User:Justmoon/BIP Draft: Custom Service Discovery

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Optional: Announcing known nodes

Bitcoin includes the services field for each node in the addr message. This is very useful for discovering other nodes that support a specific service. For example a lightweight client may be interested in finding all the nodes capable of serving it.

However, some services may not need this functionality whereas other services may need to communicate extra information per node. So rather than modifying the addr message, we instead send a service-specific message ahead of it. This message SHOULD use the addr subcommand, so for the MySampleSvc service it would be called MySampleSvc:addr. We'll refer to it here generically as the *:addr message.

The *:addr of a service specifies which nodes in the next following addr list support that service. It uses the following format:

  • If *:addr is empty or starts with TYPE_ALL (0x00), then all addresses in the next addr message support the service.
  • If *:addr starts with TYPE_BITS (0x01), then the rest of the data is a bit array marking which nodes in the next addr message support the service. Any nodes not covered by the bitarray don't support the service.
  • If *:addr starts with TYPE_RLE (0x02), then the next byte determines whether the first address supports the service and the remaining data is a series of var_ints determining the lengths of runs of nodes that support or don't support the service, not counting the first node in the run. Any nodes not covered by the RLE have the opposite value of the last node covered.
  • If there was no *:addr message since the last addr message or the beginning of the connection, then none of the nodes in the next addr message support the service.


 00         - TYPE_ALL - all nodes in the next addr message support the service
 01         - TYPE_BITS
 FC         - 11111100 - First six nodes support the service, next two don't
 1F         - 00011111 - Next three don't, next five do
            - Remaining nodes don't
 02         - TYPE_RLE
 01         - First set of nodes are nodes that support the service
 05         - First six nodes support the service
 FD 42 03   - Next 835 nodes don't
 00         - Next node does
 08         - Next nine nodes don't
            - Remaining nodes do

Multiple X:addr messages for different services MUST all be applied to the next addr message. If there are multiple X:addr messages for the same service, only the most recent one is used.

If a node knows about many different services, the recommendation is to store a bitmask of all the recognized services for each node, order by that field and then use X:addr messages using TYPE_RLE.