Updated: Jul 28, 2022
Like the metric expansion of the cosmos itself: Gravity Bridge's universe continues to grow
Since its decentralized mainnet launch in late 2021, Gravity Bridge has become the most widely adopted bridge in the Cosmos ecosystem, connected to over half of the IBC enabled chains in the ecosystem.
During this time Gravity Bridge has hit numerous milestones and provided the Cosmos with a secure, affordable, and most importantly, decentralized bridge between the EVM and Cosmos ecosystems.
Post launch development focused on a streamlined user experience, so the front end infrastructure of Gravity Bridge has been continually refined and improved—two independently maintained front ends (spacestation.zone and bridge.blockscape.network) are deployed, each with new features and chains added regularly.
The two primary Gravity Bridge front ends are also now IBC Auto-Forwarding Enabled! This means that with a single Tx send, users can seamlessly execute transactions between Ethereum and Cosmos. Transactions still follow an ETH → Gravity Bridge → Destination Chain pathway, but Gravity now forwards the IBC transaction to the destination chain behind the scenes, without any additional interaction required of the user. This allows for a streamlined UX that is easier for the user to navigate.
Bridge.blockscape.network demonstrates the IBC Forwarding, direct from Ethereum to Cosmos.
In addition to improvements in end user UX, new tools and features have been deployed for Cosmos projects to utilize—enabling tighter, easier to deploy and more transparent integration with Gravity Bridge.
One example of such improvements is Gravity’s front end toolkit, which streamlines the process for Cosmos chains wishing to deploy their own custom Gravity Bridge UI. Nym and Persistence are examples of projects that have utilized this to add Gravity Bridge integration, while simultaneously maintaining a UX consistent with the specific needs of their users. Documentation on the front end toolkit can be found here.
Efficient Systems with Affordable Fees
One of the core design principles of Gravity Bridge was efficiency (i.e. economy). From inception until today, Gravity has retained its title as the most affordable bridge in the Cosmos ecosystem. This economy is achieved via a free and open market of relayers as well as the efficient batching mechanisms. Continued growth in traffic across the bridge will only enhance the efficiency of these mechanisms and allow for faster Tx times and even lower fees.
Development on the Gravity Bridge continues, an example of which was the recent Polaris upgrade, which was completed from chain-halt to relaunch with a scant 20 min of downtime during which validators collectively upgraded their nodes. It is a testament to Gravity validator’s professionalism and cooperation that all updates thus far have been similarly quick and problem free.
The Polaris upgrade brings ETH key signing to the Gravity Bridge chain—enabling (among other things) Tx signing using only Metamask. Users interacting with CosmosEVM projects, such as Evmos and Canto, can now sign with just one wallet and signature, and this feature can be further developed to serve a variety of new and novel use-cases for other projects as well.
Speaking of EVMOS, Gravity Bridge was first to introduce wrapped assets to CosmosEVM Chains, with the successful passing of Evmos proposals #15 through #20, and now has Gravity Bridged assets listed.
Working Groups, Gravity Growth and Grants
Gravity Bridge has implemented three support structures to both maintain and further develop Gravity Bridge as key infrastructure for the Cosmos ecosystem. The three pillars of support are Gravity Growth, project-agnostic Working Groups and Gravity Grants.
Gravity Growth is a roadmap for an innovative, federated, organizational DAO structure to provide a framework for Gravity Bridge growth and development.
This plan entails the founding of five distinct and semi-autonomous working groups, each with their own mission, responsibilities and resources. The first of these groups formed was the Community Development Group.
Gravity Groups: Community Development
Since it was established, the first Gravity Group has grown to comprise of 21 members and meets regularly to discuss and plan initiatives that serve, moderate and animate the Gravity community—as well as grow it, by sharing information about Gravity Bridge with other relevant communities.
From these discussions came a new, official Reddit page (managed by group members), three community mods for Telegram and Discord in diverse time zones to offer maximum coverage. Team members signal boost social media outreach, outreach to other Cosmos communities (SifChain), and a program to recognize smaller validators for their valued contributions to the community.
With the success of the first Gravity Group, the community is encouraged to continue down the Gravity Growth roadmap and further decentralization of governance, community and chain management. You can read more about Gravity Growth initiative here.
In addition to the creation of the first Gravity Group, Gravity Bridge has spearheaded two independent and neutral working groups (ICA and ICS721, see below), bringing together developers from across the cosmos ecosystem to collaborate on implementation of much needed functionalities, for the benefit of the ecosystem.
ICS721 NFT Working Group
The ICS721 working group meets bi-weekly to discuss and collaborate on the ICS721 standard for interoperable NFTs in the Cosmos ecosystem.
While NFT development in the Cosmos ecosystem is well underway, and Gravity Bridge has run successful tests for bridging NFTs between the Cosmos and Ethereum ecosystem, a standard for cross-chain interoperability is not yet implemented on Cosmos. ICS721 was created by the IRISnet development team and describes the requirements needed for NFT cross-chain interaction. The ICS721 work group is collaboratively iterating on this proposed standard so that it may be successfully deployed. The passing of Gravity governance proposal #53 provided a grant, in the form of funds from the Gravity Bridge community pool, to support the ICS721 formation and continued work of the ICS721 working group.
ICA Working Group
In the spirit of the ongoing ICS721 Workgroup, Gravity is spearheading another congregation of devs from across the Cosmos ecosystem to join forces and further debug, develop, iterate and implement ICA standards so as to accommodate new and exciting use cases for ICA.
Interchain Accounts open up a great deal of new opportunities for cross-chain innovation, but new functionalities will necessitate reciprocal code on multiple chains in order to implement new features. A proposal for a Gravity Grant to provide funds from the Gravity Bridge community pool is presently being prepared.
Gravity Bridge Grants program was established to provide grant awards (in GRAV token) to facilitate further Gravity Bridge development as well as to support projects that benefit the Cosmos ecosystem as a whole. Gravity Bridge is core infrastructure for the Cosmos ecosystem and the community has elected to give back and support projects, groups, and development that benefit both Gravity and the greater Cosmos ecosystem.
Gravity Grant: UI
Blockcsape was awarded the GUI grant for additional front end development, which culminated in the release and maintenance of bridge.blockscape.network, a Gravity Bridge front end that features the following
IBC forwarding to select Cosmos Chains and DEXs
Metamask and Keplr integration
User selectable bridging options to prioritize transaction speed or economy
Gravity Grant: Snapshots
Cros Nest was awarded the second Gravity Grant to develop, deploy and maintain an automated snapshot service for Gravity Bridge. This service provides a periodic, automated snapshot service for Gravity Bridge users, which are retrievable via wget or .torrent protocol.
Gravity Grant: Core Infrastructure / Cosmos Ecosystem
The Core Infrastructure / Cosmos Ecosystem grant consists of multiple sub-grants that serve to fund the development of tools and resources to benefit the ecosystem at large. In addition to this, sub-grants will fund continued development of new features and functionalities for Gravity Bridge, so that it can continue to serve its role as core infrastructure for the Cosmos ecosystem.
Cross-Dex Yield Finder
On the close horizon is a proposed Gravity Grant to fund the creation of a Cross-Dex Yield Finder for the greater Cosmos ecosystem. Existing tools for yield finding such as Dexmos are specific to single platforms, making it difficult for liquidity providers to find the best pools (and returns) available across the entire ecosystem. The siloed approach to information hinders the ability of new projects to attract liquidity at the same price that larger platforms can command. The goal of this grant is the creation of a website that aggregates and ranks pool incentives across the entire Cosmos ecosystem.
Part of the core infrastructure grant will also support general improvements and maintenance of Gravity Bridge, so that it can better serve the Cosmos ecosystem. These will include supporting...
Continued front end development and improved mobile support
Gravity chain Maintenance and upgrades
Interchain Accounts controller implementation
Work towards multi-EVM support is project-driven, and continues forward as dictated by the Cosmos ecosystem and its needs. Gravity Bridge is a decentralized blockchain, so the decisions of EVM chains to support are shared with the stakeholders and validators of the chain. As core infrastructure in Cosmos, historically Gravity community has focused on reliability and security and a market driven approach to supported chains.
Interchain Accounts enable powerful interoperability between Cosmos chains from an account on a controller chain. Gravity Bridge could enable the Interchain Account controller functionality, giving the users of Gravity access to interoperability with Cosmos DEXs and Cosmos blockchains, from their Gravity account. The flexibility of this system gives all connected Cosmos projects (with ICA enabled) access to management of Ethereum accounts without having to build or maintain the bridge themselves.
This could further empower entities, such as centralized exchanges, to custody Cosmos assets on Gravity and interact with the Ethereum representations of Cosmos Tokens, without the lift of maintaining accounts on every individual Cosmos blockchain.
The Interchain Account Spec describes the utility and composability options available.
ICS-27 Interchain Accounts outlines a cross-chain account management protocol built upon IBC. ICS-27 enabled chains can programmatically create accounts on other ICS-27 enabled chains & control these accounts via IBC transactions (instead of signing with a private key). Interchain accounts retain all of the capabilities of a normal account (i.e. stake, send, vote) but instead are managed by a separate chain via IBC in a way such that the owner account on the controller chain retains full control over any interchain account(s) it registers on host chain(s).
Interchain Accounts could also enable new mechanisms for inter-community collaboration, with protocol owned liquidity being managed in DEXs and Defi on other platforms. This could create new sustainability mechanisms that align communities together with shared rewards.
Cosmos is an ever growing ecosystem, with Gravity, providing neutral and decentralized infrastructure to the blockchains driving the varied use cases. Gravity follows the core Cosmos ethos of interconnected, sovereign blockchains and serves as a reliable and secure bridging zone both now and sustainability in the future.