Edit: As of September 28 2022, an additional "RCNet" testing phase has been added to Q1 2023, and the Radix mainnet upgrade to Babylon will occur in September 2023.
Once the dust has settled following a major release like Alexandria, the RDX Works team gets straight back to the planning and implementation of the next one – in this case, Babylon. Each release builds on the last, so the first order of business is to put in the work to more deeply study the (often very complex) design issues and major tasks required to get to the next release – starting from where we are. This is why we asked the community to give us a quarter after Alexandria’s launch to do this work and provide a well-informed estimate of when Babylon can launch – and what the milestones leading up to it are likely to be.
We’ve just finished this process, and we’re pleased that we see a very clear (and exciting) road from Alexandria to Babylon. Following Alexandria’s first launch of the Scrypto language itself, the significant additional elements of system design required to bring Scrypto-based smart contract capability to the Radix public network have now been defined. This means we can now continue implementation in earnest on the next phase in the Radix vision: making Radix a home for the next generation of DeFi dApps and their developers.
What’s Needed For Babylon Release?
Alexandria marked the launch of Scrypto in a form that runs locally on a developer’s computer for early experimentation. Babylon, however, will be an update to the running Radix Public Network – the most dramatic update since its launch by a very large margin.
At the network protocol level, Babylon will add the ability for developers to contribute to and use the on-ledger blueprint catalog. This upgrade to a fully programmable network with Radix Engine v2 brings with it other major changes: a wholesale update to our asset-oriented transaction model (which can now be experienced in the Alexandria simulator), a change in how wallets interact with the network, a complete rebuild of how network functions like staking and emissions work, and even a shift in the meaning and functioning of accounts themselves (becoming components rather than simply key-based addresses). The migration of existing assets and accounts from Olympia to Babylon alone requires careful design and implementation.
The Babylon work doesn’t stop with the network protocol itself. To create a complete DeFi solution, even in initial form, we have to provide an array of tools and services to make it easy for users to access this new capability and bring their assets with them, and to give developers confidence that Radix is the right home for their dApps. We need (and are working on) an all-new DeFi wallet including mobile, a new form of Explorer, heavily refreshed API and SDKs to interact with components and more powerful assets, updated Instapass and Instabridge capabilities, and of course exchanges and others need to migrate to using these new interfaces, accounts, and assets.
Phased Rollout vs Big-Bang Launches
In an ideal world, you might imagine Babylon’s launch as a single date on which we flick a switch on everything simultaneously. However, this kind of “big bang” launch of something so complex would be horrendously risky, and would also leave developers and third-party integrators scrambling to deploy and test their own systems.
Instead, the best way to launch something as complex as Babylon is as a staged rollout that ensures a smooth launch of multiple interrelated technologies, products, and interfaces. This approach also gives everyone who uses, builds on, and connects to the Radix network the time to migrate smoothly themselves – and gives our rapidly growing community of Scrypto developers the time to plan and test their own dApp launches to bootstrap a Radix DeFi ecosystem.
Based on the outcome of our initial estimation of Babylon’s scope, we are planning a roughly 6-month phased rollout launch of Babylon during which real-world testing and refinement of Babylon systems and integrations with third-party/community/ecosystem products/projects can be completed with confidence on a Babylon betanet for the first 3 of those 6 months, followed by a further 3 months of testing against a "Release Candidate" network (RCNet), with stable APIs to allow for third-party integrations, before the final migration of the Radix public mainnet.
So with that, Babylon Betanet begins at the end of Q4 2022, Babylon RCNet begins Q1 2023, with the final mainnet migration completing by the end of September 2023.
And leading up to that rollout, we’ve got a sequence of milestones that will let our early developers follow along and prepare to make Babylon a launch of not just an updated network but a bright new era for the Radix community and for DeFi.
Let’s Talk Timelines
The main change from our previously estimated timeline is that the rollout of Babylon to the Radix mainnet will be complete in September 2023 rather than pushing for a big-bang release by end of this year. The drive for this shift wasn’t, in the end, the implementation of Babylon itself but the absolute need for an extended period of public testing and integration support. The extra quarter ensures that the main development team, node-runners, ecosystem developers, and third-party integration/partners (including exchanges) have sufficient time using Babylon features and interfaces on Betanet before the mainnet migration from Olympia to Babylon.
Babylon begins in Q4 2022 with the launch of the Babylon Betanet, followed by 3 further months with RCNet which will enable this essential “real-world” testing ahead of the September 2023 mainnet release. We will be releasing a lot more information about the exciting things to look forward to between now and then, but here is a teaser of some of the major expected roadmap items for the year:
- Q2 2022 - Babylon Public Test Environment, a very simple public network simulator that will allow publishing of Scrypto blueprints and components along with composition using the new transaction manifest, with simulator tools sufficient to enable first experimentation with “full stack” dApp development including web frontends
- Q3 2022 - Babylon Alphanet, the earliest possible public test network with capabilities similar to the Test Environment, but with core network and Gateway functions for testing
- Q4 2022 - Babylon Betanet (Babylon Begins), with main Scrypto features complete and developer preview of Radix Wallet to allow production dApp development to begin.
- Q1 2023 - Babylon RCnet, with stable network gateway APIs to allow migration of third-party integrations
- September 2023 - Babylon rollout completes with Radix Public Network migration
We know that everyone (ourselves included) would love to have seen the mainnet migration to Babylon completed before the end of the year. But with primary development work not wrapping up until Q4, it’s not practical to expect that all the necessary ecosystem pieces could have their integrations in place and tested in time to turn the key in December. An extended beta period will give everyone a reasonable time to incorporate the new architecture, and an opportunity to create and refine further documentation for all the different consumers of Radix - all essential elements for a successful launch of a DeFi ecosystem on Radix.
Radix is the only decentralized network thinking at the scale of the $400 trillion global financial system. That's why we believe that giving both core and ecosystem participants the time to roll out with confidence is essential to maximize the success of the Radix Public Network.
An update has been made to this article, it has since been decided that the Babylon Upgrade will happen on or about September 27th 2023, rather than what was originally proposed in this article, which was July 31st 2023.