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Mega Post: Updates, Information, and Explanations About The Komodo BarterDEX

The Komodo BarterDEX Is Live, Featuring Fully Functional Atomic Swaps; Users Are Already Trading Coins, Including Small Amounts of Preliminarily Released Monaize (MNZ)

The following is the account of one of our new team members, @siddhartha-komodo, learning to use The Komodo BarterDEX.

In this process, he purchased a preliminary and fully functioning Monaize dICO coin (a small amount of which have been divvied out to the public in preparation for the official dICO launch).

Having successfully performed his first atomic swap, he now gives a detailed explanation of many of the concepts that community members — both new and old — may be interested to understand so as to more fully take advantage of the opportunities Komodo technology can provide.

Meet @siddhartha-komodo

Hello everyone! You may have seen me around by now. Komodo was my favorite blockchain project long before the Komodo team offered me a job. I found interest in Komodo in September, offered my services first as an unpaid volunteer, then as a freelancer, and now I have the honor of serving as a full-time team member. My background is in writing, teaching, and visual design.

A five-bullet point summary — just the simple facts:

  • Everything works and the atomic-swap purchasing process (including for Monaize) just requires persistence and a bit of a learning curve (still slightly too high for the average user).
  • The MNZ coins in circulation are real, but the supply is very low as these were released purely for developmental purposes. Those wishing to make investments in the Monaize dICO should wait until the official launch date (still under delay), when the full coin supply is released and the price normalizes.
  • The backend technology had no issues for me; the frontend software is still a bit rough around the edges, but it also works and is swiftly improving.
  • Komodo’s BarterDEX, our fully decentralized and atomic-swap powered exchange, is already live and functioning for many other types of coins (Bitcoin, LiteCoin, NameCoin, DogeCoin, etc.). It has been publicly live for months (a fact few realize), though using it previously was too complex for most users.
  • With the frontend software now approaching user-friendly levels, many community members are already getting a head start trading on The BarterDEX. There’s nothing stopping you from joining in the action, so long as you’re willing to be an early adopter.

Specific Clarifications

The Monaize Coin I Purchased Is The Real Deal, Not A “Test” Coin

Yes, the coin I purchased is exactly the same type of coin that dICO participants will purchase when we officially launch the Monaize dICO. (In fact, it is worth mentioning that The BarterDEX does not even use a test net.) Furthermore, the process of purchasing a Monaize coin is indeed a fully realized atomic swap.

This latter fact, that Komodo’s atomic swaps are real and accessible to an average user, is a major leap forward for blockchain technology. As my final confirmations completed for my atomic swap, I had a feeling of being at the very outer edge of “technology” space. For myself, I imagine that it was just a tiny bit similar to what an astronaut feels when performing a spacewalk, standing there on the cutting edge of humanity’s progress.

While the coin I purchased is real, I likely purchased it at a far higher price than users will pay if they wait for the official dICO launch.

The Method I Used Is The Same For Other Komodo Community Members

While I am an official member of the Komodo team, no part of my participation was unique to being a team member. No one on the team asked me to make this atomic swap, and therefore I had no guide to walk me through the process; I also used my own personal Komodo funds. I downloaded the same publicly released software (The Komodo Agama Wallet and The BarterDEX-Simple app) that other community members use. I followed the same public set of instructions we had provided for the initial November 10th launch date (now delayed). When I ran into trouble, I asked questions on the public Komodo Slack chat channels for assistance; developers helped by answering my questions when they had free moments, just as they do for volunteer community members who were swapping coins alongside me.

The total number of successful atomic swaps we have completed is swiftly climbing into the thousands (over 7000, last I checked); most swaps occur around the Monaize/Komodo trading pair, but many other coins are already available (Bitcoin, LiteCoin, NameCoin, DogeCoin, to name a few).

My Motivations: To Understand And To Share Important Concepts

A few nights ago, while working away on revisions for the upcoming Komodo BarterDEX whitepaper, I decided that if I am to share a responsibility in describing The BarterDEX, I probably ought to be comfortable actually using it (simple logic, right?). So, I wandered over to where all the development action happens on Slack, found the links to the latest software releases as they slid across the chat channel, and got started.

In the process of performing my first atomic swap, I realized that there are a few concepts regarding our project that need a written explanation now, to share awareness and insight into what exactly Komodo is accomplishing. These developers I have the honor of working with have been quite busy for several years, fulfilling a vision they have had little time to stop and explain; coming onto the project just now, I find that almost every day there is a new rabbit hole to go down. Komodo is not a simple business; it is an endeavor, a movement, a cause.

Providing a few insights today I hope will help you to better understand the nature of the Komodo project (which extends far beyond just The BarterDEX), and also that you find a more clear pathway to get involved.

Normally I would prefer to keep my post-length below 600 words. Yet, there was so much to discover and explain in the atomic-swap journey, and so many questions that I anticipate future users will have, a mega post seemed the best path forward.

Getting Into Details About Komodo and The BarterDEX

For Newcomers: How To Catch Up With The Komodo Story

Naturally, as our Komodo marketing journey is just starting, information about who we are and what we are doing is still scarce; after all, we are just now formalizing our whitepapers (The BarterDEX whitepaper is getting close!).

When writing a blog post such as this, I face the question of wondering where you are, dear reader, in your journey of discovering blockchain technology as a whole, and how much you know about Komodo’s endeavors.

If you are one of those readers who just barely discovered our project, allow me to wrap up the underlying idea of Komodo in one sentence:

Komodo is to blockchain technology what Linux is to operating systems.

In other words, as an organization, we are furthering the cause of decentralization by developing blockchain technologies, while staying true to the same underlying open-source principles that make the Linux operating system meaningful and useful.

Over the last several weeks, we have released blog posts that explain in detail different pieces of the picture of who we are and what we are doing. It will take time for us to provide a thoroughly developed explanation for each individual part, and to then bring all the pieces together into a coherent whole. I’m going to assume that if you continue reading this article, you are at least aware that today’s story builds upon the following previous posts and explanations:

  • The Komodo dICO Model
  • Monaize and Komodo’s Symbiotic Relationship
  • Everything You Need to Know About Atomic Swaps and How Komodo is Advancing The Technology
  • The Monaize dICO Delay Is Only Temporary

If you are new and have not yet had the chance to understand these Komodo-related topics, I recommend that you give these articles a click first.

With that said, even having read all of those posts, there is yet another piece of the Komodo story that we have not yet had time to explain in simplified terms. This is The BarterDEX, and it is integral to what we are doing.

We have a whitepaper circulating internally that will explain The BarterDEX in thorough detail, but in the meantime, to summarize in one sentence:

The BarterDEX is a fully decentralized exchange, powered by atomic-swap technology, and it allows people to trade cryptocurrencies without a counterparty risk.

When we say “fully decentralized,” we mean it.

The BarterDEX is a complete and fully realized solution. It is a decentralized exchange that requires no escrow systems, and has no platform managers (not even us!) to decide who can use it and how. Further, the entire trading process is comparatively fast and convenient, dramatically more secure and reliable, and therefore, we believe it to be a competitive and capable pathway forward in the cause of decentralization.

Understanding What The BarterDEX Is, And What It Isn’t

Here’s a thing that’s hard for newcomers to understand: It is far too limiting to describe The BarterDEX as a software application that loads up on your local computer; in fact, that really doesn’t describe it at all.

For the moment, allow me, please, to oversimplify The BarterDEX, so that you can better understand the gist. (Naturally, for those technical aficionados out there, you’ll notice that this is extremely oversimplified; please, bear with me.)

The BarterDEX Is A Protocol

In one way of describing it, The BarterDEX is a protocol that allows users to trade directly with each other between two different raw cryptocurrencies.

When we use the word “protocol,” we are describing a pathway or a set of code that is a widely accepted as a method upon which developers can rely when making computers work together.

In the field of technology, we create protocols when communication between computers and other devices is complex and arbitrary. Creating a standard that developers can adopt enables us to more efficiently communicate and innovate; otherwise, one computer-related project would behave too differently from another.

A Quick Comparison: The Letters “HTTP” In Your Web Address Bar Designate A Protocol

Look right up in your web address bar and you’ll see those four letters, ‘http,’ at the front of the website address. Those letters stand for “HyperText Transfer Protocol,” which means that you and me, this very moment, are using a “protocol” to send this blog post over The Internet so that we can chat with each other. Our computers use this underlying protocol, HTTP, which is actually very complex, to simplify the process so that for us, as end-users, it’s a piece of cake to share knowledge.

HTTP is a foundation for how we exchange Information over The Internet.

Your Web Browser, However, Is A Software Application; It’s Not A Protocol

We use something else, a piece of software called a “web browser,” that understands the HTTP protocol (and other protocols!) and can handle it automatically (this is your Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IceCat, etc.). This way, we don’t have to think about HTTP while we’re browsing the interwebs.

So, we have a protocol that provides a foundation for computer interaction, and then a software application that runs on top to simplify the process.

The BarterDEX Is “The Protocol” (I’m Simplifying); Now, We’re Building “Value Browsers”

The BarterDEX has strong similarities to the concept of a protocol, in that it is essentially an open-source set of code that provides an underlying foundation for users to exchange raw cryptocurrencies in a fully decentralized manner.

When the creators of HTTP developed for the public, they did not create patents to block others from using it. Instead, while they did build their own web browsers, they also released the HTTP to the public freely so that anyone could develop different types of browsers. The variety creates competition, which fosters innovation.

This is similar to what we’ve done with The BarterDEX. It’s open-source, and it becomes a foundational “protocol” that users can adopt as a way of exchanging Value over The Internet.

Technically knowledgeable users have already been running The BarterDEX constantly for months to conduct trades; our lead developer, JL777, began using the roots of BarterDEX technology to conduct atomic swaps years ago, in fact.

However, just like the earliest HTTP endeavors, The BarterDEX as a “protocol” is too complex for most users to actually employ it without some kind of software application. Yet, writing a user-friendly software application is a separate endeavor, as opposed to building the protocol itself.

We Are Helping Our Community Members To Create An Ecosystem of Value Browsers

While we are helping members of our community to build applications that utilize The BarterDEX, we are trying harder to foster an ecosystem where many different software applications work together to serve a wide variety of users and their needs.

To kickstart the creation of these “Value Browsers,” as we might call them, we provided initial funding, and we also have an outstanding commitment of a $100,000 reward to whomever creates the most popular “Value Browser.” We help any developers in our community as they actively engage in the development process.

A few of our most active volunteer community members are on the cusp of releasing a stable product. Altogether, I think we have six or seven “value browsers” in the creation process, and we spoke about them in a comment on our October Reddit AMA.

The takeaways from all this are: The BarterDEX is an underlying foundation that enables users to trade and exchange funds, but it is a separate beast from the standalone applications that take advantage of The BarterDEX itself.

In the long run, ideally, no one will need us (the Komodo team) to build a new “Value Browser” for The BarterDEX, just as no one needs the original creators of HTTP to build a new web browser.

There are “Value Browsers” already that are basically up and running, and yet (as my brief story below will provide) the ride you take when using them is a bit rough — just as early web browsers had hiccups, too.

I have yet to hear of anyone losing any funding on The BarterDEX (though never rule that kind of thing out). The difficult part of using The BarterDEX only lies in getting the initial connection established between traders; after that, the rest is a cinch.

Most of the things in the learning curve are easily overcome; if you’d like to give it a try today, just come to our Slack channel, ask questions, and you’ll probably make it through just fine.

My Brief Account, And A Screenshot Of A Completed Atomic Swap

Of course, some of our readers just want a quick insight into the process, without having to go through all the effort. So, here’s my story.

My journey began around 2:00 AM in the morning four days ago, and I began for the reasons already described. I had a head start on the whole process, as I had previously installed the Komodo Agama Wallet, for long-term coin storage (it’s a multi-coin wallet, capable of storing Komodo, Monaize, and other coins).

I visited the #tradebots channel on our community Slack and watched for @grewalsatinder’s latest release of The BarterDEX-Simple app to scroll by.

The installation was a cinch, and once I loaded up the wallet I simply clicked the buttons that say “Electrum” to get a new smartaddress (this is a Komodo SPV technology, wherein you can store and trade multiple coins right in the “value browser,” without having to download a single blockchain). I sent just 1 KMD to this smartaddress; it’s still new technology, and naturally I wanted to minimize my risk.

The tricky part now was to understand the many things the dICO App’s interface was telling me. I won’t bother explaining my visual user experience in detail, because the entire interface is iterating so rapidly, my visual experience is no longer relevant.

The thing that I had the hardest time trying to understand was the term, “UTXO.” I do understand it well now, and we’re including a full explanation in the upcoming BarterDEX whitepaper.

I won’t bother explaining UTXOs for the moment, because I hear that developers are trying to automate away everything to do with this aspect of the technology, so that you won’t even have to think about UTXOs during the Monaize dICO (but don’t hold me to that).

Once I figured out how to place an order for MNZ coin, it was simply a process of trying different combinations and parameters (at what price shall I pay and for how much MNZ coin?). Eventually, I settled on offering at a rate for 0.3 KMD to 1 MNZ, and anytime anything seemed to be taking longer than it was taking my fellow traders on the Slack channel, I gave the dICO App’s memory a good jug on the head by rebooting it. I don’t know if that latter part was always necessary, but it was fun to feel like Fezzik interacting with The Albino in The Princess Bride.

Finally, after a couple hours (maybe two or three) of tinkering and failing, I had my first “catch”: I saw the words, “Reserved,” pop up next to my request. That was a sign I was on the right track, but this trade never went through. I cancelled and reset again, and this time I “caught my first fish.”

Once I connected with a trading partner, the entire process for the atomic swap was entirely automated, and fast. All I had to do was simply wait and watch — holding my breath a bit — until I saw this:

Completed Atomic Swap My First “Catch,” a Completed Atomic Swap for MNZ on The BarterDEX-Simple App

Done. I was officially one of the first few people to accomplish an atomic swap…and the whole thing was not that hard (when I look at the math and coding behind all this, I personally find it difficult not to be impressed).

That was my first cryptocurrency trade, sans the middlemen. I atomic-swapped one of my Komodo coins for someone else’s Monaize coin, without any risk, or coordination, and — once I understood what I was doing — the time involved was not long.

There are many community members mastering the art of the atomic swap now, and they can complete trades in minutes. (Technically, they can even complete them in seconds, though that lowers the security as the protocol has less time to watch for blockchain confirmations.)

That was it! In my personal opinion (and yes, I’m a team member, so I know I’m speaking from a biased position…but remember, I offered myself as an unpaid volunteer first), I see this as a worthy accomplishment, especially when considering the years of verbal commitments the founding members of Komodo made while building this technology. And, the story for Komodo goes far beyond The BarterDEX.

On that note, I shall head to my next project, working to explain the overall vision of what the Komodo team is up to. If you have any particular questions about the Komodo vision right now, feel free to ask in the comments below!

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