Schema Registry

Overview

A schema registry is a central record location for storing, managing, validating, and referencing schemas, for attestation-making needs.

A schema registry can function as an authoritative coordination system that suggests, guides, and enforces specific standards for the creation of schemas it oversees. It aids in ensuring the compliance, efficiency, and conformity of schemas.

In an advanced and mature attestation ecosystem, the schema registry serves as a critical infrastructure to drive innovation, creativity, and standardization.

You can think of the Schema Registry as a lexicon for schemas in an attestation ecosystem.

Role of a Schema Registry

Schema creators need a place to store and publicize the schemas they craft, and attesters need a place to find and reference schemas that help them make robust attestations.

A schema registry primarily functions as the central location where schemas can be stored, managed, and referenced. Additionally, schema registries offer the environment for schemas to be validated according to a certain set of rules and standards.

When creating an attestation, an attester either has to design a new schema for the job or search for one that fits their needs. The schema registry acts as the go-to point of reference for a wide selection of schemas that are either provided by the proprietors of the schema registry or contributed by third-party schema creators.

Sign Protocol offers a dedicated schema registry where schema creators can record their newly crafted schemas for public use, and attesters can refer to it when they need the appropriate schema to generate their attestations.

Locating a Schema Registry

In order to reference from or submit a schema to a schema registry, you first need to know where it’s located. The location of a schema registry will determine what permissions one might need to interact with schemas stored in the registry.

Currently, there are two popular types of platforms for hosting a schema registry: Blockchains, known as onchain platforms, and a combination of Data Storage Services and Information Exchange Systems, collectively referred to as offchain platforms.

Sign Protocol acknowledges and supports two types of platforms for hosting and locating a schema registry:

  1. Blockchain Systems (a.k.a. Onchain)

These platforms have attributes that enhance the registry with desirable properties and provide robust guarantees. They are characterized by several features:

  • Censorship-Resistance: They resist attempts to control or suppress information.

  • Incentive Mechanisms: They encourage participation and cooperation among users.

  • Tamper-Resistance: They prevent unauthorized alterations.

  • Unrestricted Global Access: They allow anyone, anywhere in the world, to participate.

  • Liveness: They ensure that the system continues to operate and update.

  • Global Consensus: They ensure agreement on the state of the system across all participants.

Typically, these platforms utilize distributed or shared ledgers, along with blockchain scripts (a.k.a. smart contracts), to record and verify all system updates. Their unwavering commitment to principles such as public access and open verification makes them an ideal choice for schema registries intended for public use.

Some notable examples of these platforms include Ethereum, Optimism, Solana, among others.

  1. Data Storage and Information Exchange Systems (a.k.a. Offchain)

These platforms are designed with a strong emphasis on data storage and sharing. They offer robust features to support high bandwidth requirements efficiently, making them ideal for hosting schema registries with high resource requirements.

Key features of these systems include:

  • Data Protection: These systems prioritize data protection, implementing top-tier security measures to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data.

  • Central Administrative Controls and Jurisdictional Oversight: Despite their robust security measures, these systems operate with central administrative controls and jurisdictional oversight.

  • Public Data Accessibility: Not all platforms focus solely on private access. Some also concentrate on public data accessibility, providing an avenue for information to be easily accessed by anyone.

This balance between accessibility and security makes these platforms versatile for various data storage needs. Some examples of these platforms include Google Drive, iCloud, Torrents, Arweave, and IPFS.

Platforms like Google Drive, iCloud, Torrents, Arweave, and IPFS are designed with a strong emphasis on data storage and sharing. They offer robust features to support high bandwidth requirements efficiently, making them ideal for managing and sharing large amounts of data. These systems prioritize data protection, implementing top-tier security measures to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data.

However, not all platforms focus solely on private access. Some also concentrate on public data accessibility, providing an avenue for information to be easily accessed by anyone. This balance between accessibility and security makes these platforms versatile for various data storage needs.

Benefits of a Schema Registry

In addition to functioning as a location for storing and referencing schemas, the schema registry also unlocks several beneficial features and opportunities for an attestation ecosystem. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Schema Version Control: Schema Registries make it possible to easily track and distinguish all changes and improvements made to manage existing schemas in versions, thereby mitigating incompatibilities and conflicts. This also establishes a history of changes and provenance for a given schema.

  • Schema Evolution: Schema Registries make it possible for schemas to undergo improvements and change over time, whether it’s to rectify errors and inefficiencies or to keep up with new trends. All the while, it establishes the appropriate version control and provenance.

  • Schema Validation: Schema Registries can check and enforce that submitted schemas meet the standards and guidelines that may be set in the attestation ecosystem. They also ensure that existing schemas are upgraded to the latest standards, if need be. This helps prevent the submission and use of erroneous schemas, which in turn prevents inaccuracies and inefficiencies that may cause loss or damage to attesters, verifiers, claimants, and others in the ecosystem.

  • Schema Governance: Schema Registries can make the coordination of standards and guidelines regarding schemas feasible and focused as they can be narrowed to schemas that are recorded and managed in the same registry. This also creates avenues for growth, innovation, and creativity to be a part of a given attestation ecosystem.

  • Schema Conformity: Schema Registries can introduce and enforce strict rules that guide the techniques and standards in crafting schemas. This allows for a high level of quality control to be instilled in the schema registry and, in turn, the attestation ecosystem at large.

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