Bitcoin core has had 16 major upgrades and a number of minor fixes to get to where it is now. The last major upgrade (version 0.16.0) is noted for the introduction of full support for the bitcoin scaling solution, Segregated Witness (SegWit). There are indications that next major upgrade (to version 0.17.0) will now include a new language for crypto keys.
How Bitcoin Core Upgrades are decided
As an open-source, the source code for bitcoin it is available on Github. The core upgrade contains a number of ‘accepted’ changes known as bitcoin improvement proposals (BIPs). Volunteer developers from all over the world, make proposals to improve the code and there are feature PRs discussed in popular bitcoin forums and Bitcoin development mailing list, and then placed on the Github code repository. From here, people can test the codes ahead of a new release.
Changes expected in Bitcoin Core version 0.17.0
Developer, Pieter Wuille is one of the most popular bitcoin contributors around. He, alongside Greg Maxwell, created the new address formats that facilitate the automatic support of SegWit, which solved bitcoin’s scaling issues and lower transaction fees.
His latest contribution includes a new ‘language’ which would add new information and broaden the functionality of keys. According to a report by Coindesk, the new language allows users to name their different accounts—using labels like “donations” or “savings” to define accounts.
This makes it easier to transfer keys across wallets as the labels or tags on each key give information about what can unlock it. According to Chaincode engineer John Newbery, who described the upcoming release in his presentation in the UK, Wuille’s code is a small step which could direct the work of developers in future releases especially in the way they think about wallets.
Another interesting feature of the upcoming release is “dynamic wallet creation” which allows users to load, unload, and create wallets when the bitcoin core software is already running. Before now, to run multiple wallets, the software had to be configured for multiple wallets from the outset.
Also, there is an improvement in the Coin Selection feature originally added in the February release. A comprehensive description of the changes with this release will be in the release notes that accompany the final tested codes.
Bitcoin Core version 0.17.0 Release schedule
A new version of the bitcoin core is usually released after 6 – 7 months with the last major version released on February 26. The new version, which is currently being tested, is expected to be released on September 8.