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I speak only of myself since I do not wish to convince, I have no right to drag others into my river, I oblige no one to follow me and everybody practices their art their own way.

Tristan Tzara, "Dada Manifesto 1918”1

What the heck is Dada?

Dada is a thought experiment. What if we were making a language like Rust, but one that was meant to feel more like Java or JavaScript, and less like C++? One that didn't aspire to being used in kernels or tiny embedded devices and was willing to require a minimal runtime. What might that look like?

What is the state of Dada?

As of right now, Dada doesn't really exist, though we have some experimental prototypes:

  • There is an experimental operational semantics implemented in PLT Redex, which you can find at dada-lang/dada-model. More details are available (or will be eventually) in the Design Docs section of this site.
  • The interpreter, written in Rust, is found on the dada-lang/dada repository. You can try a WebAssembly-based build on the Dada playground. More details are available in the "Development Guide" section of this site.

OK, from here on out I'm going to pretend that Dada really exists in its full glory.

Dada in a nutshell

Dada is an ownership-based language that is in some ways similar to Rust:

  • Like Rust, Dada doesn't require a garbage collector.
  • Like Rust, Dada guarantees memory safety and data-race freedom.
  • Like Rust, Dada data structures can be allocated in the stack and use flat memory layouts.

In other ways, though, Dada is very different:

  • Like TypeScript, Dada is a gradually typed language:
    • That means you can start out using Dada in the interpreter, with no type annotations, to get a feel for how it works.
    • Once you've gotten comfortable with it, you can add type annotations and use the compiler for performance comparable to Rust.
  • Dada targets WebAssembly first and foremost:
  • Dada is object-oriented, though not in a purist way:
    • Dada combines OO with nice features like pattern matching, taking inspiration from languages like Scala.

Dada also has some limitations compared to Rust:

  • Dada has a required runtime and does not target "bare metal systems" or kernels.
  • Dada does not support inline assembly or arbitrary unsafe code.

Curious to learn more?

Read our FAQ or one of our tutorials.


  1. Updated to use modern pronouns.