Blockchain technology has revolutionized the entire digital world since it was introduced and at the same time brought many new concepts on the way. One of these special innovations is the decentralized application of Ethereum, which is also known as Dapp for short.
What are Dapps?
The blockchain is a decentralized general ledger technology that enables decentralized access or the decentralized storage of data records. The nodes connected to the blockchain can be coupled to other features or functions to be shared. With this supply, Ethereum has changed the blockchain technology in a new way, in which simple contracts are linked to the nodes of the blockchain. It can even be part of a code that is only executed when a contract has been fulfilled following instructions.
Dapps have been in use since 2017 and have been used in various areas that will be of particular interest over the next few years. They improve the ownership of certain data sets, can integrate IoT, and have an increased level of digital security. This gives the operator greater control over his satisfied customers because even a normal user can implement his ideas in this way so that he can earn money with them. The problem of data transmission, which arises in the Internet of Things due to the huge amount of data, is just as easily vanished into thin air. The blockchain is immutable and therefore shows increased security conditions. These security features will become even stronger and more adaptable with future evolution in this technology area.
To have a clearer idea of what a Dapp is, we must think of a traditional App (application/service). In this category of traditional apps, we have for example YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In all these services, data and decisions are made on central servers. This allows the company behind these services to take actions of censorship, alteration of behavior, or even benefit or harm only certain users by constantly questioning neutrality and equal conditions. They act like dictators, you can only trust that they will be "good".
The concept of DApps is nothing new. The first known DApps were seen in file-sharing protocols like BitTorrent or DC ++. Both applications are peer-to-peer file sharing systems with high resistance to censorship. However, the first DApp using blockchain was Bitcoin itself. This is because its structure and operation successfully describe the first blockchain DApp in history.
However, it was not until 2014 with the introduction of Ethereum, its Solidity language, and the ability to execute smart contracts that DApps became widespread. And it is thanks to this triad, DApps running on blockchain began to become very popular. A situation that can lead to the massive adoption of blockchain technology by allowing new forms of interaction between users, the real world, and the virtual one.
Differences between a Dapp and a traditional App
Dapps and traditional Apps have many elements in common, however, their difference lies in how they interact with these elements. Both types of applications have three basic structures which are: the frontend, the backend, and the data storage layer.
The first layer, the frontend, is the interface that users use to interact with the application. In this case, both Dapp and traditional App can make use of the vast existing graphic resources for this. From web interfaces written in HTML5 to the more elaborate ones, in frameworks such as Qt or GTK. The purpose of this layer is simply to give the user the ability to interact, receive, and send information to the application that is using.
This second layer makes mention of the main logic of the application. In a traditional application, this logic is centralized, unlike DApps in which it is decentralized. In DApps, the backend is related to a smart contract that runs on a blockchain, for example, Ethereum. In this way, a smart contract has programming that guarantees the operation of the DApp. As smart contracts are visible and public, this guarantees a high level of transparency and security. Users can be sure that the DApp will not do anything other than what the smart contract specifies.
In addition to this, the backend is supported by the APIs (Application Programming Interface) and capabilities of the blockchain. For example, in Ethereum there are various APIs to control user interaction with the storage or authentication layers to give a few examples.
Lastly, there is the storage layer. In a traditional application, this layer is also centralized. Normally the data is stored on the user's computer or servers controlled by third parties. This way of working has many points of failure. A user, for example, may lose application information if his computer is damaged. It can also happen that the servers go down or are blocked. Actions that would prevent the user from using the application correctly or even losing information.
But in DApps, the data storage is completely decentralized as well. Each DApp user stores a complete history of the actions that are performed on the DApp network. In addition to this, the interactions are stored on the blockchain within its blocks. All this in a cryptographically secure way, preventing unauthorized access by third parties. In this way, if a user's computer or smartphone were to be damaged, it would be enough to use the DApp on a new device to recover all their information until that precise moment. Let us also add that the level of redundancy and security with the data increases as more users make use of the DApp.
How does DApp work?
A DApp works in a similar way to a blockchain network. In this case, each DApp user is a node within the network. Each user watches over the correct operation and operations carried out on the said network.
The communication channel that the DApp uses is the blockchain. In it, a record is left of each operation that goes through the smart contract controlled by the DApp. The acceptance or not of the operations carried out by the users of the DApp, is subject to the programming of the said smart contract. In this way, it seeks to guarantee that all participants act within the framework of what is specified by it.
The smart contract, in this case, is an intermediate point that is in charge of corroborating the validity of each interaction. Every time there is a new operation in the DApp, the platform information is updated in each node. This ensures that the information is stored in each of them. In this way, each user contributes to maintaining the application with the resources of their computer. This structure also ensures that the platform will always be in service. This is due to the impossibility of removing all nodes from the network at the same time. A situation that can occur due to a computer attack or other reasons such as censorship.
At this point, DApps take a great advance, because when working and running on a blockchain, they have its security, privacy, and even anonymity capabilities. Additionally, they also guarantee that the data used by the DApp is only accessible by the person who originated said information. With which users maintain absolute control of their data at all times.
This is one of the main characteristics of DApps. This is thanks to the fact that it works on a blockchain that uses strong cryptography to secure the data it handles. This first point ensures that the information can only be seen by the originator and the rest can only verify its validity or not. At no time, the information originated by a user is visible to others.
In addition to this, the data handled by the application is at all times under the user's possession. DApps do not store information in the cloud or external servers. This minimizes the risks associated with the theft of private information or the sale of it by the company, thus violating the user's privacy.
Another of the main characteristics of DApps is its decentralization. Or what is the same, the ability to function without central servers? To put this in better perspective, let's consider the following example:
Facebook is one of the most used social networks worldwide. With more than 2 billion users, its data centers handle a huge data load. At this point, keeping your infrastructure up and running is a daunting task. All this because Facebook is a centralized social network.
However, a DApp lacks this point of failure thanks to decentralization. Each DApp user has a complete history of the actions carried out in the DApp. Something like a global copy of everything that has happened. Due to this, and because it runs on a blockchain, it is enough that only one user is active for the network to continue to function without problems. In this way, it is guaranteed that the DApp and its network always work and that the case of Facebook does not happen.
How does someone use DApps?
Since everyone now knows what to understand by DApps, the explanation can follow how exactly DApps work. DApps are like the conventional web application that runs in every browser. At the same time, the DApp interacts with the technology that uses blockchain, such as the smart contracts from Ethereum. That is why users have to enable their browsers to connect to the Ethereum blockchain. Nowadays some wallets already contain this type of browser extension.
You don't have to be a professional web developer these days to create DApps. There are now enough platforms out there to help you manufacture it by providing the technology you need. There the users can then implement their ideas and specifications and create the right Dapps. Anyone who does not trust themselves to do this has to contact an appropriate specialist who already has experience in this area.
However, everyone should reserve this option for complex DApps, because every application can also be burdened with surprising difficulties. However, there is no longer any way to deal with the development of DApps, as the small applications will become more and more important in the future at least as quickly as the need for digital technology increases.