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Coinbase Launches Toshi, a Free Bitcoin API for Developers

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on September 17, 2014 at 20:45 BST

Toshi

Coinbase has released Toshi, a free API toolkit for bitcoin app developers that runs on a full bitcoin node backed by a SQL database.

With the initial launch, Coinbase joins a growing number of bitcoin companies seeking to provide friendly APIs for app developers, including the Boost VC-backed BlockCypher, Barry Silbert-funded Chain and newly capitalized Gem.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong framed his company's latest offering as a boon for developers who will be able to build web applications and businesses on a free, hosted version of Toshi.

Armstrong told CoinDesk:

"[Toshi] essentially gives away the technology behind Chain, BlockCypher, etc for free."

BlockCypher, CEX.io, Chain and Gem are all notably offering similar services to developers free of charge, though Chain and Gem have indicated that they intend to charge enterprise customers for their products at scale.

This sector of the digital currency startup space has been increasingly active in recent days, with Gem closing a $2m seed round today, and CEX.io releasing the beta version of its PlugChain API just yesterday.

Building on bitcoin's core

Described as a complete implementation of the Bitcoin protocol, Toshi enables developers to better retrieve information about the latest blocks, network transactions and particular addresses on the network through access to Toshi API endpoints.

The implementation is written in Ruby and backed by PostgreSQL, factors which Coinbase suggests make it best for building web applications or analyzing block chain data. The company asserts that Toshi requires more storage space than Bitcoin Core, but that, as a result, it runs richer queries.

However, the website suggests that Toshi is still not ready for use in production.

The service's official GitHub reads:

"It is currently in beta, and not recommended for production use until it has received sufficient testing from the bitcoin community."

For more details on Toshi and its capabilities, visit GitHub.

Investor approval

Noted VC entrepreneur and Coinbase investor Fred Wilson took to his personal blog to commend Coinbase on the launch of Toshi, citing it as a valuable tool for developers who face real challenges building solutions on Bitcoin Core.

Wilson framed Toshi as a way for Coinbase to extend its two years of expertise working with Bitcoin Core to younger developers, writing:

"They are now making all of that technology available to developers who want to build bitcoin applications but don’t want to get knee deep in the Bitcoin Core."

Further, Wilson acknowledged the increasing activity in the bitcoin development space, adding:

"I think making bitcoin easier for developers is a big thing and I’m pleased to see Coinbase doing exactly that."

Images via Toshi and Shutterstock

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