What is a DApp? Decentralized applications explained


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Since the 1990s, the Internet has gone from being an exclusive tool to a necessity for households. It was revolutionary when social media and other user-generated content replaced the dot-com bubble.

The World Wide Web has grown from people creating separate websites for their blogs and business to everyone having the ability to post on social media websites accessible to millions of users around the world. This is why Web 2.0 is also referred to as the “social web”.

This includes protocols and tools like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS that have allowed complex software to run on the web instead of using traditional PC applications. This has allowed users to access many applications for free and avoid taking up space on their computers’ memory.

The problems of web 2.0

While interacting with Web 2.0 technologies, many technically savvy users began to notice major issues. Companies like Facebook have become the most powerful entities in the world, controlling how people interact with each other, as well as how important information is shared with the public while collecting individual personal data.

According to a company’s servers, many social media websites are vulnerable to malware and malfunctions. This year, the world was in a panic when Facebook’s servers went down, cutting off access not only to Facebook but also to Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus VR, which are owned by the company.

Many people have been deprived of the tool they use to stay in touch with friends and family, as well as the source of most news and updates on world events. This event demonstrated the main problem with the current website its centralization.

The new Web 3.0

The problems of Web 2.0 are dismantled and solved by the next stage of Internet development – web 3.0, the “semantic web”. It aims to make technologies more autonomous and intelligent by using artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies allow the Internet to process information in a way that a human mind instead of following the prescribed algorithms. It can use all the data shared by users to learn and become smarter.

Then blockchain enthusiasts decided to solve the problem of centralization by creating decentralized and open source applications. These new applications will not be prone to malware attacks or downtime just because a company’s server is down.

This is why the next generation internet Web 3.0 will be based on decentralized technologies. The transition to Web 3.0 is a gradual and time-consuming process, but solutions like DApps are becoming the new normal.

What is a DApp?

Decentralized applications, or DApps for short, are built on blockchain networks and use smart contracts to create a secure space for sensitive user data. These DApps are open source. They operate on peer-to-peer networks and no entity controls them. Instead, network participants facilitate improvement by sharing more and more information, as well as providing the computing power necessary to make it work.

All data and records of the DApp are kept in a completely public and transparent manner. The network is always secure because it uses a cryptographic token which manages the private keys of the users.

DApp architecture

Source: ResearchGate

The main difference with the applications we are used to is the backend code of the DApp. In centralized applications, the backend code runs on a server controlled by a third party and interacts with the front end via JSON messages over HTTP.

For DApps, the backend code is executed on a decentralized peer-to-peer network such as Ethereum. The blockchain interacts with the frontend of decentralized applications through APIs, like the JSON-RPC layer which is used for applications based on the Ethereum network. Here, the API doesn’t connect to any database, but instead the wallet software triggers smart contracts that interact with the blockchain.

Advantages of DApp

In our time, information is the most important weapon that can be used for financial and political gain. That is why the first and most important advantage of the DApp is its stand-alone nature. The app not being controlled by a single entity means it resists censorship and public informational control.

Another important benefit of DApps is that they don’t have to go through the tedious process of integrating fiat payments. Since DApps are made up of smart contracts, crypto payments can be easily integrated into their core functionality.

Another great advantage of decentralized applications for the development of Web 3.0 is their open source. This not only allows auditing and examining the source of the code, but also encourages developers to build ever larger DApps.

What are the use cases of DApps?

Most decentralized applications are built on the Ethereum blockchain. Their white paper described three different types of DApps.

  • Apps that manage money.
  • Applications where money is involved but also need other information to look for.
  • Other applications, including voting and governance systems.

DApp examples

Steemit

Steemit is a blockchain-based blogging and social media website. Here, users are rewarded for posting and curating content with STEEM tokens. The users themselves decide what content is rewarded by interacting with it. The platform has more than 1.2 million users. Now the ecosystem also includes DTube, which is a decentralized alternative to YouTube.

Uniswap

Uniswap is a decentralized blockchain-based exchange that facilitates automated transactions between cryptocurrency tokens through the use of smart contracts. Established in 2021, it is now the largest decentralized exchange and the fourth largest crypto exchange in terms of trading volume. It is based on decentralized blockchain networks, running open source software, as opposed to exchanges run by centralized companies like Binance, Coinbase, OKEx, etc.

CryptoKitties

CryptoKitties is an Ethereum network based game that allows players to buy, collect, breed, and sell virtual cats. Each of the kittens is a non-fungible token (NFT) meaning, it’s one of a kind. CryptoKitties was one of the first and most successful attempts to use blockchain technology for entertainment and recreation.

The future of DApps

Looking at the speed at which decentralized applications are developed and improved, we can expect them to grow exponentially over the next 10 years. While a completely decentralized online world is still a utopia, DApps make it easier for everyday users to use blockchain technology for their daily needs.

Decentralized applications are going to be a part of everyday life, helping to reduce costs and avoid third parties of personal and business transactions. These applications are expected to take automation and security to a new level.

With more adoption, we can expect DApps to evolve, improving their user interface design and overall usability. They have already become a valuable tool and have paved the way for further growth and development. Decentralized applications are expected to become mainstream as more investors and users take advantage of the efficiency of these platforms.


Saida Sarsenbekova is a blockchain enthusiast and professional writer with experience in crypto exchanges, wallets, and other blockchain projects. Its mission is to explain difficult concepts in simple terms and to teach people how they can personally benefit from decentralized technologies.

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