Lightning Node Connect in the Alby Browser Extension

Lightning Node Connect in the Alby Browser Extension

With Lightning Node Connect, a new connector is available in the Alby browser extension. Users of LND nodes can use LNC to connect their LND nodes to Alby to access lightning apps in a non-custodial way. Without any additional implementation, lightning app developers can leverage this option by interacting with the Alby extension and connected wallets via WebLN.

Alby connects wallets to apps

The Alby browser extension builds the bridge between users' lightning wallets and lightning apps. It allows users to connect a variety of custodial and self-custodial wallets and interact with lightning apps in a programmatic way through WebLN.

Lightning Node Connect (LNC) is another connector now available in the Alby browser extension.

Bringing wallets and apps together as a WebLN provider

Lightning Node Connect + Alby

LNC by Lightning Labs is a mechanism to create an end-to-end encrypted connection between a LND lightning network node and a web browser. It is a way to solve the pairing problem of lightning nodes and browsers. Users only need to enter one passphrase in the browser removing the need to connect through Tor leaving slow connections to the past. There is a deep dive for more information about LNC.

What's in for developers building on Alby and WebLN

Any application/wallet that wishes to be able to remotely interact with a lightning node or wallet, requires the user to handle sensitive data or download a specific piece of software (e.g. LNC or the Alby companion app) to interact with the lightning node adding complexity to the tech stack and increasing friction to onboard new users at the same time.

Alby reduces the complexity of handling different node interfaces for developers. Instead, it completely removes the challenge of interacting with lightning wallets by letting them use WebLN, an extremely simple protocol based on JavaScript. WebLN is a set of standardized specifications for lightning apps and client providers to facilitate communication between web apps and users' lightning nodes in a secure way. It allows applications to programmatically ask users to send payments, generate invoices to receive payments, and much more. Leveraging a flexible backend for node connections and a simple interaction protocol to apps, Alby serves as the bridge between users' lightning wallets and lightning apps. Users connect their lightning wallet to Alby once and can immediately interact with any WebLN app out there and there are already several.

What's in for Alby users

In practice, pairing a node to an application requires users to manually handle potentially sensitive pieces of data in order to upload or copy/paste necessary pairing materials to an app. Furthermore, users have to connect to each lightning app separately. Each time touching again sensitive data.
That's where the Alby browser extension comes in. As a client-side-only browser extension users simply have to connect their wallet once and access any lightning app. Alby takes care of it and allows users to seamlessly access their preferred app in a secure way.

How to connect as a LND node user

As a LND user you can now connect to Alby using LNC through the following steps:

  1. Install the Lightning Terminal Daemon (litd) on your LND node
  2. Use the received credentials to access Lightning Terminal in your local web browser
  3. Generate your pairing phrase (typically 10 English words long)
  4. Enter this pairing phrase in the LNC connector of the Alby browser extension

That's it. Have a look at this guide for a more detailed description.

A gateway to lighting apps

At Alby, we are bringing bitcoin to the web and are making it easier for users to access lightning apps. With integrations such as LNC, more and more building blocks become available for users and app developers. Hence we can only confirm what Roy Sheinfeld, the founder of Breez, said in an article about lightning and the web: “The world becomes your Lightning-enabled fintech oyster. And Lightning Node Connect is the pearl.” Together with the lightning maker community, Alby opens the door to a completely new range of applications. Web developers gain fantastic flexibility in how they craft the user experience and users have a gateway to seamlessly interact with these applications.