Last week we were beyond delighted to announce that we released real Vaults and therefore, we’d landed the Phase 1 milestone! But what are Vaults, what’s Phase 1, and why’s this such big news?
Going back to basics, the Network is essentially made up of three key components: Clients, Vaults and Routing. The work related to this release focuses on the first two: Clients and Vaults. But we’ll come back to Routing in a moment.
The SAFE Network is made up of nodes which run Vaults. A Vault is a program that runs on a device which connects the device to the Network and manages the storage and other basic Network functions. Collectively, Vaults manage the storage of all data by managing the movement of chunks of encrypted user data that are stored across the Network. A Client, on the other hand, is a program that allows users to connect and use the Network. For this release, the Client is the SAFE Browser and the SAFE CLI.
So how does Routing fit in?
Routing is essentially the bit that connects Vaults to other Vaults. And at this stage, we’ll not be integrating Routing. Why? Put simply, focusing on Clients and Vaults sets up the foundations for the Network. We’ll add the Routing component (which we’ve been building in parallel) once this is up and running. Then you’ll be able to connect to other users (i.e. multiple Vaults) on the Network. And voila! Then you’ll be looking at the early version of a fully decentralised SAFE Network!
We tend to talk about future users of the Network in three loose categories: Consumers (people using the Network to browse, share data, etc.), Creators (developers or those publishing content) and Farmers. If we take the first two groups, Consumers and Creators, this release was for you. Farmers, sorry you’ll have to wait just a little longer… but hopefully not too long…
Hmmm, still not sure I get it?
If you’re less technical, understanding how these three components work with each other can be a little tricky to get your head around. So let’s try an analogy to help contextualise what's happening here.
Imagine these Vaults are islands. On your island, you’re fairly self-sufficient: you can build things and you can survive just fine. But you can’t connect with any other islands (Vaults) around the world.
Now, to travel from one island to another, what you really need is a boat. With transport, all of a sudden you can connect to other islands and your life is now enriched. You can communicate and you can share resources. But most importantly? You’ve now joined a growing community. Swap out ‘boats’ for ‘Routing’ and I’m pretty sure you get the idea. Add the connections and Vaults now start to become so — so — much more.
What’s included in this release?
If you download the release, what are you going to get? How about the first stages of data types, test Safecoin and a user interface in the form of a CLI (a simple command-line tool with some fundamental features)? It’s the basic framework for the full Network — with many additional features to come.
OK, I’m sold! How do I get involved?
To use the new updates, you will be able to download a Vault binary (aka file!) which will run locally on your computer. Details and links can be found on this Forum post.
So what’s next?
While this Phase 1 Vault release is primarily to showcase the Network features to Consumers and Creators, we now turn to the Farmers — in other words, introducing the Vault’s capability to farm Safecoin. So further releases will be building on these previous versions. We’ll be decentralising the Vaults, introducing PARSEC, integrating with Routing, Secure Message Delivery, Reliable Message Delivery and BLS encryption.
What to know more about what's included in this release? Head over to part II, What’s Included In Phase 1 Vaults? which gives you an overview of all the different elements.