I want to make a side chain on Cardano to so something that the protocol says should be done on a sidechain, but how do I make one?
Can I use Plutus or am I limited to the CLI?
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To create a side chain, you need a smart contract language both on the Cardano side and also on the side chain side. You also need off-chain code (e.g. a website) for people to interact with those contracts. The general idea is on the Cardano side you create a native token (or use one already in existence), and you have a smart contract that burns that native token, and a corresponding smart contract on your chain that mints that token, and vice-versa. Each chain is independent aside from the interaction of the two smart contracts. You probably also want some logic that prevents the user from minting funds until the other chain can guarantee there won't be a rollback, etc... On the cardano side, that would be the security window of 3k/f slots or 36 hours to have an absolute guarantee that transaction is permanent.