SAFE-Fleming: Our Next Major Milestone

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

In September 2017, we released the Alpha 2 version of the SAFE Network. It marked significant progress for the project for a number of reasons. We now had a Network in which a user’s credentials couldn’t be read (or misused) by a rogue application or even the Network itself.

The creativity of the SAFE Network community was unleashed with a wave of activity as people experimented with creating new websites in minutes — and we all experienced just how fast and powerful a truly decentralised Network could be.

Since then, the team have been working on the next goal: building the technology for Alpha 3. Whilst we’ve discussed the details in different posts and forum conversations, as we approach this next major milestone that we codenamed Fleming internally (after Sir Alexander Fleming, the noted Scottish Nobel Prize winner from Ayrshire who discovered penicillin), it feels like a good time to revisit exactly what it represents.

With an upcoming series of posts on our journey to this next major milestone, we’ll not go too heavy on the technical details here (you’ll find those details on the Forum, DevHub and Dev Forum). Instead, we will focus on what each development means — what it does and, most importantly, why the technology and levels of security that it introduces is an essential part of any new truly decentralised internet that thrives in the permissionless wild.

So Why Is SAFE-Fleming So Important?

With this next release, you’ll get to see all of the innovative components that we’ve been building over the past year or so in action, bringing two key benefits for everyone: security and scalability.

At this stage, the Network will be decentralised and resilient, powered by the resources of individuals. Anyone with a computer and internet connection around the world will have the opportunity of joining the Network. And by running a node, you’ll see fully-encrypted, transient data moving across the Network.

As we progress through the next series of releases, it will become obvious just how powerful the technology is. You’ll see computers on the Network communicating using Crust, punching through the firewalls and routers that stop other technologies. We’ll be making it easier for people to understand our ground-breaking ABFT consensus mechanism, PARSEC, as we complete its implementation across the Network.

The SAFE Network is permissionless. No-one can be prevented from joining. Watch the Network respond to malicious nodes seeking to subvert it. Look out also for Node Ageing, the way in which the Network autonomously prioritises nodes that have been proven to be trustworthy over time, creating a vital defence against Sybil attacks and other attempts to game the system.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also be implementing significant advances that continue to challenge many projects in the decentralisation sphere. With Dynamic Membership, you’ll see the Network let nodes join and leave freely whilst ordered consensus is maintained. And with Disjoint Sections, we’ll be not only showing how Sharding is possible, but delivered — and working, way ahead of the multi-year roadmap that blockchain-based projects are facing in the space.

You’ll also see the Network solve the problem of secure communications between different shards. We call this Secure Message Relay and it’s another problem that’s still to be solved by the largest decentralised/crypto projects in the world.

So as we approach SAFE-Fleming, we’ll be releasing code which in aggregate will solve many of the problems that remain unsolved for many of the other decentralised projects out there today — and creating a secure Network that solves the well-known problems of scalability and security.

You can see why we’re getting excited…

The Launch of SAFE-Fleming

With each of these components in place, we’ll be good to go! At that stage, you’ll be able to run your own node from home and be part of a truly decentralised network.

Exciting times. But of course, there’s no rest. At that stage, we’ll be adding Vaults on top of this (technology that we’ve already demonstrated works in the past), before introducing test Safecoin — and carrying out essential final security audits and a few other things that you’d expect before any v1 release of software.

A significant amount of both research and code has already been completed for components of this major milestone. We have a range of teams working across different workstreams in parallel and every delivery along the way should make it clear, whether you’re running the code yourself or just reading the posts, just how important — and powerful — each release will be for the future that we all want to live in.

Finally, we’re happy to announce that tomorrow (17th October), we’ll be delivering the first part — a Crust Test that will allow you to use your home computer to discover and connect to others by testing hole punching in a real world setting — so that people can immediately get involved with the SAFE Network. Watch out also for the next post in this series also with more detail about what Crust is and why it’s so important.

So please do join us on what will become an increasingly exciting journey with every new release! You can of course, in between times, check out the weekly Thursday Dev updates on the SAFE Network Forum (https://safenetforum.org/c/development/updates).

And, as ever, thanks for all of your support.