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For the Bitcoin app builder comes a handy new tool kit from BitPay

For the Bitcoin app builder comes a handy new tool kit from BitPay

An open-source library makes it easier for developers to connect to the Bitcoin network

Bitcoin developers tired of working with clunky APIs to build their apps have a new option that goes straight to the source.

Bitcore is an open-source JavaScript library introduced Friday by BitPay, a major processor of Bitcoin payments. Bitcore provides a native interface to the Bitcoin network to ease the app development process.

The Bitcoin system itself is built on open-source software, so think of Bitcore as a return to its roots. "We believe that developers contemplating new Bitcoin projects should not have to resort to using proprietary APIs hosted on services running closed software," BitPay said in announcing the library.

As Bitcoin's popularity has grown, tools for developers have surfaced, including an SDK (software development kit) from Coinbase for incorporating Bitcoin payments into apps. The Bitcore project seems to target a wider set of use cases, to make the development process easier for people building any type of app.

"What we hope to accomplish is to develop a great community building apps around Bitcore that contribute to everybody in this space," said Ryan X. Charles, a BitPay software engineer, in an email.

A few apps have already come out of Bitcore. One is "Insight," which delves into data from the Bitcoin block chain, or the public ledger of Bitcoin transactions. Another is "Wally," a digital wallet for storing bitcoins.

Still, Bitcore is under development and there may be some security kinks to work out. "Please use at your own risk," its landing page says. Although its developers have been using Bitcore internally for about a year, "we're not yet ready to encourage other companies to use it in production since it hasn't yet been vetted by the community," Charles said.

It's designed to run on a server on node.js or on a client in a Web browser, and to interact with a trusted bitcoin node or "bitcoind" instance, the developers said.

If the project gains enough users, it could usher in any number of new apps serving different functions and help bring Bitcoin to a wider audience.

BitPay is a well-known player in the world of Bitcoin. It acts as a middleman between online merchants and customers who want to pay for goods in bitcoins, protecting sellers from fluctuations in the value of the virtual currency. Its introduction of Bitcore shows that it's interested in more than just payments processing.

Bitcoin has been on a rough ride for much of the week, as major exchanges like Mt. Gox and Bitstamp experienced technical problems and halted bitcoin withdrawals. Bitcoin's value fell sharply earlier in the week, though by Friday afternoon it was on an upward trend, according to analyzer CoinDesk.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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