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BRC20 Indexer Wars: BRC20 Just Started the Year with a Fork? What happened?

By 0xxz@GoldenFinance

The year 2024 has just begun and BRC20, which was a huge success in 2023, is about to fork?

What happened.
On January 2, 2024, UniSat announced that it will follow the Ordinals Jubilee upgrade to confirm that brc-20 remains on Ordinals and does not split into isolated protocols. Additionally, the whitepaper will be released on January 31, 2024, which may be the most important gift we’ve been able to offer brc-20, Ordinals, Bitcoin, and everyone in the community since last February. Bitcoin mining

Domo, the founder of the BRC20 standard, then tweeted that Unisat’s haste in making these updates was reckless, disregarding its peer indexers and potentially damaging to the wider BRC20 user community. He further accused it of being part of Unisat’s considered and ongoing strategy to gain control of the protocol, and implored the BRC20 community to collectively reject Unisat’s proposed fork.

Aware of the serious implications and valuations involved, I believe that rushing these updates in BRC20 was reckless, disregarding its peer indexers and potentially damaging to the wider BRC20 user community.The 0.8/0.9 incident highlighted the complexity of integrating new updates into the BRC20 standard, and whilst I am passionate about the implementation of protocol enhancements, it is clear that without a robust testing, coordination and validation infrastructure, these changes may not be securely integrated. This is currently under construction. In addition, the timeline and pending incentive structure suggest that this is not just a one-off, unilateral technology-driven action by Unisat, but part of a deliberate, ongoing strategy to gain control of the protocol.

The L1 Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to ensuring that the BRC20 standard is not controlled by centralized companies, is currently maintaining an indexer with the express purpose of securing all funds held in BRC20 assets. Together, we implore the BRC20 community to collectively reject Unisat’s proposed fork and support a nonprofit, security-first approach to maintaining the protocol.

Ordinals founder Casey also joined the fray to add fuel to the fire on Jan. 3, announcing the launch of Ord 0.14.0, which will be the last version release before Jubilee.

Ord 0.14.0 is now available. This will be the last release before Jubilee.

The only notable change is a bug fix that kept unbound inscriptions unbound after Jubilee. Internally, we use whether or not an inscription has an unknown even-numbered segment curse to determine whether or not the inscription should be unbound (Cursed Inscriptions , Cursed Inscriptions were triggered by a bug in the Ordinals protocol prior to the Jubilee, which resulted in some of the inscriptions not being recognized by the indexer, and so the Ordinals team decided to assign these cursed inscriptions a negative value, counting down from 0 (counting down from 0, hence the name negative inscriptions). Because of this, the Jubilee upgrade with the curse code disabled also left these inscriptions unbound. To fix this, we simply check the inscription directly for unknown even-numbered segments, rather than looking at its curse.ORD Train is up https://github.com/ordinals/ord/r eleases/tag/0.14.0    ETC Miner

Ordinal marketplace Bioniq CEO Bob Bodily posts what he calls the BRC20 indexer wars and gives a background on the debate between Unisat and domo as well as a personal opinion:

The BRC20 indexer wars: what’s at stake in the debate
First, a quick summary of BRC-20:

BRC-20 is by far the most successful FT token protocol on Bitcoin. Last year’s transaction volume was in the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. It’s not perfect (uses inefficient coding, bloats the UTXO set, and has limited functionality at the moment), but it’s incredibly easy to deploy and mint tokens, and has inspired inscriptions across the crypto world on nearly every chain.

Second, the technology is quick to get started:

BRC-20 is a meta-protocol built on the Ordinals meta-protocol, which in turn is built on Bitcoin. This means that Ordinals uses Bitcoin as the complete data availability layer with an off-chain indexer to determine meta-protocol status.BRC-20 uses the Ordinals protocol as the complete data availability layer with an off-chain indexer to determine meta-protocol status. This means that BRC-20 is actually a meta-meta-protocol because it is built on top of Ordinals.

The complexity of building BRC-20 on top of Ord:

The Ordinals protocol specification has been changing over the last year.Ord is a brand new protocol and as such it has changed a lot. When you build a token standard on top of Ord, your protocol adds additional risk because you have a transfer protocol as a dependency. This is what happened with Ord 0.8.0 and Ord 0.9.0. Different versions of Ord track inscriptions slightly differently, which means that the BRC-20 indexer will report incorrect balances depending on whether they are built on 0.8.0 and 0.9.0. This is, of course, undesirable.

The L1 Foundation Solution

The Layer 1 Foundation’s (L1F, BRC20 protocol originator domo is one of the founders of L1F) solution is to freeze the Ord protocol version to 0.9.0 to prevent similar problems in the future. So even if we have other classes of cursed inscriptions, by building all indexers on version 0.9.0 you can avoid any cross-version incompatibilities. This isn’t a permanent solution, but for now it works very well in keeping BRC-20 stable.

Unisat wants to move the protocol forward

First Unisat introduced the Black and White Module System. This allows people building on BRC-20 (like Unisat) to introduce new functionality in the black module (an unindexed temporary location in the main protocol). You can put tokens into the black module, but you can’t take them out until they are approved, essentially like a bitcoin spacechain chain (one-way bridging). Then yesterday, Unisat announced that they wanted to upgrade the version of Ord under the BRC-20 indexer to the latest version, Jubilee. jubilee is the official version of Ord, and will no longer have cursed inscriptions (all inscriptions will always have a positive number).

The crux of the argument: how to upgrade BRC-20

Upgrading the Ord version under the BRC-20 indexer is actually a very good idea. the Ord protocol will be much more stable, we will no longer have to worry about having cursed inscriptions, not having to worry about balance mismatches and so on.

Unisat wants to roll out this protocol as soon as possible, which makes sense because Unisat is a startup. Startups don’t have time to sit around and wait. You have to work hard to find the right product for the market and build it for your users.

L1F wanted to delay the upgrade because if we rushed it, there could be more bugs. best in slot and others have found some of these protocol bugs. This makes sense because L1F is designed to protect the foundation of the protocol, so they can accept moving a slower, more purposeful protocol path for the upgrade.

Some see this as a power play by the Unisat team to try to control the protocol. Others see L1F as simply an attempt to control the protocol, which should be more market-driven.

My take.

Due to the incredible success of the BRC-20 protocol, we can’t afford to move any faster. the startup phase of BRC-20 is over. brc-20 is an absolutely huge protocol (TVL, users, infrastructure, wallet, market) and nothing should be done any faster. I like the approach from L1F. domo has always recognized the importance of protocol stability (BRC-20 hasn’t really changed since its inception), which is an advantage. Easier to integrate. Easier to build. And so on. We need decentralization, thoughtfulness, and slow-progress consensus and compromise to drive change in the BRC-20 protocol forward.



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