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BSIP: 0001
Title: BSIP Purpose and Guidelines
Authors: Fabian Schuh <Fabian@BitShares.eu>
Status: Draft
Type: Informational
Created: 2015-12-16

What is a BSIP?

BSIP stands for BitShares Improvement Proposal but can also seen as an improvement protocol. A BSIP is a design document providing information to the BitShares community, or describing a new feature for BitShares or its processes or environment. The BSIP should provide a concise technical specification of the feature or the idea and a rationale for it. It may not only describe technical improvements but also document best-practises and recommendations.

We intend BSIPs to be the primary mechanisms for proposing new features, for collecting community input on an issue, and for documenting the design decisions that have gone into BitShares. The BSIP author is responsible for building consensus within the community and documenting dissenting opinions.

Because the BSIPs are maintained as text files in a versioned repository, their revision history is the historical record of the feature proposal.

BSIP Types

There are two kinds of BSIPs:

  • An Informational BSIP describes a BitShares design issue, or provides general guidelines or information to the BitShares community, but does not propose a new feature, protocol change or any other modification. Informational BSIPs do not necessarily represent a BitShares community consensus or recommendation, so users and implementors are free to ignore Informational BSIPs or follow their advice. Examples would be best-practises or recommendations.
  • A Protocol Upgrade BSIP describes any change that affects most or all BitShares implementations, such as a change to the protocol, a change in block or transaction validity rules, or any change or addition that affects the interoperability of applications using BitShares.

Contributing

People wishing to submit BSIPs first should propose their idea as github issue first. After discussion you will be assigned a number for the bsip and can send a pull request for your draft. Once consensus among discussion participants is reached, the status can be switched to accepted. From this time on, major changes of the document will not be permitted.

If the proposal requires a protocol upgrade, the proposal is considered implemented only if shareholders have approved a corresponding worker or hard fork proposal. Informational BSIPs can only reach the accepted state since their implementation is not enforced by the blockchain.

We are fairly liberal with listing BSIP drafts here since the final decision of its actual implementation is made solely by BitShares shareholders via approval voting.

It is highly recommended that a single BSIP contain a single key proposal or new idea. Small enhancements or patches often don't need a BSIP and can be injected into the BitShares development work flow with a patch submission to the BitShares issue tracker. The more focused the BSIP, the more successful it tends to be. The BSIP editor reserves the right to reject BSIP proposals if they appear too unfocused or too broad. If in doubt, split your BSIP into several well-focused ones.

Vetting an idea publicly before going as far as writing a BSIP is meant to save the potential author time. Many ideas have been brought forward for changing BitShares that have been rejected for various reasons. Asking the BitShares community first if an idea is original helps prevent too much time being spent on something that is guaranteed to be rejected based on prior discussions (searching the internet does not always do the trick). It also helps to make sure the idea is applicable to the entire community and not just the author. Just because an idea sounds good to the author does not mean it will work for most people in most areas where BitShares is used.

Following a discussion, the proposal should be sent to the BitShares developers and the BSIP editors with the draft BSIP. This draft must be written in BSIP style as described below, else it will be sent back without further regard until proper formatting rules are followed.

If the BSIP editor approves, he will assign the BSIP a number, label it, give it status "Draft", and add it to the git repository. The BSIP editor will not unreasonably deny a BSIP. Reasons for denying BSIP status include duplication of effort, being technically unsound, not providing proper motivation or addressing backwards compatibility, or not in keeping with the BitShares philosophy.

The BSIP author may update the Draft as necessary in the git repository. Updates to drafts may also be submitted by the author as pull requests.

For a BSIP to be accepted it must meet certain minimum criteria. It must be a clear and complete description of the proposed enhancement. The enhancement must represent a net improvement. The proposed implementation, if applicable, must be solid and must not complicate the protocol unduly.

Once a BSIP has been published, the reference implementation must be completed. When the reference implementation is complete and accepted by the shareholders via approval voting, the status will be changed to "Accepted". A BSIP can also be "Rejected" by shareholders.

Furthermore, a BSIP can be assigned status "Deferred". The BSIP author or editor can assign the BSIP this status when no progress is being made on the BSIP. Once a BSIP is deferred, the BSIP editor can re-assign it to draft status.

BSIPs can also be superseded by a different BSIP, rendering the original obsolete. This is intended for Informational BSIPs, where version 2 of an API can replace version 1.

What belongs in a BSIP?

Each BSIP should have the following parts:

  • Preamble -- RFC 822 style headers containing meta-data about the BSIP, including the BSIP number, a short descriptive title (limited to a maximum of 44 characters), the names, and optionally the contact info for each author, etc.

  • Abstract -- a short (~200 word) description of the technical issue being addressed.

  • Copyright/public domain -- Each BSIP must either be explicitly labelled as placed in the public domain (see this BSIP as an example) or licensed under the Open Publication License.

  • Motivation -- The motivation is critical for BSIPs that want to change the BitShares protocol. It should clearly explain why the existing protocol specification is inadequate to address the problem that the BSIP solves. BSIP submissions without sufficient motivation may be rejected outright.

  • Rationale -- The rationale fleshes out the specification by describing what motivated the design and why particular design decisions were made. It should describe alternate designs that were considered and related work, e.g. how the feature is supported in other languages. The rationale should provide evidence of consensus within the community and discuss important objections or concerns raised during discussion.

  • Specification -- The technical specification should describe the syntax and semantics of any new feature. The specification should be detailed enough to allow competing, interoperable implementations for any of the current BitShares platforms.

  • Discussion -- The BSIP shall include a discussion on positive and negative effects on the BitShares ecosystem shall it be accepted by shareholders. This section is supposed to be the most important section for shareholders to grasp the full impact of the BSIP and help shareholders to make a decision.

  • Summary for Shareholders -- Most BSIPs will probably be of technical nature. However, many shareholders are not as technical as the author of a particular BSIP. This non-technical paragraph serves as a place which can be used to to interact with shareholders and help them form their opinion. It is not meant to be a marketing driven paragraph to convince shareholders to vote for or against a proposal, though.

BSIP Formats and Templates

BSIPs should be written in mediawiki or markdown format. Image files should be included in a subdirectory for that BSIP. A template including the header preamble is provided in this repository.

BSIP Editors

The current BSIP editors are:

The editors don't pass judgement on BSIPs. We merely do the administrative & editorial part.

Many BSIPs are written and maintained by developers with write access to the BitShares codebase. The BSIP editors monitor BSIP changes, and correct any structure, grammar, spelling, or markup mistakes we see.

For each new BSIP that comes in an editor does the following:

  • Read the BSIP to check if it is ready: sound and complete. The ideas must make technical sense, even if they don't seem likely to be accepted.
  • The title should accurately describe the content.
  • Edit the BSIP for language (spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc.), markup (for reST BSIPs), code style (examples should match BSIP 8 & 7).

Once the BSIP is ready for the repository it should be submitted as a "pull request" to the [https://github.com/BitShares/bsips BitShares/BSIPs] repository on GitHub where it may get further feedback.

The BSIP editor will:

  • Assign a BSIP number (almost always just the next available number, but sometimes it's a special/joke number, like 666 or 3141) in the pull request comments.
  • Merge the pull request when the author is ready (allowing some time for further peer review).
  • List the BSIP in [[README.mediawiki]]
  • Send email back to the BSIP author with next steps (post to BitShares mailing list).

History

This document was derived heavily from Python's PEP-0001 and Bitcoin BIP-0001. In many places text was simply copied and modified. Although the PEP-0001/BIP-0001 text was written by Barry Warsaw, Jeremy Hylton, and David Goodger, they are not responsible for its use in the BitShares Improvement Process, and should not be bothered with technical questions specific to BitShares or the BSIP process. Please direct all comments to the BSIP editors or the BitShares development mailing list.