Open-source software isn't so much built, it grows.
And today, the open-source blockchain consortium Hyperledger has announced that its first production-ready solution for building applications, Fabric, has finished that process.
But even before the formal release of Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 today, hundreds of proofs-of-concept had been built. With contributions to the platform for building shared, distributed ledgers across a number of industries (coming from 159 different engineers in 28 organizations), no single company owns the platform, which is hosted by the Linux Foundation.
For those going forward with that work, the group's executive director Brian Behlendorf indicated that production-grade functionality is just a download and a few tweaks away.
Behlendorf told CoinDesk:
"It's not as easy as drop in and upgrade. But the intent is that anyplace where there were changes, that those changes will be justified."
Once existing users of Fabric's previous versions "grab" the new version 1.0 code, as Behlendorf described the process, a few changes to the interface will need to be made, and any changes made to the "Chaincode" already being used from the earlier version will need to be modified.
While changes to the application programming interface (API) that integrates a user's software with Fabric were kept to a minimum, Behlendorf said the improvements will be noticeable.
Specifically, he highlighted improved support for Fabric’s "private channels," which enable transactions in a "subset of the broader chain" with the same degree of reliability as the overall network.
According to Behlendorf, these improvements are fundamental for providing varying degrees of access to information (such as a provenance tracking company that needs to prove the origin of an object to its very source), while still protecting the price paid in a business transaction, for example.
"You'll still be able to provide proof of those transactions to the broader network if you ever need," he explained. "But at least on that private channel you can get the speed and confidentiality that you get with direct connection."
Already in use
Even before today's launch, an unknown number of companies were already building increasingly mature products using earlier versions of Fabric.
Though exact numbers of projects using the open-source software are impossible to gauge due to an intentional lack of tracking software, Behledorf estimates the number is in the "high hundreds to low thousands," based on how many members are in the consortia and publicly disclosed endeavors.
But to give an idea of the diversity of companies exploring the technology, contributions to the Fabric codebase were made by engineers with day jobs at the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Digital Asset Holdings, Fujitsu, GE, Hitachi, Huawei Technologies, State Street Bank and more, according to a statement.
Rob Palatnick, chief technology architect of the DTCC, a founding Hyperledger member, explained in a statement why his company was an advocate of the open-source technology.
"The Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 release marks a significant milestone in the evolution of enterprise DLT technology, and represents another step forward in making DLT adoption across critical sectors a reality."
While Fabric was the first Hyplerledger project to be incubated after its original codebase was donated to Linux by IBM, and the first to enter active status earlier this year, it is far from the only offering by the consortium.
Of the 145 members, several have made other open-source contributions for further development.
Notably, Behlendorf said that blockchain identity platform Indy has completed its migration from the Sovrin Foundation that originally developed it, and that "development is picking up steam."
Also, developers from the Intel-contributed Sawtooth project are now "working with" developers from Monax-contributed Burrow "to get the ethereum virtual machine running on top of Sawtooth" as its smart contract engine, he added.
"That's the kind of modularity that we’d like to see happen across our different projects," Behlendorf said, concluding:
"The collaboration between these different things suggests a future path of an emergent architecture coming out of the soup."
Hatching turtle image via Shutterstock