With the integration of smart contracts, the Goguen era represents a big step forwards in capability for the Cardano network. Where the Shelley era decentralizes the core of the system, Goguen adds the ability to build decentralized applications (DApps) on Cardano's solid foundation of peer-reviewed research and high-assurance development.
The work for Goguen has been under way in parallel with Shelley, and when complete will allow users from technical and non-technical backgrounds to create and execute functional smart contracts on the Cardano network. One of the goals for the Goguen era has been the creation of Plutus, a purpose-built smart contract development language and execution platform using the functional programming language Haskell. Plutus is already available for testing and brings the benefits of functional programming to smart contract creation. It also allows one code base to support both on and off-chain components, improving the coherency and usability of the development experience compared with existing smart contract implementations.
The Goguen era also encompasses work to make Cardano accessible to wider audiences via Marlowe, allowing financial and business experts with no previous technical knowledge to create smart contracts. Marlowe is a high-level, domain-specific language (DSL) for financial contracts which is built on Plutus. Marlowe comes with the Marlowe Playground, an easy-to-use application-building platform that non-programmers can use to build financial smart contracts. Together, Marlowe and the Marlowe Playground simplify the process of creating smart contracts for financial applications, allowing subject matter experts to directly contribute without requiring deep programming skills. The combination of Plutus and Marlowe will enable a new class of enterprise-level smart contracts with verified functionality, capable of underpinning large scale implementations in the real world.
As well as adding functionality in the form of smart contracts, Goguen will also see improvements to the core Cardano offering. Most significantly, the addition of a multi-currency ledger will extend the usefulness of Cardano even further, enabling users to create new natively-supported tokens. This will allow the creation of fungible and non-fungible tokens, supporting the creation of new cryptocurrencies on Cardano as well as the tokenization of many types of digital and physical assets. Another benefit will be easier integration of smart contracts and DApps involving multiple cryptocurrencies.
The Goguen era represents a step change in the abilities of Cardano, opening the way to the development of enterprise-level, mission-critical, decentralized smart contract applications, with even more exciting things to come during the Basho and Voltaire eras.