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Bitpost vs Powpress... Fight!!!

I've been looking for a reason to give Powpress a try, and what better way to do so than to talk about my latest Bitcoin product, Bitpost the publishing platform for Bitcoin.

Whilst Powpress and Bitpost appear not that dissimilar to each other, peel back the surface and there's quite a few distinguishing features between them.

I want to use this article to highlight some of the differences between the two apps, and why I've made some of the design choices I have when designing Bitpost.

Authentication

  • Bitpost - Username and password
  • Powpress - Money Button

You register and sign in to Bitpost using a good old fashioned username and password. I know, I know, Bitcoin native authentication is the future, and I agree. But right now we’ve got more fundamental problems. Adoption.

I think Powping got it right with it’s ease of use and accessibility to users without any Bitcoin. But requiring users to sign up to a specific third party wallet before they can even use your app is still a huge barrier if you’re trying to onboard users outside of the SV bubble.

Bitpost allows users to sign up and create posts without any wallet at all. They’ll only need to go out of their way to get a wallet when they want to get paid for their content - which I think is a good incentive to do so.

Wallet

  • Bitpost - Hybrid approach
  • Powpress - Money Button

Related to the point above, I didn't want to restrict who can use Bitpost case on what wallet they use. I also didn't want to write twice the code for the same functionality to support multiple wallets with different APIs and SDKs.

Another thing that caused me some serious head scratching is that I wanted to implement the Metanet protocol. Unfortunately, Metanet is impossibly awkward to implement with any consumer wallet today - and I certainly didn't want to build my own in-app wallet. All of this has driven me to explore a different approach.

When you sign up to Bitpost you are given an extended keychain. This is used to sign posts and create Metanet(ish - more on this later) transactions. However, no UTXO management is needed as Paypresto is used for payment. For me, this offers a good benefit vs dev-pain-in-the-butt ratio. Less time worrying about wallets = more time building other cool features.

On-chain vs Off-chain

  • Bitpost - Both on and off chain
  • Powpress - Off chain

Powping (and Powpress') decision not to store transactions on chain has been surprisingly controversial. I think the advantages of enabling free use (which I'll talk a bit about below) are pretty compelling, but I think users need more options.

With Bitpost, off-chain posts up to a certain size (currently 50Kb) can be created for free. Anything larger than that, or anything on-chain incurs a cost. This allows anyone to sign up and publish articles with zero friction or cost. If the time stamping or storage benefits of using the blockchain are important, Bitpost has you covered there too.

For uploading large images and files, I've also introduced a third option: storing just the hash on chain. This allows users to get the same time stamping benefits of using the blockchain at a fraction of the cost.

Economics

  • Bitpost - Free and paid use, multiple revenue avenues
  • Powpress - Free to use, receive tips

Planaria Corp is a well funded company with multiple staff. I wont pretend to have any insight to their business model, but I'm pretty sure they have bigger things in mind than trying to take a few percent from tips and whatnot. Using Powpress is entirely free, and users can earn small amounts from tips.

My small one-man, self-funded venture is playing a different game. I want to build Bitpost into a sustainable model, so I do need to charge users for some use and I do want to encourage users to sell paywalled content and files to each other and engage in some level of economic activity. This is the whole point of Bitpost. And there will be other streams I explore in future too.

But I'm under no illusions. Beyond maybe 1,000 über fans who you can rely on to sign up and try every BSV app, the market is small and the micro transaction model relies on far, FAR greater scale.

To achieve that we need to remove all barriers to entry and onboard users from outside the SV bubble. So I'm completely on board with free use and making it easy for people to sign up and get started. With Bitpost I'm just trying to strike a finer balance between it all.

Features

  • Bitpost - Publish articles, code snippets, photos and files; Markdown editor; paywalls and encryption options
  • Powpress - Pure WYSIWYG block editor

Powpress is actually just an editor. An impressive one. It allows publishing longer form articles and "pushing" them to compatible platforms (currently Powping). The Powpress editor is slick to use, and the way it handles images and media is definitely superior.

Bitpost allows publishing articles, code snippets, images and other files. Posts can be edited, deleted, paywalls added, and authors have various encryption options at their disposal. The Bitpost editor is a Markdown editor. I personally love writing in Markdown as it suits my workflow - I can draft articles on my iPad and copy and paste them without any formatting woes.

I expect "normies" will prefer the the Powpress editor, but even just drafting this article I've noticed it has a few annoying quirks. Those that notice those kind of things will probably find working in Markdown a much simpler experience.

Protocols

  • Bitpost - Operate
  • Powpress - Bespoke

At a fundamental level both apps work in a similar way. Both apps follow a peer-to-peer model and use Bitcoin transactions as a kind of data envelope for encoding articles and data.

Unwriter hasn't shared exactly how data is encapsulated in transactions, but we can get a glimpse from inspecting posts on PowPing. The author's Paymail is used to sign posts. Overall it looks a minimal and elegant approach. 

Bitpost encodes data in a way compatible with Operate. The advantage of this is that you'll be able to use the Operate software to parse any transactions created on Bitpost. I hope this will lead to interesting integration opportunities soon.

I originally intended to use the Metanet protocol but when I implemented off chain (input-less) transactions I ended up creating a new OP_RETURN based, Metanet-like protocol. I'll share details on this in the near future.

Conclusions

BSV users are a lucky lot. Despite their small numbers they have a wealth or quality apps to play with. Powpress and Bitpost are two top-drawer publishing tools, with enough distinguishing features between them to give users some nice choices. I'm sure the apps will compete to a certain extent, users will flip between them, maybe pick one they prefer over the other. This healthy competition should drive both apps onward.

Ultimately though, very few consumer apps in the BSV space currently have a sustainable model behind them. To get there, we'll all need to work together building a coherent ecosystem or apps and services that appeal to a far broader and wider audience.

On this matter, I'm pretty sure both unwriter and myself are aligned.

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There doesn’t seem to be a commenting feature for Bitpost. Is there plans to have one? If I write an article I like having the option of hearing people’s comments/feedback.
libs replied:
There will be eventually, but there are other priorities that will come first, so I'm not sure when. If done naively I think commenting can be detrimental so I'm not rushing that one and taking my time to consider options.
My opinion as an user: - moneybutton is good. I don't want forget some bsv in another wallet - markdown is sweet for programmers.
libs replied:
Yes yes I love moneybutton too. Bitpost doesn't have an in-app wallet, it just gives users a set up keys to build up a metanet-like graph of txns. You still use your favourite wallet to pay for tx.
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adonsats replied:
MB lover huh ?
That's one good-lookin' pie!
I really enjoyed reading this, learnt a lot too... will reread tomorrow. Thank you!
On this matter, I'm pretty sure both unwriter and myself are aligned. agree
Superb article, thanks. I prefer markdown too and hate the block editor.
Oh I see what happened. You put the image at the very top even before the title. I didn't even think of this configuration, innovative! Anyway that must have been the reason why it failed originally (and was fixed with the last fix we discussed). p.s. say no to fight!
libs replied:
Glad the mystery is solved. To be honest, the whole article is just an excuse to use that picture.