Many changes, including bug fixes and documentation improvements can be implemented and reviewed via the normal GitHub pull request workflow.
Some changes though are "substantial", and we ask that these be put through a bit of a design process and produce a consensus among the Hathor community and the core developers.
The "RFC" (request for comments) process is intended to provide a consistent and controlled path for new features to enter the network and official libraries, so that all stakeholders can be confident about the direction Hathor is evolving in.
Table of Contents
- Table of Contents
- Summary of RFCs
- When you need to follow this process
- Before creating an RFC
- What the process is
- The RFC life-cycle
- Reviewing RFCs
- Implementing an RFC
- RFC Postponement
- Help this is all too informal!
Summary of RFCs
Finished RFCs (done, with a stable interface)
Accepted RFCs (accepted; may not be implemented yet)
|4||Creation of Tokens||Accepted||testnet-bravo|
|MR-5||Multi-signature Transaction Outputs||Accepted||testnet-bravo|
|15||The Anatomy of a Transaction||Accepted||-|
|27||Exchange Integration Guide||Draft||-|
|44||Best Practices for Integrations||Accepted||-|
Provisional RFCs (provisionally accepted; interface may still change)
|MR-13||Peer-to-Peer Protocol: Handshaking & Control Messages||Draft|
|MR-17||Peer-to-peer Protocol: Synchronization||Draft|
|MR-6||Merged Mining with Bitcoin||Draft|
Open RFCs (under consideration)
|MR-3||Nano Contracts: Oracles||Draft|
|25||Peer-to-peer Protocol: Sync v2||Draft||-|
When you need to follow this process
You need to follow this process if you intend to make "substantial" changes to the Hathor protocol, network or the RFC process itself. What constitutes a "substantial" change is evolving based on community norms and varies depending on what part of the ecosystem you are proposing to change, but may include the following.
- Any change that affects the transaction or block's serialization format.
- Changes to the validation of transactions and blocks.
- Changes to the opcodes of the script language.
- Changes that affects the consensus of the network, i.e., which transactions are voided and which are executed.
- In general any feature that requires a soft or hard fork.
Some changes do not require an RFC:
- Rephrasing, reorganizing, refactoring, or otherwise "changing shape does not change meaning".
- Additions that strictly improve objective, numerical quality criteria (warning removal, speedup, better platform coverage, more parallelism, trap more errors, etc.)
- Additions only likely to be noticed by other developers-of-hathor, invisible to users-of-hathor.
If you submit a pull request to implement a new feature without going through the RFC process, it may be closed with a polite request to submit an RFC first.
Before creating an RFC
A hastily-proposed RFC can hurt its chances of acceptance. Low quality proposals, proposals for previously-rejected features, or those that don't fit into the near-term roadmap, may be quickly rejected, which can be demotivating for the unprepared contributor. Laying some groundwork ahead of the RFC can make the process smoother.
Although there is no single way to prepare for submitting an RFC, it is generally a good idea to pursue feedback from other project developers beforehand, to ascertain that the RFC may be desirable; having a consistent impact on the project requires concerted effort toward consensus-building.
The most common preparations for writing and submitting an RFC include talking the idea over on our Discord, Telegram, or WhatsApp groups, and occasionally posting "pre-RFCs" on the developer forum. You may file issues on this repo for discussion, but these are not actively looked at by core team.
As a rule of thumb, receiving encouraging feedback from long-standing project developers, and particularly members of the core team is a good indication that the RFC is worth pursuing.
What the process is
In short, to get a major feature added to Hathor, one must first get the RFC merged into the RFC repository as a markdown file. At that point the RFC is "active" and may be implemented with the goal of eventual inclusion into Hathor.
- Fork the RFC repo RFC repository
text/0000-my-feature.md(where "my-feature" is descriptive. don't assign an RFC number yet).
- Fill in the RFC. Put care into the details: RFCs that do not present convincing motivation, demonstrate lack of understanding of the impact of the design, or are disingenuous about the drawbacks or alternatives tend to be poorly-received.
- Submit a pull request. As a pull request the RFC will receive design feedback from the larger community, and the author should be prepared to revise it in response.
- Build consensus and integrate feedback. RFCs that have broad support are much more likely to make progress than those that don't receive any comments. Feel free to reach out to the RFC assignee in particular to get help identifying stakeholders and obstacles.
- The core team will discuss the RFC pull request, as much as possible in the comment thread of the pull request itself. Offline discussion will be summarized on the pull request comment thread.
- RFCs rarely go through this process unchanged, especially as alternatives and drawbacks are shown. You can make edits, big and small, to the RFC to clarify or change the design, but make changes as new commits to the pull request, and leave a comment on the pull request explaining your changes. Specifically, do not squash or rebase commits after they are visible on the pull request.
- At some point, a member of the core team will propose a "motion for final comment period" (FCP), along with a disposition for the RFC (merge, close, or postpone).
- This step is taken when enough of the tradeoffs have been discussed that the
subteam is in a position to make a decision. That does not require consensus
amongst all participants in the RFC thread (which is usually impossible).
However, the argument supporting the disposition on the RFC needs to have
already been clearly articulated, and there should not be a strong consensus
against that position outside of the subteam. Subteam members use their best
judgment in taking this step, and the FCP itself ensures there is ample time
and notification for stakeholders to push back if it is made prematurely.
- For RFCs with lengthy discussion, the motion to FCP is usually preceded by a summary comment trying to lay out the current state of the discussion and major tradeoffs/points of disagreement.
- Before actually entering FCP, all members of the core team must sign off; this is often the point at which many subteam members first review the RFC in full depth.
- The FCP lasts ten calendar days, so that it is open for at least 5 business days. It is also advertised widely, e.g. in Hathor's twitter. This way all stakeholders have a chance to lodge any final objections before a decision is reached.
- In most cases, the FCP period is quiet, and the RFC is either merged or closed. However, sometimes substantial new arguments or ideas are raised, the FCP is canceled, and the RFC goes back into development mode.
The RFC life-cycle
Once an RFC becomes "active" then authors may implement it and submit the feature as a pull request to the Hathor repo. Being "active" is not a rubber stamp, and in particular still does not mean the feature will ultimately be merged; it does mean that in principle all the major stakeholders have agreed to the feature and are amenable to merging it.
Furthermore, the fact that a given RFC has been accepted and is "active" implies nothing about what priority is assigned to its implementation, nor does it imply anything about whether a Hathor developer has been assigned the task of implementing the feature. While it is not necessary that the author of the RFC also write the implementation, it is by far the most effective way to see an RFC through to completion: authors should not expect that other project developers will take on responsibility for implementing their accepted feature.
Modifications to "active" RFCs can be done in follow-up pull requests. We strive to write each RFC in a manner that it will reflect the final design of the feature; but the nature of the process means that we cannot expect every merged RFC to actually reflect what the end result will be at the time of the next major release.
In general, once accepted, RFCs should not be substantially changed. Only very minor changes should be submitted as amendments. More substantial changes should be new RFCs, with a note added to the original RFC. Exactly what counts as a "very minor change" is up to the core team to decide.
While the RFC pull request is up, the core team may schedule meetings with the author and/or relevant stakeholders to discuss the issues in greater detail, and in some cases the topic may be discussed at a core team meeting. In either case a summary from the meeting will be posted back to the RFC pull request.
The core team makes final decisions about RFCs after the benefits and drawbacks are well understood. These decisions can be made at any time, but the core team will regularly issue decisions. When a decision is made, the RFC pull request will either be merged or closed. In either case, if the reasoning is not clear from the discussion in thread, the core team will add a comment describing the rationale for the decision.
Implementing an RFC
Some accepted RFCs represent vital features that need to be implemented right away. Other accepted RFCs can represent features that can wait until some arbitrary developer feels like doing the work. Every accepted RFC has an associated issue tracking its implementation in the Hathor repository; thus that associated issue can be assigned a priority via the triage process that the team uses for all issues in the Hathor repository.
The author of an RFC is not obligated to implement it. Of course, the RFC author (like any other developer) is welcome to post an implementation for review after the RFC has been accepted.
If you are interested in working on the implementation for an "active" RFC, but cannot determine if someone else is already working on it, feel free to ask (e.g. by leaving a comment on the associated issue).
Some RFC pull requests are tagged with the "postponed" label when they are closed (as part of the rejection process). An RFC closed with "postponed" is marked as such because we want neither to think about evaluating the proposal nor about implementing the described feature until some time in the future, and we believe that we can afford to wait until then to do so. Postponed pull requests may be re-opened when the time is right. We don't have any formal process for that, you should ask members of the core team.
Usually an RFC pull request marked as "postponed" has already passed an informal first round of evaluation, namely the round of "do we think we would ever possibly consider making this change, as outlined in the RFC pull request, or some semi-obvious variation of it." (When the answer to the latter question is "no", then the appropriate response is to close the RFC, not postpone it.)
Help this is all too informal!
The process is intended to be as lightweight as reasonable for the present circumstances. As usual, we are trying to let the process be driven by consensus and community norms, not impose more structure than necessary.
This repository is currently in licensed under either of
- Apache License, Version 2.0, (LICENSE-APACHE or http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0)
- MIT license (LICENSE-MIT or http://opensource.org/licenses/MIT)
Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.