What’s ahead for Chainapsis & Keplr in 2021
A little backstory
It’s been a little over 6 months since Chainapsis got started. And to be completely honest, we didn’t have any roadmap or vision back then. It was chaotic, you could say. We were just trying to create a compelling product without massive amounts of resources available. There were so many more practical things I could have been doing rather than sit back and dream of what felt like a yet-intangible future.
That being said, Chainapsis and Keplr today is no longer what it was seven months ago. I’ll let the numbers speak. We had 130 Keplr downloads when we started Chainapsis. Now we have over 8,700.
Keplr total installs on June 9, 2020 (When the blogpost above was published)
Keplr total installs on Jan 16, 2021
We know all too well that this was only possible thanks to the developers & validators that provided help when needed, the users that went above and beyond by creating tutorials and providing community support, and the many entities that directly/indirectly helped support us financially.
In the past seven months, we have shipped:
- Interchain Accounts for Cosmos SDK
- Implemented support for CosmWasm
- CosmJS signing
- Secret contracts support
- Ledger Hardware wallet support
- Permissionless integration of new Cosmos chains
- and many more features that you may or may not have noticed
Time didn’t just fly, it strapped itself on a cosmic rocket and just took off to outer space.
Being seven months in, I realized it’s time for some introspection. The question shifted from ‘what are we building?’to ‘why are we building?’.
After taking some time to think about this question, the conclusion I eventually arrived at was that Chainapsis is a company that’s meant to connect blockchains and humans.
People often have this misconception that a wallet’s primary ‘customer’ is the end-user, and to some degree, this is correct. However, I think the approach that we take to reach our ‘users’ may feel a bit different than usual. This could be true for a more mature ecosystem like Ethereum, I believe that at this stage of the ecosystem, Keplr’s primary purpose is to enable and empower blockchain application developers to autonomously reach out to the users.
I found it deeply ironic that people building permissionless applications were bottlenecked by wallets that have to permit what features they will support what features they don’t. Keplr simply provides a tool that enables developers to maximize their potential and reach users, and our success closely aligns with the success of these applications.
There’s a chicken-and-egg problem that exists in the blockchain space where builders aren’t building because there aren’t users that use it, and users aren’t using because there aren’t enough interesting applications being built. The interesting part here is that overall there definitely are enough builders and users out there, it’s just that the infrastructure to connect the two in a meaningful way didn’t exist in Cosmos. And this is the mission we’re setting ourselves to accomplish moving forward.
Now, that’s a pretty lofty and vague goal. So let me break that down a little more in the context of where Cosmos is at today.
I believe that we’ll see more features and tools released in 2021 than all of the new features that have been introduced since the launch of the Hub in 2019. These tools will only find meaning when users can access them. Concretely, this means that we need to make the features developers will be building with (hint IBC) accessible to users, while without sacrificing the customizability and flexibility that made Keplr so successful.
Supporting the Launch of the Internet of Blockchains
To say that IBC will be the most groundbreaking feature to be released this year will be an understatement. I honestly think the success of the entire Cosmos ecosystem may depend on it. Composability was the biggest missing piece for the Cosmos ecosystem, and IBC is the first step at addressing it.
Therefore, a significant part of our Q1 efforts will be spent on making sure IBC works and works well on Keplr. The impact of IBC support for Keplr is especially amplified due to the ability to permisionlessly add new Cosmos chains. This enables more experimentation to happen in the early stages of IBC launch where developers and users go through many iterations of trial and error to explore what works and what doesn’t.
Embeddable Front-end Wallet Modal
While the current interactions between a web front-end and Keplr provide a ‘good enough’ solution to get most things done, by no means is it elegant. We’ll be shipping a proof-of-concept level embeddable wallet model for front-end developers which should allow access to multiple key management solutions and a much-simplified manner. Think a cross between Web3 Modal and a ‘wallet as a service’ model.
We’ve quickly realized that there are limitations to building a key management system out of browser extensions, and many of the key features should be abstracted away from the extension and into the web front-end.
Don’t worry though, this won’t be a breaking change with Keplr–as you’ll still be able to sign transactions using Keplr. You’ll just have more options!
Refactoring the Keplr Architecture
Chainapsis has existed as a two-person team for the majority of its existence. And while this allowed us to move quickly so far, the success of Keplr has outgrown us (don’t worry though, the team is quickly expanding!). As we’ve added features at lightning speed, we’ve realized that there may be architectural decisions that should be revisited to allow us to iterate faster and maintain it better.
This means we’ll be somewhat ‘slowing down’ in terms of adding a ton of experimental features to Keplr until we’ve completed the code refactoring process. We believe Cosmos is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking some time to ensure that the foundation of what we’re building is solid will allow us to build more sustainably and introduce new features without increasing technical debt.
Part of the reason why we’re refactoring much of the Keplr code also has to do with our plans to eventually launch an application-specific mobile wallet. While I could go into the details, I don’t want to bore you.
Keplr Mobile was something we’ve heard a lot of requests coming from the community, and worry not–we hear you. It was mostly out of the fact that there were a lot more time-sensitive priorities (hello Stargate!) and we were short on resources available. However, now with a bigger team, I believe we can finally begin tackling this massive task.
I can’t say too much about what its features are or how it’ll look like, but I can say this: Keplr Mobile will be built with the same philosophy as Keplr browser extension. This means enabling permissionless innovation, emphasis on application-specific transactions, and packed with powerful features.
To be completely honest, this one’s still a bit up in the air. MetaMask offers all of the required features for EVM-based interactions, so duplicating some of these efforts can feel redundant. We love being efficient, and not duplicating efforts on features that are available allows us to spend resources elsewhere.
Now, that being said, I do think Ethermint/Peggy will be a crucial component of the Cosmos ecosystem in 2021. I do think an extremely well-integrated user experience between Ethereum and Cosmos is a huge part of whether interoperability between the two blockchains turns out to be a success, and users having to manage two browser extensions is less-than-ideal UX. If the state of Cosmos appears that it’ll benefit from having Web3.js functionality within Keplr, it’ll be very likely that you’ll be able to manage your Ethereum, Ethermint, and Cosmos Peggy-ed assets all within Keplr.
We’re open to hearing feedback from the community on this, so please feel free to reach out to us.
Exciting things ahead for 2021!
There are so many things that I could have added, but I wanted to emphasize some of the big ‘themes’ we have in mind for 2021. I’ve intentionally refrained from making too concrete of a roadmap for Q3, Q4 as I believe that there are so many unknowns out there that it’d be better for us to be ready to react than predict the future.
Keplr was a project largely started out of passion, and I’m extremely proud that it has even come this far. I’ve always had the mindset that Keplr’s utility will always be in the post-IBC Cosmos. Seeing how much traction we’ve received in the pre-IBC world, I can’t imagine the growth of the ecosystem (and by extension, us) will see once IBC is out. Beyond Keplr, Chainapsis will also begin to directly contribute to enabling a vibrant Cosmos DeFi ecosystem, so be on the lookout for that as well.
I’d also like to give a big shoutout for the help that many entities across the ecosystem such as the Secret Network community, Stake.fish’s Grant.fish initiative(and the delegators), and the Interchain Foundation has provided in allowing us to do what we love–and also find other people to do what we (and hopefully they also 🙃) love.
Let’s connect in 2021. Blockchains, and as humans ⛓