Bitcoin may get the most attention but that doesn’t mean other cryptocurrencies aren’t working on some really cool projects.
We hear about Ripple partnering with an increasing number of banks, Ethereum being used by large companies like Samsung and Microsoft and VeChain partnering with BMW. These developments are awesome and with any luck, they’re going to help to propel crypto into the mainstream spotlight.
However, there’s a lot more happening than just corporate partnerships. Both Tezos and Cardano are pushing for increased adoption by making it easy to learn how to write a smart contract on their platform. While they’ve only just begun to roll out courses it looks like the trend is moving towards an increasing amount of educational content, especially educational content aimed at users without programming experience. That’s great news as it means more people are going to get the chance to benefit from smart contracts and the automation that they allow.
Tezos B9lab Academy Smart Contract Courses
It’s free courses like these which have the best chance of getting new people involved with crypto and using smart contracts. While not everyone will have the programming experience necessary to take this course, there are other options available like Blockmatic’s “Writing Your First Smart Contract: Tezos.” This course, unfortunately, has a $30 price tag. However, it’s likely that there will be at least one or possibly multiple introductory programs available for free in the future. For Cardano that’s already the case.
Cardano and the Marlowe Programming Language
Marlowe is a Domain Specific Language (DSL) built on top of the Cardano platform. Being good people, however, IOHK (Cardano’s parent company) has made the protocol open source and it’s designed to run on top of any smart contract platform. What makes Marlowe so exciting is that it’s arguably the simplest way to build smart contracts that have ever been created. More specifically, Marlowe is, “targeted at the execution of financial contracts” and it’s unique in that it has a graphical interface that’s used to create the smart contract:
This allows someone to create and deploy a smart contract without any programming experience. In fact, what it depends on more heavily than programming experience is financial and accounting expertise. That ensures that, at least in theory, anybody who has experience with regular financial contracts should find Marlowe easy to use. According to Cardano’s website, “you do not require programming experience to get started and learn Marlowe, nor do you need to be an expert in finance. A solid grasp of basic financial products is sufficient.”
The other advantage of this graphical interface is that it allows everyone involved to see that the code matches the desired parameters of the contract. Until now in order to deploy a smart contract, it was necessary to either have programming experience yourself or to pay a developer to create it for you. However, if a developer is hired it’s not possible to confirm first hand that the code matches the requirements. As a result, there have been some people who have not wanted to trust their money to a smart contract that they’re not able to understand. With Marlowe, it’s possible to see exactly how the code matches the parameters and hopefully, that’s going to lead to a higher level of trust.
How to Use Marlowe
Learning how to use Marlowe is simple as there are multiple resources available. This YouTube video provides a comprehensive overview of the language or if you’d prefer to read this Medium article is also very helpful. However, that’s not what is really exciting about Marlowe. The bigger news is that Cardano has created a free Udemy course that walks through all of the necessary steps to create a smart contract.
The course includes two full hours of video and a certificate of completion. It’s designed specifically for people without programming experience and the only requirement is, “a basic understanding of blockchain technology.” Each section of the course features a quiz to check for understanding and there are eight in total. By the time a user finishes the course, they will have the knowledge necessary to create a financial smart contract and deploy it on the Cardano blockchain.
The Future of Smart Contracts
Of course, Tezos and Cardano are not the only platforms that offer free courses designed to help people create smart contracts. Ethereum has a “Smart Contract 101 Course” and NEO has its “NEO One” course. No matter how good these courses are, however, they’re going to find it tough to compete with Marlowe and its intuitive graphical layout. That’s OK though. As Marlowe is open source it’s likely that other smart contract platforms will adopt it for their own blockchains or build an equivalent of it. And while Marlowe is better than anything else available at the moment, it’s still not brilliant and has plenty of room for improvement.
It’s likely then that the first smart contract platform to develop a highly intuitive contract creator is going to attract a huge number of users. That could be an improved version of Marlowe or a different program not yet created. However, once people without coding experience are able to deploy their own smart contracts simply and easily there is going to be a level of adoption, unlike anything that has happened yet. That’s exciting to think about and hopefully, it’s not that far off.
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