What’s in a name - a look back at NU code names

Network Upgrade code names are a Zcash tradition. During the May Zeal call, we announced the code name for the next network upgrade: Canopy.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore the stories behind the Zcash upgrade code names.

:seedling: Sprout: Zcash launched in September 2016, with version 1.0. The name Sprout was chosen emphasizing that “Zcash will begin life as a young, tender thing, but will be a living organism with great potential to grow.”

:snowflake: Overwinter was the first network upgrade. It was part one of a two-part upgrade (Overwinter and Sapling). In plants (where we draw lots of inspiration), overwintering is the process where an organism survives harsh climates by lying dormant for a period of time to come back stronger and better than ever.

:herb: Sapling was the second network upgrade. It introduced efficiencies and improvements that paved the way for broad mobile, exchange and vendor adoption of Zcash shielded addresses. Sapling activation was a culmination of years of research and development, but it would not bear fruit without a vibrant third-party ecosystem.

:blossom: Blossom was Zcash’s third network upgrade. Blossom’s key technical improvement was shorter blocktimes, but more than that, the team grew and the project matured through the process of community engagement, rigorous debate, feature selection, code auditing and process improvements. Blossom activated on December 11, 2019, roughly three years after the Zcash project first launched.

:green_heart::deciduous_tree: Heartwood is the fourth network upgrade, which activates to mainnet in July 2020. Heartwood refers to the center of the tree, a strong foundation for the rest of the tree to grow. Heartwood enables more third-party integrations by introducing FlyClient support and better privacy through shielded coinbase. The community chose this name to evoke themes of faster growth, adoption and expansion.

:camping: Canopy is the new code name for NU4, the next network upgrade for Zcash, due to activate in November of 2020. NU4 includes ZIP 1014, an incredible milestone for us as a community in terms of self-governance and sustainability. ZIP 1014 establishes a Development Fund and governance process for Zcash. Fittingly, the canopy is the above-ground portion of a plant community, formed by the collection of individual plant crowns. In a forest (or a crypto-ecosystem!), the canopy can be a vibrant and hospitable habitat for a variety of creatures to thrive.

Each upgrade is a snapshot of how Zcash has grown and evolved. Almost four years ago when this project began, there was a void in the industry around privacy-preserving, freedom-protecting technology. Then came Cambridge-Analytica, GDPR, and countless data leaks impacting millions of people all around the world. Today, digital rights such as privacy, consent and freedom from censorship and surveillance are part of the mainstream conversation.

Here’s to the continued growth of the Zcash community and better tech for the public good!