Open Collective
Open Collective
Cabal 2022 In Review: Two Grants and a New Wire Protocol Later
Published on December 5, 2022 by Alexander Cobleigh

If cabal may seem dormant, it's because we have been busy setting foundations for the project's next steps.

This year we wrote two grants, one of which was successful and where work has just begun. In addition to that, we also landed a design grant. Thanks to Eileen, Alice and their motley crew, the ongoing design work is making the future website more useful and finding a new look and language for it. Visual updates coming in the near future.

Back to the first grant. One of the efforts of the past while has been thinking about lessons from the project's history and how to address drawbacks. Our answer, we think, is the cable protocol.

What is cable

In brief, cable is a protocol design taking next steps on a wide front. Increasing project autonomy, enabling deletion, minimizing storage requirements, and improving discretion by dropping the append-only log. It also gives us clear and useful paths for sharing binary data, like images. Finally, the new specification is a big step towards documenting what cabal is, and enables implementation in any programming language as long as there is access to libsodium, a widespread and fundamental cryptography library.

Going from a design to something we can build bedrock clients on top of is a significant effort, which is why we're glad to share that the NGI Assure grant, via NLNet, is funding cblgh and Kira to tackle that during 2023! As part of the grant, we'll finalize the specification's first version, develop and publish early releases of cable in nodejs, and prototype a cabal chat client running the new cable design. Alongside a few other goodies.

For more info, see nlnet's cable page, and continue following updates on this OC.

Rusty cable

As part of the cable grant, we're also drawing on the OC coffers to resource Glyph from Secure Scuttlebutt, who is normally working on the Peachcloud project, a hardware-software hosting hybrid aimed at serving SSB and similar projects. 

Glyph is tagging along to help with cable in rust. We've promised him 3000 USD to get acquainted with cable's specification and to help shore up the existing cable rust implementation with anticipated changes as part of settling on the specification's v1. 

The aim: bidirectional cable communication between nodejs and rust in 2023.

You can follow how the effort's progressing on the Cable in Rust project here on our OC, and while there even support the effort with a little bit extra if you are so inclined.

An administrative rate

Given this year's voluminous coordination, communication and administrative tasks, we introduced the OC's first hourly rate. The purpose of the rate: acknowledge dull-but-enabling administrative work. 

The administrative rate landed on 16 USD/h as a fundamentally arbitrary rate that didn't risk emptying the coffers of funds, while still acknowledging time spent on bureaucratic-leaning tasks. 

Collective updates over RSS

On a completely unrelated note, you can now follow our updates over RSS by subscribing to the following feed in your favourite feed reader:

Going forward

Thank you for your continual support, enabling us to act longer term, and for reading this rather packed update!

To a 2023 spent crossing the cables,
~cblgh (on behalf of the cabal club)
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