AlonzoBlue sees Smart Contract Functionality Brought to Cardano

Last month, adapulse.io covered the planned rollout of the Alonzo hard fork, the final stage of the Goguen era. The hard fork promises long-awaited smart contract functionality, years in the making, for the Cardano ecosystem. If the rollout goes as plan, Cardano stands to become a powerful competitor in the smart-contract application space and a force to be reckoned with in the financial world.

IOHK recently released positive news on this front. In a June 11th tweet, the company announced the first smart contract had been successfully tested and deployed on the AlonzoBlue testnet:

A mid-month video update showcased news of the development:

A Simple Round Trip

As always, the “conditions on the ground” are rapidly changing throughout the Cardano ecosystem. The Plutus Pioneer Program, begun in May, released its final lecture last week. The natural next step is the testing and tooling of Plutus and smart contracts for their release on mainnet.

Per usual in computer science, project leaders used a simple “Hello, World!” program to check whether the AlonzoBlue testnet was indeed live and operating as intended. Development Lead Dimitris Poulopoulos explained:

“The ‘Hello, World!’ roundtrip is exactly as it sounds. We don’t have the Plutus backend fully integrated, but we can talk to the Alonzo node. A programmer could create a very simple smart contract and pass it to the ledger.”

Poulopoulos continued:

“This means that we have Alonzo running smart contracts. Nothing fancy, but we can go end-to-end, which is quite an important milestone.”

A diagram from the Plutus documentation helps visualize what this application roundtrip entails:

src: https://docs.cardano.org/projects/plutus/en/latest/plutus/explanations/platform.html

Essentially, the development demonstrates that off-chain software written by a Plutus programmer has been successfully able to interact with the ledger of the Alonzo testnet, and the blockchain has been able to communicate this change back to the programmer. This type of simple interaction underlies more complex smart contract functionality and is an essential first step.

The CLI and Next Steps

Having overtaken this first milestone, project leaders are looking to incorporate the broader development community. More specifically, Plutus pioneers will soon be testing their own “Hello, World!” smart contracts using a command-line interface, or CLI. Forming the next phase of AlonzoBlue, a select group of stake pool operators, Plutus pioneers, and others will run their own basic scripts using the CLI. Their feedback will help identify issues as the protocol continues toward the AlonzoWhite phase.

Head of Deliver Nigel Hemsley explained the path moving forward:

“Once we have the CLI out, we can then do our ‘Hello, World!’ round trip on Plutus–simple smart contract work to make sure that we can transact against the ledger.”

He continued:

“Meanwhile, we will be working through any raised issues with the community and supporting our partners as they come to have working Dapp use cases by the end of June. Some of the partners will be moving into a second phase where we will be working with them to develop their Dapps in our on-chain environment.”

Early Achievements

Indeed early achievements seem promising. Not only are node operators reporting a smooth transition, Plutus partners are hinting at applications they have developed. Early this week, Liqwid Labs teased their LiqwidUSD stablecoin and LQX token in a tweet:

Other partners are working on:

  • an oracle implementation
  • DEX token swaps
  • NFTs
  • Building and exchange

Anyone interested in understanding how an oracle can be implemented in Plutus should check out the Plutus Pioneer Lecture 6 video available on YouTube. While complicated, the use case is compelling.

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