Cardano’s roadmap in 2024: a progress report

8 min


Since its inception in 2015, Cardano has continued to evolve, striving to address previous blockchain generations’ limitations by focusing on scalability, interoperability, and sustainability. Cardano’s development is structured into a roadmap of five meticulously designed phases. Each phase addresses specific challenges and enhances the platform's capabilities. 

The first two phases were developed sequentially, while the latter three were concurrent. This achieves quicker progress and seamless functionality integration. Read a progress report on the Cardano roadmap detailing each development phase and highlighting the latest updates.

Cardano’s five development phases

1. Byron: establishing the foundation

The Byron phase marked the beginning of Cardano's journey, focusing on establishing the network's foundational elements. During this phase, users could buy and sell ada, the native cryptocurrency of the Cardano blockchain. Key developments included:

Byron set the stage for Cardano's transition to a more decentralized and SPO-supported network.

2. Shelley: embracing decentralization

Following Byron, Shelley introduced a critical step in Cardano's evolution. Shelley transitioned the network from a federated model to a decentralized one, where the community managed block production and transaction validation. This phase saw the creation of a new economic system, encouraging users to participate in stake pool operations and stake delegation. Shelley significantly enhanced network security, resilience, and community involvement.

3. Goguen: expanding functionality

Goguen, which was developed concurrently with Basho and Voltaire, integrated smart contracts on Cardano and now focuses on further functionality enhancements. Key updates during this phase include the Alonzo upgrade, which introduced smart contract capabilities through the Plutus platform. This enabled developers to build decentralized applications (DApps) and issue custom native tokens on Cardano. The Vasil upgrade extended these capabilities further, including a new version of Plutus to improve scripting and transaction efficiency.

The Goguen phase continues to expand Cardano's potential, supporting a wide range of financial and business applications, including:

Upcoming milestones include Ouroboros upgrades, further enhancements to Plutus, and the development of more advanced DApps, broadening Cardano's application scope.

4. Basho: optimizing performance

Basho aims to optimize Cardano's performance by improving scalability and interoperability. Recent updates in this phase include the introduction of diffusion pipelining and the Vasil upgrade. Diffusion pipelining enhances block propagation times, increasing the network's throughput, while the Vasil upgrade introduced inline datums, reference inputs, and reference scripts, streamlining transaction processes.

These improvements ensure that Cardano can efficiently support a growing number of users and high transaction volumes.

Other interoperability and scalability solutions introduced in this phase include:

  • partner chains: enhance interoperability by enabling seamless cross-chain transfers, supporting multiple token types, and ensuring smart contract compatibility with other blockchain ecosystems. This approach allows assets and data to move between Cardano and other networks, promoting a versatile and scalable environment for DApps. Midnight is one example of a Cardano partner chain.
  • Hydra: introduces a layer 2 protocol designed to increase transaction throughput and reduce latency significantly. Hydra allows the network to process transactions off-chain while leveraging Cardano’s security. By creating multiple Hydra heads (off-chain mini-ledgers), each capable of processing transactions independently, Cardano can achieve parallel processing.
  • Mithril: enhances the network's ability to process a high volume of transactions efficiently by using a cryptographic technique called Mithril signatures. These signatures enable lightweight and secure aggregation of multiple signatures into a single proof, significantly reducing the data required for transaction validation.

5. Voltaire: empowering governance

Voltaire focuses on establishing a decentralized governance model, enabling the Cardano community to participate in governance actions. This phase has seen the launch of Intersect, a member-based organization (MBO) designed to foster Cardano’s future development, and SanchoNet, a testnet for Cardano’s governance model. In 2024, Voltaire will see the implementation of the Chang upgrade as part of CIP-1694, a Cardano improvement proposal that outlines on-chain governance mechanisms.

The Cardano community will soon host a series of global workshops to draft the Cardano Constitution, culminating in a constitutional convention in Buenos Aires later this year. The community will vote on the constitution, marking a significant step towards decentralized governance and empowering users to shape the network's future.

Cardano’s bright future

Cardano’s 2024 roadmap showcases the platform's commitment to innovation, decentralization, and community involvement. With significant progress made in the Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire phases, Cardano continues to set new industry standards. As the blockchain advances toward its goals, the upcoming milestones will enhance its capabilities, ensuring a secure, scalable, and sustainable blockchain ecosystem.

Learn more and get involved.

There are many ways to get involved and contribute to the design and rollout of Cardno’s governance, spanning a broad spectrum.

  • Join Intersect, and contribute through community-focused committees and working groups, including groups involved in creating a constitution draft that feeds into a broad community consultation process leading up to ratification.
  • Learn more about the full governance specification, CIP-1694. Read more about the upgrade process and the overall progress of Intersect’s Knowledge Base.
  • Start testing the technical features by heading to SanchoNet to learn more and to GovTool to participate in a user-friendly experience.
  • Apply for funding opportunities at Intersect to support the rollout through community tooling and other community initiatives.