Welcome to the January 2021 developer update. It’s been a strong start to the year, with great progress being made toward one of the biggest milestones of the project – Brubeck. The Brubeck milestone signals a phase transition for the project, where anyone in the Streamr community can contribute their bandwidth by running a node on the Network. At the crossing of this milestone, the Streamr website will see a major upgrade that will include the new Network Explorer which is now feature complete.

Brubeck will highlight the vast potential of the underlying infrastructure that currently powers Data Unions. For example, an exciting use case that we see activating in 2021 is the direct adoption of Streamr’s underlying decentralized pub/sub protocol. After all, if a dApp relies on centralized cloud infrastructure is it really decentralized? We look forward to sharing more about these use cases in the coming months.

Beaming Streams

Streamr community builder, Sergej Müller built a cool Grafana plugin to beam Streamr data into Grafana’s real-time dashboards. This development is especially timely, given our recent governance vote to deactivate Streamr Dashboards.

Demo showing how to beam Streamr data to Grafana

From the same brilliant developer, we also have two new free data products on the marketplace, Growth of the Streamr Marketplace, an aggregated view of real-time key figures of the Streamr Marketplace, and Ethereum Gas Prices,a real-time Ethereum gwei gas price feed.

The Network

On the Network front, the team has been focusing on stability and robustness improvements. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Network & protocol codebases converted to TypeScript
  • Significantly improved topology stabilisation
  • Broker node connections with WebRTC
  • Network topology metrics endpoints added
  • Node specific metric reporting
  • Migrated our DevOps flow to GitHub actions
Local Network example – CPU metrics

Data Unions

Data Unions 2.0 is ready to land, however the final hurdle is in the bridge exiting from the Ethereum Mainnet. Launching on the xDai chain is looking most likely, though we welcome late challengers such as Avalanche.

The requirement for the side chain is that it is EVM compatible with a battle-tested token bridge which is operated in an at least somewhat decentralized way. The bridge must support ERC-677 tokens on the sidechain side, and must be able to invoke the callback function when tokens are transferred over the bridge. We also want Data Unions to be on a sidechain with strong traction in the crypto ecosystem.

xDai and its TokenBridge fulfills all but one requirement; ERC-677 calls across the bridge. They have recently merged this improvement, however it requires a security audit, which can take some time given the current crypto market cycle. xDai chain is backed by Maker, Gnosis, and some other projects, and there is some DeFi traction happening on this chain.

Avalanche (C-chain) is EVM compatible, although there are some differences in the JsonRPC, so it's not 100% compatible. The Chainsafe bridge is used on Avalanche and it looks as though we may have to create a completely parallel bridge and operate it, making it completely centralized. That might be a blocker. As for traction, Avalanche has good potential due to its high visibility and market cap position.

In the meantime, Data Unions 1.0 received some stability improvements and appears to now be operating well under load. Over the Christmas break, the India-based Streamr Data Challenge hackathon has been picking up momentum as we approach demo day on March 6th where the Top 20 teams will compete for the main prize.

DATA Tokenomics

Phase 3 of our work with BlockScience is currently in progress. So far the work has been focused on defining an "MVP" (Minimum Viable Product) of the agreement connecting payers to brokers, i.e. supply to demand.

This initial Agreement model will be implemented in cadCAD, after which we'll be able to simulate the behaviour and earnings of Brokers (node operators) under various assumptions about how supply and demand enters the system, and for example how the initial growth of the Network can be accelerated by potential use of additional reward tokens (a bit like yield farming in DeFi).

The Brubeck website update will include an infographic explaining the $DATA tokenomics of these payer to broker agreements.

Canvases and Dashboards

The project recently ran a decentralized governance vote where DATA token holders could decide the fate of Streamr Canvases and Dashboards. The results are now in, the vote to drop Canvases and Dashboards was passed. We all love Canvases here at Streamr but we felt as though there is more to be gained by focusing on the Network. There will be a blog post later this month discussing the timeline of deactivation but we do hope to see Canvases back in some form at a later date.

Deprecations and Breaking Changes

A number of API endpoints need to be retired and replaced to be compatible with our vision of decentralization. This section summarises deprecated features and upcoming breaking changes. Items marked ‘Date TBD’ will be happening in the medium term, but a date has not yet been set.

  • (Date TBD): Support for unsigned data will be dropped.
    Unsigned data on the network is not compatible with the goal of decentralization, because malicious nodes can tamper with data that is not signed. As the Streamr Network will be ready to start decentralizing at the next major milestone (Brubeck), support for unsigned data will be ceased as part of the progress towards that milestone. Users should upgrade old client library versions to newer versions that support data signing, and use Ethereum key-based authentication (see above).