On Ethereum — the most actively used, blockchain-based platform where users are granted access to develop decentralized applications and carry out fraud-free transactions, it is common to come across Ethereum Improvement Proposals, or EIPs for short. From what it is, to why it is significant to the Ethereum community, we have just the right information in store for you. Scroll down and find out more!
What is an Ethereum improvement proposal?
An Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) offers a set of standards detailing possible improvements or new features that can be implemented in the software platform. This document may contain contract standards and protocol specifications or changes in programming tools, and should outline the feature in a comprehensive manner. Oftentimes written and maintained by developers, an Ethereum Improvement Proposal is technically directed towards those in the Ethereum community.
Generally, there are three main types of Ethereum Improvement Proposals, as mentioned below:
- Standard Track — This EIP describes major changes capable of affecting almost all Ethereum implementations. From changes to the network protocol to any changes that can directly affect the interoperability of Ethereum applications, Standard Track EIPs are of four subcategories.
- Core: Improvements that either require a consensus fork (e.g. EIP-101) or do not necessarily require consensus.
- Networking: Improvements proposed regarding Ethereum protocols and subprotocols.
- Interface: EIPs relating to client API standards and other language-level standards.
- ERC: Application-level specifications such as contract standards, name registries, wallet and library/package formats. Contract standards include token standards like ERC-20.
- Meta — A meta Ethereum Improvement Proposal outlines a process about Etherum, or suggests changes to such processes. Also referred to as Process EIPs, these may include implementations such as guidelines, procedures, alteration in the tools used for development, and so forth. Users in the community must offer their consensus on such EIPs, but Meta EIPs do not affect Ethereum’s codebase.
- Informational — Informational EIPs specify issues in Ethereum design, but do not propose new features. The purpose for such Ethereum Improvement Proposals is to provide general guidelines to users in the community. As per the name suggests, this type of EIP holds informative content that implementers and users are free to ignore, unlike the previously mentioned Meta EIPs.
Who created the EIP process?
The Ethereum Improvement Proposal was initially designed to collect suggestions for new features and community input on various issues. Developed in 2015, the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) process was heavily influenced by the Bitcoin Improvement Proposal — BIP-0001, written and put forward by Amir Taaki respectively. The BIP-0001 was in fact based on Python’s very own enhancement proposal process, PEP-0001.
Who can propose an Ethereum Improvement Proposal?
Every member of the Ethereum community is eligible to draft out an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP), and must follow the guidelines detailed on the EIP-1 process page. The EIP author holds accountability to precisely specify the proposal put forward, and to ensure community consensus. Once EIP-1 is reviewed thoroughly, a Pull Request can be submitted by the author to Ethereum’s EIPs repository.
Some of the most important Ethereum Improvement Proposals
Outlined in the table below are a few examples of the most important EIPs that have been put together by far.
|EIP Purpose and Guidelines
|Martin Becze, Hudson Jameson
|Homestead Hard-fork Changes
|Renaming SUICIDE Opcode
|Devp2p Forward Compatibility Requirements for Homestead
What it takes for EIP to become a new ERC
In the Ethereum platform, ERC stands for Ethereum Request for Comments. ERCs refer to application-level standards such as token standards. One such significantly known token standard is ERC-20, which has now become the technical standard for all smart contracts. Technically, new ERC standard proposals can be requested by submitting an EIP (Ethereum Improvement Proposal).
For an Ethereum Improvement Proposal to become a new ERC, coding standards must be concisely followed and properly deployed in the blockchain. Once the EIP is approved and has undergone refinement in the hands of the Ethereum Committee, it is finalized and eligible to become a new ERC. The new ERC can then be used by developers to build smart contracts.
ERC20 — What is it?
The token interface widely known as ERC-20 is the standard specification used by the majority in Ethereum. ERC-20 solves the problem of unforeseen hacking attacks that can occur during token transfers, and other issues such as the destruction of smart contracts. With this specification, the interchangeability of ERC20-based tokens is immensely improved. This specification contains six functions, two events and three token information functions.
Ethereum decentralization with EIP
An undeniable feature for most cryptocurrencies is the ability to run on minimal trust and human intervention. But in the Ethereum ecosystem, with the emergence of Ethereum Improvement Proposals (or EIPs), this takes an interesting turn. With the use of EIPs, decision-making authorities have been delegated to the community, allowing users to propose new ideas regarding protocol changes and contract standards. The decentralization of Ethereum processes via EIP follows some fixed steps.
First, an idea such as EIP-1559 is brought about. Public discussion forums are used to share and gather opinions from around the community. An Ethereum Improvement Proposal is then created accordingly, which undergoes editing to ensure the document contains error-free, precise details. Once the draft has been reviewed and finalized, it is ready for usage.
What is EIP-1559?
Currently storming the community is the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1559 that suggests a distinct transaction pricing mechanism.
Being the most popular platform for the development of blockchain applications, Ethereum has encountered a rising issue that now seems to have a solution. First proposed in April 2019, the EIP offers a major change in Ethereum’s standard fee structure.
So far, transactions have been handled in one exact manner: auction-style. Users generally make a payment to miners to have their transactions processed on the blockchain for them.
The higher the fee, the quicker your transaction is picked up by the miner. Occasionally, Ethereum has faced surges that occur with no warning, where users bid more. This results in an increase in transaction fees.
EIP-1559 brings forth a different mechanism — fixed-per-block network fee which is “burned and dynamically expands/contracts block sizes to deal with transient congestion.”
On the contrary, the aforementioned Ethereum Improvement Proposal has led to controversy, where a minority in the community stands against the idea.
Despite the opposition, EIP-1559 can potentially be a remarkable solution for the problem of high transaction fees that has intensely strained the network in recent months.
EIP-1559 release date
The highly anticipated, gas-saving upgrade is expected to be released in the summer of 2021. According to Ethereum developer Ryan Berckmans, this EIP will possibly launch in July. However, a lot more researching, testing and documenting will go into this proposal before it is implemented in the Ethereum ecosystem.
Why is EIP-1559 so important for the Ethereum blockchain?
On the platform, Ethereum improvement proposals play a major role in general; the changes across Ethereum are documented in this manner, while community members take part in agreeing to or dissenting a proposed idea. Just as important as different EIPs are, EIP-1559 is significant to the Ethereum environment.
Offering a high quality upgrade to the ETH (Ether) fee, EIP-1559 comes with loads of benefits. While transaction costs will be decreased, the overall processing of transactions and user’s navigation will be vastly improved. Listed below are some positives of this EIP.
- Quicker transactions can be done with fast processing and minimum lag.
- No surge in transaction fees even when the network is most active. The fees will only shift at a minimal range and cause no great increase in cost.
- Ether is burned for transactions. This can be advantageous for the price of Ether from an investment standpoint.
- Volatility of transaction fees is better controlled.
- By replacing the auction with a fixed price, first auction inefficiencies are eliminated. Transaction fee predictability becomes easier in this way, and users can simply choose to not pay for a transaction that they cannot afford.
EIP-1559 fee market
The current fee markets are excessively inefficient, with people overpaying for transactions unnecessarily. Those who do not pay extra will face an unfortunate delay of a few minutes, which eventually benefits no one. However, this Ethereum Improvement Proposal has the potential to cutback on such inefficiency and allows transactions to be included immediately.
A fee-based priority mechanism built into this EIP provides an additional feature: users can choose to pay a ‘tip’ with their transactions so that in times of sudden spikes, miners have the option to choose transactions that pay a higher tip first. Therefore, with EIP-1559, a better-maintained, functioning fee market is made possible.
What is EIP-2537?
Proposed by Alex Vlasov, the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 2537 is a precompile for BLS12-381 curve operations, where additional operations are added to the BLS12-381 curve in order to efficiently and quickly perform particular tasks such as BLS signature verification. This precompile is aimed to add a cryptographic primitive such that over 120 bits of security can be provided, unlike the present precompile that gives only about 80 bits of security. BLS12-381 is the new curve used for signatures within Ethereum.
Key takeaways — Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) review
- An Ethereum Improvement Proposal, or EIP, is a descriptive document outlining standards or suggestions for new features regarding the Ethereum environment.
- Improvements proposed in an EIP can range from major changes in the network’s codebase and protocols, to enhancements in features available for Ethereum users.
- Ethereum Improvement Proposals can become ERCs if detailed in a proper manner that is accepted by the Ethereum Committee.
- EIP-1559 — a current hot topic in the Ethereum community, is a proposal that defines a new pricing mechanism with a number of advantages.
- With the new EIP ready to be launched soon, time, cost and fee market efficiencies will drastically improve, along with user experience.
- Similarly, EIP-2537 has been put forward to result in effective core tasks in BLS12-381 curve operations.
As blockchain continually grows to serve as the new financial system, Ethereum continues to be one of the largest, most developed blockchain platform. And with the current flow of events, it is predictable that with intelligent Ethereum Improvement Proposals emerging, the software platform will improve functionality for its users as it grows.