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The mission of the Trust over IP (ToIP) Foundation is to define an overall architecture for Internet-scale digital trust that combines cryptographic assurance at the machine layers (technology) with human accountability at the business, legal, and social layers (governance). Together these two halves form a complete four-layer architecture for decentralized digital trust infrastructure known as the ToIP stack as shown in this conceptual diagram:

The dual stack table showing four layers of the ToIP Technology Stack and the ToIP Governance Stack

When the ToIP Foundation was launched in May 2020, the original 27 founding organizations knew the job of fully defining both sides of the ToIP stack would be a multi-year process involving hundreds of contributors and thousands of person-hours. Thankfully, the importance of this mission resonated so deeply in the market that membership in the Foundation grew by an order of magnitude in the first year.

Stages of Development

In that first year, members recognized that the development process needed to proceed through four stages, each dependent on the one before it, as shown in this diagram:

Table showing implementability of stages against time
  1. Design Principles: The first stage was reaching agreement on the overall design principles for the ToIP stack as a whole. This process, which involved contributions from all ToIP Working Groups, resulted in the Design Principles for the ToIP Stack V1.0, which was approved by the ToIP Steering Committee on 11 November 2021.
  2. Technical Architecture: The second stage was to apply the design principles to the original conception of the ToIP stack to develop a complete set of layer-by-layer architectural requirements. This culminated in the publication of the first public review draft of the ToIP Technology Architecture Specification V1.0 on 14 November 2022.
  3. Component Specifications: These are the specifications required to fully implement the Technical Architecture requirements. The vast majority of these specifications are expected from other standards organizations (e.g., W3C Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) 1.0, W3C Verifiable Credentials Data Model 1.1, ISO mDL, DIF DIDComm V2). The ToIP Foundation only intends to define new component specifications where there is a gap no other SDO is filling.
  4. Interoperability Testing: The final stage in enabling fully interoperable ToIP applications is the development of vendor-independent interoperability profiles, test suites, and certificate frameworks that can demonstrate conformance to all necessary component specifications.

Documenting the Process

To help audiences outside the ToIP Foundation understand this evolutionary progression of deliverables from the ToIP Foundation, we have published a full description of the process in a document called Evolution of the ToIP Stack. This is designed to be a living document as it will track our progress throughout the stages, helping stakeholders understand what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. For example, the first version of the document, published on 14 November 2022, contains the following status diagram:

Mapping Existing Technologies into the ToIP Technology Stack

One of the most frequently asked questions is, “Where does [name of existing technology/specification] fit into the ToIP stack?” Given that both the ToIP stack and the component technologies/specifications are still evolving, this “map” will be constantly changing. However, even a slightly outdated map is better than no map at all. So the Evolution of the ToIP Stack document includes a section providing the current mapping as maintained by the Technology Architecture Task Force of the ToIP Technology Stack Working Group.

Versions of the Document

The ToIP Foundation intends to publish a new version of Evolution of the ToIP Stack each time we reach a new milestone in the evolutionary progression. All versions will be listed here, in reverse chronological order, for easy reference.