The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released Draft NISTIR 8202, Blockchain Technology Overview, a straightforward introduction to blockchain, which underpins Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

The publication is intended to provide a high-level technical overview of blockchain technology, and discusses its application for electronic currency as well as broader uses. The document looks at different categories and approaches for different blockchain platforms.

The NIST report’s authors hope it will be useful to businesses that want to make clear-eyed decisions about whether blockchain would be an asset to their products.

“We want to help people understand how blockchains work so that they can appropriately and usefully apply them to technology problems,” said Dylan Yaga, a NIST computer scientist who is one of the report’s authors. “It’s an introduction to the things you should understand and think about if you want to use blockchain.”

NIST also called for feedback on this draft publication.