Recapping Dat's Mozilla Open Source Support Award

In our application for the Mozilla Open Source Support award, we wrote:

Over the last four years, Dat has grown from a data sharing tool to a wider community supporting the Dat Protocol. As we work to broaden our community, we recognize the need to improve onboarding new community members, documentation, and supporting implementations in other languages. We’ve organized a Dat Protocol working group to document the existing specification and support other implementations, but we still need someone to help with wider community engagement. Unfortunately, with our constrained resources focusing on development and maintenance, these crucial needs get left behind.

While harder to quantify, we recognize that this work is vital to the future of the Dat Project and for collaborations with groups like Mozilla Common Voice. Investments in documentation and community building make it easy for people to use Dat, to suggest improvements, and get answers to questions. With this milestone, we will support someone to conduct user testing on existing documentation, create an improved user funnel, and identify additional community needs.

A key goal was to understand the needs of the community around documentation and learning resources. Through this support from Mozilla, we’ve advanced the Dat ecosystem in two foundational ways:

  1. Documenting the protocol and guiding developers interested in implementing the Dat protocol in other languages.
  2. A complete overhaul and rebrand of “Dat Project” into “Dat Foundation” including updating and consolidating websites and documentation.

In line with our goal to operate transparently, we've published our reports to Mozilla in this Github Repo and you can also view the reports from individual contributors.

Protocol Documentation

A key challenge we’ve faced over the five years of developing Dat is prioritizing implementation of the protocol versus standardization. With a small team of developers, much of the balance has been weighed towards implementation. This award was a great opportunity to get people outside of the core Dat developers to evaluate and document the protocol, allowing for people to begin implementations in other languages.

The How Dat Works guide is a highlight of the work funded by this MOSS award. Not only does it guide new users through every byte and bit of Dat, we feel like it is a learning resource for developers interested in cryptography, decentralization, and even the internet more broadly and is a prime example of how protocol documentation should be. Read more about the process behind creating How Dat Works in this blog post.

We are excited to see new Dat implementations being work on in Rust, C++, Python, Kotlin, and more.

Dat Website Updates

A new Dat website has launched with the help of the community. Based on the feedback from the community research process, we created a new website structure to fully encompass all of the touch points Dat community members interacted and learned about Dat. The website includes a CMS, allowing easier contributions, and content development for various skill types. Our docs include a new tutorial and we will continue to expand those. This website includes a solid foundation for continued improvements and community contributions.

Read more in this post about the move from “Dat Project” to “Dat Foundation”.

This award was a great reminder of all the work required outside of software development to support a functioning and inclusive community project. We are grateful for Mozilla's support of this work and excited that we've been able to engage our community, improve documentation, and create educational resources for people interested in decentralization more broadly.