What’s new in the v2.0 Beta release

The Beta release of Hyperledger Fabric v2.0 allows users to try out upcoming features of Fabric v2.0. While the v2.0 release is not yet production ready, the Beta is feature complete, meaning it includes all the features that are expected to be delivered in the final v2.0 release.

Let’s take a peek at some of the highlights of Fabric v2.0….

Decentralized chaincode lifecycle

Fabric v2.0 introduces decentralized governance for chaincode, with a new process for installing a chaincode on your peers and starting it on a channel. The new Fabric chaincode lifecycle allows multiple organizations to come to agreement on the parameters of a chaincode, such as the chaincode endorsement policy, before it can be used to interact with the ledger. The new model offers several improvements over the previous lifecycle:

  • Multiple organizations must agree to the parameters of a chaincode In the release 1.x versions of Fabric, one organization had the ability to set parameters of a chaincode (for instance the endorsement policy) for all other channel members, who only had the power to refuse to install the chaincode and therefore not take part in transactions invoking it. The new Fabric chaincode lifecycle is more flexible since it supports both centralized trust models (such as that of the previous lifecycle model) as well as decentralized models requiring a sufficient number of organizations to agree on an endorsement policy and other details before the chaincode ecomes active on a channel.
  • More deliberate chaincode upgrade process In the previous chaincode lifecycle, the upgrade transaction could be issued by a single organization, creating a risk for a channel member that had not yet installed the new chaincode. The new model allows for a chaincode to be upgraded only after a sufficient number of organizations have approved the upgrade.
  • Simpler endorsement policy and private data collection updates Fabric lifecycle allows you to change an endorsement policy or private data collection configuration without having to repackage or reinstall the chaincode. Users can also take advantage of a new default endorsement policy that requires endorsement from a majority of organizations on the channel. This policy is updated automatically when organizations are added or removed from the channel.
  • Inspectable chaincode packages The Fabric lifecycle packages chaincode in easily readable tar files. This makes it easier to inspect the chaincode package and coordinate installation across multiple organizations.
  • Start multiple chaincodes on a channel using one package The previous lifecycle defined each chaincode on the channel using a name and version that was specified when the chaincode package was installed. You can now use a single chaincode package and deploy it multiple times with different names on the same channel or on different channels. For example, if you’d like to track different types of assets in their own ‘copy’ of the chaincode.
  • Chaincode packages do not need to be identical across channel members Organizations can customize a chaincode for their own use case, for example to perform different validations in the interest of their organization. As long as the required number of organizations endorse chaincode transactions with matching results, the transaction will be validated and committed to the ledger. This also allows organizations to individually roll out minor fixes on their own schedules without requiring the entire network to proceed in lock-step.

Using the new chaincode lifecycle

For existing Fabric deployments, you can continue to use the prior chaincode lifecycle with Fabric v2.0. The new chaincode lifecycle will become effective only when the channel application capability is updated to v2.0. See the Chaincode for Operators tutorial for complete details of the new chaincode lifecycle.

External chaincode launcher

While chaincode is still run in a docker container by default in Fabric v2.0, the external chaincode launcher feature empowers operators to build and launch chaincode with the technology of their choice.

  • Eliminate Docker daemon dependency Prior releases of Fabric required peers to have access to a Docker daemon in order to build and launch chaincode - something that may not be desirable in production environments due to the privileges required by the peer process.
  • Alternatives to containers Chaincode is no longer required to be run in Docker containers, and may be executed in the operator’s choice of environment (including containers).
  • External builder executables An operator can provide a set of external builder executables to override how the peer builds and launches chaincode.
  • Chaincode as an external service Traditionally, chaincodes are launched by and then connect to the peer. It is now possible to run chaincode as an external service, for example in a Kubernetes pod, which a peer can connect to and utilize for chaincode execution. See Chaincode as an external service for more information.

See External Builders and Launchers to learn more about the external chaincode launcher feature.

Private data enhancements

Fabric v2.0 enables new patterns for working with and sharing private data, without the requirement of creating private data collections for all combinations of channel members that may want to transact. Specifically, instead of sharing private data within a collection of multiple members, you may want to share private data across collections at a transaction or state key level with selected channel members. Each private data collection may contain a single organization, or perhaps a single organization along with a regulator or auditor.

Several enhancements in Fabric v2.0 make these new private data patterns possible:

  • Sharing and verifying private data When private data is shared with a channel member who is not a member of a collection, or shared with another private data collection that contains one or more channel members (by writing a key to that collection), the receiving parties can utilize the GetPrivateDataHash() chaincode API to verify that the private data matches the on-chain hashes that were created from private data in previous transactions.
  • Collection-level endorsement policies Private data collections can now optionally be defined with an endorsement policy that overrides the chaincode-level endorsement policy for keys within the collection. This feature can be used to restrict which organizations can write data to a collection. For example, you could utilize organization-specific private data collections to allow each organization to individually consent to state updates. This pattern is useful for implementing workflows that span individual transactions, for example to support voting or approval scenarios with data privacy and nonrepudiation.
  • Implicit per-organization collections If you’d like to utilize per-organization private data patterns, you don’t even need to define the collections when deploying chaincode in Fabric v2.0. Implicit organization-specific collections can be used without any upfront definition.

To learn more about the new private data patterns, see Private data (conceptual information) for information about private data sharing and Private Data (reference information) for documentation about private data collection configuration and implicit collections.

State database cache for improved performance on CouchDB

  • When using external CouchDB state database, read delays during endorsement and validation phases have historically been a performance bottleneck.
  • With Fabric v2.0, a new peer cache replaces many of these expensive lookups with fast local cache reads. The cache size can be configured by using the core.yaml property cacheSize.

Alpine-based docker images

Starting with v2.0, Hyperledger Fabric Docker images will use Alpine Linux, a security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution. This means that Docker images are now much smaller, providing faster download and startup times, as well as taking up less disk space on host systems. Alpine Linux is designed from the ground up with security in mind, and the minimalist nature of the Alpine distribution greatly reduces the risk of security vulnerabilities.

Sample test network

The fabric-samples repository now includes a new Fabric test network. The test network is built to be a modular and user friendly sample Fabric network that makes it easy to test your applications and smart contracts. The network also supports the ability to deploy your network using Certificate Authorities, in addition to cryptogen.

For more information about this network, check out Using the Fabric test network.

Upgrading to Fabric v2.0

While a Beta release is not an intended upgrade target for existing Fabric deployments, there is nothing preventing you from testing an upgrade scenario to get familiar with the process.

The upgrade docs have been significantly expanded and reworked, and now have a standalone home in the documentation: Upgrading to the latest release. Here you’ll find documentation on Upgrading your components and Updating the capability level of a channel, as well as a specific look at the considerations for upgrading to v2.0, Considerations for getting to v2.0.

Release notes

The release notes provide more details for users moving to the new release. Specifically, take a look at the changes and deprecations that are being announced with the new Fabric v2.0 release.