Hi, thanks for clicking in! I’m Aaron Grando, the creator of Blocklook, my submission for 2018’s first Stellar Build Challenge.
Blocklook lets Stellar Network users link an avatar photo to their Stellar federation address. In turn, Blocklook provides a simple API for developers of Stellar apps to retrieve the user’s avatar and show it in their app. Think Gravatar, but for Stellar addresses instead of email addresses.
Let’s walk through the features.
Blocklook, like most web services, has a home page.
Users can register for the site using a valid (in format and in proper setup) Stellar network federation address.
Once registered, users are asked to verify their ownership of the account. Verification is done by sending Blocklook a payment of any amount from the Stellar account ID linked to the federation address you registered with.
The verification step containing the transaction instructions actively watches the Stellar network for the transaction to occur on the user’s account.
If the user decides they’re not ready to verify, verification is skippable for a short period of time. After that time period, if verification is still pending, the account is permanently deleted.
After a successful verification (or a skipped verification in the case of the user below), new users are taken to the Blocklook dashboard.
From the dashboard users can control each of their account options, like uploading avatar pictures, changing your name, your address (your username, effectively), and deleting your account.
Thanks for getting through this far!
I’m building Blocklook because I think it’d be real nice to see a photo, and maybe the name, of someone I’m sending some money to before I send it. That info in’t stored on the ledger.
And it’d be nice to add a new address to my wallet or tracker apps and have an identifiable avatar already set up for it. And it’d be nice to have to only set that up once, ever, for my address, and have it persist from app to app, regardless of the developer….it’d be nice. I built this because I thought I’d be nice. 🙂
Really, to put it more lofty - I think we need services like this to achieve the Stellar network’s mission of sending money like email. The Stellar Network has the base level of this infrastructure laid with the federation address standard - it needs third party services to enhance the value of these features in ways that the Stellar Network itself is not built to do.
Question: I’m a Stellar Network user, when can I register?
Soon. Registration will be open before the March 15th SBC deadline. Blocklook.co is the URL (nothing there quite yet though).
Question: I’m a developer making a Stellar app, when can I start implementing Blocklook avatars?
Soon! When registration opens, I’ll provide some quick info on making a request to the API and info on what you can expect to receive as the response. I intend to put together a basic JS module that makes the request for you, when given the user’s federation address.
Question: Why do I need a federation address, why can’t I use my Stellar Account ID?
Because Account ID’s are terrible UX. Anything that we can do to abstract away these horrible strings, these unreadable hashes, we should try (responsibly). Mainstream adoption of all crypto platforms demands a better way of doing things.
Question: Why not use email addresses to register like every other website?
Partly for the sake of making this app quick enough for SBC entry.
But there’s not a need for your email address to be associated with your Blocklook account. Your wallet doesn’t ask for your email address, why should Blocklook? Also, right now, all the info you provide to blocklook is publicly accessible. I like how simple that is, and adding email addresses (which many users would prefer to keep private) would be the first non-public data that is kept.
There is real potential value in knowing a user’s email address, though. Account password reset comes to mind, and I’m also considering adding a feature to periodically check your federation address for account ID changes and, if one is detected, send an email alert.
Question: Why verify by sending XLM?
Blocklook needs to know that you are who you claim you are. The simplest way of doing so is by having you prove it by sending a pay-whatever-you-want XLM payment to Blocklook’s address.
Sending XLM is the easiest transaction currently possible on the Stellar network, supported by every wallet app. It’s extremely cheap. It is the action that most users who currently hold lumens (crypto enthusiasts, etc.) are most familiar with, when interacting with crypto. And it doesn’t have a scary name like “trust line”. It’s a one-and-done authorization, and once it’s set, you shouldn’t need to worry about maintaining it.
Question: Why the 7 day grace-period for verification, before the account is deleted?
This is a first, primitive stab at a method of preventing bad actors from claiming accounts that do not belong to them. I'm considering better ways of doing this and am open to thoughts and suggestions.
Question: Will Blocklook provide federation addresses as a service?
At the moment it’s unlikely. Providing this service involves a much higher degree of risk than I’m willing to take without the time or resources to be sure I can protect users' data.
I would like to see more services provide federation addresses, but there are some serious trust concerns that I personally cannot stomach - yet. If a highly trusted entity (SDF, a major bank or major social platform) provided this service, I would be in. For the time being I maintain my own federation addresses on my own server and I encourage others to do the same.
Question: What is next?
Launch, before March 15. After that, I'll be digging into improving the verification flow and implementing an even simpler hash-based image filename system for developers to implement Blocklook avatars without the need to request the users info from the API (this is how Gravatar works).
I'm also looking into serving identicon-style avatar images as a service, alongside the user's avatar photo in the API. These identicons would be based on their Account ID, not their federation address, and allow for a bit of visual ID security for Account IDs.
Further down the line, I'm considering how a Blocklook could evolve into a more comprehensive identity provider for the Stellar network and other crypto as well. I'd be very open to hearing folks thoughts about this.
Thank you all! I'll be updating this post as changes occur, and I'll make a launch announcement soon. Good luck to my fellow SBC entrants. Let's talk about about how we can implement Blocklook on your entries. 🙂