When Graphite launched, there were two options for authenticating and using the software:

  1. Get an anonymous Blockstack ID with no associated username (thus costing no bitcoin as the ID is not written to the blockchain).
  2. Pay anywhere from $10 to $50 for a human-readable username to associate with your ID and have that ID written to the Bitcoin Blockchain for future proof of ownership.

The problem with option 1 was that without your ID being written to the blockchain, you could not use any collaborative features of Graphite. You couldn’t share a document or a file. You couldn’t start a chat conversation.

Fortunately, you can now get on-chain, decentralized identifiers for free. Even if you already have an ID with no associated username. How do you know if you don’t have a username? If you log into any app or pull up the Blockstack Browser and go to the IDs page, you’ll see an ID like this:

Blockstack ID with no associated username

If you have a username already, it will look more like this:

Blockstack ID with associated username

As Blockstack has improved, and as they have rolled out a significantly better on-boarding experience (the best in the decentralized space, in my opinion), you can now get free usernames associated with your ID. But, perhaps equally important, everyone who had previously been using an ID without a username can now get a username for free. Here’s how:

Step 1: Make sure you have the most recent version of the Blockstack Browser. You can ensure it’s most recent if you simply use the web app version of the browser at https://browser.blockstack.org. However, if you are running an installed, local version of the Blockstack Browser, go to the installs page and install the most recent version just to be safe.

Step 2: Once you’re sure your Blockstack Browser is up to date, open it up (again, either at https://browser.blockstack.org or locally at http://localhost:8888) and go to the IDs page. Click the more button in the bottom right and you’ll see your ID or IDs:

Click on the “Add username” link above your ID that does not have a username associated with it. When you do, you will be able to search for a name. Search for any username you’d like:

When the search completes, and assuming the username is available, you will see two options. You’ll see the option to pay for the username (it will be a username that is slightly shorter and in the format of yourname.id. You’ll also see an option to register a free username. This name will be slightly longer and in the form of yourname.id.blockstack.

Choose the free version, and wait a few seconds. You may see a message saying the ID will be available in an hour. That’s actually only true of the paid username. You can start using your new ID immediately.

That’s it. It’s really that simple. And by doing this, you will have full ownership over your identity, you will have access to full encrypted collaboration not just when using Graphite but when using any Blockstack-based application.

If you have any trouble with the process, feel free to reach out to Graphite or Blockstack at:

contact [at] graphitedocs [dot] com or
https://forum.blockstack.org