[Bitcoin-development] BIP32 "wallet structure" in use? Remove it?

Thomas Voegtlin thomasv1 at gmx.de
Sat Apr 26 10:36:51 UTC 2014

I totally agree with gmaxwell here. The cost of interoperability is too
high. It would force us to freeze all features, and to require a broad
consensus everytime we want to add something new.

In addition, some partial level of compatibility would probably lead to
users not able to recover all their funds when they enter their seed in
another wallet. That is not acceptable, and should be avoided.

Le 25/04/2014 17:46, Gregory Maxwell a écrit :
> I don't believe that wallet interoperability at this level is possible
> in general except as an explicit compatibility feature. I also don't
> believe that it is a huge loss that it is so.
> The structure of the derivation defines and constrains functionality.
> You cannot be structure compatible unless you have the same features
> and behavior with respect to key management.  To that extent that
> wallets have the same features, I agree its better if they are
> compatible— but unless they are dead software they likely won't keep
> the same features for long.
> Even if their key management were compatible there are many other
> things that go into making a wallet portable between systems; the
> handling of private keys is just one part:  a complete wallet will
> have other (again, functionality specific) metadata.
> I agree that it would be it would be possible to support a
> compatibility mode where a wallet has just a subset of features which
> works when loaded into different systems, but I'm somewhat doubtful
> that it would be widely used. The decision to use that mode comes at
> the wrong time— when you start, not when you need the features you
> chose to disable or when you want to switch programs. But the obvious
> thing to do there is to just specify that a linear chain with no
> further branching is that mode: then that will be the same mode you
> use when someone gives you a master public key and asks you to use it
> for reoccurring changes— so at least the software will get used.
> Compatibility for something like a recovery tool is another matter,
> and BIP32 probably defines enough there that with a bit of extra data
> about how the real wallet worked that recovery can be successful.
> Calling it "vendor lock in" sounds overblown to me.  If someone wants
> to change wallets they can transfer the funds— manual handling of
> private keys is seldom advisable, and as is they're going to lose
> their metadata in any case.  No one expects to switch banks and to
> keep their account records at the new bank. And while less than
> perfect, the price of heavily constraining functionality in order to
> get another result is just too high.
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