DApp Development: How to Tell the Difference Between Conventional Apps and dApps

How much do you value your smartphone? If you think about it, your smartphone is one of your most treasured possessions. You use it daily to complete financial transactions, find information and even work.

As a multifunctional device with powerful mobile apps, it helps users run their day on the go. Most people reap the benefits without paying too much attention to the phone’s technical capabilities or architecture.

Apps (mobile or desktop) are not a new concept, but blockchain technology has fundamentally shifted their definition. Understanding the difference between apps and dApps (decentralized apps that run on a blockchain) is essential for dApp developers.

(Storyblocks: Wireless connection futuristic concept)

DApp Definition

DApps don’t run on centralized servers. They connect users directly, changing the infrastructure of computing resources, as well as the authority and trust principles in the user (peer-to-peer) network. DApps are open-source and have no central point of failure.

DApp Development
(Storyblocks: An illustration of different types of people connected in different ways. This works great for social networking or word of mouth referral marketing concepts.)

Different dApp classifications contribute to the lack of a unified definition. For example, Ethereum classifies dApps into three groups: money-based dApps; dApps based on money plus an additional condition defined in the smart contract; and identity-based dApps. According to one blockchain model, dApps can be categorized as public and private blockchain apps. Each group has specific characteristics that differentiate it from the rest. In terms of dApp development on the public blockchain, a decentralized app must use a consensus protocol among the participants; store encrypted data and records in the public blockchain; be fully autonomous and open; and not have a central point of authority. A dApp must issue cryptographic tokens to store value, which can be distributed among participants according to the proof-of-work or the proof-of-stake concept.

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Key Differences Between Apps and dApps

Here is a short guide to the differences between apps and dApps, which, in turn, may help you generate new business ideas and restructure your business model:

1. DApp development process

In conventional web applications, developers use HTML, CSS and Javascript code for page rendering and APIs to get the database details. The dApp development process is a bit different. DApps are based on coding with smart contract programming languages. Instead of APIs, they use smart contracts to connect to the blockchain, which is the database for dApps. As a logical consequence of this different development process, a blockchain application has an infrastructure that is significantly different from that of a web application.

2. Storing value in the dApp

DApps are able to issue tokens. They can store value and, provided a certain condition determined in the smart contract has been met, issue tokens of value to the participants – the nodes in the peer-to-peer network. Many mobile apps that act as intermediaries on the market don’t store value at all, but only provide the infrastructure to execute transactions. Therefore, the value for the user in a decentralized application is greater than the value obtained in a conventional web application, where bits of the value are lost to support the infrastructure. In this sense, dApps are self-managed.

3. DApp Integration

Fully decentralized apps create increased possibilities for integration. Since anyone with dApp development skills can interact with the blockchain network, at some point in the future, current dApps could potentially be integrated into new applications. Unless there are permissions or conditions for enterprise solutions introduced by the dApp creator, the integration procedure is simple and can be completed without clear-cut central permissions.

4. Security

The security mechanisms of conventional apps have been thoroughly tested, and strict authentication criteria have been established that work in a centralized network. Consequently, apps are vulnerable at a central point of failure. Since dApps are public and, unless programmed with the ability to self-destruct, exist forever, their security system is distributed and prone to different types of threats. If hackers are the typical adversaries of centralized applications, dApps’ vulnerabilities often relate to mistakes that can be made while using the new code.

  5. Slow dApps vs. Fast Apps

When compared to traditional apps, dApps’ capacity to execute multiple transactions in a short amount of time is still lacking. Most users point out insufficient speed as one of the key obstacles to the widespread use of dApps. This is a serious limitation if you want to run a business and meet the customer’s need for fast service. Technological changes in dApp development are focused on overcoming this disadvantage of decentralized apps, making them more useful for businesses. Improvements in the blockchain are happening as we speak, and it’s only a matter of time before dApps get up to speed.

Since dApps on the public blockchain are resistant to centralized control, it’s almost impossible to remove them. The current state of dApps is in flux and it’s difficult to predict what may happen next. However, it’s certain that decentralization is here to stay and that will significantly alter how we think and how businesses operate.

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1 Comment

  1. Jay
    April 27, 2018

    Nice to see a valid article amidst rampant Chinese product promotion and commission related articles, of late on GizChina