A few months back, @yabapmatt dropped an idea in my lap and said "Here, make this look good". We were already waist deep in Steem Monster stuff, so he must have thought it was important.
I eyeballed what he was trying to do, and I was like "holy crap, this is a game-changer!" For the following weeks, I worked through the UX/UI stuff, collaborated with @stoodkev on the front-end, and partnered with Yaba on fulfilling his vision for what eventually became the Keychain browser extension.
What I don't think most people realize is that the development is ongoing. The product continues to get better and better. And more importantly, Yaba's desire that Steem have its own version of "MetaMask" is a dream that is way bigger than any single DApp.
It could potentially elevate the entire Steem ecosystem, now more so than ever before.
As a core supporter and producer for the project, @aggroed has championed the Keychain cause on numerous occassions. His voice definitely holds a lot more clout than my own, but allow me to offer my own small squeak in the face of what's transpiring across the blockchain community.
But first, I'll recap what Keychain actually is (for those who don't know yet).
Keychain is a browser extension (currently for Chrome with other browser versions on the way). This means that no matter what website or browser tab you're on, you will always have access to Keychain's features. It sits up there in the browser's user interface like a bookmark. But unlike a bookmark, it doesn't open a new URL. Instead, it opens up access to your Steem account(s).
Why should you care?
Well, mostly because the current solution looks like this:
That password field represents one of the biggest challenges to any cryptocurrency or blockchain project that is seeking widespread adoption. The average person simply doesn't want to deal with all the technical mumbo-jumbo. Seeds, private keys, and QR codes are not easy things to explain, use, or implement. Most people don't see the benefit and will not bother to take the time to embrace something that is not quick, easy, and convenient.
And running to the safe, finding a piece of paper with a huge string of characters, and sitting there for 27 minutes trying to manually type in their password over and over again, troubleshooting which Os are actually zeros or which Ls are actually ones...Just scrape my eyeballs out with a spork and get it over with. Or perhaps worse yet, should we encourage users to simply have the browser remember their master password? Not the best idea, since anyone who has access to your web browser now has the key to your Steem wallet.
We can talk all day about adding more Decentralized Applications (DApps) to the Steem blockchain, but if we're asking new users to drop their pants every time they want to log-in or use the DApp...Well, that's just silly. That's called spinning your wheels. That's called losing users at almost the same rate that you're gaining them.
From a user experience perspective, the "blockchain" should be invisible to the user. The blockchain is the database. It doesn't need to be in the user's face. And it definitely shouldn't be an obstacle that prevents them from using your app.
That's where Keychain comes in.
All Steem-related web projects, websites, and web apps should be integrating Keychain as a log-in option. This does two things:
SOOPER AWESOME BENEFIT #1
The first benefit is that the user gets to choose a password that's easier to remember without compromising security. In fact, it's waaaaaaay more secure that relying on auto-fill. If you've already tried to log into Steem Monsters with Keychain, you know how much easier it is. All you do is enter your username. Keychain authenticates for you in the background. It's even quicker and easier than the common "Sign in with Facebook" or "Sign in with Google" options you see on many sites.
Essentially, this translates to rapid onboarding into your app. The user is engaging with your app in like 2 seconds.
SOOPER AWESOME BENEFIT #2
The second benefit is that it gives users the Disneyland experience. One ticket or wristband gets you easy, unlimited access to every ride, event, and show in the park.
In other words, if all Steem DApp owners take the time to integrate Keychain, it will dramatically boost the likelihood that a new user will not stop at using just one app. They will use ALL the apps (or at least all the ones they like). And the more invested they become in the ecosystem, the better the retention. And the better the engagement. Which will only lead to greater overall activity on the blockchain.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
As if that wasn't enough reason to be excited about Keychain, don't forget that the extension lets you do LOTS more than just breeze through website log-ins.
You've got multi-account support, wallet balances, transfers, history, vote status, reward claim, witness vote management, whitelisting, and a whole bunch of other stuff! And there's more cool features on the way!
Bottom line: The recent events with Steem being added to State of the Dapps is AMAZING. Absolutely, mind-boggling amazing. But now's not the time to high-five and sit back down. Get Keychain added to your DApp right friggin' now.
You do this, and you WILL see all the Steem DApps rise in the rankings together. You WILL see a migration of users and developers transitioning from Ethereum to Steem.
You WILL see Steem in the news, and it will be POSITIVE and EXCITING.
Want to know how to add Keychain to your app?
Er. I dunno how to do that.
But Yaba does! Tell @yabapmatt you want "in" on the revolution. He'll share the secret handshake and decoder ring stuff.
Maybe someday soon, there will be a developer portal and all that jazz.
If you'd like to go take Keychain for a spin, you can get it here:
Free rocket fuel for everyone! Yay!