Magazine:
“I think this is important for a library to support things ahead of time so people can start playing with it and bring important feedback ‒ feedback which can not only be useful for NBitcoin, but for the SegWit implementation in Bitcoin Core as well.”
Dorier also discussed the importance libraries have in the Bitcoin ecosystem:
“Innovations bubble from Bitcoin Core up to different layers. On top of Bitcoin Core, you get libraries, and on top of libraries you get all Bitcoin services which are ‘end user visible.’
Libraries are the bottleneck for innovation if not properly maintained, as virtually all services depend on them, so it is important to get features in the hands of our users as fast as we can.”
Dorier added that Breadwallet is one of the few exceptions to the rule of services depending on libraries. Breadwallet implemented its own library in Objective-C.
What a Time to Be in Bitcoin
Dorier noted that this is the most exciting year for him in Bitcoin since he joined the community in 2014.
“The wave of innovation that will come out of CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY and SegWit will have long-term implications that are still underrated,” he said.
Lombrozo has outlined multiple use cases of the Lightning Network, which is empowered by these new protocol changes, and Dorier noted how his own company, Metaco, will combine payment hubs with the Open Asset protocol to allow colored coins to be sent for free in an off-chain environment. Dorier added, “The Bitcoin blockchain provides the insurance to the user that they can't get their token confiscated while they are off-chain in a payment channel.”
Dorier recently posted some thoughts about using payment hubs in combination with the Open Asset protocol on the Coinprism blog.
Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, NASDAQ, RT’s Keiser Report and many other media outlets. You can follow @kyletorpey on Twitter.