3Box is now 3Box Labs – A future on Ceramic Network
In this big announcement, we share that 3Box is becoming 3Box Labs to reflect a new focus on the development of the Ceramic Network ecosystem.
👍 Our mission stays the same
🚀 Ceramic Network and IDX are the future
3️⃣ 3Box SDK and plugins will be deprecated, but...
👍 3Box profiles will still work and will be migrated to IDX
🛠 We support Ceramic with development, tooling, and ecosystem building
⚡️ Currently using 3Box? Learn how to migrate
The mission of 3Box has always been to advance a more open and sustainable web by creating software that breaks down information silos and redefines relationships between users, apps, and data.
We believe that by giving users direct ownership over their digital identity, direct control over their personal data, and by liberating information from centralized database silos and putting it on the open internet, we can correct the asymmetric power structures of the current web and contribute to a more safe and equitable digital future for all. Experience has taught us that the most impactful way to advance this mission is by equipping developers with powerful tools that make it easy to build applications on this new paradigm.
Where we've been
Since early 2018, 3Box has been the leading provider of decentralized identity, user profiles, database storage and messaging capabilities for Ethereum applications. The flagship 3Box SDK has been used by 1,500+ projects including MetaMask, Gitcoin, Snapshot, Rarible, Gnosis, Zerion, and countless others to create and manage 40,000+ decentralized identities and 200,000+ decentralized databases. Our products have helped make decentralized identity and dynamic application data an indispensable pillar of the Ethereum ecosystem.
Introducing, 3Box Labs
Today we're excited to announce that 3Box is evolving to become 3Box Labs in order to more effectively deliver on our mission. Moving forward we will be shifting all efforts to developing the Ceramic Network ecosystem and protocols built on top of it such as IDX. Over the next few months, we will be sunsetting current 3Box products in favor of these new, more powerful alternatives.
Our evolution in brand and product focus does not mean that we're leaving the Ethereum ecosystem or that we're changing our mission. On the contrary, it enables us to improve our offerings, expand into new markets, further decentralize our technology, and dramatically scale our impact. With Ceramic and IDX, now all developers (not just ETH devs) get much more powerful and robust infrastructure that opens up a whole new set of use cases for decentralized identity and dynamic data management.
Evolving our approach
3Box was a simple, out-of-the-box solution to decentralized identity and data management. Our SDK bundled existing Web3 technologies such as DIDs, OrbitDB, and IPFS into an opinionated, but developer-friendly API that worked with users' existing Ethereum wallets for authentication.
We always knew that abstracting existing solutions at the API layer and not solving the problem at the base protocol layer would have its inherent limitations. Over time these limitations became bottlenecks to growth, decentralization, flexibility, and performance:
- Performance: "Why are data syncing and load times slow?"
- Persistence: "How can I guarantee my data stays available?"
- Decentralization: "Why are identities stored on 3Box Inc. servers?"
- Consensus: "How can we anchor identities and data on-chain?"
- Multi-DID: "How can I use a different DID method?"
- Multi-chain: "How can I authenticate with a non-Ethereum account?"
- Multi-account: " How can I connect multiple accounts to my DID?"
- Flexibility: "How can I use a different database provider?"
- Customization: "How can I extend the API to do custom things?"
Moving to the Ceramic Network
To address the questions above and support many new capabilities, we realized we needed a completely new technology stack from the ground up. This 18-month journey led us to develop Ceramic Network and IDX to be a much more robust and flexible combination of protocols for decentralized identity and dynamic data management.
Ceramic: A decentralized network for mutable content
Ceramic is a public, permissionless, censorship-resistant network for managing mutable content on the open internet. By combining IPFS, libp2p, blockchain, DIDs, and authenticated data standards, Ceramic gives developers the ability to build completely serverless applications using dynamic, verifiable, decentralized data.
Ceramic functions like a global-scale, permissionless NoSQL document database, but guarantees data integrity and ensures strict ordering of document updates by anchoring these updates in a blockchain. Ceramic does not require DB servers or trusted third-parties to host data and perform mutations on content. Learn more about Ceramic in this twitter thread:
IDX: A protocol for cross-chain decentralized identity
IDX is a cross-chain protocol and SDK for decentralized identity and interoperable user data. IDX allows developers to attach any kind of data to a user, discover all of a user's data in one place, and share data between applications.
Unlike 3Box which only offered OrbitDB storage and Ethereum-based authentication, IDX can be used with any kind of datastore such as Ceramic, Textile, OrbitDB, Filecoin, IPFS, Sia, Arweave, blockchain registries, or even centralized databases and supports authentication from any kind of Web3 wallet.
IDX is great for associating user profiles, portable social graphs, reputation scores, verifiable claims, user-generated content, application data, settings, domain names, blockchain addresses, and social Web2 accounts to a user in a decentralized way.
Available on Testnet now
You don't have to wait to get started building on all of these new tools. Last week Ceramic officially launched the Clay Testnet and at the same time, IDX went into beta.
Mainnet will be progressively rolled out over the coming months, beginning with a soft launch for interested projects and then proceeding to a full public release some time after that. If you're interested in deploying your project on the Ceramic mainnet as part of the soft launch, reach out on Discord.
Supporting the Ceramic ecosystem
Ceramic and IDX are decentralized protocols which are independent from 3Box Labs. However 3Box Labs is committed to supporting the Ceramic ecosystem along three key pillars:
- Core protocol development
- Standards, developer tooling, core applications
- Ecosystem development
Core protocol development
Standards, developer tooling, and core applications
The use cases for Ceramic are virtually endless. While this is a positive for the long-term prospects of the network, it is important that a few key use cases are built out early on so developers can immediately use Ceramic without needing to wait for use cases to organically emerge. 3Box Labs is committed to developing decentralized identity tooling on Ceramic, and here's what we've created so far.
- 3ID DID method: A W3C-compliant DID method that uses Ceramic documents as decentralized, mutable DID documents. 3ID is great for end-user IDs. Ceramic-based 3IDs are the decentralized replacement to current 3Box 3IDs stored on 3Box servers.
- 3ID Connect: An authentication system for Ceramic that works with all blockchain wallets. 3ID Connect currently supports Ethereum, Cosmos, Filecoin, Polkadot, and EOS with others such as Near and Flow coming soon. This version of 3ID Connect is the cross-chain, Ceramic-compatible replacement to the 3ID Connect currently used in 3Box.
- Community infrastructure: 3Box Labs provides free and open access to hosted Ceramic nodes so developers can interact with the network during prototyping and development without needing to run their own node. The endpoints for these nodes can be found in the Ceramic documentation.
- Self.ID (coming soon): A web UI that allows users to manage IDX records for their DID, such as a basic profile, Web2 account links, and Web3 address links from different blockchains. Self.ID will be the sequel to the 3Box profiles hub.
- IdentityLink: A service that issues verifiable credentials which link a user's DID to their Web2 social accounts. 3Box Labs has funded the development of IdentityLink, and will run an instance of the service for anyone to use. Alternatively, you can also run your own IdentityLink.
If you're interested in building out standards and tooling for identity or new use cases, reach out in the Ceramic Discord.
As a nascent protocol, Ceramic needs a lot of support in developing a vibrant ecosystem. 3Box Labs is committed to: developing strategic partnerships, use cases, and collaborations between Ceramic and other projects and ecosystems; funding community development work in the form of bounties and grants; providing Ceramic with financial support until there are self-sustaining token economics on the network; supporting developers through documentation, examples, and educational materials; engaging web standards bodies (i.e. W3C, DIF, IETF, blockchain foundations); and of course, memes and marketing. 😻
If you're interested in any of the opportunities above, reach out in the Ceramic Discord.
Migrating from 3Box
If you're currently using 3Box in your project, you'll want to skim through this related post which outlines various upgrade paths for migrating to Ceramic and IDX.
How will Ceramic be governed?
Ceramic is already 100% open source, peer-to-peer software and anyone can participate in the network by simply running a Ceramic node. Formal governance of the network will progressively decentralize over time, eventually exiting to the community and a standalone foundation once a token is introduced.
Will Ceramic have a native token?
Ceramic does not currently have a native token, and one will not be present upon mainnet launch. In time, it is reasonable to assume token economics will be added to the network.
What is the relationship between 3Box Labs and Ceramic?
While 3Box Labs are the original inventors of the Ceramic Network and have been integral to bootstrapping the Ceramic ecosystem, we're committed to migrating Ceramic to an independently-governed foundation and stepping back to play a reduced role over time. In a way, 3Box Labs is just like any other contributor to an early stage protocol.
What is the corporate structure of 3Box Labs?
3Box Labs is a US corporation registered in Delaware with employees and contractors located across the US and Europe.
What is the business model of 3Box Labs?
There is no charge for the software that we produce. The 3Box Labs organization is able to sustain ourselves and fund development of the Ceramic ecosystem through the generous backing of some of Web3's most active and committed investors, including Placeholder, CoinFund, Collabfund Cryptocurrency, Consensys, Digital Currency Group (DCG), Venrock, Northzone, Underscore, Protocol Labs, and many more who have made equity investments into 3Box Labs. Once Ceramic has a token, 3Box Labs will maintain a modest percent of network tokens. Investors with equity in 3Box Labs will retain a proportion of the 3Box Labs allotment of network tokens. To date, there have been no direct investments in Ceramic Network but there may be an upcoming opportunity for that.
How can I get involved?
There are many ways to get involved. If you're looking to contribute code, write a client in a new language, run Ceramic nodes, write developer docs, help with community development and partnerships, or anything else, let us know in the Ceramic Discord. If you're a developer looking to use Ceramic and/0r IDX in your next project, go ahead and jump into the documentation:
This is a mega announcement and we're sure you have a lot of questions. If we didn't address something, reach out on Discord. We're always available.