IBM Wants to Track Code Milestones on a Blockchain

A new patent application from IBM suggests that the tech giant is eyeing blockchain as a way to chart programmer contributions for projects.

Jul 5, 2018 at 5:51 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:08 a.m. UTC

A new patent application from IBM outlines a way for developers to catalog coding updates and milestones on a blockchain.

The application – entitled "Blockchain For Program Code Credit and Programmer Contribution in a Collective" – was published on July 5 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It envisions utilizing the technology to create "a secure and robust approach to track and to append information related to collaborative coding for the purpose of credit, reward, and dispute resolution, and for other purposes."

Put more simply, the idea is to use a distributed network to track the accomplishments of coders as they work together on a project. As the application suggests, such tracking can be used to properly credit design elements to specific programmers.

As IBM argues in the application, programmers normally need to collaborate to produce a software product, but an effective approach measuring a programmer's contribution is lacking. The principle underlying the proposed patent is a chain that chronicles the code transactions and parameters on blockchain blocks.

As IBM goes on to explain:

"Code transactions and parameters associated with a stakeholder are compiled into a chain of programmer transaction blockchain blocks. The chain can be considered a chronicle of a piece of software, …and the code "status" path through its recent history or complete history can be tracked, along with its various programmers, though the lifetime and versions of the code, various history parameters, etc."

"Once the new block has been calculated, it can be appended to the stakeholder's application software history blockchain, as described above. The block may be updated in response to many triggers, such as, when a programmer selects a button on a graphical user interface (GUI) on a computer display showing a code editor to add code, when a unit test has been completed, when a code integration is completed, when an assigned work item is closed, and so forth," the company goes on to note..

IBM itself is no stranger to intellectual property bids tied to blockchain technology, as the USPTO routinely publishes filings submitted by IBM.

For example, one application filed in April shows that the tech juggernaut is seeking to patent a method for ensuring that a network of connected devices can securely execute blockchain-based smart contracts.

Image via Shutterstock

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