The State of Bitcoin Development in 2022: NYDIG


The Bitcoin-focused investment group, New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG), released a report in September examining how Bitcoin’s protocol has managed to attract such wide adoption despite its tiny developer ecosystem. 

Here are the highlights:

  • The network, which launched in early January 2009, has only 40-60 monthly active developers, according to the report
  • This is not a static bunch. 1,140 developers have contributed to Bitcoin over its lifetime, with 5 to 10 new monthly active developers arriving each month, while others cycle out or scale back activity. 
  • Roughly 84% of Bitcoin Core’s suggested software changes on GitHub come from devs in 20 different countries. However, NYDIG noted that most development appears to occur in the United States and Europe.
  • Over half of Bitcoin Core code commits in 2021 came from developers that joined the ecosystem after the 2017 bull market cycle.
  • Bitcoin Core has historically had someone serve as a lead maintainer to cryptographically sign off on new protocol changes. This way, users downloading the software could verify that they weren’t installing malicious code.
  • However, as of September 2021, the lead maintainer role was abolished in favor of a more egalitarian model whereby a group of maintainers (12 at present) signs off on new changes. “This group will likely vary going forward,” said NYDIG.
  • Earlier this year, Gloria Zhao became the first known female maintainer of Bitcoin. 
  • Beyond Bitcoin’s core protocol, its “broader ecosystem” has attracted 600-1000 monthly active developers, with over 13,000 in total. This number is generally increasing over time, although it appears to have some correlation with Bitcoin’s halving cycles. 
  • “The ecosystem of applications and developers continues to grow, with contributions coming from around the world, expanding Bitcoin’s reach as a global monetary system,” concluded NYDIG.

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