Andreas Hassman on tezos.blue: The ‘Showcase App’ for Tezos Building
In the second in a series of interviews on the maturing Tezos ecosystem, Bitsonline talked with Andreas Hassman, who heads up work on tezos.blue, or what Hassman told us was the “showcase app” for what Tezos is capable of.
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Hassman: ‘It’s About Enabling Mainstream Developers to … Bring Useful Products to the Space’
William Peaster, Bitsonline: So there’s the TezBox wallet, and there’s been hardware wallet integrations folks like Juraj Selep have worked on. Then there’s the tezos.blue software wallet you’ve authored for Android, iOS, and Windows. What went into your decision to push forward on tezos.blue?
Andreas Hassman: Yes, we are certainly not short of wallets currently. But tezos.blue is not about a wallet, it’s about enabling mainstream developers to connect to the blockchain and bring useful products to the space. Because, honestly, nobody is doing anything useful with this technology quite yet.
What tezos.blue offers is a development system that lets you create native Tezos applications for all platforms from a common codebase. And the whole thing is mobile and real-time, without the need to run your own node.
The tezos.blue wallet itself is meant to be the showcase app for what can be built on this system. So, the drive behind the rather spartanic wallet is to open up and connect to pools of talent different from the technical pioneers with their strong focus on security and scientific aspects. To attach flesh to the bones, thus facilitating adoption by a wider audience.
And there’s the next hitch: imagine we are actually successful, and decentralized structures emerge in society built on smart contracts; this will carry a whole lot of challenges in its wake. Apart from just scaling to a higher ratio of users per node, there are some areas not even explored yet, new metaphors, guidance for our non-technical fellows, how to conceive and shape the building blocks for decentralized organizations.
This is the other side of the project, to provide an infrastructure for the off-chain world of ideas and experiences to be built upon the blockchain. Efficient, flexible, and receptive for any kind of concepts to come.
William: Improving user experience seems to be the holy grail in the cryptocurrency space right now. Do you think the focus on UX in tezos.blue is an urgent lesson the entire digital assets ecosystem needs to embrace quickly, or is there still some more time for wiggle room as far as development and research goes?
Andreas: Well, I certainly have a lot more of lessons to learn ahead. But, as a compass, to attract users with usable products — achieving something useful — appears to be the sincere way to fill those tokens with real value.
And this means seeing the technology through the user’s eyes, be it the ambitious developer with an idea or be it Grandma Moses. I don’t think we can take what we have and somehow pimp the user experience. It’s rather like drilling a tunnel from both sides. One side being the real world with its demands and the other side being opportunities for decentralized solutions. The former side is under-represented and to a large degree not even aware of the tools they now have.
But this side is also the keeper of the map to the holy grail. As builders, the time we have is the time ahead and should be put to good use, like developing the human-facing side of smart contracts. Pretty much everything will be research and exploration. This is scary and pleasing all the way.
William: From a slightly more technical angle, how is delegation handled in tezos.blue?
Andreas: Delegation is basically the same as creating a new account for your identity – plus delegating its balance at the same time. So, it’s the standard sequence for all protected operations.
A tezos.blue app like the wallet has a piece of code, the Engine, running in its process space and taking care of all communication with the network. When the app requests an account to be created, the Engine will contact the service layer in the cloud that in turn pulls and returns a forged operation from one of the nodes in a load-balanced pool.
The Engine then asks the app for credentials to sign the operation. And if given, these credentials are used deep inside a protected area of the Engine to decrypt the secret key for the fraction of a second, sign the operation, and destroy the key in memory.
The signed operation goes back through the Engine and service layer to the node. And as soon as it’s confirmed on the chain, the service layer will send a push notification to the app.
Latency is less than a second, so the whole thing feels for the developer as if they had a node running right on the mobile, just without the network traffic and storage. And your key probably never even left the processor cache.
William: Going forward, what’s next for the wallet, and what’s next for you personally?
Andreas: The wallet will get a long-awaited new style, eventually. And more resilience against different failure scenarios. A security audit is scheduled for Q4, and I want the cloud systems to be self-healing.
But the real thing in the next iteration will be to create standards within the community. Empowering Tezos products to complement and substitute each other, giving more choice to the user and more opportunities for projects. Interaction between tools on layers above the node, off-chain metadata and workflows, higher structures upon smart contracts — that’s next.
I want to approach this by going through all aspects of at least one organizational use case, the multi-signature account. From workflows and scenarios down to the Michelson code. And implement the whole experience in the wallet, based on common, agreed-upon standards.
Personally, I would like to engage in deeper collaboration, draw more competent people to the project and transfer whole aspects of the system into the hands of creative experts. The whole thing has certainly grown too big for our small workforce by now.
William: Are there any other projects or initiatives in the Tezos ecosystem that have you excited right now and that you think our readers might be interested in?
Andreas: I have been working a lot in reclusion over the last weeks, stabilizing and preparing the project for the next steps. I’ll have to catch up with the work of the comrades, but if the last year and a half carries through on all the promising work we’ve seen, we’re also not short of excitement in Tezosland.
tezos.blue Points Toward Tomorrow
In the digital frontiers of the cryptoverse, there are those explorers who come first, paving the way for later arrivals.
With tezos.blue, Hassman and his team have tried to pave the way for what they hope will be a boon of new innovative builders coming to the wider Tezos ecosystem.
As the project details on its site, the app hopes to keep these builders around, vested, and comfortable in the wallet being “hard to attack” and in it requiring “[m]inimal resource usage.”
For those interested in closer looks, Hassman has also provided how-to videos pertaining to how delegation and uploading fundraising wallets is handled in-app. And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming third interview in Bitsonline‘s ongoing Tezos series.
What’s your take? Is UX the fundamental angle all projects should be taking in crypto right now, or is it less black and white than that? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
Images via tezos.blue, Pixabay