With the inception of the Web 2.0 version of the internet, the world saw a swirl of mobile applications rising to help organize chores of our daily lives a little better or to add vibrancy and variety to them. Nearly two decades now, that surge is taking a new form as decentralized applications.
Application developers developed innovative applications for finance, entertainment, transportation, social networking and many other things. These have largely served their purposes and are now evolving to a new class of applications.
Currently, world wide web 3.0 is in the talks with blockchain technology at the core of its development. Consequently, decentralized applications are now coming to the forefront.
Given how much most people’s activities are dependent on mobile applications in some or the other way, it becomes essential to understand what decentralized applications or dApps are, what all would the dApps world entail, and how will dApps in a blockchain be different from the traditional apps and if it will affect our activities in a major way.
In this article, we’ve tried to cover all the fundamental things on decentralized applications, such as dApps definition, advantages and disadvantages of dApps, their functioning, decentralized applications examples, their use cases, and the future of dApps. Read till the end to learn more!
dApps Meaning: What Are They?
A decentralized application (dApp) is a distributed open-source software application that runs on a blockchain network rather than a single computer. Decentralized Apps appear similar to other software applications available on a website or mobile device but are driven peer-to-peer.
Because dApps are decentralized and open-source, once a developer releases a dApp’s codebase, others can build on top of it. The app is not subject to the authority of a single entity. A dApp is used to create various applications for finance, web browsing, gaming, and social media.
Decentralized Apps are created on a decentralized network powered by a blockchain-distributed ledger. The use of blockchain allows a dApp to handle data and execute transactions across distributed networks. They are frequently built on the Ethereum platform.
Distributed ledger technologies, such as the Ethereum blockchain, have aided the spread of dApps. However, the main benefits of dApps are that they are always available and have no single point of failure.
How Do dApps Work?
The working of decentralized applications is dependent on three key features, which are as follows:
- OPEN-SOURCE. Any changes in the application can be made by altering the source code, which is available to the users, provided that a majority of them have given consensus for the modifications. For this, the codebase of decentralized applications should be accessible to all the users for evaluation.
- DECENTRALIZED STORAGE. dApps store all the information in a decentralized manner, which means that all the records and transactions are recorded on every node that is a part of the blockchain network, rather than being stored at a central server.
- CRYPTOGRAPHY. The art of writing and solving codes governs the process of validating and authenticating the decentralized blocks of data on the blockchain. Therefore, dApps are cryptographic, as all the data they receive is encrypted as codes and distributed across the network, ensuring safety and authenticity.
The most commonly used blockchain network to store and execute dApps is Ethereum. Cryptographic tokens native to the network are used to validate and access a decentralized application on that particular blockchain network.
A decentralized application is similar to a traditional mobile or computer application from the front-end’s perspective, implying that both use a front-end code to generate a webpage.
However, the back-end code of a dApp is distinct because it operates on a decentralized P2P or peer-to-peer network, which frees dApps from a single authority’s control.
In addition, smart contracts are used to support decentralized applications, as opposed to traditional ones supported by centralized servers and databases. Smart contracts enforce code-defined rules and act as middlemen in transactions.
A smart contract contains only the backend part of the decentralized application and is often a small part of the entire dApp. Therefore, building decentralized apps on a smart contract system necessitates combining several smart contracts and relying on third-party systems for the front-end.
Since decentralized applications have an entirely different backend working mechanism, not all of them can work on the standard web browsers. Instead, some dApps may work only on a dApps browser such as Brave, which supports specific code to support that application.
Decentralized Apps: Advantages and Disadvantages
The technology world is gradually developing a contemporary age of applications and giving form to the dApps world that could include dApps crypto, dApps wallet, dApps browser, DeFi dApps and other decentralized applications.
These applications have both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at them to comprehend dApps meaning in a rational and balanced manner.
Following are the advantages of decentralized apps:
1. SYSTEM FAULT TOLERANCE. A decentralized application would function even if one or more nodes in the network crashed. It is because of the distributed ledger system. Though the performance would be affected, the application would remain intact instead of ceasing to function. In addition, due to a decentralized network, no hacker would be able to attack enough nodes to take down a dApp.
2. DATA INTEGRITY. Blockchain consensus algorithms ensure that data stored on the distributed ledger is resistant to change; therefore, information recorded on a blockchain is immutable and secure. Consequently, decentralized apps maintain data integrity.
3. PLATFORM FLEXIBILITY. Essentially, decentralized applications are intended to support and promote platform flexibility. The dApps are an important component of the Web3 stack and will have a key role in how Web 3 internet rolls out.
4. USER PRIVACY. Lastly, users of decentralized applications would not be required to share their personal information with dApps for accessing any specific functionality. With this, a decentralized application would maintain user privacy which is a great feature.
Following are the disadvantages of decentralized applications:
1. DIFFICULT MAINTENANCE. Since a decentralized application works with the participation and consensus of the participatory nodes’ majority, its maintenance becomes difficult. Any up-gradation, debugging, or other fixes would require the agreement of all the nodes on the blockchain network.
2. DIFFICULT TO SCALE. Expansion of decentralized networks is more complex and difficult than the centralized networks; this impacts the overall maintenance and functionality of dApps, further affecting their scaling.
3. NETWORK CONGESTION. Since blockchain networks are vast and spread across different use cases, it is probable that if a decentralized application uses too much of the network’s resources, it could lead to network congestion. In addition, it could potentially affect other services and functions of the network. Therefore, developing a strong infrastructure would be necessary to redress this issue.
4. USER EXPERIENCE. People might take time to familiarize themselves with the user experience provided by decentralized apps because of differences in their programming and overall functioning. For instance, the users would be required to remember their public and private keys, which are alphanumeric figures, instead of a simple username and password to log into dApps.
Use cases of dApps: How Can Decentralized Applications Be Used?
Given the flexibility they intend to offer, decentralized applications have many potential use cases. Some of these have been enumerated below:
1. Crypto dApps Wallet. Crypto wallet decentralized applications are critical components of the decentralized Web3 ecosystem. Crypto wallets, which can be custodial or non-custodial, are used for trading and exchanging Cryptocurrencies.
Custodial wallets, such as those found on centralized Cryptocurrency exchanges (CEXs), are so named because the platform stores your private keys, which serve as the equivalent of your account PIN. Non-custodial dApps crypto wallets are controlled by the user, which means no one else has access to your private keys.
2. Exchanges dApps. Users use a web browser to access decentralized applications. Several decentralized exchanges or DEXs can be navigated and explored on a dApps browser like Brave. These DEXs would enable the users to connect their crypto wallets and support functions like liquidity pools, NFT marketplaces, lotteries, and more.
3. Decentralized Social Media. Social media dApps for Web 3.0 like Steemit and BitClout facilitate online networking in the new Web 3.0 ecosystem. They differ from the traditional social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, as they reward the user for participating instead of storing and monetizing the users’ data.
4. Gaming dApps. One of the most popular segments of the blockchain ecosystem is decentralized gaming. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are used in popular gaming dApps such as Axie Infinity, Splinterlands, and My DeFi Pet to ensure users retain the value they generate in the metaverse.
Besides these few use cases, the potential of decentralized applications is yet to be explored and fully realized. However, in the current scenario, the most effort can be seen in developing DeFi dApps for empowering financial services.
dApps Development: How To Begin?
Application development for dApps will be different on the backend. However, the front-end part of the decentralized apps would be similar to the traditional application development coding.
Therefore, a decentralized application’s backend code is written using the Solidity programming language. It is essentially used to write smart contracts that would govern the functioning of dApps in the blockchain.
Besides this, one may follow the steps below to develop a decentralized application.
STEP-1. Choosing Technology for different areas of development, such as databases, hosting platforms, a framework for the application, the API or application programming interface, a programming language, development server, frontend and frontend contracts.
STEP-2. Setting Up The Project would entail installing the development framework and arranging tools for the front-end development requirements of the decentralized application. For developing Ethereum dApps, Serpent and Solidity are the programming languages developers can use.
STEP-3. Begin The Coding Process by using Solidity if you’re developing a dApp for the first time. Besides that, a certain familiarity with developing smart contracts can go a long way in helping you build a good decentralized application. Also, do remember certain important aspects, such as functionality, while you code.
STEP-4. Testing The dApp Developed And Making Necessary Changes if needed. However, the developers must note that once a smart contract is deployed, it becomes very difficult to make any alteration in its code.
STEP-5. Launch The dApp after successful testing. The only thing you’ll be required to do now is to choose a domain for your decentralized application and spread the word about it through different social media platforms.
Decentralized Applications: What Does The Future Hold?
At present, the idea of dApps is in its early phase of development. However, experimentation and exploration regarding decentralized application use cases and further app development are in action. In addition, a range of dApps projects has already been launched in the market, providing services such as gaming, trading NFTs, and investing in DeFi.
Market analysis reports have suggested that by the first quarter of 2022, there were nearly 2.4 million daily active users of dApps. However, there is still a considerable distance to go for the complete adoption of decentralized apps.
In fact, the developers’ side of the dApps development needs to address issues such as user experience, network scalability and security before they become mainstream. However, once these issues are addressed, it could be truly empowering for the users to use decentralized apps that would give them greater control over their data and its use.
Other FAQs – Decentralized Apps
Below are the most popular, frequently asked questions that can help you learn more and better about decentralized applications. Take a quick look.
Q.1 What Are Some Of The Top dApps?
Some top dApps include PancakeSwap, Axie Infinity, OpenSea, QuickSwap, UniSwap, X World Games and Orca. These belong to different categories such as gaming and finance. In addition, you can search for decentralized applications to suit your purpose and liking.
Q.2 How To Use A Decentralised Application?
You can use dApps by using the online version on the website or desktop or by downloading the dApps’ mobile application on your phone. After that, you can begin using the decentralized app by making an account.
Q.3 What Is The Difference Between dApps And Traditional Applications?
The key differences between dApps and Apps are related to their development process, how they store value or information, and the level of security they maintain.
dApps – The Conclusion
Decentralized applications could be the future of applications, pumping up the evolution of the Web 3.0 ecosystem. However, these are in their nascent stage; many aspects of dApps need improvement before they can be brought to the forefront for people to use them extensively.
As people familiarize themselves with blockchain technology, and understand and get used to the idea of decentralization, we could expect or see gradual adoption of decentralized applications.
Nitisha Lal is a writer enthusiastic and curious to learn new things. Currently, she writes about the latest developments in technology, particularly around Web3 and the Metaverse. She enjoys nature walks, capturing the world around her on the phone, or reading books when away from work.