Join us in making Cardano better through Cardano Improvement Proposals
Cardano is on a constant journey of never-ending improvements, and true to our open-source ideals, we expect many of those improvements to come from members of our community like you.
Today, we are pleased to announce the active phase of the Cardano Improvement Proposal process (CIP), which is designed to open our ecosystem up to everybody who wants to get involved. If you can imagine Cardano as a garage, CIPs are the different kinds of tools available to people for repairs, tune-ups, or to customize their vehicles.
This post also introduces you to the first Cardano Improvement Proposal, CIP1, which is now in an active stage. CIP1 provides an overview of how to use the CIP framework to document proposals for improvements and how to build consensus around these proposals.
What are CIPs?
Cardano Improvement Proposals (CIPs) are formalized documents for the Cardano community and its ecosystem members, providing information or describing new features or processes. CIPs contain the technical specifications for the proposed changes and act as a source of truth for the community and ecosystem partners, such as the Cardano Foundation, EMURGO and IOHK, alike.
- CIPs ARE a source of truth in a standardized location;
- CIPs ARE a framework for formatting, discussing, and submitting proposals;
- CIPs ARE hosted on the Cardano Foundation’s GitHub repository;
- CIPs are NOT a governance process — decisions are made off-chain;
- CIPs are NOT binding;
- CIPs are NOT a funding mechanism.
You might also describe a CIP as a catalog of solutions to existing problems or solutions to issues that might arise as Cardano grows. CIPs suggest technical solutions to present or future problems. They aim to explain the rationale and motivations behind such solutions in addition to ideas for the implementation.
“If you are a community member that wants to propose a new change to the Cardano blockchain, previously there was no straight forward or formalized process to do so. With the CIP process, this is a way to open up to the community so that individual members can propose a change that they want to see implemented, and that change will go through the formalized structure so everyone can discuss it, and it will be touching all levels.”
- Frederic Johnson TCE Episode 94 (source).
The first improvement proposal is always a meta proposal, the purpose of which is to explain the process itself in detail. CIP1 was a meta-CIP which is a Process CIP. Its purpose is to explain in detail the CIP process itself. Let’s take a look at the first CIP, which is CIP1, and how it reached ‘Active’ status.
- 5 May 2020, Draft. The initial commit was made.
- 20 May 2020, Draft -> Proposed. CIP Editors changed the status from ‘Draft’ to ‘Proposed’.
- 20 May 2020, CIP1 open to discussion. A forum post for the ‘CIP1 process’ was published.
- 20 June 2020, Proposed -> Active. The minimum of one month had passed, where CIP1 was open to discussion and had had no person maintain an unaddressed, substantiated objection. CIP Editors determined CIP1 had rough consensus and changed the status to ‘Active’.
Three types of CIP
- A Standards Track CIP describes any change that affects most or all Cardano implementations, such as a change to the network protocol, a change in block or transaction validity rules, or any change or addition that affects the interoperability of applications using Cardano.
- A Process CIP describes a process surrounding Cardano or proposes a change to (or an event in) a process. Process CIPs apply to areas other than the protocol. They may propose an implementation, but not to Cardano’s codebase; they often require community consensus. Examples include procedures, guidelines, changes to the decision-making process, and changes to the tools or environment used in Cardano development. Any meta-CIP is also considered a Process CIP.
- An Informational CIP describes a Cardano design issue, or provides general guidelines or information to the Cardano community, but does not propose a new feature.
We are not reinventing the wheel here.
An improvement proposal is an industry-standard across many blockchain projects. Proposals are submitted to a repository to help formal communication and collaboration across groups of interested parties (such as stakeholders in our own ecosystem). Improvement proposals help the community to see what is currently being proposed by other members of the community or entities like EMURGO or IOHK.
CIPs are a tool to communicate ideas that improve the Cardano project itself. However, CIPs are not the only tool. For example, changes IOHK is currently pushing are not CIP driven, they have historically been research-driven. However, if IOHK were to suggest, say, changing staking parameters, it would do so through the CIP framework to establish the feedback loop to involve the community.
Now we need your help to make Cardano better
The introduction of CIPs marks another important milestone in driving increased participation from our community toward the development of Cardano. We are pleased with this new milestone and we are eager to see the CIPs that you and other members of the community will initiate going forward.
If you would like to learn more about CIPs you can visit the links below.
- Begin reading the CIPs category in the Cardano Forum.
- Watch the CIPs repo on GitHub and read CIP1.md which contains detailed guidelines.
Join Cardano’s Official Developer’s Telegram Group to discuss CIPs or developers in Cardano Ambassador Slack.