Everything You Need To Know About Lisk’s New Development Roadmap

Hello Liskers,

Access the Power of Blockchain. For Lisk, these words were always more than a slogan. Since the very beginning, it was our mission to close the gap between future users and the disruptive technology of blockchain. Through an ever-evolving Lisk Foundation and partners like Lightcurve, we’ve begun to spread our promise of bringing accessibility to the world of blockchain through Lisk’s own network, user interfaces, and education. The question has always remained on our community’s minds, however — what about achieving the ultimate goal of blockchain accessibility? How will we get to the final product of a fully functioning Sidechain Development Kit (SDK), as well as the interoperable, trustless and open-source platform for building blockchain applications?

Past attempts at formulating a clear roadmap taking us to the future Lisk ecosystem failed to encapsulate the complexity of building something so cutting-edge and future-proof. Accidents in the industry showed us what can happen when networks are designed carelessly. It became clear that the roadmap needs to be based on in-depth scientific research, combined with tested workflows and hiring strategies. We have also realized that the most successful and robust of blockchain networks will be built in a truly decentralized and open-source way — opening up each step of the journey to community’s feedback and contribution. Today, we are extremely pleased to announce the final result of this mature approach to blockchain platform building, with the release of our comprehensive Lisk Development Roadmap and the announcement of the Lisk Improvement Proposal process, detailed in a separate blog post.

Roadmap Phases

The Design of Lisk’s Roadmap

We are focusing on providing the whole package of a functioning ecosystem, combining progressive and innovative protocol change with tried and tested open source initiatives. The envisioned Lisk blockchain application platform is being designed to make development easy and accessible to the widest body of developers. Our flexible, resilient and modular architecture will be one of the key traits developers will find most appealing when compared to our competition. The TypeScript migration and design patterns will streamline building and supporting blockchain applications. Prioritizing the SDK over sidechains means that we can start fostering the blockchain application ecosystem whilst implementing sidechain interoperability.
 


 


The structure of the roadmap reflects a more agile approach to our development workflow. This allows us to reach the final product as fast as possible, while also taking into consideration any external challenges or LIP iterations that we may face along the way. Additionally, this roadmap has been constructed with the objective of providing the most attractive blockchain application platform for developers to build on. We are creating the optimal recipe for an SDK that is based on a solid foundation of clean architecture and design principles, upon which Lisk applications are best positioned to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Before we deep-dive into the specifics of the roadmap, let’s clarify some of the terminology used in the process.

LIPs terminology

Roadmap Phases

So far we’ve completed the Inception phase of the Roadmap. This included reaching important objectives such as a new API and P2P module included in the release of Lisk Core 1.0. In order to get to the end goal in the most efficient and streamlined way, we have divided the remaining part of the roadmap into eight distinct phases. Each phase displays key milestones within Lisk’s development, generally focused on particular objectives and the corresponding LIPs.

Quality & Performance

This phase will improve API and vote verification performance. It will boost developer experience by allowing multiple networks per build and moving Lisk Build to Lisk Core. It will also refine the configuration migration system for future releases and developer tooling by adding New Relic based node benchmarking. Lastly, we will expand upon the overall developer experience by migrating Lisk Elements to TypeScript (described further below), creating a mono-repo structure in Lisk Elements and moving Lisk Build to Lisk Core. This stage is already underway with multiple objectives already accomplished and LIP debate opened.

Architecture & Design

Blockchains by nature are rigid and immutable, This makes it more difficult to bring about change to an existing protocol and implementation. Therefore, it is very important that “technical debt” is minimized while the application platform is in the current stage. This phase implements a new modular and resilient architecture for Lisk Core, bringing multi-process support and elegant handling of protocol change. After this phase, Lisk Core will be architecturally stable enabling developers to use the Alpha SDK. This means that the architecture used to create new applications will be finalized, allowing developers to start development of proof-of-concept applications that will align with the future SDK. The ability to conduct rapid application development via our SDK will only have preliminary support at this stage.

Security & Reliability

This phase brings a guarantee that blocks are finalized after 150 confirmations. We will also focus on mitigating transaction replays on different chains, and adding a robust peer selection and banning mechanism to the P2P module. Lisk Elements will add the ‘fee estimation’ component that will be used as part of the dynamic fee system.

Network Economics

Here, we will focus on integrating dynamic fees in Lisk Core in order to increase activity within the network in preparation for the future ecosystem. We will also add the ‘chain’ component to Lisk Elements.

Network Longevity

The Network Longevity phase will ensure the network continues to support the Lisk blockchain application platform beyond the final stages shown on the roadmap.

To achieve this, we will replace the address and block/transaction ID systems to secure immutability of the blockchain. We will also implement the ability for the Lisk Network to handle change elegantly in preparation for the more significant changes to the network.

Delegated-Proof-of-Stake

As the name implies, this phase will bring improvements to our consensus mechanism, as well as add the application bootstrap component to Lisk Elements. Upon its completion, developers will have access to our Beta SDK. Our proposed custom token system, ICO mechanism, and sidechain interoperability solution will not be supported at this stage.

ICOs & Custom Tokens

By the beginning of this phase, a variety of important objectives will have been completed. These include the provision of improved blockchain security, dynamic fees, a new ID system, an evolved DPoS, the complete migration of Core and Elements to TypeScript, and the ability to conduct rapid application development via our SDK. During this phase we will add functionality to conduct ICOs on the Lisk mainchain, a sidechain element to Lisk Elements, which on completion delivers our Release Candidate SDK. Developers will be able to build their proof-of-concept blockchain applications with the full support of Lisk Elements and Lisk Commander. They will also be able to fully bootstrap and develop new applications using our SDK, which will include registering & transferring custom tokens and conducting ICOs for applications on the Lisk mainchain. Our proposed sidechain interoperability solution will not yet be supported at this stage.

Blockchain Application Platform

Marking the final stage of our development roadmap, this phase will add sidechain communication between Lisk Core and application chains. The Blockchain Application Platform will be delivered in full, along with the Production SDK. At this point, developers will have access to a fully functioning SDK with scalable interoperability between sidechains and the mainchain, as well as trust-less token transfers.


Major Changes Coming to the Lisk Network

So far, we’ve discussed the clear path of objectives and phases leading us to our end goal of a fully functioning blockchain application platform and the opening of the Lisk Improvement Process. What major changes are going to be implemented during the course of our Development Roadmap?

New Application Architecture

As we previously mentioned, along with the rollout of the Alpha SDK we will finalize our new application architecture. The architecture will create the elasticity for applications to be easily extended with new behaviour and scaled to utilize all available physical resources. The new design will allow applications to scale from a single thread, multiple processes, to even distributed processes, as well as enabling easy modification and extension of existing applications through the use of a plugin pattern and a supporting API. As all other objectives on the Lisk development roadmap, this process is subject to alteration and improvement during the LIP process — please refer to the Lightcurve-championed LIP and the community discussion that follows. Lastly, the initial topics of Quality & Performance, as well as Architecture & Design, are intended to minimize the amount of “technical debt” imposed on Lisk’s core application and its proposed ecosystem of blockchain applications.

For a full overview of the phases and their individual objectives, please refer to the Lisk website.

Migration to TypeScript

After the completion of the Beta SDK, we will have migrated both Lisk Core and Lisk Elements to TypeScript. Before we outline some of the main benefits of additionally implementing TypeScript, let’s have a deeper look at what exactly is this programming language. Technically, this programming language is a superset of JavaScript, meaning it can do everything that JavaScript does, plus some additional functionality. It’s an open source language which first appeared in 2012, and has been gaining popularity ever since. In 2017, it was voted third most loved language in StackOverflow’s 2017 survey and was chosen by Google to build Angular 2.0. The annual State of JavaScript surveys also show the gradual rise of both popularity and usage of this programming language among JavaScript developers. In 2018, over 45% of those surveyed have claimed that they have and would use it again, a rise from 33% just a year ago. Similarly, an additional 33% in 2018 claimed that they have heard of TypeScript and would like to learn more. TypeScript brings many additions to JavaScript, including type checking, interfaces, abstract classes, algebraic data types, code refactoring, auto-completion, async functions, and decorators.

JavaScript by itself does not enforce type checking. This means that when writing JavaScript, we do not have to consider types too much. For example, we can declare a variable, without even stating what type we intend it to be. Later on, we can switch it freely to any other type. We can also create a variable and assign it to a string, which can later be re-assigned to a number or boolean. This can be problematic, creating a level of unpredictability in terms of how an application will behave to varying types of input. If developers do not maintain a constant awareness of possible scenarios while writing code, this can lead to a type error occurring at runtime. Such failures should never occur when running mission-critical applications.

TypeScript allows Lisk to take advantage of all the benefits of JavaScript, for example, its use on both client and server, its vibrant open-source community, and popularity, in combination with the benefits of the predictability of a statically typed language. This programming language also provides a great development experience, especially within modern development environments. When coding TypeScript in such an environment, type checking will occur when the code is transpiled, for example when you save, rather than when the application is run. This constant feedback, allows developers to pick up on type errors earlier and deal with them immediately, removing any chance of a type error occurring at runtime. Lisk Elements is therefore a good candidate for TypeScript, by helping us with our mission to build an accessible and secure blockchain application platform. Having said that, we recognize that TypeScript might not be the preference of all developers, so you will also be able to develop on Lisk using regular JavaScript. TypeScript transpiles to JavaScript, meaning that when you run Lisk Elements on a server or a browser, it is JavaScript that is being compiled to machine code. During the Network Economics phase of our roadmap, and after all modules have been extracted and migrated to Lisk Elements, we will also migrate the remaining Lisk Core application to TypeScript.

Lisk Protocol

Throughout the roadmap, there is a gradual process of logic extraction and migration to Lisk Elements. In the first two phases, we are focusing on resolving the quality, performance, architecture and design aspects of Lisk, which at this point in the roadmap all affect Lisk Core. Following these phases, the roadmap is focused on bringing about the required protocol changes, based on the new application architecture.

Prioritization of Phases

Our ultimate goal is to deliver a world-leading blockchain application platform as quickly as possible. In order to do so, issues like scalability, security and architecture need to be prioritized.

We recognize the importance of both improving the DPoS, as well as introducing dynamic fees, as it will play a vital role in establishing Lisk as a healthy and active ecosystem for developers to join. That is why dynamic fees are scheduled to come directly after we address protocol and SDK objectives outlined in the roadmap. We are also implementing some improvements related to DPoS in the earlier phases of the roadmap. For example, we aim to improve block verification and finality in the Security & Reliability phase, and we intend to provide a future-proof protocol change mechanism in the Network Longevity phase. Both of the aforementioned phases set the stage for the DPoS improvements. We also recognize that how our DPoS mechanism will be changed is going to be a widely contested issue. Therefore we want to encourage a more robust debate on the subject in our LIPs mailing list and gather as much community input as possible. If we do not actively engage developers, there will be no viable Lisk ecosystem. Therefore we need to ensure developers are able to develop on our platform as soon as possible. This is also the reason why we have prioritised the SDK implementation over sidechains.

The Road to the Lisk Ecosystem

So far, we’ve outlined the structure of the roadmap phases and its priorities, as well as key changes to the network and protocol. But how are we going to get to the end goal of a blockchain application platform? Each phase represented on the roadmap is to be internally broken down into a strict release schedule, where changes are brought about to our alphanet, betanet and testnet in smaller and easy to manage releases. We have recently changed the way in which we manage the team workload — our developers are now able to migrate between projects on demand. We can shift our human resources to where we need it the most, broadening the technological knowledge and awareness within the entire team, keeping our developers constantly engaged. This results-driven approach is supported by the fact that all of the research work has been done before implementation, integration and QA. Therefore our developers have a clear direction on how something needs to be implemented in order to meet an objective. Releasing LIPs championed by Lightcurve and opening up community debate means that each objective’s research will be completed early on and support the development cycle in a streamlined manner.

How Definite Is the Roadmap?

The naming of objectives refers to the broader idea of changes to be implemented which can be changed depending on the outcome of their individual LIP process. We view our roadmap as a “living” document, one that can, and should adapt according to the changing environment in which the blockchain industry exists. The roadmap is definite in the sense of the ordering of the objectives, phases, and intent towards building a fully functioning blockchain application platform. Of course, when we achieve major objectives such as our Production SDK, sidechain interoperability and more, we will begin planning on implementing additional features to further improve and stimulate activity on the Lisk network. Each objective will have an associated thread for discussion on our official LIPs mailing list. A brief abstract and motivation for the proposed objective will be given to seed ideas for community proposals. After the unveiling of the roadmap, the LIP process is officially opened — the community is then invited to submit their own proposals on the objectives they feel strongest about. After the research has been completed for an objective, we will publish its first draft proposal — the community will then have the opportunity to contribute to finalizing the proposal.

For all outstanding questions please refer to our Roadmap FAQ or contact our community managers on Lisk Chat.

Our new roadmap, along with the introduction of the Lisk Improvement Proposal process, ushers in a new era of true open-source collaboration for the Lisk ecosystem. This community-driven approach to building the future ecosystem will put Lisk at the forefront of blockchain application platforms. Along with our dedicated community, we look forward to continue driving innovation and adoption.

The Lisk Team

Disclaimer: The statements made herein and via other means of communication in relation to the Lisk roadmap are not guarantees but express current intention and describe potential. Use of the information available in this document or otherwise related to the Lisk roadmap as well as any use of the Lisk products is subject to the terms of use of the Lisk website including the Lisk privacy policy as well as all applicable laws. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment, financial, or other advice.

Lisk

Blockchain application platform