Keeping it simple

Let’s say you’re the leader of an open source implementation of Bitcoin, and you decide to follow my advice and Know Your Customer.

And you decide your customer is primarily big mining pools and businesses that just want a “full node” that runs on the network. Immediately after making that big decision, you can make your life much simpler by doing a lot less.

You can drop any code related to maintaining a wallet; big businesses and mining pools will have their own multisignature-secure wallets and will have somebody who’s job it is to make sure they stay secure.

You can drop (or drastically cut back) any graphical user interface code, and can drop support for Windows and Mac. Your customers will almost certainly tell you they run Linux boxes maintained by sysadmins who aren’t afraid of terminal windows.

You can drop “deterministic builds” – in fact, you can probably drop packaging entirely. Those sysadmins will probably tell you they’re happy to compile themselves from source (and might tell you they always apply their own patches, anyway).

That is a lot of stuff you don’t have to worry about, and you can concentrate on what your customers really want: absolutely robust (never crashes), fast, easy-to-maintain software.

Or maybe you decide your customer is other developers– you want to create a “libconsensus” that just embodies the consensus rules. That is even simpler; you can drop everything mentioned above and concentrate on building a library with a fantastic programming interface that is easy to plug in to other projects. Let your customers (or potential customers) tell you what they need, whether that’s a pluggable database backend or callbacks so a wallet application can notify an end-user when certain events happen on the blockchain or excellent documentation and sample code.

Learn from other successful, long-lived open source projects. “Do one thing well”. Stay focused. And don’t try to be perfect, just make sure you get better over time.


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