The richness and connectedness of the Catalyst Experience needs to be improved. This includes addressing performance, inclusivity, speed, and parallelism, while maintaining secure and private voting
Improve Catalyst infrastructure to improve user benefits across feature richness, inclusivity & speed. The new infrastructure will include fully decentralized blockchain and hyper-lite client.
This is the total amount allocated to IOG Catalyst Team : Catalyst Ecosystem Accelerator (Hermes Core architecture development)
Project will be fully open source
Problem: Richness of Catalyst Experience needs to be improved
Solution: Improve Catalyst Infrastructure to improve user benefits across feature richness, inclusivity & speed
Hermes: High-Availability Blockchain Voting Database
Athena: High-Speed Accessible Voting DApp
The key delivery goals are:
'Hermes' will be a high-availability blockchain voting database which will act as a distributed storage and event processor for voting events, proposals, and persona actions from the responsive user interface ‘Athena’
Hermes addresses the key issues of :
Key components of Hermes:
Issues in current system which Hermes will address:
Athena addresses the Experience Richness of the current Catalyst voting app by providing:
Key components of Athena:
Key functions of Athena:
What are the key Blockchain properties? Does this solution constitute this?
The proposed solutions offered by Hermes and Athena will significantly advance the state of the art of the Project Catalyst technology stack, delivering voting using a fully distributed database and immutable ledger, instead of relying on a controlled side-chain mall number of nodes
The key benefits of this approach provide:
This enables the Catalyst infrastructure with capabilities for running more than one funding event at a time, unleashing the ability to compose and automate funding events to begin and end in parallel and/or over different or overlapping time frames.
Enabling voting history to be audited with confidence the data has not been produced from within a single ‘black-box’ set up.
Directly connecting to a Cardano relay node to gather voter registration transactions and calculate voting power. Wallet transactions are securely signed for cast votes using the P2P network.
By leveraging technologies such as LibP2P / IPFS for distributing data, the Catalyst system no longer relied on Web2 infrastructure to deliver voting. The current capabilities of WebAssembly (WASM) enable the building of robust and secure business logic for the application layer (Athena) or for any builders that would like to build applications atop of Hermes.
This is enabled by web-browser based voting and a third-party wallet connector as defined by CIP-30 and CIP-62, meaning only an internet connection and web browser is required to participate in voting.
The proposed design offers DApp builders the flexibility to develop their own fully decentralized applications, allowing easy integration of all available Hermes features, so that UIUX can be tailored to the needs of their audiences. In the same way Lace wallet is intended to be simplistic, developers can implement their own simple front-end applications, if they choose, to help onboard new users while benefiting from the security and performance features of the underlying Hermes design.
Developers can use the system to customize voting events in parallel without negatively impacting Project Catalyst voting events.
Overall, the Catalyst system will be more scalable and extensible with proposed design
We will use four primary measures to determine the project's success:
1: Speed: can demonstrably eliminate the need for Web2 Infrastructure to deliver Catalyst voting, including its UX.
2: Enhanced features demonstrating feature parity with the Voting Operations of the current Project Catalyst Stack.
3: Inclusivity demonstrated by the capability to handle Voting loads
4: Sources of truth: By changing the trusted sources of truth, we can demonstrate that anyone can re-use the system to operate customized catalyst-style voting events in parallel without negatively impacting Project Catalyst voting events.
Each of these goals will be functionally demonstrated by project completion.
Over time, this project will establish a solid foundation to build additional current or future features of Project Catalyst in a fully decentralized way. This will enable features to be built faster, more reliably, and will react responsively to the ecosystem's needs. The composable nature of the Hermes application engine means that it will be significantly simpler for others in the community to independently build and contribute fully distributed functional modules for Project Catalyst.
Hermes and Athena will be developed and delivered under an Apache-2 open source license. A public repository will be published in the first month to house this proposal's development. The community can follow along and explore what is being delivered as development progresses.
The community will be free to review and comment on our development work as it occurs. As an open source project, we welcome community contributions to Hermes and Athena.
At each Milestone, we will publish tagged versions of the code base and a test report showing that all the proposed features are correctly built and have been delivered and tested. We will also prepare recorded demonstrations of the completed functionality, as appropriate.
Regular sessions will be conducted during the development process to discuss the work completed and ongoing and give the community access to not only check for themselves the work being delivered but to question the development team about the project to allow a better understanding of the system to be fostered between the developers and the community.
In addition to monthly progress reports and completed milestone proof of achievement ceremonies, the Catalyst team will also promote outcomes, outputs, and general progress in:
The Catalyst team has a large amount of domain-specific knowledge related to the problems of delivering a distributed system such as Project Catalyst at scale. We have also demonstrated our capability to deliver highly technical systems as evidenced by the upkeep and maintenance of existing Jormungandr and Catalyst Core capabilities.
Any transition in technology can be highly disruptive. It is vital that Project Catalyst operations continue without interruption. This proposal would see the Hermes and Athena systems deployed alongside the existing Catalyst Stack and tested in the standardized testing approach of being validated in a testnet environment before deploying into production. This will allow Hermes and Athena to safely and successfully coexist and form part of an orderly upgrade, migrating from a centralized technology solution to a decentralized one.
The overarching goal of the project is to improve Catalyst, increase user based, increase Features and performance.
The main goals to realize this are as follows:
To evaluate the primary hypothesis that DApps can be built from a core of Web3 components such as blockchain interfaces and decentralized peer to peer networks, very rough but functional tests have already been conducted by the Catalyst Team. This has shown it is possible and within the current capabilities of WebAssembly (WASM) to build robust and secure business logic, so that the logic required to deliver Athena can be delivered.
During these feasibility tests, Hermes architecture was demonstrably capable of the following:
GOAL 1: The Hermes MVP capabilities will deliver::
GOAL 2: Deliver Athena functionality to enable real-time responses to Cardano Blockchain events and Catalyst Fund data distribution via IPFS/LibP2P, enabling:
To achieve our goals, we have outlined the following roadmap:
Milestone 1: Open Source Activation
Delivery Time: Approx. 1 Month
To meet and exceed the open source requirements required of Catalyst Systems Improvements, the first milestone will deliver fully Open Source public repositories of the Hermes and Athena projects.
The appropriate licenses to all code and documentation from the project's inception will be published and all development will be conducted in public.
Full continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) will be deployed in our testing environments. Each milestone will be community-operable and with reproducible tagged releases.
The initial versions of each application will be functional enough to test assumptions from which we will apply iterations for all future work.
Milestone 2: Hermes Foundations
Delivery Time: Approx. 2 Months
Hermes Foundational Work will be a minimal implementation of Hermes to incorporate the basic internal APIs that the Athena application will require, such as time; chronological event generation; logging; basic hashing, and basic cryptography functions. Hermes allows the WASM modules it runs to call these APIs. Still, the runtime will be highly simplified only to allow testing of the APIs. The APIs created in this milestone will be documented for ease of use by any application developer designing programs to run on the Hermes Application Engine. It will also include a Rust implementation of a basic Cardano Node follower and its integration into the Hermes node. This follower will only supply the necessary features required to deliver Project Catalyst Voting for Athena and will serve as the basis for future features that are out of scope for this proposal but which would enhance Cardano Integration, generally.
Milestone 3: Hermes Essential Modules
Delivery Time: Approx. 3 Months
Module essential to Hermes' operation and to deliver the Athena (Distributed Project Catalyst Voting) application include:
We will deliver each of these as modules within Hermes. They will include documented APIs. The Hermes runtime will allow WASM application modules to react to events generated by these modules and call APIs published by them.
Milestone 4: Hermes runtime and Athena voter registration/Voting power tracking.
Delivery Time: Approx. 3 Months
This milestone will deliver the functionally complete Hermes runtime and run the Athena Application, which will consist of the first Athena Module. The first Athena module will track Catalyst voter registrations from transaction events detected on the Cardano blockchain and save that data in a local database. A second Hermes module will calculate registered voters' historical stake address balance. Together, these modules form a decentralized and permissionless data source for registered voters and their voting power and replace the current Voting power snapshot tools.
Milestone 5: Completed Hermes and Athena Products.
Delivery Time: Approx. 3 Months
This final milestone will deliver the fully functional Hermes and Athena application demonstrating fully distributed voting for Project Catalyst. It incorporates the following sub-modules:
We will demonstrate all milestones by the following:
This milestone is foundational development infrastructure work. It is necessary to ensure that licenses are appropriately applied, and that the development work can proceed smoothly from a solid foundation.
The deliverable is an Apache2 repository for the Hermes and Athena applications, and includes:
This milestone delivers essential utility API’s and the necessary integration to the Cardano Blockchain. Delivering these APIs allows experimentation and early validation with the initial implementations of the Athena Modules to refine the internal design of Hermes and Athena.
2.1 Utility APIs :These are general purpose, foundational APIs that the Athena code will need, and provide a solid foundation for building the Hermes Runtime.
2.2 Logging API functionality to::
Logging API outputs will include:
2.3 Time API functionality to:
2.4 Time API outputs will include:
2.5 Chronological Event API (Cron) functionality to:
Cron event outputs will include:
2.6 Hashing API functionality to:
Hashing API outputs will include:
2.7 Cryptography API functionality to:
2.8 WASI Bindings to allow WASI Modules to integrate correctly with Hermes.
2.9 Cardano Blockchain Integration
2.9.2 Hermes - Cardano Blockchain Integration API
Hermes Cardano Blockchain Integration API outputs will include:
This milestone delivers the remaining APIs and Web3 integrations needed to implement and deliver Athena in later milestones.
3.1 Hermes - File Data Handler and API
Applications in Hermes will be composed of a number of files. Applications will also need access to sandboxed and secure generalized file data storage. This module delivers the file management APIs used both internally by Hermes, and the Applications running on Hermes themselves.
Define the layout of a Hermes Application Package, and the required metadata, configuration, static data, and WASM modules they must contain.
The Hermes Application Package is based on an open format and is able to be supported by third party developers.
3.2 Hermes - HTTP Gateway
Hermes will deliver its UX via a built-in HTTP Gateway which will allow industry standard web development tools to deliver fully distributed UX. This is an internal module of the Hermes engine.
Hermes HTTP Gateway outputs will include:
3.3 Hermes - Sandboxed Database Handler
A critical component is a functional SQL Database which many complex applications use. Hermes will incorporate a sandboxed database API which will allow applications to securely access a database defined by the application running on Hermes.
Hermes Sandbox Database Handler outputs will include:
3.4 Hermes - LibP2P / IPFS Integration and Handler
The Hermes nodes will intercommunicate as peers using functionality provided by the LibP2P Library. It will also enable high level distributed functionality provided by IPFS.
Hermes LibP2P / IPFS Integration and Handler outputs will include:
This milestone focuses on finalizing the WASM execution engine that is being built throughout the other milestones. This is delivered in Milestone 4 because all subsidiary modules must be functionally complete before fully validating the implementation of this module. Furthermore, a meaningful application logic is needed to execute and ensure the event and API integration is correct and behaving as required.
While Athena modules will commence development in Milestone 2, it is not possible to deliver them until the Hermes application engine itself is complete. This milestone therefore brings together the final components of Hermes and the first components of Athena.
4.1 Hermes - Functionally complete
4.2 Athena - Registration Tracking:
This is a set of WASM Modules deployed via the Athena application package, and run by the Hermes Application Engine.
4.3 Athena - Voting Power Calculation
This is the final milestone and the last Hermes modules and Athena UX are delivered in this milestone.
5.1 Athena - Catalyst Event Distributed Database
5.2 Athena - Catalyst Event Authoritative DB Update
5.3 Athena - Catalyst Voting Module
5.4 Athena - Catalyst Ballot Box
5.5 Athena - Graphical UX
To demonstrate the capability of running fully decentralized UX, Athena will incorporate a fully functional voting interface in a browser which looks and feels like a Web2 served centralized application.
The requested total budget for developing this first iteration of Catalyst Ecosystem Accelerator is ₳2,000,000. This is a 12 Month project.
To deliver this work we require a team of Rust developers and QA engineers. We will also require front end developers to work on the UX components of Athena and designers to work on the overall applications UI design. A Site Reliability Engineer is required to manage our backend development infrastructure, and manage our test version continuous deployments.
This is a reasonably complex proposal which will also require architectural design leadership to work on and refine the technical aspects of the system, engineering management to keep the project on track, and product management to ensure the project is adhering to the scope of this proposal and the outputs are suitable for purpose.
This project also requires regular updates to the community and high levels of community engagement to properly respond to and evaluate feedback or queries we are receiving as we develop.
Test versions of Hermes and Athena to test our internal deployments will be publicly accessible. This is to allow the community to follow the progress of development and explore the available functionality without running Hermes and Athena themselves. Our objective is to allow the greatest number of Project Catalyst community members as possible to track our progress.
Fund 11 Period:
Milestone 1: Open Source Activation
Milestone 2: Hermes Foundation:
Fund 12 Period:
Milestone 3: Hermes Essential Modules
Fund 13 Period:
Milestone 4: Hermes First Release: Platform Enabled
Milestone 5: Athena First Release: Voting Regn & Ballot Box Launch
Hermes and Athena offer compounded use cases referred to below which, when matured, promises immense value. The minimum value the proposal can return to the community greatly exceeds the budgeted development cost by delivering scalable infrastructure with composable building blocks that can be operated and further advanced by the community.
Hermes is being built with the specific intent that it become a powerful and accessible tool for all developers in the Cardano Ecosystem to be able to use. As a fully open source software, additional features to Hermes can be proposed for funding through Project Catalyst. DApp authors can utilize the Hermes engine to develop their own fully decentralized applications, allowing authors to easily integrate all available Hermes features, in order to reuse or re-purpose existing WASM modules without reinventing the wheel, while decreasing their operating costs by not requiring the operation of complex or costly backend server infrastructure.
This greatly enhanced platform improves the accessibility and reduces the barriers to entry to everyone across the ecosystem. The aim is to help foster and drive engagement with non-technical users as well as developers. It is desired that the Project Catalyst community can also meaningfully contribute to proposing and developing enhancements or further modules for Athena and building the system to be modular makes that much easier and more likely that individual proposals can be specified in concrete terms and with high assurance of success.
Our hope is that the community will feel encouraged to make proposals to enhance this engine and its capabilities, building together with us.
The Catalyst Team organizational structure is cross-functional and multidisciplinary in nature, represented across two core teams: Catalyst Core and Fund Administration as illustrated in the following organizational chart
To deliver this project, the majority of resources will be drawn from the Catalyst Core team resources and Catalyst team leadership.
Vice President, Governance: Nigel Hemsley
Nigel led the delivery of five Cardano hard-forks since Allegra, including Alonzo smart contracts and further improvements with Vasil. Nigel has been an integral member of the Cardano Ecosystem having advised across many individual elements from product strategy of the Djed stablecoin to supporting community members to build NFT DApps. Nigel now leads Voltaire which puts him into a unique position to support and oversee Catalyst. Nigel built up his expertise on distributed networks initially in the Reinsurance industry building the first grid-computing solutions for the Risk Models of Lloyd's of London and Swiss Re.
Group Lead: Kriss Baird
Kriss joined the Catalyst team in April 2021 as the first Product Owner. He has played a pivotal role in introducing new features and enhancements to the Catalyst system including privacy-preserving voting, project accountability management, Catalyst natives experiments, ProjectCatalyst.io, proof of achievement and milestone-based funding, and upgrading the Community Review process. Kriss is principally responsible for overseeing Catalyst's services. He has been involved in Cardano since 2017 and is deeply passionate about this disruptive startup ecosystem. With over a decade of innovation management experience, Kriss has a background in design thinking and delivering national-scale startup funding programs. He previously worked at Innovate UK, the UK Government's innovation agency, leading 25 iterations of the IC tomorrow digital innovation competition and funding hundreds of startups to develop and trial digital prototypes with leaders such as Google Chrome, Samsung, Sony, IBM Watson, McLaren, Intel, Universal Music Group, Unilever, Mozilla and more. Kriss has also held roles as a program manager for Ufi VocTech Trust's social impact digital innovation grant program, lead at University College London's EDUCATE EdTech Accelerator, and innovation expert-in-residence at Imperial College London.
IC tomorrow: Impact evaluation for UKRI
Lead Architect: Steven Johnson
Steven has been the Lead Architect for Project Catalyst since joining the project in 2022. He has been a Software Engineer since the Late 80’s, Architecting both hardware and software systems since the early 90’s. Steven led the systems architecture of a number of large scale projects in the Gaming and Wagering industry including casino wide monitoring systems, jackpot systems, financial auditing systems, LED display Systems and Privacy preserving routers. He designed systems delivered to Conrad Casinos, IGT, Jupiters Limited, Queensland TAB, Max Gaming, Mikohn Gaming and others in Australia, USA and Canada. Steven has a wide range of expertise as diverse as embedded hardware, communications systems, real time OS, Kernel development, Virtual Machines, Applied cryptography and Blockchain technology. He founded several successful companies and holds Patents in Time based statistical methods for Jackpot prize awarding in the USA, Australia, UK and other territories. His diverse set of interests led him to contribute to a number of Open Source projects including such projects as GDB and the ZFS File system.
Technology Lead: Sasha Prokhorenko
Sasha has been leading software development at Catalyst since joining in 2022. He is a skilled Software Engineering Lead, with over ten years of experience building software products for clients including PepsiCo, Liberty Global, and Philip Morris International. Sasha has proven expertise in multiple programming languages and frameworks and has successfully led cross-functional teams through all stages of the software development process. He embraces continuous improvement and innovation.
The Catalyst team has more than 20 core contributors, mostly full-time employees, who benefit from sharing resources across IOG, allowing the Catalyst team to dynamically increase or scale back its resource capacity when needed to leverage UI/UX design research, full-stack development, technical and cryptographic research, and product marketing as required.