Qtum: Qtum’s One-Year Anniversary — Looking Back and Ahead

smart-contracts qtum ethereum blockchain bitcoin

The Qtum blockchain officially commenced one-year ago today as the first proof-of-stake smart contracts system. Since this remarkable feat, which was years in the making, the team and the community have helped build Qtum into one of the most vibrant ecosystems.

We have advised non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, states, companies, students, enthusiasts and a plethora of other people on the benefits of blockchain technology and Qtum itself. We launched the first proof-of-stake smart contracts network and the first blockchain node into space. We have taught hundreds of developers how to use smart contracts in their applications.

It has been an adventurous year, and we couldn’t have done it without you!

Development Updates

We have been relentlessly working on advancing Qtum’s scaling, governing, smart contract features in addition to providing more development toolkits to take advantage of these innovations. It is our goal to see Qtum scale to 50,000 transactions per second via lightning networks, allow for more community and autonomous governance via our Decentralized Governance Protocol, and usher in a new age for smart contract development by bringing in traditional languages into the ecosystem.

Over the past year, Qtum has stayed up-to-date on the latest developments in the space in addition to introducing our innovations to the sector. Currently, we are working on Qtum’s version 0.16 update, which is our most substantial update yet. We consider this a game changer, a base for the future of Qtum and blockchain technology itself.

One reason is version 0.16 of Qtum has segwit technology enabled by default.

qtumproject/qtum

Our most substantial update yet!

Why is this so important?

This means that Qtum is now ready to scale far beyond what most people expected. Having segwit by default opens up the door for lightning networks to be easier to use than before.

This new Qtum release is the base for amazing new technology to be implemented. We’re talking about revolutionary innovations like the x86VM, which changes the way blockchain applications are developed, used, and viewed around the world. We consider this to be similar to those advances made in the early 2000’s which allowed the internet to become what it is today. The x86VM allows for blockchain technology to be a seamless part of our daily lives.

However, this update is not just about the future, it’s also about what users and developers can enjoy today, such as:

  • More efficient sha256 hashing, modern CPUs (with SSE4 support) significantly benefit from this. The speed improvement can be up to 50% depending on the task.
  • Faster synchronization by 5%-10% — downloading the blockchain and syncing up with the network is now faster than ever, meaning becoming a node just became a lot easier.
  • Lower CPU usage when performing tasks such as encrypting/decrypting — this is general usage for blockchain wallets and should allow your laptop to run cooler.
  • Bech32 addresses — Human readable/QR code friendlier addresses (qc1qar0srrr7xfkvy5l643lydnw9re59gtzzwf5mdq vs. QNnksaiL90yat6x6DzJaSRupXgpvbc9UOj)
  • HD wallets by default — This allows one private key to generate multiple addresses and makes backups easier with some potential privacy benefits.
  • We hope this increases adoption. Thus, allowing more people to write and use smart contracts as well as stake their Qtum to secure the network.

    Non-core Development

    In conjunction with the team’s efforts on the Qtum Core protocol, we have been working on supporting libraries, wallets, block explorers, API’s, and other toolkits that add a tremendous amount of value to the Qtum ecosystem.

    Qtum

    We are happy that Qtum has been co-developing with Bodhi three tools to help power the Qtum ecosystem.

    • Qx: Decentralized Transaction Protocol
    • QDex: Decentralized Token Exchange
    • Qrypto: Browser Wallet Management Plugin (like Metamask) — released August 10th

    Over the next year, we hope that more teams and independent developers build out the ecosystem by adding protocols and features that everyone can utilize.

    Documentation

    We have heard your concerns that building on Qtum is more difficult than it should be, which is why we have committed ourselves to provide better documentation for everyone.

    Introduction · Qtum Documentation

    Research Updates

    Qtum has been supporting external research, in addition to our in-house efforts, which enables and enhances blockchain technology because it is our ethos to help give this technology to the world.

    We are funding research at Tallinn University of Technology, the University of California — Berkeley, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xidian University, and the University of Sheffield.

    At Tallinn University of Technology, we have funded three doctoral candidates, and two of them have had their doctoral symposium accepted by IEEE September 2018. The research topics are A Legally Social-Technical Language Development for Smart Contract and A Self-Aware Contract For Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Commerce. The Papers are to be published IEEE Xplore as part of the SASO proceedings and will be available in the IEEE Digital Library.

    At UC Berkeley through our collaboration with Chronicled, we have funded research that aims to develop post-quantum applied cryptography, zkSNARK-based privacy-preserving smart contracts, and zero-knowledge proofs for large computations.

    The Qtum Foundation launched a blockchain research laboratory with Xi’an Jiaotong University and Ink Labs earlier this year. The laboratory has a smart contract, blockchain architecture, cross-chain, and blockchain application research teams who share the goal of bringing the technology to the real world.

    At Xidian University, Qtum launched a blockchain course in March that has eight chapters focusing on the technology, lasting two months with over 400 students from Xidian participating.

    Through the Trusted Iot Alliance, we have established a grant program that has awarded researchers from the University of Sheffield to study a pan-European electrical power project focused on blockchain implementations. A total of $60,000 was award to the University of Sheffield with an additional $140,000 remaining if you would like to apply for some funds.

    Community Updates

    Over the past year, our community has grown tremendously, and we can’t thank you enough for the support. We went from 0 to 1,000,000 real quick, and we are continuously growing.

    Qtum address growth over time

    We believe it is vital to have a healthy community to complement the foundation to ensure the long-term strength of the Qtum ecosystem. The main focus is a restructuring of our offline activities like meetups and conferences. From our experience, these events have provided us with invaluable opportunities to engage with users, although, they aren’t very scalable. We firmly believe in involving the team in community activities. Therefore, we are aiming to arrange meetups hosted by members of the team throughout the fall and continuing on. Members of the team will present topics ranging from the most basic blockchain architecture to more technically challenging Qtum specific functionalities.

    In addition to meetups hosted by the team, we further aim to incentivize users of the community to spread the word about Qtum, increasing our general awareness, and encouraging new users of the ecosystem to participate in community activities.

    Additionally, we would like to address how the marketing landscape of the industry has changed dramatically since we launched Qtum. Where there once was a few projects competing for attention, the ICO boom bootstrapped hundreds of teams with millions of dollars that have flooded consumers with an overload of information. These changes have made us rethink our strategy.

    Our new marketing strategy has a broader scope outside of Asia and moves away from our over-technical copy, so we can introduce our technology to developers and newer enthusiasts by inviting them into an information funnel where they can progressively learn. That is why we are working on several new initiatives to expand the Qtum community further.

    Community Ambassadors Program

    The community ambassadors program is still a work in progress, but we would like to introduce it to you early, and we intend to provide more in-depth details at a later date. Community ambassadors will operate at arm’s length from the Foundation and are democratically controlled by the community. Our goal is to elect regional ambassadors, who desire to propose ways of starting grass-root Qtum communities. The Foundation will fund these efforts with specific criteria of how the funding should be spent.

    Initially, the ambassador program is constrained to a few larger cities, and we will set up clear directives the ambassadors have to follow. The reasoning behind this is to simplify the process of governing the ambassadors, making sure they act in the community’s best interest. We envision the program expanding to more large cities if a positive impact is seen in the communities involved in the program.

    Workshops, Conferences, & Meetups

    Over the past year, Qtum has held workshops at the Singapore University of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Technology and Copenhagen Business School. These efforts have helped hundreds of developers learn more about blockchain technology, and it gave them the chance to build on their unique skill sets.

    In addition to these workshops, Qtum has taken part in conferences and meetups in over ten countries on four continents. It has been amazing to see how people from all over the world can unite over the ideology of blockchain and gives us hope that the future is decentralized.

    Qtum 2018 Global Hackathon

    The Qtum Global Hackathon, which launched on July 12th and is on-going until September 16th, is our first global virtual hackathon. So far, the hackathon has attracted over 1000 registrants from 70 countries to learn, use, and innovate with QTUM technology.

    Qtum Hackathon

    Once this hackathon wraps up later this month, we will reflect on how to make future hackathons better for everyone. We plan to have another global hackathon as the development of the x86 virtual machine nears completion.

    Our Roadmap Looking Forward

    Qtum’s new roadmap

    X86 Virtual Machine

    We are continually working on the x86 virtual machine. The virtual machine improves the smart contract ecosystem by making smart contracts not only easier to write but also easier to make secure and audit. The most prominent feature, which affects all smart contract developers, is that it supports many mainstream programming languages. Our goals for this include C/C++, Rust, Haskell, Go, and potentially Python or MicroPython.

    Our technical progress thus far has resulted in a somewhat useable but very basic prototype that compiles from source code. Our short-term goals right now are completing the internal refactoring necessary so that the x86 VM can work in ways the EVM does not, for both functionality and performance reasons. Our development roadmap before the public testnet includes allowing x86 contracts to call other contracts, send and receive Qtum tokens, have a complete blockchain interface exposed to smart contracts, and finally to complete the C smart contract API including an improved contract ABI based on Google’s protocol buffers.

    In the longer term, we are also implementing a new database called DeltaDB which functions on “differences” rather than a single revolving state like Ethereum. This goes more in line with our UTXO model and should enable major improvements to how SPV light wallets can communicate and talk with smart contracts, as well as how fast the blockchain can be synchronized.

    We are going to launch a feature with DeltaDB called “Censorship Resistant SPV Proofs” which should make smart contract interactions with light wallets more secure by enabling the light wallets to detect if they are communicating with a malicious node. We will be releasing a prototype release of x86 enabled Qtum without a public testnet sometime before the first public testnet; it operates in “regtest” mode where every person runs their private blockchain for testing.

    X86 Timeline

    Q2–2019

    We will release the first public testnet with x86 smart contracts. It includes the “minimum viable product” set of features and should be complete enough to make several, realistic smart contracts. Smart contract code can be written in C or Rust. Most of the consensus-critical portions of DeltaDB will be complete so that the public testnet should have complete consensus state tracking. Support for EVM smart contracts in this testnet may be wholly isolated from x86 smart contracts or even disabled.

    • First public testnet with “minimum viable product” set of features in x86 smart contracts
    • Contracts can be made in C, C++, and potentially Rust
    • Complete consensus portions of DeltaDB contract storage

    Q3–2019

    The second public test network includes features for x86 and EVM contract interactions. This means that x86 contracts can talk to EVM contracts and vice versa. These interactions may be limited in functionality at this stage. The Trusted-Library set of features will be included. This will be used to enable a permissioned and secure set of APIs to be used by smart contract library authors. It allows for precompiled smart contracts to be added to the Qtum blockchain without forks. There could be some breaking changes to the smart contract APIs, but at this point, it is expected to be relatively stable and that developers can begin developing smart contracts to later deploy on the Qtum main network.

    • Second public testnet with x86 and EVM smart contract interactions
    • Add “Trusted-Library” contract system to x86 for precompiled contracts
    • Developers can begin building apps with a relatively stable set of APIs

    Q4–2019

    By Q4, the x86 VM will be integrated into the Qtum main network, enabling developed decentralized apps to go live and use a secure and immutable network. The first set of Trusted-Library APIs will be published to the Qtum blockchain at the time of the hardfork so that they will be available for developers to use in their smart contracts. At this point, we expect to have full support for C and Rust, with at least some alpha or beta support for Go and other languages.

    • Mainnet integration of x86 VM
    • First set of x86 Trusted-Library contracts published on mainnet

    Q4–2019 EVM

    By Q4, in conjunction with the hardfork to enable the x86 virtual machine, we will update Qtum’s EVM to the latest stable version used by ethereum and add several new op-codes and EIPs.

    • Scheduled at the same time of x86 Hardfork.
    • The latest version of the Ethereum Virtual Machine will be supported.

    Lightning Networks

    Q2–2019

    By the end of the second quarter of 2019, we plan to have a public testnet of the Qtum lightning network in place. So far, our testing has been very promising, and we are closely watching other networks test out the functionality of these layer-two solutions to determine their safety before we implement them.

    We believe that by this time, a fair amount of progress will have been made where we would feel comfortable introducing Qtum Lightning to the world!

    • Public Testnet
    • Mainnet integration after a few months, pending security testing

    QtumX

    Qtum X, the enterprise version of Qtum, which uses a Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus algorithm. Compared with other similar products, it has vast improvements in terms of stability, and could widely increase exchange efficiency and guarantee the safety of the network at the same time. The change makes QtumX more user-friendly for enterprise users and allows developers to leverage smart contracts in daily enterprise management, transactions, and other operational activities.

    Q2–2018

    We will release the first public testnet for QtumX based on a consortium blockchain which is built from the Qtum framework. The PoA consensus algorithm runs on QtumX instead of PoS. The consensus process is executed by a small group of nodes which are authorized in the PoA. Transactions will work, but they will be written only by authorized nodes in testnet. Meanwhile, the right to read and create transactions is still public. DGP generated from Qtum will be used to support for authorities storage and update. The most parameters are configurable in the testnet mode so that the system can be easily applied to various usage scenarios. We will supply a Demo Web UI for users to create custom blockchains with the customizable settings.

    • First public test network based on a consortium blockchain with PoA consensus algorithm
    • Transactions are still working, the consensus process is executed by authorized nodes, the right to read and create transactions is still public.
    • Complete Demo Web UI for creating custom blockchains with customizable settings.

    Q1–2019

    The release version of QtumX will be published which includes all features for a test network. The features have been strictly tested, and we make sure they are suitable for QtumX consortium blockchain. QtumX is working on partnerships with many large companies. These companies can join the QtumX ecosystem as supernodes to execute the consensus process together, meaning they get the right to input transactions and sign blocks. We intend to supply a completed Web UI for creating custom blockchains. Users can launch a custom blockchain with customizable parameters just by submitting a label of parameters and clicking a button.

    • The release version of QtumX with all features for testnet which are strictly tested
    • QtumX working on partnerships with large companies
    • Complete Web UI for creating custom blockchains
    Clap it up for the Qtum team!

    Qtum’s One-Year Anniversary — Looking Back and Ahead was originally published in Qtum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

    Original article was created by: Qtum at blog.qtum.org

    Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency or ICO.

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