A new version of the timestamping standard Chainpoint is being tested and will be released soon with new functionalities. However, the lead developer for competing standard Opentimestamps claims that the new version is too close to his team’s code. This article explores how Chainpoint works and how it compares to Opentimestamps.
What is Chainpoint?
Chainpoint is “an open standard for creating a timestamp proof of any data, file, or series of events,” its website describes. It was developed by blockchain data platform Tierion “for recording data in the blockchain” as well as providing “irrefutable proof that your data was recorded in the Bitcoin blockchain.” Chainpoint claims to be able to:
Anchor an unlimited amount of data to multiple blockchains. Verify the integrity and existence of data without relying on a trusted third-party.
Using Chainpoint, data is hashed and aggregated together using a Merkle tree, with its root anchored in the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, its website details. The process creates a JSON-LD document, referred to as a Chainpoint “proof”.
All proofs contain “the information to cryptographically verify a piece of data is anchored to a blockchain,” and prove that the data existed at the time it was anchored. “The final Chainpoint proof defines a path of operations that cryptographically links your data to one or more blockchains,” the website explains.
The current version of Chainpoint is 2.0. However, “the third major version of the Chainpoint proof specification is currently in testing and scheduled for release soon,” its website states. The new version more than doubles the number of variables used to help developers customize Chainpoint’s usage, including one which makes timestamps human readable.
Conflict with Opentimestamps
Conflict reared its ugly head on Saturday when Chainpoint tweeted the news about its upcoming version 3 release. Peter Todd, the lead developer of competing standard Opentimestamps, replied:
Interesting to see @chainpnt finally copying most of the @Opentimestamps spec. Though credit would have been nice.
Although the two standards have been developed separately, Todd believes that Chainpoint’s latest version “mostly” copies his project’s code. “The @chainpnt 3.0 beta spec is a translation of @opentimestamps to JSON-LD, with some terminology changed, and an odd branch label scheme,” Todd tweeted.
Responding to Todd’s allegation, Tierion CEO and founder, Wayne Vaughan, fired back with the same accusation. He tweeted: “When you copied @chainpnt and didn’t acknowledge our work, I didn’t complain, we just kept building. Quit whining @petertoddbtc.” Vaughan, however, did not respond by press time when Todd asked for evidence of his derogatory claim.
Opentimestamps was Todd’s first Bitcoin project. The project started in April 2011 with its earliest Git commits that date back to June 8, 2012. “Opentimestamps aims to be a standard format for blockchain timestamping. The format is flexible enough to be vendor and blockchain independent,” its website describes.
Like many of the earliest Bitcoin timestamping applications, the Opentimestamps website offers a way for anyone to stamp and verify their own files on its front page for free. Chainpoint’s website currently does not offer that functionality.
Meanwhile, a peek at Chainpoint’s code on Github reveals that it was made for the server environment only. A business using Chainpoint needs to only install the server software, which gives its customers access to the timestamping service. Its customers and business partners do not need to install a separate program. Opentimestamps, however, requires customers to install a program in order to access a business’ timestamping service. Furthermore, Opentimestamps saves timestamps to the Bitcoin blockchain* whereas Chainpoint can also save to other blockchains.
* Update: For Opentimestamps, the default calendars are Bitcoin-only but the underlying protocol has Ethereum support as well. For more information on Opentimestamps, see Bitcoin.com’s interview with Peter Todd here.
What do you think of Chainpoint? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Chainpoint, and Opentimestamps
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