What are Dapps - Dapps vs Apps Comparision

By Usama Afzal | Blockchainportal | 18 Sep 2019


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Introduction

DApp is the abbreviation for "decentralized application". In this article I'll explain what exactly dApps are.

Simply put, dApps (decentralized applications) are quite normal software applications as we know them, but they're distributed in the backend and run decentrally over a peer-to-peer network. In decentralized applications, no central authority can block or censor anyone. They are free and indestructible.

Apps can limit reach

Everyone knows applications like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Behind these apps is a large company that maintains, controls and develops these applications. Facebook and Instagram, for example, have the access data of all users, determine who sees what, which topics are appropriate and who may use his reach. Giant tech companies decide what we are allowed to see and what not. They decide which users are allowed to talk and express their opinions. They also decide which user is blocked and whose reach should be kept to a minimum.

Is that fair? Do we really have freedom of expression in such applications?

DApps can offer us many forms of freedom.

Introduction

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Distributed applications have open source code and have their own blockchain or use the blockchain of any developed platform for this purpose. Such apps or applications do not run on a central server, but distributed and decentralized on multiple nodes. DApps either own cryptocurrency or token to reward users for the provision of computing power that are essential for distributed applications. The coins are either generated by a mining algorithm or are created by a smart contract tokens, which are then circulated by ICO or any other form of token sale.

Characteristics of a Dapp

The following criteria are met by most dApps:

Blockchain based: Dapps either use their own blockchain (example, Steemit uses Steem) or create tokens on a more developed blockchain (example Ethereum, Tron & EOS)

Decentralized: Many functions of Dapp are not controlled by a centralized authority. This decentralization offers many benefits to the users such as privacy and freedom.

Open source: Users may easily find the source code of a dapp on Github.

Smart Contract Platforms

Smart Contract Platforms offer their own blockchain to give developers the ability to develop their programs on it. These smart contract platforms may differ in programming language and algorithm, for example Ethereum uses their own programing language called Solidity. They have their own developer tools and their own defined protocols (rules). On such dApp platforms, you can easily create Smart Contracts to develop and run distributed programs.

Examples of smart contract platforms:

  • Ethereum
  • Neo
  • Lisk
  • Eos
  • Tron

Apps vs. Vs. DApps

 

DApps are resistant to censorship

No central authority can censor your opinion or postings unless they are unwanted and perceived as bad by the community. For example, in a decentralized social media application, the community might vote against pornographic or violent content. These would exist on the blockchain, but can be filtered out from the platform based on the number of negative votes received by the community.

DApps are indestructible

Decentralized applications run as the name suggests, decentrally. So you can not simply delete or turn off the Dapps. Anyone who supports the dApp has a copy of it on their phone, computer, or server. If you wanted to destroy the application, you would have to destroy every copy of it, in thousands or millions of places, at the same time.

DApps cost money

Some see it as a disadvantage that the interactions on a dApp cost small fees to run them decentralized. You think an application should be free. But this does not necessarily have to be a disadvantage. For example, if you use Facebook or Google, you pay with your personal information. These companies can create a profile from your personal interactions to sell to companies for promotional purposes. You're going to be in a target group where companies can pay money to those key locations to bring you optimized advertising. If an app or application is free, chances are that you are the product. With a small amount of fees this can be prevented and user's personal data remains safe.

No need of middlemen

Dapps are able to store assets on them. Take Ethereum blockchain as an example: Its easily possible to create a "Lottery Dapp" that store Ethers and after a certain number of ETH is collected in the smart contract, the Dapp spends the entire profit to any random participant. This decentralized type of lottery is fundamentally different from the National Lottery, which acts merely as a trusted third intermediary between the participants, but does not store any value in its own central app. One of the main benefits of dApps is the ability to remove these "trusted middlemen" in order to provide greater benefits to the end user.

Drawbacks of Decentralized Applications

Apps are currently faster

The advantage of apps is that they are much faster and more powerful. A central authority can easily increase the server capacity and strength of the application. As for Dapps, it depends on the blockchain and the algorithm / protocol. Take Ethereum as an example: Currently, Ethereum can only handle about 15 transactions per second. If you were to release a Dapp as big as Facebook on the Ethereum Blockchain, it would be far too slow to sustain. This problem can be solved by an extension of the blockchain, for example: Ethereum 2.0 which is planned to release in 2020 will include sharding feature. However, it is also possible to use other platforms such as NEO or EOS, as they already have higher scaling.

Apps also work offline

One of the biggest advantages of ordinary apps is the ability to work offline. This is not possible with a Dapp. One must be connected online to the distributed peer-to-peer network, so that a consensus of the overall state could be determined.

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Usama Afzal
Usama Afzal

I'm a full-time software engineer and part time blogger.


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