StarkNet overhauls Cairo programming language to drive developer adoption

Ethereum layer-2 scaling platform StarkNet has overhauled its in-house Cairo coding language to make Web3 development accessible to developers.

An announcement shared with Cointelegraph outlined the upgrades to Cairo 1.0, which is touted to emulate characteristics of the popular programming language Rust. The overhaul intends to allow developers with general coding experience to begin building decentralized applications on StarkNet’s Ethereum layer-2 network.

StarkWare co-founder and president Eli Ben-Sasson told Cointelegraph that making layer-2 development more accessible to developers of varying backgrounds was the main reason for Cairo’s revamp:

“Primary drivers were safety and ease of use, and conducting the overhaul presented a terrific opportunity to remove the entry for developers with conventional language backgrounds.”

Technical specifications outlined in the Jan. 5 launch encompass a host of improvements to Cairo’s language. This includes improved syntax and language constructs, a holistic type system, intuitive libraries, optimized code and strong typing by demanding specification of data types.

StarkNet highlights Sierra as the main addition to Cairo’s overhaul, which stands for Safe Intermediate Representation. Sierra acts as a new intermediate representation layer between Cairo 1.0 and Cairo byte code.

As Ben Sasson explained, Sierra is an important aspect of ensuring a permissionless network. The upgrade enables reverted transactions to be included in StarkNet blocks, helping the protocol to avoid adding complex ‘crypto-economic mechanisms.’

Related: StarkNet makes Cairo 1.0 open source in first step toward community control

Ben Sasson said that Sierra will allow StarkNet to ‘inherit the full censorship-resistance of Ethereum’ and mainly protects against Sequencer Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Ben-Sasson pioneered ZK-STARK cryptography alongside other computer scientists. Zero-Knowledge Scalable Transparent Arguments of Knowledge is a proof system that encrypts and verifies transaction data to provide security, scalability and resistance to quantum computing.

According to StarkNet, Cairo is the fourth most popular smart contract language by total value locked. It is the base of applications that have processed over 300 million transactions, minted 90 million NFTs and facilitated $790 million worth of trades settled on Ethereum.

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