The Chenilles Roadmaphttps://chenilles.network/roadmap.html

Abstract

This is our roadmap to design, build and market Chenilles, the next-generation State Channel Network, scalable, interoperable and programmable.

Chenilles is a new payment network that can transmit value across blockchains and currencies with a direct connection to on-ramp and off-ramp solutions. Chenilles uses next-generation Generalized State Channels and supports smart contracts as well as payments. Chenilles will embrace and extend the Bitcoin Lightning Network and connect it to all blockchains. Chenilles will remove the main hurdles that prevent cryptocurrencies from “going to the Moon”: scalability, safety and usability.

Our roadmap emphasizes the early release of partial but already useful and marketable products as “low-hanging fruits” on the road to delivering a complete working product, prioritizing support for the most useful blockchains. We will keep building along this roadmap, revising it based on market feedback.

Table of Contents

Introduction

A Plan to Develop Chenilles

We presented in the Chenilles Glow whitepaper our cross-blockchain Network of Generalized State Channels, its overall vision, its capabilities, and how it will solve the main issues that currently block cryptocurrencies from “going to the Moon”.

We also wrote a conceptual introduction that expounds the concepts that underlie the design of Chenilles, and explains how our Generalized State Channels work.

In this document, we will take as granted an understanding of these end goals and technical means, and will focus on presenting a plan to implement those goals using those means, that maximizes earlier returns on lower investments.

We understand that time is of the essence in launching our Network. Therefore, we will start by implementing the smallest necessary subset of the Network features, then will keep adding features to the working system. We also understand that the Network safety measures must increase to match its functionality least users fall prey to increasingly motivated attackers. Therefore, we will ramp up System Robustness features in synch with user-visible functionality, which we discuss in our separate Chenilles System Layer document.

Cost Estimates

We estimate costs in abstract units of developer-week (or dvwk for short), which represents one week of work by one developer assigned full-time on the project, but which also accounts for technical leadership costs, management costs, administrative costs, consulting costs (for when the main assigned developer needs help from another expert), ancillary costs, amortized software and hardware costs, etc.

To account for the above, we estimate a monetary cost of $5000/dvwk for a short-term grant. This cost can decrease if a target Blockchain is willing to commit to a long term development grant and/or to shoulder the risk of cost overrun. In particular, when Chenilles is spending based on its own reserves according to its own plan with guaranteed long term support, the cost can be halved, by hiring and training permanent employees rather than temporary pre-trained expert contractors.

Actual delivery time for any step may be shorter than the estimated number of developer-weeks (if work is somewhat parallelizable between multiple developers, within the limits of Amdahl’s Law), but will likely longer (due to various delays, sickness, vacations, etc.). On the other hand, given sufficient budget, some phases can be executed wholly in parallel with other phases by distinct developers. We’ll add in every phase which other phases it depends on.

Plan Overview

Our development will include the following phases for each target Blockchain. Only so much work can be saved when building for subsequent target Blockchains, and some additional work is also required when adding new target Blockchains, especially but not only for interoperation. Support for each target Blockchain can be funded either out of Chenilles’ own capital for the most strategic blockchains without governance capable of funding it, or out of grants from the Blockchain’s governance (Foundation, Treasury, etc.).

The major tracks and their milestones for per-Blockchain user-visible functionality will be as follows:

Minimal Prototype

This phase implements just enough functionality to prove the concepts, and make them barely usable by programmers and enthusiastic end-users.

Simple Functionality

Interoperation

Advanced Functionality

Wallet Integration

Development Roadmap for User-Visible Functionality

The following roadmap will have to be repeated for every supported blockchain.

Minimal State Channel Prototype

This phase will create the building block of Chenilles, the simplest of State Channels, implemented on top of the target Blockchain.

Business case enabled: Self-custodial payments between two participants. Potential users would be utilities accepting small pay-per-use micropayments, or large accounts looking for a fast, private and non-custodial way to settle trades with their peers, or anything in-between.

This stage will be subdivided in steps as follows:

  1. A study of how best to implement State Channels on the target Blockchain: what interfaces to use, amend or add. This will help better estimate development costs. (6 dvwk)
  2. The simplest implementation of State Channels, including both a smart contract for the target Blockchain VM and client code capable of communicating with it—enabling micropayments. (6 dvwk)
  3. A robustization of the above, making for State Channels that can be trusted with actual tokens, rather than a mere demonstration that assumes favorable conditions. (12 dvwk)
  4. Integration of State Channels with the standard target Blockchain wallet. This will enable micropayments by regular users of the target Blockchain rather than merely by programmers familiar with a command-line. (12 dvwk)
  5. Documentation for all the above, including a live recorded demonstration, and addressing issues found while documenting. (18 dvwk)

As with every phase of our plan, it is conceivable to stop at the end of any step and have made measurable progress towards improving the value of the target Blockchain. But we recommend going all the way to the end of a phase for this progress to generate tangible value to end-users of the target Blockchain. Thus for 6 dvwk we could stop at the study; for 12 dvwk we could have a working demo; for 24 dvwk we could have a robust prototype; for 36 dvwk we can integrate the prototype with a target Blockchain wallet; and for 54 dvwk the entire thing can be documented and debugged such that regular users can use it.

Furthermore, if payment of each step is made conditional on the previous step, then development will take an entire year by a single developer. However, if the entire phase is authorized in advance and paid in larger monthly installments, 2 to 3 developers can work together in parallel and make it happen in 6 to 9 months.

Below are details on each of the steps.

Discovery

We will start with a study in which we will examine in depth how our existing Chenilles technology does or doesn’t fit in the target Blockchain ecosystem: what facilities we can reuse of Chenilles and of the target Blockchain, what functionality we must custom-build for the target Blockchain vs other blockchains, which interfaces we must hook into (e.g. wallets), what features the interested parties in the target Blockchain community deem more important, etc.

Detailed plans will be written to determine exactly which features will be implemented in each of the subsequent phases. While this step limits its deliverable to specifications, documentation, and requirements for future steps and phases, it is fundamental to a successful phased roll-out of the system. Questions we will answer will include:

We estimate this initial study to cost about 5 dvwk. From the study will also come a better estimate for the costs of the following steps and phases.

Prototype

We will implement the simplest kind of State Channels for the target Blockchain, according to the plan established during Discovery, reusing as much as possible of our previous State Channels for Ethereum. These State Channels may have a minimal set of features: only two participants, only one single token kind, no conditional payment, no concurrent transactions, no nested channels, no interface beside the command-line, no wallet integration, no persistence of session information. They will support non-cooperative as well as cooperative exits, though some automation of non-cooperative exits may be stubbed out. As a proof of concept, the prototype will be focused on demonstrating feasibility, rather than making a complete product. Reasonable effort will be made so the prototype should be secure, but corners may be cut as long as they are well-documented.

Robustization

Once the prototype establishes the feasability of the endeavor, we will turn it into a robust product. We will add all the missing security checks and handle all the corner cases. However, we will not add any feature beside what is required for security. In particular, we will stick to a developer-friendly but end-user-unfriendly command-line interface, and we will not attempt to integrate with existing the target Blockchain wallets (which we will do in the following step). We will not add support for more than two participants, or more than one token kind (e.g. ETH, ERC20, etc.), or any other functionality. We will just turn the prototype into something robust.

Integration

After we have a robust implementation of those minimal State Channels for the target Blockchain, we will integrate them with the most relevant the target Blockchain wallet, so that end-users of the target Blockchain may actually use them for micropayments. As above, we will otherwise stick to a minimal set of features.

Documentation

We will write a tutorial explaining on how to use our State Channels, as well as some internal architectural description of how they work underneath. We will record a demonstration and a tutorial for opening a State Channel on the target Blockchain, making back and forth micropayments, and closing the Channel cooperatively, or closing it non-cooperatively. Together with documentation come some additional debugging and simplifications for issues that only become apparent as we actively try to make the product user-friendly.

Note that emphatically not included in the above is an independent security audit of the product, that must be conducted by a third party. We can help connect the target Blockchain with such auditors if desired. On strategic Blockchains that we support without grant, we will cover the cost of the audit ourselves, hiring external auditors.

Minimal Payment Route Prototype

This phase will enable participants with a series of connected State Channels to build a route along which payments can be safely made from a sender to a recipient through a series of intermediaries.

Business case enabled: Self-custodial payments in a centralized network. In the simplest case, a single hub will enable payments between users having State Channels open with the hub. In a more elaborate case, a fixed core of interconnected hubs enables payment from any user to any user with a centralized routing algorithm. Still, all payments remain self-custodial. The worst that the central participants can do is censor trades long enough for the users to close their State Channels and find better intermediaries to trade through, or directly use the Layer 1 without intermediaries. Target users would be anyone as end-users, and crypto businesses as intermediaries.

Dependencies: Minimal State Channel Prototype.

This phase can be divided in the following steps, each with its own value-adding deliverable. In turn each of these steps could be divided into sub-steps of study, prototype, robustization, user-interface and documentation, though with a quicker development cycle thanks to building on previous code. Once again, development can be achieved cheaper and/or faster if committing in advance to larger phases or steps rather than smaller steps or sub-steps, hiring larger teams working in parallel (though with increasing communication overhead as the teams grow), and starting each phase or step as soon as the strictly necessary previous steps are working without waiting for all previous steps to be complete and reviewed.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Concurrent Transactions and Generalized State Channel Infrastructure. This enables multiple conditional payments at a time over a single State Channel. Also enable a basic escape to general smart contracts (which is easy to add now on smart contract capable Blockchains, and harder to add later), but with minimal support for actually writing smart contracts if at all (which would require developing a lot of infrastructure in Solidity or what replaces it on the target Blockchain, or implementing Glow). (18 dvwk)
  2. The simplest Hashed TimeLock Contract (HTLC) as a payment condition. This enables safe payments with a timeout to unlock funds in case one party fails to cooperate to the end. (12 dvwk)
  3. An off-chain communication protocol based on libp2p, so network participants who already know each other and their intermediaries can coordinate their multi-hop transactions. (18 dvwk)
  4. The combination of the above, so a sender may drive a series of payments, along a route of State Channels, through identified intermediaries, to a recipient. (12 dvwk)
  5. A demonstration of micropayments along a route of multiple State Channels on the target Blockchain. (6 dvwk)
  6. As a useful application, a simple hub-and-spoke network can route payments from any participant to any other participant via a single common intermediary, centralized yet non-custodial. The sender and recipient can simply tell each other which of many intermediaries they support, in decreasing order of preference, until they find a suitable one; then they initiate a payment using this single intermediary. A network where every participant is connected to the same intermediary is called a “hub and spokes” network in reference to a bicycle wheel. This isn’t the desired decentralized network (built in the next phase), but can illustrate the technology so far, make it readily usable even before the full network is ready, and can serve as the financial seed to the decentralized network to come. (18 dvwk)

Minimal Network Routing Prototype

This phase will enable participants who are not already connected through a known route of State Channels to dynamically discover and use routes of intermediaries for payments.

Business case enabled: Self-custodial payments in a decentralized network. The discovery and use of network routes can happen in a decentralized fashion using a gossip network both spam-resistant and censorship-resistant. Target users would be anyone as end-users, and anyone who can afford keeping a server online as an intermediary.

Dependencies: Minimal Payment Route Prototype.

Note: our estimates for this phase and the subsequent phases are not fleshed out, and could be 2x or 3x too large or too small, but we believe remain of the correct indication of the order of magnitude. The time required also depends on the team we will be able to hire which depends on the budget allotted and whether it is committed in advance.

  1. An off-chain protocol to announce and discover the nodes in a State Channel Network. (18 dvwk)
  2. An algorithm to discover routes for payments in a known graph of nodes. (18 dvwk)
  3. A protocol to negotiate payment along a planned route. (18 dvwk)
  4. A protocol combining the above to route payments on the Network. (18 dvwk)
  5. A protocol to rate and blacklist uncooperative nodes in the State Channel Network. (18 dvwk)
  6. A protocol to split a payment along several routes. (18 dvwk)

Minimal Generalized State Channel Prototype

This phase will enhance the Chenilles Network so as to enable arbitrary smart contracts between a small number of participants to be conducted through State Channels.

Business case enabled: Fast private scalable DeFi over state channels. Instead of merely payments, State Channels will accelerate arbitrary smart contracts between participants in a decentralized network: Atomic swaps, NFT auctions, online games, etc. Target users would be anyone interested in DeFi.

Dependencies: Minimal State Channel Prototype.

This ability will put our State Channel Network far ahead of existing networks, that in practice support no such thing, though some do in theory. At each step, we will enhance our language Glow to implement the additional features through State Channels.

The features below are largely independent and could be developed in parallel by several people at the same time.

  1. State Channels that can transfer more than one kind of asset. Example: ETH and ERC20s including wrapped Bitcoin and wrapped (via bridge) tokens from target Blockchain. (18 dvwk)
  2. State Channels with a complex interaction but without external data sources. Example: rock paper scissors. (18 dvwk)
  3. State Channels with a complex interaction using external data sources. Example: a futures contract that relies on a price oracle. (18 dvwk)
  4. State Channels with more than two participants. Example: a four-way card game. (18 dvwk)
  5. Using State Channels as conditional payment for a public contract. Example: an auction with private bids over State Channels. (18 dvwk)
  6. Using State Channel routes for exchange between more than two parties. Example: a three-way atomic swap between three assets across triangular payment routes. (18 dvwk)

Simple Cross-Currency Payments

This phase will enable one participant to pay in one currency and another to receive in another currency, using suitable intermediate State Channels.

Business case enabled: Self-custodial payment from one currency to another. Potential users would be anyone who wants to trade on the same blockchain, though they may not want to hold the same token as the users they trade with. Some may prefer native tokens, others may prefer a stable coin, yet others some specific ERC20, etc.

Dependencies: Minimal Payment Route Prototype, Minimal Generalized State Channel Prototype.

  1. A microeconomic study of the proper pricing of the option implicit in any asynchronous currency swap protocol, as applied to cross-currency payments. Design and implementation of a suitable microeconomic mechanism for determining rates and fees in the network depending on confirmation delay, expected volatility and non-cooperative exit costs. (18 dvwk)
  2. A modification to the Bitcoin HTLC contract that allows for shorter delays by enabling early resolution of the Hash part of HTLC while still waiting for the Time-Lock part of the State Channel exit process, thus drastically lowering the total volatility exposure and accompanying exchange fees. (18 dvwk).
  3. An extension to the off-chain Chenilles communication protocols so payments can be made along a route that involves a change in currency, at some agreed exchange rate, properly compensating the party doing the exchange, if a suitable event happens within a deadline. (18 dvwk)
  4. As a further way to reduce delay, an extension to the Chenilles on-chain contract and payment route protocol on the target Blockchain, that relies on publication of a single witness within a deadline to trigger a series of transfers. (18 dvwk)

Simple Cross-Chain Payments

This phase will enable participants to use routes that cross blockchain boundaries to effect payments between the target Blockchain and Ethereum.

Business case enabled: Self-custodial payment between blockchains. Potential users would be anyone who wants to trade on any supported blockchain. They may not want to hold the same token as the users they trade with, and they may not even want to use the same blockchain. But as long as both blockchains are supported by Chenilles the buyer can pay the seller.

Dependencies: Minimal Network Routing Prototype, Simple Cross-Currency Payments.

  1. An extension to the off-chain Chenilles communication protocols so payments can be made along a route that involves State Channels on both target Blockchains (Bitcoin and Ethereum if not otherwise funded, or either with a funded target Blockchain if funded), at some agreed exchange rate, properly compensating the party doing the exchange, using the Lightning Network HTLC (or modified variant above). Note that unmodified Lightning Network HTLC might not allow for affordable exchange fees unless using wBTC as wrapped by a mutually trusted bridge. (18 dvwk)
  2. A protocol for discovering routes that span Chenilles across two networks. (18 dvwk)
  3. A variant of the protocol that allows for faster confirmation given a suitable bridge between the two Blockchains, such that a single event on one can be observed on the other and be used as the condition for whether or not the payment was confirmed. (18 dvwk)

Simple Routing on par with Lightning Network

This phase will bring Chenilles on par with the Bitcoin Lightning Network, when the previous stage was minimal in terms of functionality. This will put Chenilles ahead of the Bitcoin Lightning Network, and prepare Chenilles for the next stage in routing of smart contracts.

Business case enabled: Self-custodial payment in a decentralized network. Potential users are anyone desiring more decentralization in their payments sent or received, as well as anyone willing to make their liquidity available as intermediaries, for a fee.

Dependencies: Minimal Network Routing Prototype.

  1. An update to our Minimal Network Routing Prototype, that matches all the features of the Bitcoin Lightning Network protocol. (36 dvwk)

Simple Fast Confirmation with Rollup Service

This phase will implement a service that allows for faster confirmation of transactions than is possible with traditional Layer 1 transactions, either as a rollup or on a dedicated data availability engine. Faster confirmation means reduced exposure to volatility in cross-currency and cross-chain transactions as well as faster reuptake of liquidity involved in transactions, leading to better capital efficiency and cheaper transactions. An rollup is slower and more expensive but does not require additional trust assumptions, unlike a dedicated data availability engine, that requires that all parties should trust its validation committee.

Business case enabled: Faster cheaper cross-currency transactions. Everyone will benefit from such a service.

Dependencies: Minimal Generalized State Channel Prototype.

  1. Modification of the smart contract and payment protocol to use a confirmation service using a rollup with a central validator. (18 dvwk)
  2. Update the central validator to itself accept service payment via State Channels. (18 dvwk)
  3. Build a decentralized market for services that publish confirmation. (18 dvwk)
  4. Extend the decentralized market into a protocol for a dedicated data availability engine with or without rollup to any specific blockchain. (18 dvwk)
  5. Robustify the decentralized protocol. (18 dvwk)
  6. Issue tokens for the decentralized protocol. (18 dvwk)

Interoperation with Lightning Network

This phase will enable participants to discover and use intermediaries to effect payments across blockchains between the target Blockchain, Ethereum and Bitcoin.

Business case enabled: Interoperation between Chenilles and the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Everyone who wants to hold Bitcoin or has customers or suppliers who do will benefit from such a service. All the liquidity in the Bitcoin Lightning Network will be made available to Chenilles and vice versa, increasing the network effects and value of both networks.

Dependencies: Simple Cross-Chain Payments, Simple Routing on par with Lightning Network.

  1. Enhance the Chenilles cross-chain routes to interoperate work with the Bitcoin Lightning Network. (18 dvwk)
  2. Enhance the Chenilles cross-chain routing algorithm to interoperate work with the Bitcoin Lightning Network. (18 dvwk)
  3. Make proposals to enhance the Bitcoin Lightning Network with extensions (BOLT - Basis Of Lightning Technology) that will facilitate future interoperation with the Chenilles Network: better and faster HTLCs, route payment protocol extensions, routing algorithm extensions, better APIs, etc. (18 dvwk)
  4. Extend the Chenilles Network with counterparts for each and every feature that the Bitcoin Lightning Network possesses, to ensure complete interoperability. (18 dvwk)

Interoperation with On-Ramp / Off-Ramp Solutions

This phase will enable participants to connect their Chenilles payments to on-ramp and off-ramp solutions enabling payment from or to fiat accounts.

Business case enabled: Interoperation between Chenilles and centralized finance. Everyone who wants to deal with blockchain will benefit from such a service.

Dependencies: Simple Cross-Chain Payments.

  1. A protocol for Chenilles participant to use on-/off- ramp solutions they trust as part of private yet auditable atomic operations. (18 dvwk)
  2. An extension to the off-chain Chenilles routing protocols so it can discover intermediaries, negotiate exchange rates and route payments between on-chain tokens and off-chain currencies. (18 dvwk)
  3. Extensions that allow to pay more for faster service, and/or insure against potential delays from non-cooperating intermediaries. (18 dvwk)

Interoperation with Bridges and Oracles

Allow smart contracts on Chenilles to query bridges and oracles in general.

Interoperation with KYC solutions

Enable operators of Chenilles services to easily comply with any applicable KYC requirements in their jurisdiction.

Advanced Cross-Currency Payments

Enable cross-currency payments that make direct use of existing bridges, oracles, etc., to reduce volatility or enhance privacy, etc.

Advanced Routing

Route not just payments but arbitrary smart contracts.

Advanced Smart Contracts over State Channels

Implement more interesting contracts on State Channels. Smart Contracts on Channels with more than two participants. Smart Contracts on a sub-network of Channels connecting more than two end-participants with many intermediaries. Better Glow for all the above situation.

Advanced Support for Self-Custodial DEX

Implement an entire DEX using State Channels and a data availability engine.

Wallet Integration of Simple Payments

Seamlessly integrate Chenilles payments along known routes into all relevant Wallets.

Wallet Integration of Simple Routing

Seamlessly integrate Chenilles routing algorithm into all relevant Wallets.

Wallet Integration of Cross-Currency & Cross-Blockchain Payments

Seamlessly integrate cross-currency and cross-chain Chenilles payments into relevant wallets that are aware of multiple blockchains.

Wallet Integration of DApps

Seamlessly integrate arbitrary DApps on top of Chenilles into relevant DApp-aware wallets.

Privacy Enhancements

Enhance the Chenilles Network so as to make its transactions completely opaque to non-participants, including the presence of the State Channels themselves. This phase could be done largely in parallel with anything after the Minimal State Channel Prototype.

  1. Use of a Schnorr or ECDSA multisig lock to protect a State Channel. This enhances both the efficiency of the network and its privacy, by making State Channels indistinguishable from regular addresses as long as participants cooperate, and not cost anything more either. (18 dvwk)
  2. Use of zk-SNARKs (via Lurk, SnarkyJS, etc.) to add privacy to payment conditions even during non-cooperating exits. (18 dvwk)
  3. Modification of the off-chain communication protocols to allow for private State Channels. (18 dvwk)
  4. Add a store-and-forward relay service to the off-chain communication network for asynchronous communications between parties, and/or support encrypted email (e.g. via protonmail or tutanota) as a medium for exchanging messages. (18 dvwk)
  5. Demonstration of completely opaque State Channel payments on the target Blockchain. (18 dvwk)

Financial Layer

Once the technical layer is sufficiently advanced (which can start right after the Minimal State Channel Prototype), contact people with liquidity and convince them to make some available on Chenilles, and/or ask them which features we should prioritize to get them to add liquidity on Chenilles, including which financial contracts (e.g. auctions, futures, etc.) we should first support.

  1. Contact liquidity providers, starting as early as we have a working system, and increasing exponentially as we ramp up the features. (18 dvwk)
  2. Prioritize and implement whichever features they most need. (18 dvwk)
  3. Implement a service for paid-for watch towers. (18 dvwk)