Announcing Zap Beta Release

Yo! Today I’m super excited to announce the release of the cross-platform Zap Beta. Zap has been open sourced for as long as it has existed, but using Zap and experiencing the Lightning Network have always required a bit of technical knowledge. Today, with this release, we hope that changes (or is at least lowered significantly).

You can now download and use Zap for Mac, Windows and Linux at the click of a button here.

I’ve also put together a series of video tutorials and a FAQ page if you ever get stuck or need help.

Zap — Making the Lightning Network usable for everyone

Zap was created to bridge the gap between the technical Lightning Network protocol and the billions of potential users, but we’re not quite there yet. We try and make things as simple as we can, but it’s an ongoing process. Some things might break, some things might be confusing, some things may be misleading, and that’s ok.

We do however hope this is a step in the right direction — allowing anybody to experience the Lightning Network through an intuitive and familiar interface at the click of a button.

But, sir, this not mainnet?

No, this release is built for Bitcoin’s testnet. If you do some self-configuration, you can use Zap on mainnet, but Zap will not publish mainnet releases until the developers and greater Lightning Network community are ready.

It is the coolest feeling in the world to have people so enthusiastic and excited about what you spend your time passionately working on. I think this community’s desire to improve Bitcoin together each and every day is amazing. That said, I do not recommend mainnet usage until the protocol developers and the Lightning community as a whole encourage it.

Right now, the rapid mainnet growth is a bit worrisome. Many people don’t grasp some of the subtler costs and risks of using mainnet. Yes, you can lose your bitcoin, and that would be a shame, but the greater cost is the time and resources the main developers lose. I’ve witnessed first-hand some of the smartest developers in Bitcoin lose valuable time as they have to shift from being a protocol developer to a customer-support representative. That’s the true, expensive cost and risk of users not following the developers’ advice and roadmap. I think everyone who is testing Lightning on mainnet is doing it with the best intentions, but let’s not let external politics and the desire to prove ourselves right get in the way of sound engineering, protocol progress, and user safety.

Just my two cents.

How you can help

Understanding colors and font sizes doesn’t make a great product; understanding you, your experience, your struggles, and your successes with the product does. We would love to talk to each and every one of you about Zap and/or your experience with the Lightning Network.

You can tweet @JackMallers or @ln_zap if you’re feeling lazy, but if you really want to be heard and be helpful, you should join our slack or submit issues on Github :)

What’s next

We will continue to work towards making the Lightning Network accessible and usable for all. I suggest following @ln_zap for updates. We will constantly be shipping new versions and updates to the desktop application, have many more things in the works, and will be releasing mainnet when the time is right.

Thanks!

This is a cool milestone. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has been supportive and give a special thanks to those listed below:

  • Lightning Labs
  • Ferdous Bhai and 21Mil
  • Masen
  • The Zap community: Nobody has exchanged a satoshi to work on Zap. Every contributor, designer, and tester has devoted their time because they believe in Bitcoin and the Lightning Network and would like to see it succeed. Thank you ✊

Ok, I’m out of words. Enjoy!