Ethereum Devs Disagree Over Technical Tweak as Shanghai Upgrade Nears

Post-merge Ethereum users have been eagerly awaiting the commencement of the network’s next major upgrade, Shanghai. However, after over 3 months of prep time, it appears the Shanghai rollout isn’t going as smoothly as expected.

What Exactly is the Shanghai Upgrade?

In September last year, the much-publicized Ethereum Merge also known as the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade went live. Ethereum underwent some significant changes as its consensus mechanism transitioned from proof-of-work to a cost-efficient proof-of-stake system. 

However, since the Beacon launch nearly 3 years ago, Ethereum users have been able to stake ETH and amass rewards. According to on-chain data participants in the staking model have committed up to $25B worth of Ethereum. Where the Shanghai update comes in is that it grants users access to their earnings as well as the initial deposits.

The primary feature of the forthcoming update will be the introduction of the withdrawal capability to the staking contract. Plans for the update had included features like proto-danksharding, a streamlined data-sampling process. It would have helped speed up layer-2 transactions as well as make them more affordable.

However, the network devs eventually withdrew the plans, and instead aimed to roll out the withdrawal capability as soon as possible. 

Devs Divided Over Possible Delay

Shanghai was originally on course to go live in March of this year. However, as stated earlier the Shanghai launch appears to have run into a few bumps. According to reports, Ethereum’s core developers seem to be at loggerheads regarding the timing of and the approach to Shanghai’s implementation.

The issues began after a small faction, about 30 of the network’s key devs, raised doubts about the fast-paced launch. This group noted the need to consider the potential technical repercussions the upgrade could have on the network in the long term. They also expressed concerns that this could elicit a negative reaction from the public.

Core dev Micah Zoltu shared these worries during a call with all core developers which took place on Jan 19.  Zoltu stated that the team had waived a technical tweak to Shanghai. The Ethereum devs reportedly opted against making ETH withdrawals compatible with simple serialize, or SSZ.

SSZ is a flexible, modern encoding method developers have dubbed “the future of Ethereum encoding.”  Rather than use SSZ, the devs have continued to employ recursive-length prefix serialization or RLP. This is an older encoding method some believe will eventually grow obsolete.

Devs May Have to Deal with Technical Debt

According to Zoltu, waiving the alteration could mean pointless technical debt for Ethereum alongside other unknown issues in the future. Technical debt describes future complications that crop up due to software devs placing more value on launch speed than flawless code. 

It feels like we’re not thinking about the long-term health of Ethereum,” Zoltu pointed out.

According to Zoltu’s side, the adjustment in question would delay the launch by about a month or half. However, the opposing faction isn’t prepared to put Shanghai on the back burner for that long. The majority of the devs believe the adjustment should be made during the upgrade after Shanghai, dubbed “Cancun.”

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Tomasz Stańczak, a dev in favor of putting the alterations on hold till Cancun shared his thoughts over the dev call. 

A delay now for the sake of a better long-term network would be very convincing. But this particular change will be part of a larger process. Of thinking, of designing,”  Stańczak stated. “I would prefer us to look at this holistically, and give ourselves the proper time, in preparation for Cancun.”

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