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I’d like to better understand the design and features of the upcoming Cardano smart contracts.

Where is the design guidance & documentation posted for them, including their planned functionality, and how we’ll be able to create and use them?

Can community members comment on this / assist with the UX?

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I am not a techie. Lars has been posting Plutus videos on YouTube. Plutus is the main language for smart contracts on Cardano. I think it if searchable as Plutus pioneers program. That should get you to the trailhead. I'm not a techie but that is where I would start.

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Have a look at the Plutus Pioneer Program for technical details: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnPTB0CuBOBypVDf1oGcsvnJGJg8h-LII

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The resources are pretty much being built now. There's a book being written but I can't remember the title. It was mentioned in one of Charles' videos. It is supposed to be a comprehensive guide to Cardano, so I expect it will be quite thick.

Please keep in mind that at the moment Cardano smart contracts are still in beta phase and the Haskell/Plutus libraries are and will be undergoing vast modifications as the use cases are identified and the bugs flushed out. So even if you read some documentation today, it will most likely be obsolete in a year or two. There's an ongoing Plutus Pioneers Program that will generate a cohort of early developers who don't care about the fact that developing smart contracts on Cardano will take a few years to become a fairly stable and straightforward process.

Edit: here's a nice list to get you started: https://github.com/input-output-hk/essential-cardano/blob/main/essential-cardano-list.md#oracles

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There exists a community run documentation for Plutus. It has just been started, so do not expect too much at this point. I believe you have the ability to contribute.

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