Introducing TIBC: The Terse Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol

Oct 22 · 6 min read

TIBC is the Terse Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol designed and built by Bianjie on the conceptual basis of the IBC protocol. TIBC reduced the complexity of cross-chain connections between homogeneous networks and heterogeneous networks to facilitate the extension of cross-chain abilities, and to support cross-chain NFT, cross-chain smart contracts, and cross-chain services.

TIBC Design

Is TIBC yet another new cross-chain protocol?

- The answer is YES.. and NO!

In fact, TIBC is a new type of cross-chain protocol that is able to support the cross-chain transfer of NFT and many other exciting new features. However, the idea of TIBC is not about “reinventing the wheel”, but making full use of the existing design and implementation of IBC, and customizing it against different application scenarios. To make a long story short, the design of TIBC is made of TWO parts — “Simplification” and “Enhancement”.

TIBC design

Simplification: Simplify the Implementation of Protocol and Lower Barriers for Plugging In

From the perspective of the Pareto principle (80/20 rule), the design of IBC took full consideration of the “20%” situation, and made generalized abstraction and definition to the decentralized ledger system, together with a complete design of the network communication connection, channel, port, application, etc. in order to support interconnection between heterogenous blockchains.

However, on the other hand, we’ve also optimized use cases in the most common application scenarios such as the cross-chain calling of smart contracts to facilitate fast connection to a network. Based on such a concept, we’ve made various simplifications regarding network connection, channel, topology, and other aspects to reduce the costs of plugging in.

Simplification - Handshake

The IBC protocol created the concept of “connection” and corresponding modules with reference to the design philosophy of TCP/IP, executing 3-way handshakes while establishing a connection between two blockchain networks, and automatically confirming that the two counterpart chains are able to send & receive cross-chain messages normally, that is, the handshake process allows the blockchain to automatically determine whether the counterpart chain is equipped with cross-chain capability.

But in the end, connections are initiated by human operators. Therefore, TIBC modified this handshake process and instead adopt the method of on-chain governance in order to simplify the process of establishing cross-chain connections, so that the complexity of protocol implementation can be reduced without compromising on cross-chain security.

Simplification - Channel

The IBC protocol created the concept of “channel” and corresponding modules to implement ordering of cross-chain messages.

Ordering of cross-chain messages is not required in most cases, for the source chain can guarantee the validity of sent messages. Meanwhile, multiple channels generate more than one mappings for a single type of proof. So TIBC reduced the design to one channel within a single blockchain network, so as to reduce the complexity of implementation and meet the requirements of most application scenarios.

Simplification - Topology

Similar to the Internet, TIBC has no restrictions on the topology of connections between networks, and theoretically supports multi-hop of messages. Such flexible design has brought challenges to the engineering implementation of the management of cross-chain paths and identifications of cross-chain proofs.

Typology of cross-chain connections based on IBC protocol

TIBC simplified the design of network topology, and set a two-hop limit with a single cross-chain connection through strict connection management and strengthened cross-chain hub capacity, reducing the complexity of connection and message forwarding.

Enhancement: Supports cross-chain NFT, cross-chain smart contract…

TIBC has simplified implementation, but strengthened function.

Enhancement - Coding

The IBC protocol uses Protocol Buffer coding standard, which prevents direct compatibility with smart contract languages like Solidity. Therefore, cross-chain connections bridging underlying chains, such as Ethereum and BSC, will require some extra work.

TIBC adopts a more generalized and Solidity-compatible coding standard, which ensures the uniformity of the coding of cross-chain packets and eliminates the need of coding and decoding through introducing off-chain middleware, making on-chain verification and unpacking more reliable.

Enhancement - Cross-chain Applications

Through designs and implementations as specifying network topology, restricting connection paths & channels, and modifying common coding methods, TIBC made cross-chain calling based on smart contracts easier. Besides, TIBC also supports interactions of cross-chain NFT, cross-chain services, and other applications, as well as more generalized cross-chain interactions based on smart contracts.

TIBC Applications

TIBC module implemented as prescribed in TIBC protocol can be quickly adapted to different underlying blockchain systems to equip them with cross-chain communication capacities.

Blockchain networks empowered by TIBC will be able to implement applications of the Internet of Value, such as cross-border trade of global artwork NFTs.

A concrete example is digital artwork. Without the support of cross-chain technology, artists may have to digitize and publish their works on multiple chains that cannot be interconnected in a worldwide range, which requires considerable gas fees and is obscure in copyright and also hard to trace. But with TIBC, we can ensure compliance with local regulatory requirements when publishing and registering artworks on a specific chain. Besides, TIBC can also support the trustworthy and efficient circulation of artworks according to the real needs in global trade. What’s more, BSN OPB WenChang Chain, after completing the upgrade in October, will be able to support the global export trade of Chinese cultural artworks.

BSN OPB WenChang Chain supports IP.PUB, the Digital Artwork Registration Platform that will serve as part of the Chinese National Culture Digital Library initiative, in the registration and authorization of physical artworks collected by the historic and world-renowned Chinese national culture brand, and also supports the trustworthy cross-chain circulation of NFTs that integrated with the delivery voucher information of artworks between heterogeneous blockchains whenever needed, laying a sound base for the globalization of Chinese cultural artworks.

The TIBC module can be quickly deployed on BSN OPB WenChang Chain, BSN Interchain Communications Hub (ICH), IRIS Hub, Ethereum, and other supported blockchain networks, so as to support the cross-chain trade and circulation of the cultural artworks.

Powered by BSN ICH, the artwork NFTs can be transferred from BSN OPB WenChang Chain to Cosmos/IRIS Hub and other networks as delivery vouchers using BSN IRITA Hub. Furthermore, NFTs integrated with delivery rights can also be cross-chain transferred to other blockchain networks like Ethereum, and interact with NFT applications like OpenSea to support trustworthy sales conducted by overseas distributors.

BSN China and BSN Global have adopted multi-level cross-chain hubs as IRITA HUB, Cosmos, and IRISnet to realize the interconnection between multiple chains. For consortium chains, the IRITA Hub allows for the management of permissions and ensures that only compliant messages with real trade backgrounds can be transferred across borders. While global distributors can adopt compliant local networks to facilitate trustworthy global trade in a more inclusive way.

Schedule of Update

The TIBC module will be first integrated on the BSN WenChang Chain by the end of October and then integrated on IRIS Hub at the beginning of November. Bug Bounty is also planned before the IRISnet mainnet upgrade. Please stay tuned!

Extended Readings and Specs

To learn more about TIBC, check out the following specifications:

TIBC is an open-source protocol that supports cross-chain interactions of business applications (NFT, cross-chain services, smart contracts, etc.) between heterogeneous chains (consortium chains, Open Permissioned Blockchains and public chains).

Welcome to contact us and contribute to the construction of the global Internet of Value!

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Bianjie focuses on developing innovative products and solutions using advanced Blockchain technologies.

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