Smart contracts are transforming finance, business, and law. These self-executing programs built on blockchains will move $1 trillion in assets by 2023. With smart contract adoption exploding, what languages should developers learn?

Dabbling in smart contract languages today could make you the hot commodity tomorrow. Major companies are racing to integrate blockchain and pioneer decentralized apps. In fact, less than 2% of all software developers are estimated to be smart contract developers; so there is huge opportunity and demand in this space.  

The next generation of contracts will enable autonomous organizations and tokenize real-world assets.

This guide explores the top smart contract languages developers need to know. We’ll compare Solidity, Vyper, JavaScript, Rust, Haskell and more. You’ll get key insights into syntax, platforms, pros and cons. 

Come away equipped to choose the best language for your blockchain career or project. The decentralized future awaits – are you ready to build it?

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TLDR; The Top Smart Contract Languages

  • Smart contract adoption is exploding, with over $1 trillion in assets migrating by 2023. Mastering a contract language is crucial to capitalize on blockchain disruption.
  • Solidity leads in popularity due to its JavaScript-like syntax and extensive Ethereum tooling. Vyper offers Python-style security.
  • JavaScript connects front-end dApps to blockchains. Python and Rust enable contracts through their large ecosystems.
  • C++, Java and Go lend blockchain development support via their general adoption for distributed systems.
  • Haskell and functional languages facilitate formal contract proofs. New specialized languages like Clarity enhance security.
  • The top 11 languages provide options across security, accessibility, performance and proof capabilities.
  • Don’t delay in learning a smart contract language. Experiment and contribute to open-source to lead in the decentralized future.
  • With passion and perseverance, developers can rise up as leaders shaping tomorrow’s blockchain landscape. The time to start programming the future is now.

The 11 Most Popular Smart Contract Languages in 2023


1. Solidity

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With over 150,000 developers, Solidity stands as the most popular language for writing smart contracts on Ethereum and other blockchain platforms. Released in 2014, Solidity quickly gained a strong following due to its similarity to JavaScript and curly-bracket syntax that was familiar to many programmers.

As a contract-oriented language, Solidity is designed for implementing smart contracts that run exactly as programmed without room for ambiguity or interpretation errors. It supports inheritance, libraries, and complex user-defined types among other object-oriented features. Solidity also contains cryptographic for applications like voting and crowdfunding.

Since Ethereum has the largest developer ecosystem for building decentralized applications, Solidity has benefited immensely from its tight integration and tooling support on Ethereum. The language constantly evolves through proposals and undergoes rigorous security auditing. With robust infrastructure in place like the Remix IDE, OpenZeppelin libraries and Truffle Suite, developers enjoy a rich and active community.

While some may criticize Solidity’s learning curve for beginners, it remains indispensable for any serious smart contract programmer looking to tap into Ethereum’s possibilities.


2. Vyper

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Vyper has rapidly grown from a niche language to a viable alternative to Solidity for writing secure smart contracts. Introduced in 2017, Vyper’s Python-like syntax appeals to developers who value simplicity, auditability and transparency.

By design, Vyper has very limited functionality compared to feature-rich Solidity. But these restrictions enhance security and make contracts easier to review. Vyper disallows recursive calling and infinite loops, avoiding common vulnerabilities. Strong typing eliminates unintended errors. Everything from syntax to compilation is optimized for readability.

Since contracts cannot exceed a fixed amount of bytecode, gas costs are highly predictable in Vyper. This aids adoption in enterprise environments. Vyper also interfaces well with the Python ecosystem, enabling fast prototyping and testing.

While still newer than Solidity, Vyper is now supported on major protocols like Ethereum, Tron and EOS. Its emphasis on being minimal yet highly practical for auditability has struck a chord as smart contract security becomes paramount. Expect Vyper’s popularity to continue rising.


3. JavaScript

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Given JavaScript’s ubiquitous usage across the web, it’s no surprise that it plays a major role in blockchain as well. JavaScript excels in developing user-facing interfaces and tools for interacting with smart contracts and dApps.

With libraries like web3.js, developers can leverage JavaScript to connect browser-based frontends to blockchain nodes. The ethers.js library enables crucial functionality like managing users’ Ethereum accounts and wallets. JavaScript helps integrate blockchain capabilities into existing JavaScript web apps.

JavaScript is also supported for writing smart contract logic on Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum and other protocols, though languages like TypeScript address some of JavaScript’s shortcomings. The language may lack sophisticated compilation and strictly enforced typing of Solidity. But JavaScript’s accessibility, flexibility and vast module ecosystem make it ideal for rapidly building and connecting dApps.


4. Python

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Python has attracted developers to blockchain because of its reputation for simplicity, versatility and vibrant open source community. Leading protocols like Hyperledger, Neo, EOS and Ethereum have created Python APIs and libraries to enable smart contract development.

Python offers an intuitive object-oriented approach to structuring smart contracts with classes, making it more beginner friendly than languages like C++. Python lets developers reuse existing skills to quickly prototype and test contracts through interactive environment like IPython and Jupyter Notebooks.

Python’s dynamic typing does pose challenges for security and formal verification compared to statically typed languages. But clean and readable Python code makes audits easier. The language benefits from a wealth of established crypto, scientific and numeric programming modules like NumPy.

As blockchain matures, expect Python to remain indispensable as an agile language choice for writing decentralized apps on many platforms. Its high-level abstractions and versatility accommodate multiple programming paradigms needed in the blockchain space.


5. Rust

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Rust has quickly emerged as a top choice for developing robust and secure blockchain infrastructure and applications. Originally created by Mozilla, Rust offers speed comparable to C and C++ with much stronger safety guarantees.

Rust’s strict compile-time checks eliminate entire classes of errors like null pointer exceptions, race conditions and buffer overflows. This prevents common security pitfalls. The borrow checker ensures code accesses memory safely without corruption. These features make Rust suitable for writing low-level, performance-critical blockchain components.

Several major protocols use Rust for core elements. Solana and Polkadot rely on it for crucial network functions. Many also support smart contracts in Rust – it provides low overhead and efficient contract execution.

While Rust has a steeper learning curve than languages like Python, its advanced features for reliability and speed are indispensable for blockchain’s mission-critical needs. Rust delivers the best of both worlds – high-level conveniences without sacrificing low-level control and predictability.


6. C++

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As one of the most widely used languages in software engineering, C++ plays a pivotal role in blockchain as well. C++ powers core components of Bitcoin, EOS, Stellar, Ripple and more thanks to its high performance and operating system integration.

C++ provides low-level memory management while enabling higher-level object-oriented programming. This combination of control plus abstraction makes C++ well suited for implementing the primordial cryptography and consensus algorithms at blockchain’s foundation.

C++ also compiles down to native machine code for maximum speed and minimal overhead during execution. Decades of standards evolution ensure C++ code remains portable across platforms and toolchains. The language is highly mature for building robust, efficient systems.

Despite the rise of newer languages like Rust, C++’s legacy importance and evolving standards will sustain its relevance when blockchain workloads demand uncompromising speed and low-level authority.


7. Java

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With over 10 million developers worldwide, Java is the most popular general purpose language. Its “write once, run anywhere” ethos neatly aligns with blockchain’s distributed nature across networks. Leading enterprise platforms like Hyperledger Fabric, Quorum and R3 Corda support Java for smart contracts.

Java offers robust tools for quickly building blockchain applications. Dependable compilers check and optimize code. The rich ecosystem provides frameworks and libraries to accelerate development. Java’s security model also applies well to blockchain by supporting permissions and cryptography out of the box.

While Java may lack languages features tailored specifically for blockchain, its longevity, performance and enterprise development culture cement its place in decentralized systems. The language benefits from skills transfer as many large organizations already rely heavily on Java. As blockchain penetrates industry, expect reliance on Java to strengthen rather than fade.


8. Go

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Go stands apart as a modern language purpose-built by Google to improve software engineering productivity and reliability. Its design philosophies have made Go a choice for blockchain platforms including Hyperledger Fabric, Pocket Network and Solana.

Go’s built-in concurrency mechanisms like goroutines and channels lend themselves well to blockchain’s parallel nature. The language is easy to learn while ensuring programs remain structured and readable. Strict compilation catches bugs early on. Minimalist syntax and standard conventions encourage consistency across codebases.

Go shines for writing maintainable, scalable networking and infrastructure software – both pivotal to blockchain. It compiles quickly into efficient native code. Go’s wide adoption for distributed systems and cloud native development carries over nicely into the decentralized paradigm of blockchain.


9. Haskell

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As a pure functional programming language, Haskell represents a radically different approach to smart contract development compared to imperative languages like Solidity. Haskell has strongly influenced Cardano’s Plutus platform and the Tezos blockchain.

Haskell codes by composing functions while avoiding side effects and mutable state. This declarative and mathematical nature maps well to specifying blockchain contracts as verifiable logic. Haskell’s immutable data structures and type safety prevent entire categories of bugs.

The language facilitates formal proofs of correctness for mission-critical smart contracts. Haskell’s lazy evaluation improves performance by avoiding unnecessary computations. Strong typing disciplines contract interfaces while multiple backends support contract execution.

While the functional paradigm requires rethinking problems, Haskell provides a rock-solid foundation for realizing formally verified, mathematically proven smart contracts – a huge advancement towards reliability and security.


10. Clarity

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Clarity is an emerging smart contract language created specifically for the Stacks blockchain. It embraces functional programming principles like immutability and composability while ensuring approachability for a broad audience.

As a non-Turing complete language, Clarity restricts infinite loops and recursion which enhances security and predictability. Clarity features human-readable syntax for declaring contracts. All Clarity functions are also statically checkable against a fixed set of constraints. This improves auditability compared to dynamically typed languages.

By compiling down to predictable bytecode, Clarity provides for accurate gas metering when running contracts. And its design allows static analysis of program behavior prior to deployment, improving safety.

As a purpose-built smart contract language that is still accessible to most developers, Clarity shows promise as a simpler yet more robust alternative to Solidity on Stacks-based blockchains.


11. Michelson

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As Tezos’ designated smart contract language, Michelson differentiates itself through a minimalist, stack-based design centralized around formal proofs. Michelson avoids turning complete features which increases security by preventing unbounded computations.

The language directly expresses formulas from domain-specific logics to facilitate contract verification. Michelson types strictly discipline data structures while the syntax resembles low-level assembly languages.

Together, these attributes allow for high confidence in contract correctness. Michelson also compiles to readable, tiny bytecode that optimizes gas costs.

While more difficult to program due to lack of higher level abstractions, Michelson provides a foundational and provably secure way to implement smart contracts on Tezos’ proof-of-stake blockchain. Its design elegantly marries security and formal proofs.


Key Takeaways: The Most Popular Smart Contract Languages in 2023

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With over $1 trillion in assets migrating to smart contracts by 2023, blockchain is redefining software, finance and law. To capitalize on this disruptive potential, mastering a smart contract language is mandatory.

We’ve equipped you with insights into today’s top 11 options. Now the decentralized future is yours to shape. Will you build the next generation of autonomous organizations with Solidity? Revolutionize global commerce through provable Python programs? Or realize futuristic visions in Haskell? The choice is yours.

Don’t let indecision hold you back. Blockchain won’t wait. Learn a contract language, experiment on a testnet, contribute to open-source projects. With passion and perseverance, you can rise up as a leader in tomorrow’s decentralized landscape. Imagine what we’ll achieve by coding together. The future beckons – are you ready to program it?

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