As the first major technical upgrade for Edgeware approaches, we wanted to lay out how we’d like to grow and build out the network, starting with a plan for the rest of the year. You can join in on the conversation around this proposal at Commonwealth.
We plan to spend the majority of our time on engineering, developer outreach, and community:
Tech: Maintaining and upgrading the network to make it easy for developers to use. This consists of a series of milestones:
- Upgrading to Substrate 2.0 & Ink 2.0 (2 engineers for 3 months)
- Enabling EVM support (1 engineer for 3 months, 1 engineer ongoing)
- Bridging to Ethereum (1 engineer assisting an external team)
- Bonding to Polkadot as a parachain (1 engineer for 2 months)
- Launching an Edgeware canary network (1 engineer for 2 months, or external grant team)
BuilDAO: Launching BuilDAO, to incubate the first useful applications on Edgeware with an initial focus on DeFi and social
- Allocating ~$500k (at least half from Edgeware) to fund 10 great project founders, who want to leverage great distribution to 13m potential EDG holders and with additional support from the Edgeware Treasury and Commonwealth team.
- This requires 1 full time project manager from Commonwealth.
Growing the number of active participants in staking & governance:
- Supporting the council, managing the grants program, and growing builDAO
- This requires 1 full time project manager and 1 full-time community manager to help grow the community, create roadmaps, and help projects through the proposal process.
Developing Edgeware’s central idea
- We think the community should rally around the idea of Edgeware as an incubator. With on-chain governance, a large treasury, builDAO, and a large engaged community, Edgeware can help developers launch valuable new protocols.
Separately, we will use this document as the basis for making Treasury Proposals on behalf of Commonwealth. As noted above, we’ve included estimates for cost for engineering and project management resources. These will be supplemented with other resources. It may be useful to read this document alongside other proposals we’ve written—how the treasury budget might be spent, our position on validator economics, and our proposal to deploy a streaming reward.
Maintaining and upgrading the network
We are proposing five network upgrades that should each in turn increase the value of Edgeware for developers, and in turn for other stakeholders as well.
Assuming the community supports them, they will consume the majority of Commonwealth's engineering efforts. We'll also propose other high-value, low-engineering effort improvements as they become available, like social key recovery and parameter changes, but we won’t list them here.
Substrate 2.0 and Chain Stability (Bergmannkiez): August 2020
Edgeware is in the process of its first network upgrade. This is a major technical upgrade, that includes an extensive set of custom code to bring the chain up to date with the latest version of Substrate 2.0.
The main benefits of the upgrade are 1) resolving issues with block finality, which could cause transactions and block explorers to be delayed for hours, and 2) making Edgeware much easier to extend and upgrade. In particular, it will also allow us to integrate a wider set of Substrate modules, including recent versions of Parity’s WASM smart contract environment.
We’re currently testing this upgrade, and will be resolving any remaining issues through the end of July.
- Additional unit testing on the applied migrations.
- Applying the upgrade on the Berlin testnet, and stress testing on various running chains.
- As part of the process, we’re building a tool for automated testing of live Substrate testnets that we hope will be useful to the broader community.
Ethereum Compatibility (New York): Q3/Q4 2020
We've had numerous conversations (5+ in the past month or so) with teams that want to build in the Polkadot ecosystem, but are constrained by lack of Rust experience. Many are proficient with Solidity and the Ethereum/Web3.js toolchain, so it makes sense for us to support that toolchain on Edgeware as well.
This involves deploying a compatibility layer called Frontier, currently being developed by Parity, that allows developers to directly port over Ethereum contracts and run them on an EVM pallet installed on Edgeware. We plan to substantially ramp up our investment in this area, with several engineers working in different areas to support Ethereum compatibility.
- Contribute our first PR to Frontier and allocate at least 1 engineer to work on open issues.
- Integrate an alpha version into the Edgeware Canary Network and document its usage for developers. Including benchmarking.
- Benchmark the system to define gas prices.
- Deploy pallet-ethereum and pallet-evm to the Edgeware Canary Network.
- Assemble a set of developer-friendly tutorials and docs for developing on Edgeware, similar to the ones described here.
- Assemble the correct requisite precompiles to ensure standard network behavior on ported EVM smart contracts.
Edgeware on Kusama: Q3 2020
We’d like to launch a canary network for Edgeware that is bonded to Kusama as a parachain.
There's a lot of functionality that is important to test in adversarial settings, and spinning up an Edgeware canary network would allow us to run those tests much more frequently and easily. Also, bonding to Kusama has been frequently requested by the Kusama community, and it would help expand Edgeware’s reach in the Polkadot ecosystem. Finally, participating in the parachain bonding process on Kusama will help prepare us for the same process on Polkadot.
- Find a champion to help coordinate the network launch. BlockX Labs has talked about potentially stepping into this role.
- Adjust runtime parameters to make everything shorter (particularly on governance)
- The community needs to discuss if there should be any incentives for those participating in Kusama, such as for validators or governance participants.
Bridging to Ethereum (Tokyo): Fall 2020
We would like to integrate an Ethereum Bridge based on work done by ChainSafe. We’ll be helping to manage the integration process at Commonwealth by shaping a research spec for the bridge, but we’ll also recruit another core development team to help with implementing it.
Bridging should add a lot of utility to Edgeware—over the past few months, we've had discussions with several DeFi projects to either build on Edgeware or bridge their assets to Edgeware and the larger Polkadot ecosystem. Also, by bridging to Ethereum, we can move EDG into the existing ETH DeFi ecosystem, allowing for the creation of EDG / ETH, wEDG / DAI, and other pairs on Uniswap and Balancer.
- Figure out a path to decentralizing the bridge authorities from the initial set such as through using the same mechanism that selects validators
- Select the bridge relayers/authorities.
- Support and fund arbitrary message passing functionality as well as cryptographic and economic mechanism design
- Existing implementations of bridges like chainbridge don’t have economic incentives or guarantees about the information they are relaying.
- We will need to choose a mechanism to control the bridge relayers/authorities and so will contribute to the research and engineering effort where possible.
- Set up bridge contracts on Ethereum
- Create proposals for any liquidity incentives for bridging ETH assets to Edgeware.
Parachain Bonding (London): Fall 2020
As other parachains like Acala and Laminar become functional, it will be important for Edgeware to support them. By bonding as a parachain, Edgeware will be linked to 20+ projects working in the Polkadot Ecosystem. Once XCMP is enabled, EDG could be used as a collateral type to mint aUSD, and the Edgeware Treasury could propose to Acala Governance to become a tokenholder in the network.
While there is not an official timeline for the launch of parachains or XCMP, Parity is moving quickly to prepare both for launch. We’ll stay closely up to date on the latest work here, and keep the community updated.
- Bond a testnet onto Westend (the Parachain testnet) and/or bond an Edgeware Canary Network onto Kusama.
- Acquire DOTs for Edgeware to bond as a parachain. There's a line-item in our treasury budget for this. There are multiple ways to do so:
- a direct DOT acquisition from a single party.
- crowdfunding the slot. While there is the crowdfunding module (which may be included in Polkadot already?). This might be easiest to run as a semi-trusted process. Where
- Once Edgeware goes through this process once, it will be easier for other parachains to follow our lead.
- Bid at the parachain auction and begin the process of becoming a parachain.
Incubating projects through builDAO
With the set of upgrades that we’ve discussed above, we’ll be a lot closer to the point where the EVM and WASM contracts modules are fully functional on Edgeware.
In parallel, we’ve been talking to talented individuals and teams who want to build on Edgeware. This seems like the right time to start onboarding them.
We think the right structure to do this is an incubator funded by the on-chain treasury, which we’re calling builDAO. It would take about $250,000 in EDG and $250,000 in other commitments (ideally DOTs) to fund about 10 projects. This is a proposal we have already shared with Web3 Foundation and received positive feedback on. In the next few months, we will make a formal request to both the Edgeware and Polkadot Treasury to fund builDAO.
In the long term, builDAO should fund any project within the Edgeware and Polkadot Ecosystem, we think two areas are the most promising, DeFi and social/governance applications. Over the next few months, we’ll propose specific ideas and help find teams to build these out with the community feedback.
In the short term, we think it’s a good idea to start by building on DeFi, because the category is technically de-risked and well-recognized by the market.
We think interest in DeFi on Edgeware will come from our positioning as a new and widely-anticipated platform, but also because DeFi apps on the chain would be able to support DOTs, ETH, and other parachains’ assets as collateral. The Edgeware Treasury could also be used to bootstrap application use (we’ve suggested 20% of inflation in the first year to be used for these kinds of incentives). With this combination, it seems like we could have $50m+ locked in DeFi on Edgeware within a year’s time.
Finally, we think DeFi on Edgeware can be complementary to DeFi on Polkadot. The same way Ethereum has larger projects like MakerDAO and Compound alongside more grassroots-driven DeFi projects launched by individual founders, we think larger Polkadot DeFi protocols will exist alongside smart contract-based DeFi projects on Edgeware, in a way that benefits all members of the ecosystem.
When we started Edgeware, one of the areas that we were most excited about was social/governance applications -- ways for people to interact using Edgeware’s cryptography, identity, and decentralized web building blocks:
- Everyone has a private key, which can be used to sign, encrypt messages, and participate in anonymity-preserving cryptographic exchanges
- We will be able to construct faucets and bridges that let people export their social graph from websites like Twitter and Facebook to Edgeware
- We will have access to tech like DatDot (an IPFS-like storage layer) from the Substrate ecosystem
Edgeware has a lot of unused throughput and free block space right now, and much lower transaction costs than Ethereum. As soon as EVM contract support is live, we think it’ll be a promising place to deploy a wide range of social apps.
We don’t know what these exact projects will look like (we expect it will depend on the founder) but over the next few months, we plan to release a number of public calls for founders to build on the network, where we talk about potential ideas that we’d love to see built. For example: a version of HumanityDAO that recruits domain experts and pays them to vote on significant events, a better quadratic fund-matching system to distribute treasury funds, or a cryptographic messaging app (like Keybase) that uses Edgeware as the base chain.
Increasing network participation
Currently, Edgeware’s governance still leans on a few core participants. While the network has a decentralized token distribution, activating the full set of participants will have to happen over a longer time horizon, as we source more developers and projects to build on Edgeware.
Here are a few areas where we think we can improve network participation:
More wallets, staking, and governance participation
Edgeware still needs to activate most of its token holders. When looking at the percentage of the network staked, there is still a large fraction of EDG holders that haven’t transacted on the network, and staking and governance participation are rather low. We want to set some goals for network participation:
- Double the network staked from 30% to 60%, in line with other Polkadot parachains.
- Double the 20% of voter turnout for council elections.
- Raising the average voter turnout to at least 20% on important votes through delegation as well as more friendly user experiences in wallets and governance dashboards.
There are three ways Edgeware grants can help with this process. First, individual token holders need to be reminded that Edgeware exists. To generate awareness, the Brand Working Group is creating grants to help new token holders and lockdrop participants with documentation and onboarding.
Second, token holders need to add their tokens to a wallet. Depending on the token holder’s security or requirements for ease of use, they may benefit from several grants in the pipeline. These include adding Edgeware to Ledger, working with large custodians like Coinbase Custody and Anchorage, and new consumer wallets like imToken and Enzyme.
Finally, we want to continue to use grants to onboard developers to key projects that benefit the network. Recently, a grant to include staking into the Commonwealth UI was approved by the council, and we anticipate that this will be followed up with more related proposals in the same area.
More high-quality (and interesting) proposals
Edgeware currently also lacks interesting proposals for stakeholders to engage with, and while we have had several governance proposals be voted in, they have largely been uncontroversial. Still, we should try to advance conversations to proposals that improve the network, whether they are additions to the pallet or changing parameters to fit current network situations. For example, as builDAO funds DeFi projects, the projects may jointly propose to reward validators who supply price feeds. Or protocols like Acala could use the Edgeware treasury to provide liquidity for their parachain.
Mainly, I want to position this as a call to action for community members—all proposals can and should be considered. Eventually, we want our governance activity to have the same level of enthusiasm that it does on Kusama in Polkadot, like in the recent re-denomination proposals which both produced solid double-digit percentage participation.
We will need to build active developer communities that generate ideas and provide community support for developers building on Edgeware. Good examples for this exist in the Ethereum ecosystem—there are Telegram groups for DAOs focused on topics like under-collateralized DeFi or MolochDAO (Summoner’s Monthly), where several hundred developers chat actively and participate in monthly calls.
Commonwealth wants to support and contribute to communities like these, so we’re prototyping two Telegram groups right now, one focused on Crypto Social apps and another around “Polkadot DeFi.
Developing Edgeware’s central idea
In the real world, one strategy for economic development is charter cities, which use clear rules for corporate governance, good infrastructure, and direct subsidies to create economic growth. We can think of Edgeware as a similar effort in the Polkadot ecosystem, that aims to use governance to build a thriving ecosystem around natural resources, infrastructure, and a prime location.
With on-chain governance, a large treasury, and builDAO at its core, Edgeware should focus on serving as an incubator for valuable new projects. Unlike other blockchains that take the philosophy of a neutral, un-opinionated platform, we expect participants will actively direct the networks’ resources towards partners and developers, as well as public goods that benefit everyone in the ecosystem.
While it's too early to say how this will play out, we think this is a narrative that the chain should focus around.
We think there will be a lot of interest: With the lockdrop, the network has one of the largest potential sets of token holders, with potentially as many as 13 million addresses factoring in ETH holders on exchanges. Moreover, EDG holders are quite diverse, including large ETH holders, institutional investors, other protocols, and a long tail of consumer participants.
As we roll into the end of the year, I expect us to revisit our progress and continue to iterate on this meme (and others). The network will be a dramatically different place, as we launch full smart contract support and Polkadot launches parachains, and the first developers come on board. We’re excited to be on this journey with you!