Source code: mnemonic.js
Note that mnemonics are handled automatically by Money Button behind the scenes and it is not necessary to deal with mnemonics directly unless you are building an advanced application.
Overview of Mnemonics
Using hierarchical keys solves many problems with wallets, particularly allowing uses to back up a single key once without having to regularly back up their wallet with every payment. However, there is still a problem - a master key is a very long, random string of digits that is painful to write down.
An example of a master extended private key is this:
var hdPrivateKey = bsv.HDPrivateKey.fromRandom() console.log(hdPrivateKey.toString()) // prints: // xprv9s21ZrQH143K4aBZYZJ5XZCcPwuUCug5AuWmVMT7X59v5YAh6ApuqAbVLCEWRiXRSJWnN9bb8BELjKavgmFC8uAsTNEenT7VtCEd3n2k53j
It would be very annoying for users if they had to write down this string of digits to back up their wallet.
Fortunately, there is another way using a standard called BIP 39 for generating random mnemonics which can be converted into master extended private keys.
The Mnemonic library must be included separately from bsv. That is because it contains long word lists for several different languages, and that consumes lots of data. If your app doesn't need mnemonics, you don't want to have to include these long word lists in browser-side applications.
A mnemonic looks like this:
var Mnemonic = require('bsv/mnemonic') var mnemonic = Mnemonic.fromRandom() console.log(mnemonic.toString()) // prints: // certain dust pave crane renew multiply stone stuff proud flee fancy knee
These words are much easier to write down than the random digits of an extended private key.
The way mnemonics work is several fold:
- A standardized list of 2048 words is provided in a certain language. Support languages are English, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese and Japanese.
- Entropy is generated in the form of a random buffer (entropy) that is either 128 bits or 256 bits long. For most cases, 128 bits is adequate and that is the default because it results in a smaller number of words that are easier to write down.
- The seed is hashed to create a checksum of 32 bits long.
- Then a list of words are picked 11 bits at a time from the 2048 words.
The way the checksum is added to the end of the entropy buffer depends on the length of the entropy buffer, and is described by this table from teh BIP 39 spec:
"The following table describes the relation between the initial entropy length (ENT), the checksum length (CS) and the length of the generated mnemonic sentence (MS) in words."
CS = ENT / 32 MS = (ENT + CS) / 11
In the case of a 128 bit entropy buffer, the result is that 12 words are generated. The words include the checksum, meaning that if a word is written down wrongly, it will be invalid, making it possible to detect and recover from errors.
A mnemonic may have an additional password. If the user chooses to add a password, the password is added to the mnemonic as though it were a 13th word before converting it into an extended private key.
After the list of words are settled on (either with or without an additional password), the words are converted into a buffer by running a PBKDF2 hash function resuling in a 512 bit value (or 64 bytes). This value is long enough that 32 bytes can be used for a private key and the remaining 32 bytes can be used for a chain code in a BIP 32 extended private key.
To generate an extended private key from a mnemonic, one can either output the seed and then input that into HDPrivateKey, or use the convenience method called .toHDPrivateKey():
var hdPrivateKey = bsv.HDPrivateKey.fromSeed(mnemonic.toSeed()) console.log(hdPrivateKey.toString()) // prints: // xprv9s21ZrQH143K3ADYnTvGdWXEhuNPzxVfCyrX4AJDdPPentd3Y4FBcSmpsq9VFt7d3p4FezxDai42E4GtFuztakMbncHidubsmJqpVy6Sjbg > var hdPrivateKey = mnemonic.to mnemonic.toLocaleString mnemonic.toString mnemonic.toHDPrivateKey mnemonic.toSeed // or: var hdPrivateKey = mnemonic.toHDPrivateKey() console.log(hdPrivateKey.toString()) // prints: // xprv9s21ZrQH143K3ADYnTvGdWXEhuNPzxVfCyrX4AJDdPPentd3Y4FBcSmpsq9VFt7d3p4FezxDai42E4GtFuztakMbncHidubsmJqpVy6Sjbg
Either method will result in the same extended private key, of course.
The default language is English. The possible language options are:
ENGLISH, SPANISH, ITALIAN, FRENCH, CHINESE, JAPANESE
Here is an example generating a mnemonic in Spanish:
var mnemonic = Mnemonic.fromRandom(Mnemonic.Words.SPANISH) console.log(mnemonic.toString()) // prints: // bozal nudo cama típico sombra vacío salmón arnés lacio trabajo votar vehículo
Overview of BIP 44 Wallets
Mnemonics (BIP 39) are often used in combination with hierarchical determistic keys (extended private keys and extended public keys, or BIP 32). Additionally, there is a specific path structure to derive new addresses that is also often used. This standard is called BIP 44.
There is a wallet path, which looks like this:
Then there is an "external path" /0 and "internal path" /1. "External" means the addresses that you give to other people to receive money. "Internal" means the addresses that your wallet generates for all unspent money in a transaction, which is usually called "change" addresses. The number "44'" means BIP 44. The first "0'" means Bitcoin, and other numbers are used to indicate different cryptocurrencies. The second "0'" means account number zero, and the same wallet can have many accounts.
The table explaining this in the BIP 44 spec is as follows:
Money Button does not use internal addresses. This is because we do not share the xpub, and for technical reasons our software is simpler by not having to track internal addresses. This means Money Button wallets cannot be synchronized in other wallet applications because the other wallet software will generated internal addresses that are not seen by Money Button. You can export your mnemoic from Money Button and import it into other wallets, but you should only do so as a back up, and not as a way to use the same keys in two different wallet softwares.