By Elias Simos · Jan 6 2021
Welcome to the fourth edition of the Substrate Ecosystem Update, a compilation of ecosystem insights and expert analysis from Elias Simos and our Protocol Ops team.
The end-of-year holiday season is always a good opportunity for reflecting and taking stock of progress made. When in the midst of it all, it might seem that only marginal steps are taken, and you only get to realize how far you’ve come when looking back. And my word, what a year it’s been for the Substrate ecosystem looking back to 2020!
Two network launches, hundreds of validators, and the most value at stake out of any live proof of stake network are only the tip of the iceberg. As momentum is picking up, with parachains well on their way to launching in 2021, a Substrate toolkit growing ever larger, and a nascent yet engaged community, it might just so happen that the stars really do align for Polkadot, Kusama, and the broader ecosystem this year.
- The Polkadot 2020 roundup; a great overview of 2020! It’s clear that the ecosystem in Polkadot is picking up some serious steam. For an abbreviated version of Polkadot 2020 “in numbers,” check out this excellent animated Twitter thread from @alxheller.
- Looking ahead, ongoing work on the cross-chain interoperability front is a major focus for 2021, with Substrate 3.0 expected as soon as H1 2021. Ethereum compatibility could be right around the corner!
- The 1000 validators programme went live on Polkadot in early December 2020. The maximum number of validators in the active set started to increase by 1 each era for 44 eras, leading to a new maximum of 298. At the moment there are 282 validators in the active set, with 334 in waiting.
- The pre-genesis audit results for Polkadot are coming out as a series of blog posts. The first one from Atreidis partners details (among others) the finding of a critical logic issue on Substrate that allowed 0 cost transactions, which would open up the network to all kinds of DoS attack vectors.
- Parity released the Rococo-V1 Parachains Testnet. Rococo supports XCMP-lite, Polkadot’s cross-parachain messaging protocol, which uses the relay chain as a transport mechanism. This is a big step towards parachains actually going live!
- Speaking of cross-chain messaging, Basic XCM was merged in, allowing Relay Chains to pass messages down to parachains.
- FRAME v2 was merged to the master Substrate branch on GitHub. This will enable builders to create their own Palettes more easily.
- A new page for live Bounties now lives on polkadot.js.
- Newer versions of the staking rewards calculator from the W3F keep coming, with v2.1 now up on GitHub.
- A validator ranking page is now up on validators.kusama.network–community built and funded by the on-chain Treasury.
See here for a refresher of how governance is enacted in Polkadot.
A survey went up on the subject of on-chain governance; Substrate chains are looking for feedback on how the process has been working for the community. Polkadot governance has come a long way, but there is still a lot of room to improve. Do take the time if you care!
- The first Treasury Bounty on Polkadot–a rebranding proposal by Studio Koto–has been approved! The curator for this Bounty will be a multisig of four community members that will take no reward for curating the Bounty. More details on this in Motion #51.
- Referendum 13, on reimbursing incorrectly slashed validators around the time when runtime v26 was introduced, is passing almost unanimously (albeit with a 0.01% DOT turnout).
- Proposal 231 revolves around funding the development of Elara v0.3, an Infura-like service for Polkadot. Elara will run as a non-profit project with a view on continued support from the Treasury. The current vote phase expires at the end of this week.
- Acala came forward with a proposal for scholarships for the 6-week long Substrate Developers Academy they have created. The goal is to fund 6 scholarships for talented developers that cannot afford to pay for the program.
- Polkaworld–a Polkadot community in China—published their first Treasury reports for Polkadot and Kusama. According to the reports: “25 treasury proposals have been submitted for the Polkadot Treasury and 18 proposals have been passed, 104,054 DOTs have been allocated, each treasury proposal is funded by approximately 5780 DOTs (worth approximately $29,000). There are approximately 9.6M DOTs in the treasury, and currently, only 1% is used.”
- Referendum 93, that proposed an increase of the validator slots in the active set by 1 per era (for 200 eras), has passed. There are currently 812 validators in the active set.
- A couple referenda emerged that had no clear purpose or description. It later became known that they were “tests” of the functionality.
5 LLC validators and 6 nominators were slashed on eras 212 and 215 for a total of ~16.3k DOTs! The vast majority of the slashing was applied to the nominators.
- Compound–arguably the leading DeFi money market on Ethereum–is building a Compound Chain on Substrate! Rumors of this started spreading before the announcement as some keen eyes noticed that engineers from Compound forked the Substrate codebase. Compound Chain aims to not only open up the money market to a whole new universe of latent collateral that lives on Polkadot (as well as other chains), but also to introduce new functionality and overcome the hurdle of high fees on Ethereum–which is very likely here to stay. This is a token of how the line between Ethereum Layer 2 and parallel ecosystems is starting to blur. If we are to see a future of interoperable blockchains, this feels like how the beginning would look like. Exciting times ahead, no less!
- Frontier–Parity’s Ethereum compatibility layer on Substrate–was a focal point in Polkadot’s 2020 Roundup, as it got to “an initial level of feature-completeness” towards year end. A feature-complete Frontier will mean that all Substrate chains (and Polkadot or Kusama parachains) will be able to provide full Ethereum compatibility to their developer base!
- Moonbeam–the Substrate to Ethereum bridge–announced an upgrade of its Testnet to now support different types of nodes, improved error messaging, and more.
- The PolkaBTC alpha testnet is live!
- Rebasing currency Ampleforth is coming to Acala.
Fundraising and Grant Activity
Web3 Foundation grants Wave 9 have started rolling in!
- Binance-backed Cere Network raised another $1.5 million in order to fulfil the mission of bringing decentralized CRM tools to life–built on Substrate.
- Another insurance startup–Tidal Finance–raised $1.95 million, to bring smart contract insurance products to Polkadot.
- Some of the largest exchanges in the industry have started recognizing the strategic importance of the emerging Substrate ecosystem; Huobi announced a $5 million investment to the Polkadot Ecosystem Support Fund, while Binance is establishing a $10 million fund dedicated to enabling projects built on Substrate.
For an extensive list of the various projects building on Polkadot, you can refer here. Please do let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions on this update. We’d love to hear from you!
—Elias Simos, Protocol Specialist
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