While the Crypto Winter has left investors anxious, development by crypto projects has not stopped. Now that the frenzy of 2017 has died down, the real work in blockchain development has continued. Companies are laying the groundwork for their ecosystems free from the manic attention of rabid investors looking for pump and dump schemes. Companies such as Charles Hoskinson’s IOHK continue building infrastructure. Any doubters of the space should take heed. Development has not ceased. In fact, blockchain developer positions are the most rapidly growing job category on LinkedIn. The technology is sound. IOHK is one such company showing the way.
Paving the Way for Blockchain
IOHK, the blockchain R&D technology company behind Cardano (ADA), recently released two tools expanding the functionality and programmability of smart contracts on their platform. Named Plutus and Marlowe, both are still in the testing phase, premiering at the PlutusFest in Edinburgh, Scotland. The main push of both tools is laying the foundation for future innovation built on the Cardano blockchain. Specifically for the financial and programming community, “[t]he Plutus and Marlowe packages … allow financial institutions and the global programming community to prepare products in advance.” Considering Cardano’s smart contract functionality has yet to come on stream, slated for 2019, with these tools in place, the contracts developed using Plutus will be immediately ready for launch; these tools provide flexibility in development.
Plutus is described as a “general-purpose functional programming environment for Cardano, the third-generation Blockchain, developed by IOHK.” The target audience of Plutus is FinTech developers. The idea is to simplify the programming of smart contracts. Smart contracts created on the Plutus test net are ready to be deployed on the Cardano Blockchain. Smart contracts present real solutions for problems in FinTech. Having a clear path to their implementation allows developers to validate their projects in advance allowing for a better chance of adoption.
One of the factors holding up crypto adoption is usability. Programming secure smart contracts require an advanced skill set. Marlowe opens the doors for professionals to contribute code based on their professional experience. By putting this tool in the hands of professionals rather than programmers, innovative and problem specific products will be created. “Marlowe provides a way for professionals in the finance industry who have no programming background to generate code and create software products. It is an easy-to-use programming language that enables them to build financial contracts on the blockchain.” Tools such as Wix and SquareSpace have made web design available to the masses. Marlowe seems to have the same goal — only for creating smart contracts. The architecture created by Marlowe has the potential to unlock the creativity of users while building the network of usable products built on the Cardano blockchain.
Tools such as Plutus and Marlowe are the first steps towards making blockchain technology usable. Right now, Ethereum is the undisputed king of smart contract platforms — but their reign is not guaranteed. If IOHK can bring in both developers and professionals to build on Cardano, the value of the network will increase in both users and price. Focusing on these niche communities may be the path toward greater adoption for Cardano in the future.
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Carlos Acevedo is a writer and educator whose crypto-journey began not so much with Bitcoin but with Dogecoin in 2014. And while that involvement was not insanely profitable, the experience in fundamental best practices in using crypto became useful when the boom of 2017 occurred. Already in possession of a Coinbase account after hearing Andreas Antonopolous on the Joe Rogan Experience, he was primed to jump right in and has not looked back since. Studying cryptocurrency and exploring its potential, pitfalls, and possibilities has become a part of his daily life. You can find him on Twitter at @CLAcevedo222.