BitTorrent is a protocol for downloading and distributing files across the Internet. In contrast with the traditional client/server relationship, in which downloaders connect to a central server (for example: watching a movie on Netflix, or loading the web page you’re reading now), participants in the BitTorrent network, called peers, download pieces of files from each other—this is what makes it a peer-to-peer protocol. We’ll investigate how this works, and build our own client that can find peers and exchange data between them.
The protocol evolved organically over the past 20 years, and various people and organizations added extensions for features like encryption, private torrents, and new ways of finding peers. We’ll be implementing the original spec from 2001 to keep this a weekend-sized project.