Today, we’re excited to announce the initial release of Blockstack Server - an experimental key-value store (for unique, global name registration and secure data storage) on top of Bitcoin. Before we dive into what this is all about, let’s first provide a little background.

Why a new key-value store?

At Onename, we consider decentralized naming and identity to be one of the most powerful applications of the blockchain, and we are proud to be building on top of and helping drive forward the blockchain ID protocol.

We have always stated that something like blockchain ID could ultimately live on any blockchain and we are hoping this will show that to be true.

Right now, there’s an implementation on the Namecoin blockchain, but blockchain ID could just as easily be ported to sidechains, a logic-heavy blockchain like Ethereum, or protocols like Counterparty that build embedded chains of consensus on top of the Bitcoin blockchain (let’s call them topchains).

What if I told you... you could have a blockchain within a blockchain.

Cryptocurrency developers highly value the ability to build on the strongest and best-supported blockchains, and because of this we decided to take a crack at releasing an experimental key-value store on Bitcoin.

Design Overview

  1. Based on the Bitcoin blockchain: see above.

  2. Unlimited data storage: Storing large amounts of data in the blockchain can lead to blockchain bloat, so we decided to use a DHT (distributed hash table) for data storage while storing only hashes of the data in the blockchain, yielding virtually unlimited storage.

  3. Give money back to miners: Miners provide critical infrastructure for the Bitcoin ecosystem and we believe that any services built on top of Bitcoin should contribute to Bitcoin mining incentives.

  4. End-to-end design principle: The end-to-end design principle of keeping the core of the network simple proved to be very successful for the Internet, and we believe this is a good decision for blockchain applications as well. Thus, we use the blockchain for a few basic operations and keeping most of the intelligence client-side.

You can check out our codebase and documentation on Github for more information.

Diagram of blockstack on Bitcoin and DHT

Future Development

We’re releasing Blockstack Server simply as an early experiment and are calling on the Bitcoin, Namecoin, and cryptocurrency communities for feedback. When it comes to building the next generation infrastructure that is going to power the future of applications, it’s important to consider a wide range of design choices. We hope that Blockstack Server adds to this healthy debate and blockchain-based key-value stores become more reliable, secure, and full-featured as a result of this experiment.

* An earlier version of this post used the term Blockstore. This post has been edited to reflect that Blockstore's functionality was later merged into Blockstack Server.

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