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Cardano Prepares for Plutus Powered Smart Contracts

Blockchain platform Cardano is preparing for its next major upgrade which will usher in smart contract capabilities through its native Plutus language.

Cardano has released more details on Plutus, it’s native programming language that will be used to write smart contracts after its next major upgrade, Alonzo.

In a blog post on April 13, IOHK – the firm behind Cardano – explained that Plutus contracts consist of parts that run on-chain and parts that run on a user’s machine off-chain.

It added that both parts are actually written in the Haskell programming language but are compiled by Plutus which provides the framework for smart contracts on Cardano.

Bitcoin Inspiration

Just like Bitcoin, Cardano uses the UTXO (unspent transaction output) model where the inputs are unspent outputs from previous transactions. However, the network has expanded upon this to employ an extended UTXO model (EUTXO) which offers unique advantages over other accounting models.

Without going too deep into the technicalities of it, the EUTXO model essentially allows the validity of transactions to be checked off-chain before the transaction is sent to the blockchain. This is in contrast to Ethereum Layer 1 which processes transactions all on-chain. Transaction execution costs can be also determined off-chain before transmission which is another unique feature.

Plutus Core will be used to define the parameters of these EUTXO transactions and compile the code developed for smart contracts. A Plutus Application Framework (PAF) will provide easy access to services and applications running on the network with full web browser interoperability.

“Applications written on top of the PAF automatically provide an HTTP and WebSocket interface that can be used to interact with the application from the web browser.”

Cardano launched native tokens in February’s ‘Mary’ upgrade to allow users to create uniquely defined custom tokens and carry out transactions with them. Plutus will expand on current token capabilities, vastly improving minting policies which will be beneficial for NFTs which may need time locks.

Cardano Alonzo Upgrade in Q3

Plutus is part of the Alonzo upgrade, a major upgrade stage on the Cardano roadmap which introduces smart contracts and the ability to build dapps. In an earlier blog post, the team hinted at a timeline:

“May and June will be a time for quality assurance and testing with users, which will be followed by a feature freeze lasting for four weeks. This will provide crypto exchanges and wallets with the time to upgrade and prepare for the Alonzo protocol update. We expect the Alonzo upgrade (hard fork) to happen in late summer,”