Henrik Skogstrøm, CEO of LNcapital, guest on the Connect the World podcast Episode 69
Torq: Empowering Lightning Network Node Operators
As the Lightning Network (LN) continues to grow and mature, the importance of efficient and effective node management software and infrastructure cannot be overstated. LN Capital, a lightning node operator, has taken on the challenge of creating such software, with their flagship product, Torq. Torq is a node management software designed to help users better manage their lightning nodes by providing real-time insights into the performance of their channels and the overall health of the Lightning Network.
In a recent interview, the team at LN Capital provided insights into the development of Torq, the metrics most useful for node operators, and their vision for the future of LN.
Metrics for Node Owners
One of the most significant benefits of Torq is its ability to provide node operators with real-time metrics that are both comprehensive and easy to understand. These metrics can help node operators make informed decisions about their channels and overall network management. Some of the metrics that Torq offers include:
• Balance of a channel over time
• Visual representation of sources and destinations of a channel’s routing activity
• Average outbound and inbound fee
• Historical channel policy changes and their effects on routing activity
• Turnover of the channel, indicating how efficiently capital is used
The team at LN Capital emphasizes the importance of quick access to these metrics, with Torq providing the ability to see all metrics in a second at any point in time.
Future Development Efforts
LN Capital is constantly working on adding new features and expanding the capabilities of Torq. The team is currently focusing on expanding the automation system and adding the ability to use the C Lightning implementation of LN.
First Impressions of the Lightning Network
The team at LN Capital has been involved in the Lightning Network since its early days. When asked about their first experience with the technology, they described it as “like discovering fire” and were immediately drawn to its potential.
The Future of LN and LN Capital’s Role
The team at LN Capital believes that the Lightning Network will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. They see more consumer applications that make it easy to use LN through a seamless on/off ramp, similar to Cashapp, Strike, OpenNode, and Kollider. As LN Capital continues to develop and improve Torq, they envision becoming the industry standard for managing large lightning node operations.
Advice for Entrepreneurs and Developers
For entrepreneurs and developers looking to enter the Lightning space, the team at LN Capital recommends starting immediately and starting small. They believe that being in the space for some time gives a level of knowledge that can turn into a competitive advantage.
Limitations and Tradeoffs of the Lightning Network
One of the biggest limitations of the Lightning Network is the need for professional node management software and infrastructure. LN Capital is working to solve this issue with Torq, but there is still a need for more development in this area.
Use Cases and Apps for Adoption
LN Capital sees great potential for non-Bitcoiners to use Bitcoin as a transport layer. Developers and apps can help with this by building on/off-ramps to fiat.
Custodial vs. Non-Custodial Solutions
The team at LN Capital believes that it is imperative to have non-custodial solutions available, even if banks offer their own custodial Bitcoin and Lightning services. Bitcoin and LN were built with the ability for anyone to opt out if they want or need to.
The Future of Bitcoin and Lightning
LN Capital believes that Bitcoin and Lightning will most likely exist alongside other solutions for a long time. The team sees the potential for a “Hyper Bitcoinized World” but recognizes that it could also be the result of economic collapse. Nonetheless, they believe that Bitcoin is an essential new financial asset and tool, though not a silver bullet for all the world’s problems.
LN Capital is a company working on Torq, an open-source tool designed as the ultimate Lightning management tool with a user-friendly interface. The company aims to provide node operators with efficient, powerful tools to handle large Lightning Network nodes. In this transcript, we’ll explore some of the features of Torq, including its architecture, automation system, and metrics.
1. How did the development of Torq come about, and what was the motivation behind creating this open-source tool?
💭 LN Capital was motivated to create Torq when they found the tools available for operating large Lightning Network nodes were either too rudimentary or didn’t scale past a hundred channels. They saw a need for a powerful tool that would allow node operators to handle large Lightning Network nodes with ease.
2. Do you target a specific group of users (like individual users or businesses) more, or is this not important?
💭 LN Capital is building Torq for large node operators, which increasingly means larger organizations. However, the company tries to keep Torq simple enough that anyone can use it, which means that smaller routing nodes are also adopting it.
3. Can you explain the underlying architecture of Torq, and how it interfaces with the Lightning Network?
💭 Torq stores all the information coming from the node and gives the node operator access to this information backwards in time. To do this, Torq stores all information as a time series in a postgres database. The codebase is written in Go, and the frontend is written in React. Torq has a sophisticated automation engine that soon allows the user to control pretty much anything a node can do through simple visually created workflows. The UI is also built from scratch without any react packages or frameworks.
4. How does Torq optimize the routing process for transactions on the Lightning Network, and what techniques are used to achieve this?
💭 Torq gives the node operator the tools they need to analyze the current state and historical performance of their node. When operators can clearly see the history of their channel states, it’s easier to make decisions about what channels to close, reopen, rebalance or adjust the fee, etc.
5. Do you believe Torq can do channel management better than big node operators who claim to only do manual channel management?
💭 LN Capital believes automation is an important part of operating a node. Torq is able to both track and automate large nodes like AllNice, the node Kobe operates. Torq’s automation system is based on workflows that you can configure visually to automate as little or as much as you want. LN Capital’s goal is to help operators automate close to 100% of the tasks they do today, so that they only need to react to changing market conditions or emergencies.
6. How does Torq ensure compatibility with various wallets, exchanges, and third-party services, and what measures have been taken to promote seamless integration?
💭 Torq is just a client on top of LND and soon CLN and LDK. So they have no compatibility concerns. They’re not building Torq for consumers who need LNURL support, for example.
7. What were the key technical challenges faced during the development of Torq, and how did you address these issues?
💭 Efficiently collecting data from a large set of API endpoints continually was a big challenge for LN Capital. Another big challenge was the automation system and UI. However, the company is happy with the solution they came up with.
8. Are there any scalability limitations or bottlenecks that Torq might face as the Lightning Network continues to grow and evolve?
💭 Currently, LN Capital is refactoring the backend to reduce the complexity of the software to simplify the CLN and LDK integration. There are no scalability limitations or bottlenecks at the moment.
9. Are there any plans to extend Torq’s functionality to other second-layer solutions like RGB for example. Or making it compatible to work with it in the future?
💭 At the moment, there are no plans to extend Torq’s functionality to other second-layer solutions like RGB. However, this could change in the future.
10. Making informed decisions is very important for node operators. Torq provides users with real-time insights into the performance of their channels and the overall health of the Lightning Network. Can you elaborate on some of these metrics that are the most useful for node owners?
💭 One of the most useful metrics for node owners is the “Turnover” of a channel. This indicates how many times the total capacity of the channel has been passed through the channel. Another important metric is the balance of a channel over time. Torq also provides a visual representation of sources and destinations of a channel’s routing activity, as well as historical channel policy changes and their effect on routing activity. Watching inbound metrics is important to see which channels contribute to traffic or revenue generated by other channels outbound. Boltz is a known good source channel (meaning it has a high inbound rate, but low acceptance for fee).
11. Are there any other development efforts within LN Capital to further improve Torq’s functionality, efficiency, or compatibility with future upgrades to the Lightning Network?
💭 LN Capital is constantly adding new features to Torq. Right now, the company is working on expanding the automation system and adding CLN.
12. What was your first experience with the lightning network?
💭 The CEO of LN Capital recalls being introduced to the Lightning Network in January 2019 and being blown away by its potential. It was like discovering fire.
13. How do you see the Lightning Network evolving in the coming years, and what role do you envision for LN Capital in that growth?
💭 The CEO of LN Capital believes that the Lightning Network will continue to see exponential growth in the coming years. As more consumer applications like Cashapp, Strike, OpenNode, and Kollider make it easy to use the LN through a seamless on/off ramp, LN Capital will grow with the industry as an important part of the low-level infrastructure. The company will become the industry standard for managing large Lightning node operations.
14. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs and developers looking to enter the Lightning space?
💭 The CEO of LN Capital advises entrepreneurs and developers to start immediately and set up a small routing node to learn more about the network and technology. The industry and technology are moving quickly, and being in this space for some time gives you a competitive advantage.
15. What are the current biggest limitations/tradeoffs of the Lightning Network, and what is being done at the moment to fix it?
💭 The biggest limitation of the Lightning Network is the need for professional node management software and node infrastructure, which is what LN Capital is working to solve with Torq.
16. What kind of use cases and apps could developers explore more to further help the adoption?
💭 Developers should focus on building on/off-ramps to fiat to help non-Bitcoiners use Bitcoin as a transport layer.
17. If banks will offer their own custodial Bitcoin and Lightning services. How important is it to you that people can continue to use non-custodial solutions and have an alternative to fiat banks?
💭 Imperative. Bitcoin and LN is built with this in mind. Anyone should be able to opt out if they want or need to. The decentralized and non-custodial nature of the Lightning Network is one of its main advantages, as it allows users to have full control over their funds and eliminates the need for intermediaries. If banks start offering their own custodial Bitcoin and Lightning services, it could potentially undermine these advantages and centralize the network, which would go against the principles of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. It is important for users to have the option to use non-custodial solutions and maintain the decentralization of the network.
18. Do you believe in a Hyper Bitcoinized World? Or do you think Bitcoin and Lightning will become an alternative that also exists along with FIAT money?
💭 It is likely that Bitcoin and Lightning will coexist with fiat money for the foreseeable future. While Bitcoin and the Lightning Network offer many advantages over traditional fiat currencies and payment systems, they still have some limitations and are not yet widely adopted. In addition, there are many entrenched interests and established systems that may resist the adoption of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. However, as more people become aware of the benefits of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, and as more businesses and individuals start using them, we may eventually see a “Hyper Bitcoinized World” where Bitcoin and Lightning become the dominant forms of currency and payment. But this is likely to be a gradual process rather than a sudden revolution.
In conclusion, Torq, an open-source tool developed by LN Capital, is an ultimate Lightning management tool with a user-friendly interface, making it suitable for both novice and advanced users. Torq is built for large node operators, but it is designed so that anyone can use it. Torq stores all the information coming from the node and gives the operator access to this information backward in time by storing all information as a time series in a Postgres database. The codebase is written in Go, and the frontend is written in React. Torq optimizes the routing process for transactions on the Lightning Network by giving operators the tools they need to analyze the current state and historical performance of their node. Automation is an important part of operating a node, and Torq helps automate close to 100% of the tasks node operators do today. Torq is just a client on top of LND and soon CLN and LDK, ensuring seamless integration. Torq provides users with real-time insights into the performance of their channels and the overall health of the Lightning Network by displaying metrics like the balance of a channel over time, a visual representation of sources and destinations of a channel’s routing activity, and average outbound and inbound fees. As the Lightning Network continues to grow and evolve, Torq’s developers plan to reduce the complexity of the software to simplify the CLN and LDK integration, but they do not currently plan to extend Torq’s functionality to other second-layer solutions like RGB. Overall, Torq is an essential tool for node operators to manage their Lightning Network nodes with ease and efficiency.
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