[Lightning-dev] bLIPs: A proposal for community-driven app layer and protocol extension standardization
bastien at acinq.fr
Thu Jul 1 09:19:09 UTC 2021
Thanks for starting that discussion.
In my opinion, what we're really trying to address here are the two
points (at least from the point of view of someone who works on the spec and
- Implementers get frustrated when they've worked on something that they
is useful and they can't get it into the BOLTs (the spec PR isn't reviewed,
it progresses too slowly or there isn't enough agreement to merge it)
- Implementers expect other implementers to specify the optional features
ship: we don't want to have to reverse-engineer a sub-protocol when users
want our implementation to provide support for feature XXX
Note that these are two very different concerns.
bLIPs/SPARKS/BIPs clearly address the second point, which is good.
But they don't address the first point at all, they instead work around it.
To be fair, I don't think we can completely address that first point:
reviewing spec proposals takes a lot of effort and accepting complex changes
to the BOLTs shouldn't be done lightly.
I am mostly in favor of this solution, but I want to highlight that it isn't
only rainbows and unicorns: it will add fragmentation to the network, it
add maintenance costs and backwards-compatibility issues, many bLIPs will be
sub-optimal solutions to the problem they try to solve and some bLIPs will
simply insecure and may put users' funds at risk (L2 protocols are hard and
subtle issues that can be easily missed). On the other hand, it allows for
world experimentation and iteration, and it's easier to amend a bLIP than
On the nuts-and-bolts (see the pun?) side, bLIPs cannot embrace a fully
style of evolution. Most of them will need:
- to assign feature bit(s)
- to insert new tlv fields in existing messages
- to create new messages
We can't have collisions on any of these three things. bLIP XXX cannot use
same tlv types as bLIP YYY otherwise we're creating network
So they really need to be centralized, and we need a process to assign these
and ensure they don't collide. It's not a hard problem, but we need to be
about the process around those.
Regarding the details of where they live, I don't have a strong opinion,
think they must be easy to find and browse, and I think it's easier for
if they're inside the spec repository. We already have PRs that use a
"proposals" folder (e.g. , ).
Le jeu. 1 juil. 2021 à 02:31, Ariel Luaces <arielluaces at gmail.com> a écrit :
> BIPs are already the Bazaar style of evolution that simultaneously
> allows flexibility and coordination/interoperability (since anyone can
> create a BIP and they create an environment of discussion).
> BOLTs are essentially one big BIP in the sense that they started as a
> place for discussion but are now more rigid. BOLTs must be followed
> strictly to ensure a node is interoperable with the network. And BOLTs
> should be rigid, as rigid as any widely used BIP like 32 for example.
> Even though BOLTs were flexible when being drafted their purpose has
> changed from descriptive to prescriptive.
> Any alternatives, or optional features should be extracted out of
> BOLTs, written as BIPs. The BIP should then reference the BOLT and the
> required flags set, messages sent, or alterations made to signal that
> the BIP's feature is enabled.
> A BOLT may at some point organically change to reference a BIP. For
> example if a BIP was drafted as an optional feature but then becomes
> more widespread and then turns out to be crucial for the proper
> operation of the network then a BOLT can be changed to just reference
> the BIP as mandatory. There isn't anything wrong with this.
> All of the above would work exactly the same if there was a bLIP
> repository instead. I don't see the value in having both bLIPs and
> BIPs since AFAICT they seem to be functionally equivalent and BIPs are
> not restricted to exclude lightning, and never have been.
> I believe the reason this move to BIPs hasn't happened organically is
> because many still perceive the BOLTs available for editing, so
> changes continue to be made. If instead BOLTs were perceived as more
> "consensus critical", not subject to change, and more people were
> strongly encouraged to write specs for new lightning features
> elsewhere (like the BIP repo) then you would see this issue of growing
> BOLTs resolved.
> Ariel Lorenzo-Luaces
> On Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 1:16 PM Olaoluwa Osuntokun <laolu32 at gmail.com>
> > > That being said I think all the points that are addressed in Ryan's
> > > could very well be formalized into BOLTs but maybe we just need to
> > > the current process of the BOLTs to make it more accessible for new
> > > to find their way into the BOLTs?
> > I think part of what bLIPs are trying to solve here is promoting more
> > coupled evolution of the network. I think the BOLTs do a good job
> currently of
> > specifying what _base_ functionality is required for a routing node in a
> > prescriptive manner (you must forward an HTLC like this, etc). However
> > a rather large gap in describing functionality that has emerged over
> time due
> > to progressive evolution, and aren't absolutely necessary, but enhance
> > node/wallet operation.
> > Examples of include things like: path finding heuristics (BOLTs just
> say you
> > should get from Alice to Bob, but provides no recommendations w.r.t
> _how_ to do
> > so), fee bumping heuristics, breach retribution handling, channel
> > rebalancing, custom records usage (like the podcast index meta-data,
> > etc), JIT channel opening, hosted channels, randomized channel IDs, fee
> > optimization, initial channel boostrapping, etc.
> > All these examples are effectively optional as they aren't required for
> > node operation, but they've organically evolved over time as node
> > implementations and wallet seek to solve UX and operational problems for
> > their users. bLIPs can be a _descriptive_ (this is how things can be
> > home for these types of standards, while BOLTs can be reserved for
> > _prescriptive_ measures (an HTLC looks like this, etc).
> > The protocol as implemented today has a number of extensions (TLVs,
> > types, feature bits, etc) that allow implementations to spin out their
> > sub-protocols, many of which won't be considered absolutely necessary
> for node
> > operation. IMO we should embrace more of a "bazaar" style of evolution,
> > acknowledge that loosely coupled evolution allows participants to more
> > explore the design space, without the constraints of "it isn't a thing
> until N
> > of us start to do it".
> > Historically, BOLTs have also had a rather monolithic structure. We've
> > the same 11 or so documents for the past few years with the size of the
> > documents swelling over time with new exceptions, features, requirements,
> > etc. If you were hired to work on a new codebase and saw that everything
> > defined in 11 "functions" that have been growing linearly over time,
> > probably declare the codebase as being unmaintainable. By having distinct
> > documents for proposals/standards, bLIPs (author documents really), each
> > standard/proposal is able to be more effectively explained, motivated,
> > etc.
> > -- Laolu
> > On Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 7:35 AM René Pickhardt via Lightning-dev <
> lightning-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
> >> Hey everyone,
> >> just for reference when I was new here (and did not understand the
> processes well enough) I proposed a similar idea (called LIP) in 2018 c.f.:
> >> I wonder what exactly has changed in the reasoning by roasbeef which I
> will repeat here:
> >> > We already have the equiv of improvement proposals: BOLTs.
> >> > new standardization documents are proposed initially as issues or
> PR's when
> >> > ultimately accepted. Why do we need another repo?
> >> As far as I can tell there was always some form of (invisible?) barrier
> to participate in the BOLTs but there are also new BOLTs being offered:
> >> * BOLT 12: https://github.com/lightningnetwork/lightning-rfc/pull/798
> >> * BOLT 14: https://github.com/lightningnetwork/lightning-rfc/pull/780
> >> and topics to be included like:
> >> * dual funding
> >> * splicing
> >> * the examples given by Ryan
> >> I don't see how a new repo would reduce that barrier - Actually I think
> it would even create more confusion as I for example would not know where
> something belongs. That being said I think all the points that are
> addressed in Ryan's mail could very well be formalized into BOLTs but maybe
> we just need to rethink the current process of the BOLTs to make it more
> accessible for new ideas to find their way into the BOLTs? One thing that I
> can say from answering lightning-network questions on stackexchange is that
> it would certainly help if the BOLTs where referenced on lightning.network
> web page and in the whitepaper as the place to be if one wants to learn
> about the Lightning Network
> >> with kind regards Rene
> >> On Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 4:10 PM Ryan Gentry via Lightning-dev <
> lightning-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
> >>> Hi all,
> >>> The recent thread around zero-conf channels  provides an
> opportunity to discuss how the BOLT process handles features and best
> practices that arise in the wild vs. originating within the process itself.
> Zero-conf channels are one of many LN innovations on the app layer that
> have struggled to make their way into the spec. John Carvalho and Bitrefill
> launched Turbo channels in April 2019 , Breez posted their solution to
> the mailing list for feedback in August 2020 , and we know at least
> ACINQ and Muun (amongst others) have their own implementations. In an ideal
> world there would be a descriptive design document that the app layer
> implementers had collaborated on over the years that the spec group could
> then pick up and merge into the BOLTs now that the feature is deemed
> >>> Over the last couple of months, we have discussed the idea of adding a
> BIP-style process (bLIPs? SPARKs? ) on top of the BOLTs with various
> members of the community, and have received positive feedback from both app
> layer and protocol devs. This would not affect the existing BOLT process at
> all, but simply add a place for app layer best practices to be succinctly
> described and organized, especially those that require coordination. These
> features are being built outside of the BOLT process today anyways, so
> ideally a bLIP process would bring them into the fold instead of leaving
> them buried in old ML posts or not documented at all.
> >>> Some potential bLIP ideas that people have mentioned include: each
> lnurl variant, on-the-fly channel opens, AMP, dynamic commitments, podcast
> payment metadata, p2p messaging formats, new pathfinding heuristics, remote
> node connection standards, etc.
> >>> If the community is interested in moving forward, we've started a
> branch  describing such a process. It's based on BIP-0002, so not trying
> to reinvent any wheels. It would be great to have developers from various
> implementations and from the broader app layer ecosystem volunteer to be
> listed as editors (basically the same role as in the BIPs).
> >>> Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
> >>> Best,
> >>> Ryan
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>>  bLIP = Bitcoin Lightning Improvement Proposal and SPARK =
> Standardization of Protocols at the Request of the Kommunity (h/t fiatjaf)
> >>> 
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> Lightning-dev mailing list
> >>> Lightning-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
> >>> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/lightning-dev
> >> --
> >> https://www.rene-pickhardt.de
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