Delegate the Reference Client roadmap to the Decentraland Foundation
Should the Decentraland DAO delegate the responsibility of developing and executing the roadmap for the Reference Client to the Foundation?
The Reference Client (the app at play.decentraland.org) is currently the most widely used Decentraland client. Right now, the Decentraland Foundation is the main contributor to the Reference Client’s open source code base, but given the DAO’s ownership of the client (and the need to have the DAO approve major changes), the Foundation is hindered in how quickly and effectively it can develop new features and improvements.
To overcome this hurdle, the Foundation is suggesting that the DAO delegate the development and maintenance of the Reference Client to the Foundation. This delegation would be reviewed and renewed every 12 months.
This delegation would empower the Foundation to:
- Communicate and execute a solid roadmap both for community developers and users
- Build a richer feature set (e.g. better in-world navigation, social interaction, and content moderation tools)
- Ensure that the client is faster and more stable
- Improve the quality and performance of the client’s graphics
- Improve the client’s ability to support more concurrent users
To better understand the scope of this proposed delegation and the extent of it’s impact on the broader platform, it’s important to define some terms:
The DAO was created to help the community direct the development of Decentraland’s policies, infrastructure, content moderation, and smart contracts. The DAO owns the smart contracts for Decentraland’s digital assets (like LAND, Names, Wearables, etc.), so any changes made to those contracts must be approved by the DAO. Furthermore, platform-impacting decisions or changes to Decentraland’s codebase (i.e. decisions that impact the entire Decentraland community, like strategic decisions for the client) must be approved by the DAO.
The “Decentraland Foundation”
The Foundation is a non-profit organization that was formed to help protect the intellectual property of the Decentraland brand (something that the DAO lacks the legal status to do). The Foundation was also tasked with supporting the decentralization of the platform alongside the community.
The “Decentraland Stack”
Decentraland is made up of a complex “stack” of different smart contracts, protocols, and applications. Together, they make up the Decentraland Platform. Generally speaking, the different decentralized layers can defined as:
- The smart contracts that make Decentraland’s scarce digital assets (like LAND, Estates, Wearables, Names, etc) possible.
- The Catalyst software used to run the distributed network of servers that host and provide content to users.
- The software development kit that people use to build content for Decentraland’s virtual world.
- dApps like the Builder that allow people to create and arrange content for Decentraland’s virtual world without writing code.
- dApps like the Marketplace that allow people to manage and exchange Decentraland’s digital assets.
- Clients that allow users to interact with the content of Decentraland. Decentraland clients are like web browsers (e.g. Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox) in that they all provide access to the same network and information, but are not the web itself. In 2022, this also includes the PC and Mac clients, currently in beta and available to download from Welcome to Decentraland.
The “Reference Client”
The Decentraland Reference Client discussed in this proposal is the web based app and the PC and Mac clients that allow people to access and interact with content and other users within Decentraland’s virtual world. This application sits at the top of the Decentraland Stack.
It’s helpful to remember that the Reference Client does not constitute the entire Decentraland Platform, that it is just one alternative for accessing the Decentraland Platform, that anyone can develop a customized client, and that the roadmap discussed in this proposal for the Reference Client can’t dictate changes to any other components of the platform—those must still be approved by the DAO on a case by case basis.
Duration and renewal of the delegation
The DAO would delegate to the Foundation the responsibility of developing and maintaining the Reference Client for a period of 12 months, according to a roadmap approved by the DAO on a biannual schedule. The Foundation will be responsible for presenting and delivering a product roadmap for 2023.
The roadmap will be prioritized in collaboration with the DAO by implementing a mechanism for proposing and signaling support on new initiative.
Ideation and validation for the roadmap
The DAO will have a clear path to contribute ideas and requests to the roadmap. This could take the form of a new polling category within the DAO, specific to client feature requests and suggestions. These proposals could then be voted on by the community, with accepted suggestions being passed to the Foundation for inclusion in the next iteration of the product roadmap.
Deviations from the roadmap
The Foundation would be able to reasonably depart from the roadmap to make full use of the Foundation’s familiarity with the competitive market, Decentraland’s user base, and regulatory requirements
Funds to develop the Reference Client (e.g. payroll for developers) would still be provided by the Foundation, not the DAO.
Termination of the delegation
The DAO may choose at any time to revoke this delegation in favor of giving it to another entity.
Limits of the delegation
The delegation is limited to the Reference Client and does not allow the Foundation to make changes to other areas of the Decentraland platform; any such changes must pass through a vote in the DAO.
- The Reference Client is a complex application that is relevant to the continued development of the platform.
- The development life cycle for something as complex as the client requires countless technical and strategic decisions to be made on a daily basis
- Given the time it takes to write proposals and pass them through the DAO, it would be extremely impractical to have the DAO weigh in on each of these decisions
- So, it’s clear that in order to develop the client at a speed sufficient to compete with other metaverse projects, at least some level of formal delegation is needed
- The Foundation is the best candidate to receive this delegation given its proximity to the platform, its resources, and its knowledge of the market and the Decentraland community
- The suggested delegation would provide the Foundation with the autonomy needed to execute quickly, while still being subject to the relevant decisions, directions, and control of the DAO
Transparency and reporting
The Foundation is working on finding new ways of working that would improve the transparency of its roadmap plans, scope, ongoing work, and updates on results.
In order to enable two-way communication and create more opportunities for questions and answers, the Foundation has already announced that it will hold regular (approximately monthly) technical AMA sessions with the community. They are also considering additionally holding more general AMA sessions in order to cover all the areas in which the community may have questions and concerns. These sessions could potentially take place on a quarterly basis.
Lastly, the Foundation is looking into establishing more public data sources to easily provide data to the public that has previously only been for internal use.
The Decentraland Foundation’s mission statement:
Decentraland’s goal is to be a fun and entertaining platform with a thriving community that educates and onboards people to the philosophies and tech of Web3 while empowering Creators in the hope that, when the masses realize why decentralization is important, a viable option will be available and the next iteration of the internet won’t be monopolized by a handful of corporations.
Vote on this proposal on the Decentraland DAO