This morning the technical steering committee for the open-source Hyperledger project was on the verge of unanimously voting to formally merge the codebases donated by three of their founding members, thus laying the foundation of a new enterprise-grade blockchain.
Yet a single committee member, who was not identified by name, became the lone dissenting voice – a move that, for now, curtailed the effort to merge code contributed by startups Blockstream and Digital Asset, as well as tech giant IBM.
But, the meeting, a face-to-face gathering of participants of the first Hyperledger Hackathon dedicated to creating an open-source blockchain platform, was by no means a failure.
"It was really encouraging to see the core companies working together, and some new joiners," said Philip DesAutels, the event’s emcee, and senior director at the Linux Foundation, which hosts the project. "This is a really encouraging start for an open-source project."
Established in December 2015 the Hyperledger Project is an effort headed by the non-profit Linux Foundation and comprised of 30 founding members. Its mission is to build an enterprise-grade distributed ledger framework.
One of the more notable items brought up during the meeting was the disclosure that a proof-of-concept had been successfully created using the combined code bases from Blockstream, Digital Asset Holdings and IBM.
Robert Fajta, senior developer at Digital Asset, announced the move.
"By the end of yesterday we achieved a proof-of-concept integration of these three code bases," he said.
The proof-of-concept combined Blockstream’s validation code, IBM's OBC/UTXO Chaincode and Digital Asset Holding’s client layers. For the actual test, an account was loaded with 100,000 satoshis and a fee charged of 5,000 satoshis to transfer 30,000 satoshis to another account. Fajta asked for a round of applause from the audience, which was given.
"Our task is not done yet," said Fajta. "There are further things we need to do. It was just a proof-of-concept."
The enthusiasm of the moment transitioned into the part of the meeting dealing specifically with the technical steering committee, including some big names from across industries. DesAutels seemed keen to pass a measure that would formally allow for the integration of the three codebases so future testers and participants of potential future hackathons could use the unified code.
"The recommendation from the team is that we do merge the codebases," said DesAutels. "I put it to the technical steering, is that the path we proceed to?"
The vote was informal. After establishing a quorum, one after another, sounds of agreement came from the audience.
"I agree whole-heartedly," said one audience member. "You’re good?" DesAutels asked another. "Is there anyone not in agreement?"
"I’m a little concerned about making an agreement until I see something in writing," an unidentified voice announced, followed by a brief silence. "I’d feel better if we had a little more progress on the requirement side."
And just like that, the hopes of a seamless transition to the next phase of development were dashed.
Technically, DesAutels could have called for a vote, and with at most a two-thirds majority required according to the charter, he would have likely won. But the host, apparently not wanting to alienate the voter, conceded – albeit a bit stubbornly.
"This is open-source, we can take this wherever we want, but we do need to move forward," he said. "There’s consensus even if there’s not unanimity. I will write it up though."
Planning for the next meeting is scheduled to start next week after the holiday weekend is over. Another informal vote was held to help determine the location of the meeting, with an overwhelming vote to hold it in the East Coast of the US. The West Coast, Paris, Amsterdam, and Budapest were also suggested.
Work on white paper
At today’s meeting members also reviewed the efforts of their first-ever Hyperledger Hackathon and pushed ahead on the group's first whitepaper. JPMorgan Chase executive director, David Voell reviewed the progress of the whitepaper.
The draft itself is being written using Google Docs, where changes can be proposed by members but only implemented with consensus. Interestingly, to get things started, Voell said the group quite literally copied an earlier whitepaper written by IBM and replaced "IBM" with "Hyperledger."
“It was a good place to start off,” he explained.
But now the content is being tailored to the members' specifications, with the goal of presenting a clear explanation of what will distinguish the Hyperledger Project from efforts specifically mentioned, including bitcoin and Ripple.
"What we want to point out here is there are a lot of use-cases [for bitcoin and Ripple that] are not appropriate," said Voell.
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