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Cardano's (ADA) Unique Programming Languages: An Introduction to Haskell and Plutus

By Michael @ CryptoEQ | CryptoEQ | 21 Feb 2023

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Cardano's use of Haskell and Plutus as its programming languages sets it apart from other blockchain platforms. Learn about the features and benefits of these languages, such as their strong type systems, formality, and safety. Understand how they are used in the Cardano ecosystem and how they enhance the security, scalability and functionality of the platform.


Cardano is developed in Haskell, and its smart contracts are created in Simon and Plutus, programming languages that allow for building stricter contracts. Simon and Plutus are simple scripting languages that can handle a range of common transaction types for the CSL. The main advantage of developing simple scripting languages is that they can be understood by more people, thus allowing widespread peer review and increased security.

The use of Haskell in Cardano's design has brought reliability and security benefits, but also poses challenges in building a strong dApp community. Due to the complexity of Haskell, the pool of developers proficient in the language is relatively small. Additionally, the project has had to invest time and resources to build the necessary infrastructure to support its use cases. To address these issues, the IOG is developing Marlowe, a smart contract language tailored for financial contracts and accessible to non-programmers. Additionally, Cardano's founding organizations have formed partnerships with external development firms to accelerate the development of infrastructure and make smart contract development on the platform more accessible to developers of various languages.

Slow Dev Adoption

Cardano’s development has taken relatively longer than that of other blockchains in part due to the nature of its programming language called Haskell. Haskell is a functional programming language that differs from object-oriented programming languages such as Java and Rust that have been used for most other blockchains. Haskell is more complex and has a smaller network of developers which has introduced challenges for Cardano in building a sizable dApp community, since Plutus, Cardano’s smart contract language, is also based in Haskell. This has also created the need to build up infrastructure around Haskell which has further exacerbated development times. 

In fact, Haskell is one of the least popular languages among new programmers, ranking 27th by users actually looking to learn a new protocol. While Cardano has a large base of existing developers, this dynamic has led to stagnant growth in the developers compared with their peers.

ADA developers 2021 Source: Electric Capital

However, the Cardano Foundation argues that the use of Haskell allows for code that runs more reliably in comparison and can also be formally verified to run as expected. They claim this is critical and offers higher security standards for a crypto network that should be able to support large scale settlement and participation by government and enterprise entities. While Cardano’s decision to use Haskell has slowed development times, it could open adoption for rapid innovation given Cardano’s institutional-grade performance standards that this decision allows.

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Michael @ CryptoEQ
Michael @ CryptoEQ

I am a Co-Founder and Lead Analyst at CryptoEQ. Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.


Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.

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