Progress Update (May 2022)
There has been a lot of focus on our flagship projects in the past month(s) while the team refines their trajectories. The distinct responsibilities of Anchor and Unicove are becoming more clear, with Anchor working towards being the EOSIO “authenticator” for any application and Unicove being the primary EOSIO “wallet” interface Greymass offers.
The interplay between these two projects provide a solid path for our team to “eat our own dog food" and gain valuable insights on how best to help drive EOSIO innovation. Behind these projects are some mostly invisible components that make these projects possible (Fuel, Robo, SDKs, etc). These components also make up a significant amount of work beyond the EOSIO apps most people recognize.
There’s no shortage of improvements that could be made to any of these projects, but unfortunately there has been a lack of man hours to commit on our end. Greymass ultimately has too many mouths (projects) to feed. For far too long we have operated with 3–5 developers, not much in the way of support staff, all while managing dozens of projects.
It’s for this reason that one of our primary goals this year is growing our small team and to help onboard new developers into the EOSIO ecosystem.
We plan on tackling this in two ways:
- Finding individuals interested in joining Greymass to help us build apps for all EOSIO users. Greymass needs this team growth because with its current team size, as developers shift from project to project, some projects ultimately don’t get the attention they deserve. All of our projects are impacted in some way by this and the obvious solution is more hands on deck.
- Building tools that developers (us included) need to build their apps. This has been a goal of ours, out of necessity, since very early on. The types of applications our team originally wanted to build on EOSIO weren’t possible with the tools that existed. The goal with all this tooling is to make them approachable and easy to learn by new developers, thus increasing the size of the talent pool capable of building within the ecosystem.
With funding available both from our block producer rewards, as well as new programs like Pomelo and the Grant Framework, it’s now possible for us to grow the team. Greymass is looking for individuals who are interested in pushing the boundaries of these new technologies.
In the coming months we will be posting more detailed descriptions of the roles and responsibilities we need people to help us with. The list will include web design, development, marketing, documentation, project management and more. If you’d like to reach out in advance and start a conversation — please do so, you can contact Aaron (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly to start the conversation.
In the meantime, we will continue to improve our products while in parallel we focus on growing the team. Expect us to continue to provide in-depth updates as often as possible.
As a bit of housekeeping: we’re deploying this update to Medium in a potentially shift for all of our updates/content to a new home.
With that said, on to our May 2022 update!
The team continues to work on all 3 versions of Anchor while still focused on user onboarding and improving the overall experience. These two initiatives serve as the bedrock for applications who wish to build in the ecosystem and the users who engage with them.
We recently started working on the next generation of Anchor desktop and the technology required to make it better. This rewrite of the desktop version takes all of our learnings over the past 4 years, places it into a modern technology stack, and starts the process of aligning desktop with the mobile versions.
The experimentation with this new version is slow as we must stop to develop new components that the application is going to require. We have no anticipated release date of this new version but you are free to keep track of the project (or help contribute!) using our Github repo.
For many months the Android version of Anchor has been going through similar processes to what the desktop version just started. After wide adoption of the early access version it was discovered that a number of the components the app was built upon wouldn’t be well supported in the Android ecosystem. One of these components is the security component, which controls how the device stores private keys and authorizes via biometric options.
Because of this we made the decision that we needed to create the components and make them bespoke to Anchor. These components will give us better options for user security, support for more device types, and better access to the security modules Android offers. This process has occupied two of our developers for the better part of the year as we work towards a stable release of the app.
Due to the amount of fundamental changes we are making, we will be conducting a round of testing outside of the Google Play store with this version. These early builds may break, delete keys, and crash far more often than the early access release. For this reason we’d like only users who are experienced with private keys and familiar with some level of troubleshooting to test this in the first round. If you’re interested, feel free to join us in one of our telegram channels.
Out of the 3 versions we have, the iOS version has proven to be the most stable and welcoming. Many of our future designs are based upon the iOS version due to how successful it has been for onboarding new users, signing transactions, and providing resources when needed.
The team is beginning to test some new features which will be coming to the TestFlight build in the not too distant future. This includes:
- An overview of “Balance Changes” for the system token in each transaction.
- The optional UX requires the user to view an entire transaction before signing.
- The addition of a “Help” section of the app.
- Tutorials in the app to help new users understand the app.
- Improvements to the account creation and backup processes.
- The option to manually enter account creation codes.
- A number of bug fixes.
While our team has always tried to be accessible and offer user support, we recently increased our efforts and are dedicating more resources to help us scale these processes. Our developers occasionally running into users requesting support on Telegram or Reddit worked great on a small scale but with a growing user base we need new processes.
To help with this we have started adding features to Anchor for users to get help from our team, as well as starting to build out a knowledge base and support center. This allows us to not only help users who need it, but also see where people are struggling to use EOSIO blockchains. What we learn from this support really helps us shape which part of the ecosystem needs the most attention.
The rebranded version of Unicove has been deployed to production. For months we have kept the feature set for Unicove minimal while we focus on the foundation of the app and establishing its identity.
In the meantime however, we have been iterating on design for the next couple major feature releases, like the “Activity”, “Earn”, and “Governance” sections.
The “Earn” section of the app is still in design, but represents the “Unicove answer” to all of the complicated systems that confuse most users. The goal is to abstract away all of the systems like REX, staking, and voting — which makes it difficult to get excited about the opportunities the systems may present. We will provide opportunities to dive deeper for those who are interested, but front and center we’ll focus on making the experience as simple as possible.
The “Activity” section of the app again is an attempt to simplify one of the more confusing aspects of the blockchain — the technical nature of block explorers. In a world of mass adoption, the idea of “block exploring” will be meaningless to most users and only appeal to those willing to learn more. This new section will offer a simplified experience while still allowing those of us who are power users to dive much deeper.
The roadmap for Unicove is in flux as we determine which pieces of the app are both critical and possible. There’s a number of potential features we could add like fiat on-ramps, EVM support, and token swaps that are being evaluated as objectives as the team grows.
Tooling / SDKs
The team has been working through how we improve account creation across all platforms, since we have learned much through our support platforms on where users get stuck. A redesign of the user interface is complete but development has not yet begun.
In addition to the new flow, the SDKs that will offer this creation flow are nearing completion and we plan on integrating them into Unicove as the first real test. The library powering these systems can be found here:
While Anchor currently utilizes a few open source libraries to create EOSIO specific account backups, often this approach doesn’t offer the best experience for users in some situations. If the user doesn’t have a printer they can use, the process breaks down and causes unneeded headaches.
For this reason we have begun exploring a few new options, one of which is a library to support 24-word seed phrases like those used by Ledger hardware wallets. Research is underway currently on how we implement support for this across all of our products.
Progress is being made in our new data center and the configuration of our new servers is well underway. The servers are all running their core operating system configurations and have been fairly well documented in case of emergency.
The disk pools (ZFS) across all servers are configured, strategic connections with 25G interlinks have been set up, our container infrastructure is initialized, and our system monitoring stack is coming online.
The next phase for this project is to start deploying test services to identify potential optimizations and debug performance issues.
Wrapping things up
Greymass is tackling a lot of the major problems that the EOSIO ecosystem is facing right now, and we appreciate all of the support the community has shown us over the years. We can only hope that with the new upcoming opportunities we continue to serve the needs of the community as we have tried so hard to in the past.
Our previous report can be found here: