Bitcoin Programming Gets an Upgrade with Miniscript

August 26, 2019 / by Crypto.IQ

Bitcoin coding could be getting an upgrade if the new Miniscript language catches on with developers and the Bitcoin community.

While Bitcoin is an immutable ledger, with an enhanced security layer, its programming flexibility could be improved.

Miniscript is a programming language developed mostly by Blockstream. It relies on the simple smart contract language already usable in Bitcoin, Script, to extend the conditional possibilities around Bitcoin payments through a mixture of hash locks, time locks, and signatures.

Miniscript, hailed as a Smart Script by its designer Peter Wuille, Sanket Sanjalkar and Andrew Poelstra, will effectively enable smart contracts to be built on top of Bitcoin at the high level.

Under the hood, Miniscript enables additional specifications for how Bitcoin is spent. For example funds are locked up until a certain time before they can be spent with different conditions set up for different addresses. It’s basically like a policy compiler, according to the developers.

With more complex combinations, this could enable smart contract development. It also delivers enhanced safety from accidental bugs.

The announcement came from Wuille on Monday unveiling that the project has been worked on for over a year. While it was borne inside Blockstream, it is an open source project and everyone can start contributing for further development.

More importantly, Wuille stated that Miniscript was designed for Bitcoin as it exists today, and no consensus changes were necessary to use it. The developers voiced their support for future script changes Bitcoin may undergo in order to evolve the blockchain.

Blockstream is reportedly already using the new language on Liquid, the Bitcoin sidechain that was built by the company. Officially, there is no launch date announced by the company yet.

The language brings a lot of features on paper, but the lead designers still consider Miniscript a work in progress. Currently, the codebase is available in Rust and in C++, and ready for users to download and test.

Miniscript by Blockstream marks an important development milestone for the Bitcoin ecosystem and could potentially invalidate other blockchains’ value proposition. It remains to be seen how Miniscript evolves and whether the Bitcoin blockchain will get upgraded.