Two years, five pivotal architecture revisions, hundreds of discussions, countless coding hours, plus a secret ingredient - invaluable feedback from brilliant Stellar ecosystem developers and SDF.
Truly long and bumpy road from the delegated signer prototype published back in 2018 to the production-ready app.
And finally, meet Albedo – a security-centric, developer-friendly, and at the same time, easy-to-use delegated signer for Stellar Network. Something I can be absolutely proud of, even despite the fact that it took
ten times more effort than I initially expected. So let me explain a bit why I'm so excited about this particular project.
Albedo provides a safe and reliable way to use your Stellar account without trusting anyone with a secret key.
It is not a wallet. It's a keystore web app and browser extension (currently available for Chrome and Firefox). Think of it as a bridge for other applications which allows them to ask permission to sign a transaction or verify identity on the user's behalf so that the same account can be used across the whole universe of Stellar applications. People kept asking about Metamask for Stellar, and here it is – with a slightly different interface, yet packed with unique features.
But there are dozens of existing Stellar wallets out there, why invent yet another one?
First of all, creating a new account each time you want to check a shiny new promising app, wallet, or trading interface may be quite exhaustive. Things like SEP-7 were intended to deal with the problem, but the protocol used is far from perfection (after working for a while with this standard, I can write a separate long read article on shortcomings of such an approach). Just like "Sign in with Google" button allows you to log in and authorize actions for all services and third-party websites that support Google OAuth, Albedo was designed to be the single access point to the multitude of Stellar apps over a unified protocol.
Furthermore, each wallet wants direct access to your secret key. And who knows how they are going to store and protect it? What if hackers take over the server and drain funds from all accounts? Sad story, and it happened before.
We've done everything possible to reach the maximum keystore security. Secret keys are encrypted with your password and safely stored in the browser. Of course, it's not a hardware wallet, but I'm quite sure Albedo might be
one of the safest options for storing keys in the browser.
Sensitive data never leaves your computer/smartphone, never transmitted over the network, never stored on remote servers, so no one has access to your secret key, even us. Internally, the browser provides a protected sandbox preventing other tabs or external websites from accessing user's data. Why it's important? Because it means that we eliminate the most dangerous vector of wallet attacks, mitigating a risk that attackers can gain control over all stored
accounts after only one successful server hack.
Another ultimate objective we were trying to achieve (and I think we definitely reached this goal) is to simplify the development of Stellar apps. From the developer's perspective, it takes only a few lines of code to turn
any website into a production-ready Stellar wallet.
Transactions building, signing, validation, error handling – we have everything covered. There is no need to implement a keystore, build a dozen interfaces for transaction processing, and worry about security. In fact, things like payment requests can be implemented without any coding at all, therefore allowing instant
"stellarization" of any marketplace or even a basic WordPress site by simply copy-pasting code produced by the
payment request generator.
At the same time, Albedo provides a set of low-level tools for working with complex multi-sig schemes, making it a perfect match for advanced Stellar-based applications and smart-contracts.
All features at a glance
Secure key management
Secret keys never sent over the Internet and never exposed to third-party
Secure transaction signing
Robust protection backed by isolated transactions signing inside the browser
Web apps Single Sign-On
Log into third-party websites with your Stellar account, just like with
Use multiple accounts, as well as hardware wallets, and switch them on the fly.
Create anchor trustlines and participate in token airdrops in one click.
Seamless experience across different browsers and operating systems,
desktops and smartphones.
Handles "web+stellar" links – wider support for different Stellar ecosystem
Expand the reach of your app and forget about on-boarding. Every Stellar user
is your user now. We'll take care of all account-related things.
No need to create yet another keystore and transactions processing pipeline.
Focus on what really matters for your app while saving months of work on
Powerful abstraction layer
Albedo handles all low-level details (transaction building, signing, multi-sig,
validation, error processing) while providing a streamlined API interface.
Multiple signing option – Albedo accounts, hardware wallets, direct secret
key input, SEP-0007 links. Complex logic is hidden from the caller app
behind the unified generic interface.
Easy to integrate
A single lightweight JS package, no other dependencies, works out of the box
in any modern browser – desktop or mobile.
Security-first approach with a client-side encrypted keystore,
fully sandboxed environment, and proven cryptography.
Effortless ICO and airdrops
Setup tokensales and airdrop claim forms in minutes. Selling your asset on DEX?
Embed a tiny script into your website, and you are good to go.
Build custom authentication or notary schemes with arbitrary data signing
and verification tools using Stellar keypairs.
More magic on the way
In addition to the functionality mentioned above, we are also preparing several other exciting updates.
An extended transaction validation is at the top of our priorities list. Currently, the verification before sending a tx to the Horizon is one of the most annoying problems for wallets. And it is certainly not as straightforward as it might look. A good wallet must check everything: Stellar addresses, sequence number, fees, trustlines, existing DEX offers, even things like sufficient authorization for multisig accounts. It might not be problematic when a wallet builds a transaction right before sending it to the network, but everything becomes much more complicated when it comes to the pre-signed, multi-account transactions, or smart contracts.
Currently, we identified 46 different potential error cases starting from trivial (like a non-existing source/destination account) and ending with tricky situations – too many signatures, trustline limit exceeded, trustline not revocable, etc.
Our main goal here is to provide a comprehensive automatic validation for incoming transactions. It makes life much easier for both a user and app developer. Users don't need to worry whether a transaction will come through. On the other hand, developers can go ahead with very basic validation on their side as Albedo will automatically check everything and return a specific error description back to the app.
Besides that, we are working on federation addresses support, new multisig aggregation service, built-in KYC information provider, and, of course, interface improvements to make the user experience even more streamlined and user-friendly.
Where to start
That's probably evident enough from this announcement itself, but I'd like to point out that Albedo is an infrastructure project in the first place, and this is mostly a developer-oriented post.
If you already build things on Stellar or want to give it a try but don't know how to start, then check our playground where you can experiment with a declarative approach to submitting Stellar
For instance, here is what you can do without even installing StellarSDK:
//import tiny interface library
import albedo from '@albedo-link/intent'
//request user's account address
.then(res => console.log('Public key: ' + res.pubkey))
//pay 15 EURT tokens to account GDD4…TQHQ with memo "congrats!"
.then(res => console.log('Success'))
//prepare and sign a transaction to buy 0.1 BTC
.then(res => console.log(res.signed_envelope_xdr))
//request user's signature of arbitrary data
message: 'Notary approval'
.then(res => console.log(res.pubkey, res.message, res.message_signature))
At the same time, for regular users, Albedo will be of little use at the moment because it hasn't been integrated anywhere yet. During the past few months, we've been actively discussing it with SDF and ecosystem devs to ensure that Albedo is robust and ready for production usage. As a side result of this peer review, we have preliminary agreements, so in the nearest future you'll see a bunch of wallets, trading services, and various apps utilizing Albedo API.
Stay tuned for our upcoming announcements and blog posts. We will be grateful for any feedback – try Albedo and let us know what do you think. And if you spot any issues, please submit a bug report.
Cross-post from StellarExpert blog