Engineering status update on the DEDIS lab’s Byzcoin blockchain

May 13, 2020  

Contributed by Noémien Kocher

A not so sexy visualization of Byzcoin

Although it’s been a while since the DEDIS lab’s last blog post, we have been making a lot of progress behind the scenes. Let’s walk through one of our currently most active projects. With nearly 7k commits, 345 stars, and 85 forks at this time of writing, I mention of course the Cothority repository. In particular let’s talk about its core element: the DEDIS blockchain, a.k.a. Byzcoin.


The DEDIS blockchain, Byzcoin, is implemented in the Cothority repository. This repository holds a set of distributed protocols and services, which is a tool chest of protocols that can be integrated into a conode, a node in a network of servers which collectively witness facts, events, state changes, etc. Using these tools, we can construct a blockchain, a distributed state machine, or even a smart contract execution system.

Byzcoin was introduced in version 3 of Cothority (we talked about it previously). Since then is has seen numerous improvements, bug fixes and new features, like a new BDN signature scheme, new client command-line interface (CLI) or the ability to use Ethereum contracts. Since its first v3.0.0 release in March 2019, Byzcoin has seen no less than 18 releases, with the current version being v3.4.4.


Aside from the development and improvement of Byzcoin, we also maintain a running production blockchain that is operated by 7 nodes. It is mainly used by the C4DT, which does a wonderful job in ensuring that the chain keeps going on. The actual chain can be visualized with the skipchain explorer, or via the ongoing Columbus project.

Current development

In March 3 2020, Byzcoin (and more globally Cothority) took a major step in transferring the development and maintenance responsibility to C4DT. This step was necessary to allow the C4DT Factory to develop Cothority towards a more industrial/production use and free the lab from maturing this project beyond the Byzcoin and Omniledger research papers it was launched from. It allows the lab to invest in other research projects, while still working with C4DT to help providing security fixes and improvements on Byzcoin.

Further development

The lab is currently implementing its next generation system, which is a rebirth of Byzcoin. This new project aims to provide a modular framework that captures the essential interfaces for maintaining and performing distributed-ledger operations. It will allow the lab to test and implement its new ideas and should also be an interesting tool for researchers who want to experiment with decentralised protocols. This tool is still in active development and you’ll find out more about it in a new post with its first release.

If you want a broader view of the current DEDIS development activity feel free to visit the Github DEDIS page, which always reflects our current development activity:

Stay safe, by continuing to work from home!