Development Update — 11th May, 2018
Hello Rocket Poolers! This update comes to you hot on the heels of Edcon where there was much talk about Casper’s Proof of Stake, Pools and a surprise talk by Vitalik on how to be a validator for Casper. Of course Rocket Pool was attending and made an abundance of new potential relationships which we hope to leverage in the future; more info on that to come.
In this update we’ll cover a brief roundup on Edcon, our progress on working towards our beta release of Rocket Pool, the planned rollout of the beta + its structure, direct Casper integration, new potential integration of insured deposits and our position on staying open and community oriented.
Rocket Pool — Wait, what, who?
If you’re not familiar with Rocket Pool, here’s a quick run down before we get into the meat and potatoes of the latest development updates.
Rocket Pool is a next generation pool designed to work with Casper, the new consensus protocol that Ethereum will transition to in 2018. It was the first working implementation of a Proof of Stake pool and features several first to market features; such as load balancing across multiple cloud hosting providers using smart contracts, minipools, widow addresses and deposit tokens. Rocket Pool isn’t just a whitepaper, it’s actual code.
At the very essence of it, Rocket Pool will work to allow your everyday user and business the ability to earn interest on their ether holdings over a fixed term, whether that be for just a few months or even up to a year. Be sure to read the Rocket Pool 101 — FAQ for more information.
Finishing just several days ago after 3 days of talks and presentations, the Community Ethereum Development Conference in Toronto, Canada was a huge success. Being an Australian based project, Toronto is just about as close as you can get to being on the opposite side of the world, but it wasn’t going to be missed.
Several of us here at Rocket Pool made the trip and enjoyed the hospitality of a great city and immersed ourselves in Edcon where we met new and old friends, saw promising new project demos, talked collaboration with several projects, focused on several Casper FFG + CBC talks and were lucky enough to be present at a surprise talk by Vitalik on how to be a validator for Casper.
An overall standout was the increased attention to potential staking pools such as Rocket Pool. With Casper FFG currently undergoing auditing, the focus has shifted to the very real benefits and potential issues with staking pools as mentioned in Vitalik’s talk on how to become a validator. He mentioned several times that he also believes users will be spread out evenly in staking pools due to the inherit risk that if one has major issues, the size of that pool and the amount of validators it controls will multiply its losses and that users can avoid this risk by only joining pools that aren’t dominant. An interesting take, that’s for sure, will staking pools reach some kind of size equilibrium? Only time will tell.
Kudos to the organisers for a well orchestrated event with lots of presents and only a few tiny hiccups here and there.
Beta User Interface
Rocket Pool is designed to be used by everyday users wishing to stake their ether and also 3rd Party businesses who want to provide staking services for their clients without any of the hassle of setting up a staking network.
For your everyday users, we’ll be providing a sleek, minimal and easy to use interface which is currently undergoing heavy work while we reach for our next milestone, the beta release of Rocket Pool. A video that shows the current UI feel and features is available and it’s still very much a work in progress.
This month though we’ve seen not only a few new screens implemented in code such as Account Selection, Deposits and Withdrawals, we’ve also begun implementing direct contract integration which includes using those pages to interact with Rocket Pools smart contracts on a local Ethereum blockchain.
Rocket Pool is currently towards a V1 beta release due in the next few months. This will be an initial release with a second V2 beta to follow some time after. More information on the various beta sections being worked on below.
Beta Validator Daemon
Single users that have a full online node and the 1,500 Ether requirement for staking with Casper, will easily be able to run a node client such as Geth or Parity when they implement their Validator service into their respective client and begin staking with Casper.
Rocket Pool though is developing it’s own Validator service that will run as part of our Smart Node daemon service that is required to run on all nodes in the Rocket Pool network. This is a custom service for pools that will allow single nodes to have multiple validators (Minipools) attached at once. It is currently being actively developed with all the Casper methods being implemented with the aim of proper testing in the upcoming beta of Rocket Pool.
Beta Casper Integration
Casper FFG is currently deployed to an Ethereum testnet and was done so around the beginning of the year. Currently this version of Casper has been difficult to connect to due to P2P networking issues with the Pythereum client released by the Ethereum Foundation and it is also quite outdated now due to a lot of changes to the Casper contract since then, particularly in the last two months.
To ensure Rocket Pool works with Casper correctly, we are currently developing direct integration of the latest copy of the Casper FFG contract into our unit tests and replacing our existing DummyCasper contract that only simulated inputs/outputs of Casper. This is an exciting change as it means we can now test Rocket Pool instantly with any version of Casper, long before it hits any public testnet to ensure it’s integrated correctly in our system. This is currently in progress and going well. So well in fact it actually allowed us to discover a bug in Casper that remained undetected until then and would have caused Casper to stall when deployed to any network that has been running for a while, such as mainnet. Hooray for unit testing!
Beta Rollout Plans
Currently we are working towards a V1 beta release of Rocket Pool due in the next few months. This will be an initial release with a second V2 beta to follow some time after.
V1 beta will most likely be limited to around 10 Minipools across 3 nodes. The Casper that is deployed with the beta will be an exact copy of the most up to date Casper contract, but have its parameters shortened to allow much quicker testing. It will be configured with the max ether required by Casper at just approximately 10 ether with the withdrawal time being 1 day instead of 4 months. This way we can allow a constant rotation of public testers while verifying the Minipool life cycle works as expected with Casper and that our smart nodes can handle staking for multiple Minipools (validators) at once correctly. The allowed staking times will also be shortened to accommodate this, with the staking times shortened to several available time lengths - 1 days, 3 days and 5 days respectively.
The Rocket Pool network will be deployed to either the Kovan or Rinkeby testnets, decision still pending.
Insured Rocket Pool Deposits
An exciting avenue which we are also currently exploring with several parties should tackle one of the most common concerns with staking, losing your deposit due to hacking of a node which is then forced to misbehave with Casper causing slashing of the deposit or a massive black swan event in a major cloud hosting provider.
The peace of mind on being protected in a situation like this is one of the last major hurdles for staking pools to overcome, so we are currently talking to several parties in the space that might enable us to automatically offer this service to users who wish to use it when depositing ether at Rocket Pool. Currently this is only in the exploratory phase and there are several hurdles that may need to be overcome, but we are optimistic and would like to see this option appear down the road for our users. Stay tuned for more information.
Our Direction — Open and Community Oriented
Rocket Pool was the first ever announced staking pool, going way back to late May 2017 when its alpha was released to the public. Since then we’ve tried hard to remain as open as possible and encourage a real sense of community in our discussions with the community and directly with our supporters in our Discord chat room.
People’s thoughts on pools can often be quite polarising, some love em, some hate them and some just plain don’t trust them. That last one is often a sticking point for a lot of users, often due to some nefarious behavior of pools to date, politics in the environment or the issue that they remained closed off.
Rocket Pool would like to use the dawn of staking pools to instill a new approach for pools, open communication with its users and a close alignment to the community in which we operate. We’ve had our smart contract code public since day 1, have pioneered upgradable solidity design patterns for everyone to use, have done the only token crowdsale where users actually got a refund if we went over our goal and spent countless hours educating users on Casper and Ethereum + a lot more.
We don’t want to stop there though, so we will do our best to remain dedicated to the community and users who have helped support us and get us to where we are today.
RPL Token Exchanges
Currently RPL is listed on several decentralised exchanges and work is underway to get it listed on several other exchanges. More updates on these in the future.
Current exchanges that support RPL are:
Drop by for a chat!
We’re a friendly bunch and love talking about not only Rocket Pool, but all crypto related subjects, so swing by for a chat and say Gday! We have a Discord chat room anyone can join, so what are you waiting for?
If chat rooms aren’t your thing, we’re also on Twitter!
If you’re new to Rocket Pool or have any questions, we invite you to please check out our website and contact us there, on Twitter or join our Discord chat room group to get all news and updates before they are posted anywhere else.