Recent rapid advances in R1CS-based SNARKs finally make application of zero-knowledge proofs practical for bringing scalability and privacy to blockchains.
At the same time, most existing languages and frameworks for constructing R1CS circuits, while being useful in academic research and prototyping, do not provide a satisfying degree of expressiveness and brevity to write readable and easily maintainable programs. A notable exception is xJsnark, but being based on Java it lacks a lot of safety features of modern functional languages.
Further, existing frameworks completely lack functionality specific for smart contracts. Security and safety aspects are crucial for developing smart contracts since they deal with valuable financial assets. Modern smart contract languages, such as Simplicity or Libra's Move, deliberately made design choices that favor safety and formal verifiability of the code over generalistic expressiveness.
Zinc was created to fill the gap between these two worlds: provide a smart contract language optimized for R1CS circuits, which is reliable and simple at the same time, and can be quickly learned by a large number of software developers.
We decided to borrow the Rust syntax and semantics. Zinc is a subset of Rust with minor differences dictated by the subtleties of R1CS circuits. It is easily learnable by any developer familiar with Rust, Golang, C++ or other C-like languages. Also, experience with Solidity will help in understanding some smart contract specifics.
The language is under heavy development, so many of its aspects will eventually be improved or changed. However, the basic principles, such as security and simplicity, will never be questioned.