The Road Ahead for IOTA, Shimmer, and Assembly
The IOTA Smart Contracts (ISC) beta release in October 2021 kicked off a boom in Web3 application development on IOTA. The combination of the ISC release and the progress made towards a fully decentralized IOTA 2.0 version (Coordicide), made it clear that a staging network would be hugely beneficial. So we decided to extend the IOTA ecosystem with a staging network called Shimmer, which provides battle-testing for ISC and all Coordicide modules.
To accommodate future innovations on the IOTA infrastructure layer, we need a highly scalable, permissionless and decentralized environment. Only with such an environment will it be possible to foster the exponential growth that our ecosystem is already experiencing. We have been blown away by all the activity around our ISC release. So far we have seen decentralized exchanges, DAOs, NFT drops, several DeFi applications, lending platforms, airdrops and even substantial capital raised for different projects.
The Assembly network has been specifically designed to target the innovative minds behind these and other projects. Assembly provides a parallelized multi-chain network of blockchains that will be a highly scalable and composable breeding ground for future ecosystems to build on.
The expansion of IOTA’s utility as the optimal infrastructure anchoring layer for the Assembly network has significantly increased the interdependencies of all three networks and their planned upgrade milestones. To provide a deeper insight into the upcoming developments and to give a clearer overview on the interrelations between milestones and corresponding networks, we have compiled the following roadmap, which represents the chronological order in which milestones for each network will be achieved.
Due to the interdependencies across the networks, we have not included any ETAs as they can easily be affected by milestones in the other networks.
Initial 90-day IOTA token staking period
28 March 2022 saw the end of the 90-day staking period of IOTA tokens for Assembly and Shimmer tokens and the transition to new staking periods for the Assembly and IOTA networks. Staking IOTA for Assembly will continue shortly after the end of the first staking period, while staking IOTA for Shimmer tokens ends with the completion of the initial token staking period. With its end, the total supply of Shimmer tokens has been allocated to stakers.
Following IOTA token staking periods
Staking IOTA tokens for Assembly tokens resumes after a short break in which Hornet nodes and the Firefly wallet software will receive updates. Hornet node owners will be notified through public channels to update their nodes. The Firefly Github repo allows for tracking the progress made on the Firefly wallet.
After the Hornet nodes and Firefly wallet have been successfully updated, staking will resume and staking rewards will be distributed continuously, just like during the 90-day staking period. Staking the received ASMB tokens from these first two staking periods will be possible after the launch of the Assembly network, as described further below.
Pre-Shimmer internal testnet (Stardust-based)
Shimmer will be the testbed for the feature-rich Stardust Tokenization Framework Protocol upgrade, before the upgrade can be implemented on the IOTA mainnet. Therefore, before the launch of the actual Shimmer network, Stardust will undergo two testing cycles: the first one being an internal pre-Shimmer testnet, and the second a public beta version.
The first internal testing cycle will already include IOTA Smart Contract (ISC) support and the new Stardust Tokenization Framework Protocol. Stardust will turn the Shimmer staging network ledger into a multi-asset ledger, with new features like native assets, native L1 NFTs and more.
DAO treasury vote
In between the IOTA token staking and the internal testing of Shimmer with Stardust, there will be an important event for all liquid democracy lovers in the IOTA community: The first-ever IOTA community vote on a token-based voting system. IOTA token holders will be able to vote in the Firefly wallet on the fate of unclaimed treasury tokens. If this is the first you have heard about the treasure vote, make sure to read up on the details in our previous blog post.
IOTA Smart Contracts Virtual Machine (ISC VM) alpha integration
What would a smart contract platform be without an Ethereum virtual machine? The IOTA Smart Contracts Virtual Machine will run EVM-compatible smart contracts on IOTA. This first integration of the virtual machine will be tested internally before being released to the public. The virtual machine will be used on Shimmer, and, after battle-testing, will later be used for Assembly to virtualize Ethereum smart contracts.
Pre-Shimmer public beta network
Once the internal testing of the Stardust upgrade has been successfully completed, the network will be unleashed on the public. Extensive public testing will ensure that the biggest bugs are found and fixed for the official launch of the Shimmer network. We invite our community developers and node operators to join us in building the future of IOTA in this important milestone. The broad participation of our community is essential in moving the development forward. At this point in time, builders can deploy their ISC contracts in a permissioned environment on the Shimmer network. This enables their integration to be tested before they’re deployed in a live scenario for the first time.
Shimmer network launch
With the Stardust upgrade having been tested, tried and verified, the Shimmer network will be launched. Before its launch, the community will have to validate all token allocations (the balances in the ledger) after the end of the initial 90-day staking period in order for the Shimmer token generation event to take place.
After the launch of the network, the Shimmer token will become freely transferable. IOTA stakers will be able to access their SMR tokens using the Firefly wallet.
The new Stardust features will enable builders to develop their first applications on Shimmer, including native assets and native L1 NFTs. Stardust will also become the foundation for Layer 2 applications, including Layer 2 NFTs and smart assets on Assembly. Tooling already available on the IOTA network, such as a network explorer, allowing users to search the Shimmer network for transactions, addresses, tokens, and so on, will also become available. From this point on, builders can deploy and test smart contracts based on the native Shimmer network with its multi-ledger layout and native assets.
Shimmer EVM launch (Public IOTA Smart Contracts Virtual Machine)
With the Stardust upgrade implemented, tested and running, the integration of the ISC virtual machine enables builders to deploy their dApps. In testing and trialing the ShimmerEVM integration, and deploying their apps using the virtual machine, builders help to prepare the ISC virtual machine for its full release on the IOTA mainnet.
IOTA Stardust upgrade
Once the Stardust Tokenization Framework passes validation in the Shimmer network, it will be implemented on the IOTA mainnet. This will bring a new level of utility to the IOTA network and lays the foundation for smart contract integration, which in turn will enable the launch of the Assembly network.
With Stardust, native assets will find their way to the IOTA network. NFTs on IOTA will be quite different compared to other competitors as they don’t require gas fees to be transferred. It will also be possible to create NFTs that hold other native assets: enabling, for example, in-game characters to pay for certain items themselves, or receive tokens and distribute tokens. If you have not yet read up on the Tokenization Framework, dive into it here.
Assembly root chain launch on IOTA
The Assembly network will launch with an implementation of its root chain on the IOTA mainnet, marking the beginning of a phased network rollout until it reaches its fully envisioned state of a scalable, decentralized multi-chain network.
The launch of the Assembly root chain will enable Assembly tokens to become freely transferable. Later, staking ASMB tokens will be enabled to gain ASMB with a yearly inflation rate of 8%.
Once the Assembly root chain is launched, we will also provide corresponding developer tooling, a Firefly wallet upgrade for Assembly, and a network explorer for users to explore and search the Assembly network for transactions, addresses, tokens and much more. Furthermore, exploring all Assembly smart contracts will also become possible.
After the update of Firefly and Hornet nodes, the staking of IOTA tokens for ASMB tokens will resume. The overall staking period continues until 24 months of staking have been reached in total.
Coordicide and the first, upcoming real-world validation
The Coordinator-less IOTA 2.0 DevNet is continuously being developed, tested and improved. The launch of the Shimmer network will enable us for the first time to validate Coordicide components by introducing them into a live network.
The IOTA 2.0 DevNet is based on a prototype node called GoShimmer that is geared towards fast iterations in order to keep a high velocity and to test components until they can be implemented on the Shimmer network: going from “GoShimmer” to just “Shimmer”.
All iterations follow that process: Components that proved to be working as intended in GoShimmer on the IOTA DevNet are being integrated into the production-ready Hornet and Bee node software to be validated under real-world conditions on the Shimmer mainnet. Once components have proven themselves on the Shimmer network, they will make their way onto the IOTA mainnet.
This development process, crowned by the ultimate Coordicide, is planned in installments and developed alongside the three mainnets IOTA, Shimmer and Assembly.
You can expect to find a public Tangle Improvement Proposal (TIP) for the integration of the first installment into Hornet (and thus onto the Shimmer network) shortly. In addition, we plan to publish an outline of the dependency graph of the upcoming Coordicide component installments in a separate blog post.
The milestones outlined above are the key components to becoming an ecosystem of networks to unite them all. By bringing together IOTA, the L1 infrastructure, Shimmer, the staging network and Assembly’s multi-chain approach, we set course to expand the horizon of our core utilities and to set precedents for the future of Web3 building.
Working closely with our community, we have completed many small and major achievements that we equally value and which have shaped our core identity: a project for the community. Transparency plays a vital role in this journey and so this roadmap is not only designed to give the community a comprehensive overview but also to encourage them, and especially all the developers and builders, to join us on the road ahead. Therefore, we invite everyone to closely track our progress on each of the outlined milestones through our GitHub repositories and via our IOTA, Assembly and Shimmer Twitter accounts. Make sure to follow our IOTA, Assembly and Shimmer Twitter accounts for upcoming news.