And so it begins..
Those were the last words posted on our twitter feed right before our #ComingSoon campaign ended and we all started screaming when block 1 million hit the SDC blockchain. We promised that we would have a special surprise, but what exactly was it that the ShadowProject team had been working on? Words cannot describe what went on behind the scenes… we will try.
Note: You can download our latest release on GitHub
The hack-a-ton (5 days before launch)
While the whole team was working on our upcoming release someone pointed out that we were very close to block #1000000 on the SDC blockchain and should take a moment to celebrate this with the Shadow community. Not much later, ffmad came up with the brilliant idea to launch our long awaited 'GUI release' at the same time as the 1 millionth block dropped. Naturally, being a front-end developer himself, ffmad built an entire website around the event that included a countdown page and displayed some random clues. After sharing the event page with the general public, things started to feel very real. Having just put a deadline on our release, we all needed to put in A LOT of extra hours to make sure the release would be a complete success. Thankfully, what happened next was absolutely amazing.
A New Name: Umbra (4 days left)
While most of our team members have never met in real life, many have been working together for about 2 years. This familiarity allows us to collaborate very efficiently. Imagine a team of 10 people working together in absolute harmony; Everything just fell into place. Everyone knew exactly what needed to be done in order for this release to be a success. And if a fast approaching deadline wasn't enough pressure, our PR team became bored waiting for the countdown to hit zero and decided that now would be the right time to re-brand our wallet software to UMBRA.
Honestly, our whole team fell in love with the name months ago and we had been discussing the idea of re-branding the wallet to UMBRA for marketing, SEO and PR purposes anyways. We just felt that maybe we needed a little more extra time to prepare everything, something our PR team did not agree with...
The guessing game... (3 days left)
Thankfully that same team had been growing every day and proved that they could produce articles, images, new websites and content in a heartbeat. We then realized that this would, in fact, be the perfect time to re-brand the wallet because the whole release event was getting so much attention from different media outlets and on social media. The consensus was 'screw it,' if we are going to do it, let’s do it with a bang!
Eat, sleep, code, repeat (2 days left)
As we got closer to block 1 million our team slowly began to realize what exactly had been going on. People forgot to sleep or eat; in fact, some team members even passed out and missed the complete launch. We did not want to just live up to people's expectations, we wanted to surpass them! For the first time in two years of working together some of our team members started to meet up in real life to get work done ever faster. We all put in the extra hours and started giving our community more clues as we got closer to launch day.
"And so it begins..." (24 hours left)
While the name UMBRA had been mentioned a couple of times leading up to the launch, it still felt like nobody knew exactly what was coming. By now the troll-box on Poloniex had completely lost it. People were getting banned for even mentioning SDC let alone posting a link to our countdown timer or mentioning the word "Umbra". The frenzy was starting to set in...
Party time Time for bed! (Launch Day)
As we counted down to block #1000000 we all started to understand what exactly had gone on the past 5 days. Words can’t describe the energy we all felt in our team chat on Slack, hands were shaking as final builds were still being put together during the last 10 minutes. Did we prepare everything right? Was the page going to jump when the timer hit zero? Would Ryno be back on time from the grocery store to witness the launch? Only time would tell…
Welcome to the UMBRA!
Yes, we did it! Hell yes. That is what we do. We don’t hype (ok, maybe a little), we build cool events around releases that are actually worth taking a look at. Next time, when we say something is coming soon, please just take our word for it!
Thank you for putting your trust in the ShadowProject and standing by us over the past two years. This release really meant a lot to us, it made us remember how far we have come. It also motivated us for the great things that we will be working on in the near future. Through the good times and bad know that we will continue to work hard. And realize that every time someone tries to stop us, we will come out even stronger, like we always have. This dedicated team will continue to develop free, open source software that securely enables anyone in the world to fully exercise their natural human rights to privacy, communication, and commerce!
Now on to business...
The excitement and interest in this project has grown exponentially over the last two weeks. our Twitter page gained 700 new followers, breaking the 3000 follower level (!!!), a growth of 30% in a very short amount of time. Even more astonishing was the growth number of new community members we saw flood into our ShadowProject Slack team. Over the same time period we have witnessed over 425 new community members join, totaling 728 now, a growth of over 125%. If this doesn't express to you the type of excitement and support the ShadowProject has garnered this month, I don't know what will! And best of all was the contributions many of these new members were starting to give. We expect these numbers to only keep growing which will result in further exposure of this amazing movement to the outside world and among influential mainstream news outlets.
In addition to the major influx of new community members and SDC fans, we have received an amazing amount of support via donations, both in the forms of BTC and SDC. This increase in donations will now allow us to speed up development in certain areas by outsourcing easier tasks, providing the core devs with more time to focus on important tasks like getting the market out to the public. Every little bit helps!
I also want to make note of a new community-funded bounty initiative (writing articles, making videos, etc.) launched yesterday, thanks to Litebit. If you want to participate in these initiatives, either by creating your own bounty for others to tackle or by tackling a bounty created by one of the community members, I urge you to go into the Slack channel and ask. We will be able to cover a lot of tasks this way and really help spread awareness of the project!
Good things are on the horizon, and the international exposure is just beginning as we have yet to tap into one of the largest crypto markets yet, China. This is about to change. Due to the high SDC trade volume we've seen on exchanges like Bittrex and Poloniex and following a recent article on Decentralize.Today, we have been contacted by several Chinese exchanges that have taken an interest in the ShadowProject and accepting SDC on their trading platforms. To make sure this process occurs as quickly and smoothly as possible, we have established a professional Chinese translation & promotional team. One member in particular deserves a shout out, b.b.2k16, as he has been a huge help in dealing with Chinese matters. We expect to be able to share more information about their progress and bringing SDC to China in our next development update.
Now onto the software! It’s time for another development update to bring you up to speed with recent changes and fixes. Let’s look at some of the updates our next release will bring in more detail.
Most of the work we've done this past week has been to improve the user experience of the group chat. It's not finished but we're making good progress and we're really starting to be pleased with the result.
A new optimized chat display
We've done some really nice improvements to the actual display of messages itself. The first release included a "balloon" style message format which was okay but the drawback was that a few messages took up a lot of space and thus we abandoned it for a more compact interface that allows you to see the maximum amount of messages without leaning into chaos.
When group chats get bigger, they always tend to become more chaotic. Over the past few years we've seen mainstream messengers and other platforms have adopted lots of subtle changes that can have major improvements for readability. One of them being identicons.
Identicons are unique avatars generated on-the-fly for every SDC address. These help with recognizing who you are talking with, which is very helpful in cases where a user has not yet been added to your address book and only the address is available.
For those that are wondering, yes these are pretty much the ones that Github uses :)
Credits it identicon.net for this amazing lib! http://identicon.net/
Other small improvements
We've added the option to add people to an existing group chat. This was fairly easy as the backend code was already written for it and we only had to do some work on the front end.
In the top right corner a new message balloon is added that will open the chat sidebar containing your contacts.
When clicking a link you are now warned about the possible IP leaks.
Security is paramount and we'll be making more changes like these to allow for a more secure environment.
We've also done numerous bug fixes to the GUI thanks to all beta-testers for their findings!
As always, our devs are working tirelessly to bring the Shadow community, and crypto world, a truly revolutionary privacy platform. Expect more great features to be added to the Umbra platform in the coming weeks and months, and do stick around, because you don't want to miss the launch we have all been waiting for...
The next official update is planned for 21th September. See you all there!
You can download version 184.108.40.206 on GitHub!