SDF Ecosystem Updates: Developer Programs

In today’s post, the final in our three part series, we’ll be discussing developer program updates.

Dev Mailing List

This October, SDF launched a developer mailing list with the goal of improving transparency in technical discussion and increasing collaboration between Stellar ecosystem developers and the SDF core team. It’s been an important step towards gathering feedback and contributions from community members and third-party developers.

We encourage anyone interested in the technical development of the Stellar protocol to join and participate in the mailing list. There’s currently a number of developers already participating in this discussion. We’re still early on in our understanding of how to best manage this program, so welcome comments and feedback from the community. We will also continue to explore other platforms, such as Discourse, in the coming year.

Ultimately, we are committed to supporting high quality technical discourse in the Stellar ecosystem and look forward to growing these efforts.

Wallet Guide

With the huge growth of the Stellar network, we’ve seen many new Stellar wallets launched and added to the ecosystem. Even more exciting, we increasingly see these wallet projects adopting ecosystem practices (SEPs) and allowing users to store, transfer and spend the numerous assets that exist on the Stellar network. While we’re excited to see this push forward in innovation, we also realize the importance of protecting users from software vulnerabilities, which we believe can best be achieved by setting and communicating technical standards. Therefore, we spent some time researching and ultimately defining a list of guidelines and standards that, going forward, all wallet projects must adhere to for listing on Stellar.org.

You can find our published guidelines, as well as an application form for listing, here on our website. By releasing SDF’s wallet listing guidelines we hope to communicate a clear set of best practices for wallet development and encourage a new set of standards throughout the Stellar ecosystem, ultimately encouraging better security, more complete integrations and ensuring interoperability.

Additionally, in the new year we’ll be proactively reaching out to existing wallet projects in the ecosystem to share and discuss these guidelines. By mid-2019 we aim to have all projects listed on the Stellar.org wallets page up to spec in meeting these guidelines and standards.

Announcing the Stellar Developer Program

After seven (7!) iterations of reviewing, judging, and distributing rewards for the Stellar Build Challenge (SBC), we’ve taken time to reflect on how the program can better foster innovation in the ecosystem. More specifically, how SDF can better support the efforts of highly motivated developers who champion the technology of the Stellar network.

One of the major themes that has come up is around the format of SBC – namely that its hackathon-style competition over several months creates a plethora of new projects, yet only a few become mature, actively maintained tools and services that benefit the ecosystem long-term. We’ve seen more than a few projects become stagnant after collecting their reward and before they’ve reached their full potential. Most of all, long-term contributors that rely on SBC for financial support and developer feedback have to work around the current system, and are unable to easily predict the level of support they will get over the course of the year.

For these reasons, we’ve decided evolve the SBC format! Starting in January 2019, the vast majority of funding for developer projects will be distributed through a new program called the Stellar Developer Program.

  • Each month we will be reviewing new applications, which will evaluate projects and teams for ongoing support from SDF.
  • Once accepted, SDF will distribute funds on a monthly basis to all projects currently enrolled in the program.
  • Each quarter, we’ll be actively reviewing each recipient’s needs as well as progress, and will make re-adjustments as necessary (including ending support for stagnant and unmaintained projects). During this time, we will be giving feedback on the direction of projects, and advice on where to best invest efforts.
  • Teams with multiple active projects will receive a grant representing their entire body of work.

We’ll be publishing the formal application process in January, along with our guidelines for great applications. In general, we’ll be emphasizing support towards projects that:

  • Maintain a high quality bar throughout the project’s lifecycle.
  • Are led by individual developers or teams that are invested in developing in the ecosystem for the long run.
  • Are connected to the broader Stellar Community through feedback, support and contributions to their open source work.
  • Contribute back to Stellar’s proposals (CAPs & SEPs) and projects in order to push forward innovation for the entire network.

We’re really looking forward to formally opening this program up in the new year, and hope that it will enable developers to bring projects of unique and immense value to the Stellar ecosystem for many years to come.

The Future of SBC

While we will be focused on establishing the Stellar Developer Program next year, we also want to continue to reward new projects and support hackathon-style innovation throughout Stellar’s community of developers. We know a lot of excitement can come from competitive challenges, pushing forward new and novel ideas.

Starting in the first quarter of 2019, we’ll be changing the format of the Stellar Build Challenge (SBC) to be a short-term, highly focused hackathon held once a quarter. The major changes that we’re implementing are:

  • We’re only accepting new projects created during the build challenge to encourage a limited time window for innovation.
  • The first new SBC duration will be two weeks (down from three months), and we’ll continue to iterate on the ideal timeframe.
  • The judging process will be more typical of a hackathon, including several unique prizes that focus on highlighting new and interesting ideas.
  • The rewards distributed will be more for this format, with the emphasis on celebrating innovation rather than providing long-term financial support.

We’re looking forward to trying out this new format, and iterating on the results in order to bring a program that highlights the best aspects of SBC over the years. We also plan to align internal hack weeks with SBC in the future in order to give SDF developers the opportunity to share feedback and take part in the energy and innovation that comes with the program’s timeline. To be clear, no SDF developer will be participating for any reward.

Finally, we’ll also be testing out the idea of themed code jams in 2019 in order to support necessary improvements to stellar-core, Stellar’s platform, and valuable projects within the extended ecosystem. Focusing on collaborative efforts, we will be designing specific short-term programs where community developers can focus on greasing projects and bringing about long-desired functionality to Stellar and community maintained projects for a reward.


That wraps up our series of Ecosystem updates at SDF. You can read the first post (Community) here, and the second post about lumen distribution programs here.

See you in 2019!

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