Update on Open-Sourcing plans for Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML)

Digital Asset has decided to open source DAML, our smart contract-like modeling language for financial applications, and supporting tools. We have not yet specified a release date, but this is a significant commitment which we wish to make known uniformly to our client base and which furthers our commitment to advancing industry adoption of distributed ledger technology by financial services.

Financial institutions face many challenges in coordinating common workflows across multiple legal entities. Many that are exploring the use of smart contracts — legal agreements written as executable code to automate the processing of rights and obligations on a distributed ledger — are discovering the deficiencies with available smart contract languages. There are limitations regarding confidentiality and scalability, as well as poor design decisions that have led to well-publicized highly undesirable outcomes.

Currently available languages were not designed with regulated financial applications in mind; in most cases they were designed to create autonomous, censorship resistant, self executable agents that can hold and transfer cryptographic tokens between anonymous parties. This usage requires very different design decisions from the applications that financial institutions operate today, and so it is not surprising that the tools designed to meet different needs are not suitable.

After extensively evaluating the available options, Digital Asset identified one language that we believed was suitable for use in a financial context. We acquired the team and technology, which we named DAML, in April of this year and have been working on improving the functionality as well as integrating it with our existing technology stack since the recent acquisition. We continue to gather requirements to ensure that DAML is suitable for usage on national-scale, critically important market infrastructure projects and is suitably powerful to be able to model a wide variety of workflows necessary for operating markets. At the same time, we are being cautious not to introduce any unnecessary complexity that could lead to unforeseen exploits or leak sensitive data to parties not permissioned to view it.

Work remains to be done to ensure DAML has the appropriate functionality, documentation, and developer toolkit for usage outside of Digital Asset. Once that work is complete, we will release the language specifications publicly, followed by an appropriate Developer Studio — including software, static analysis, and other tools. By making DAML more widely available, we intend to enable clients, partners, and other vendors to develop, modify, and extend DAML Libraries for use with the Digital Asset Platform or other platforms, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of vendors and solutions.

Digital Asset firmly believes that using and contributing software back to the open source community fuels innovation, lowers costs, allows for critical inspection of the source code, and provides enormous benefits to end users and the industry as a whole, including — but not limited to — our clients. Our objective in supporting open source work has been, and will continue to be, to promote standardization, to encourage interoperability across distinct platforms and ledgers, and hence to drive adoption by reducing the risk of proprietary vendor capture.

In February this year, Digital Asset demonstrated our commitment to open, industry standards as a founding premier member of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation. We contributed the Hyperledger name and tens of thousands of lines of code and have been an active contributor and maintainer since. Blythe Masters, Digital Asset’s CEO, is Hyperledger’s first Governing Board Chair, and by committing to open source DAML, we are proud to continue to drive the distributed ledger industry forward.

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