Zecwallet Liteclient Research and Development

Applicant background

Zecwallet Lite, the light client mobile and desktop apps for Zcash have found some success within the Zcash community. The mobile and desktop apps are used by approximately ~7500 people today, but I think we can do much better. For background, Zecwallet has only 1 person working on it (me) part time, which is clearly not enough to grow usage and research protocol improvements. This grant proposes to expand the Zecwallet team to 3 people, and add 1 full time researcher working for 6 months to ship improvements to Zecwallet and the Lite client protocol.

Motivation and overview

While Lite wallets are widely used by people already familiar with Zcash and its pros and cons, it can be quite confusing to new users or users who are familiar with Cryptocurrencies in general, but are new to Zcash. I outlined several of the issues in these two posts below. Please read these two posts first for a background on the overall motivation behind this grant.

https://forum.zcashcommunity.com/t/zip-314-privacy-upgrades-to-the-zcash-light-client-protocol/38868/14

https://forum.zcashcommunity.com/t/zip-314-privacy-upgrades-to-the-zcash-light-client-protocol/38868/39

The summary is that first time use of Zcash and Zecwallet in particular can be quite confusing, and is causing a significant drop-off in user acquisition. This is bad because these are users that are interested and motivated to try out Zecwallet/Zcash, but aren't able to. This grant aims to research some of these problem areas, propose concrete improvements to the wallets and the Lite client protocol, and ship these as improvements in the Zecwallet Lite desktop and mobile wallets with a goal of improving usage, adoption and understandability of Zecwallet.

We will evaluate success/failure of this project based on improved usage of Zecwallet and shielded ZEC by new and existing users.

Do execute this work, I'm proposing to expand the Zecwallet team to 3 people (1 Devops/Testing/Infra and 2 Protocol Research/UX/Engineering)

Technical approach

This is a very large grant, so I'm splitting it up into two main parts. (See forum post for details)

1. Devops and Code improvements

While this is not directly related to improving Zecwallet UX, I think it is important to do this work concurrently. Zecwallet started as a side project, and grew from a small UI as it added features incrementally. Zecwallet was my first UI project, and consequently, at the beginning, I didn't really know what I was doing from a devops and infra perspective. In hindsight, I made several sub-optimal decisions (and some outright bad ones). Zecwallet has accumulated a lot of technical debt which is making it (1) slow to build the next generation of features and (2) On board new developers. Doing this work will increase the ability of the Protocol Research team to quickly experiment with ideas and new UX, research usage improvements and deploy wallet code that is maintainable in the long run.

2. Lite client protocol and development.

Zecwallet has previously conducted a lot of UX research and tried to identify what it would take to improve adoption of Zecwallet and Zcash under a variety of scenarios. Please see the linked posts above, as they contain a lot of details and the motivation for these work items. While there are several teams in the Zcash ecosystem working on improving privacy, Zecwallet would like to focus on improving usability and adoption, while pulling in all the great work on privacy being done by other teams.

Execution risks

(See forum post for details)

Downsides

(See forum post for details).

Evaluation plan

(See forum post for details).

Tasks and schedule

(Please see below for details)

Budget and justification

Zecwallet will hire 2 additional people for 6 months. A devops/test/infra person (part time) and another fulltime Protocol/Engineering researcher. I will also work on the Protocol Research piece part time.

Fulltime/Part-time Weeks worked Calendar weeks Hourly rate Total
Devops/Testing/Infra (TBH) Part time 12 26 150 72,000
Protocol Researcher 1 (me) Part time 10 26 187.5 75,000
Protocol Researcher 2 (TBH) Full time 26 26 187.5 195,000
Total ---- ---- ---- ---- 342,000

The hourly rate includes all expenses, like software licenses, server costs, hardware/laptops etc…

Tipping

Tips Received
???  
ZEC

Campaign

Started
7 days ago
Funding
$342,000 
Funded through  Zomg logo
Start
2
Devops-focused goal
3
Lite Protocol focused foal
4
Final

Devops-focused goal

Estimate: June 2021
Reward: $85,500
50% of devops tasks done, 25% of research tasks done

Payment Request

The team may request a payout for this milestone at any time.