In Part 1 of this post, we covered the fundamentals of blockchain technology and future of Decentralized Apps (also known as DApps). Catch up on Part 1 here first.
Decentralized App Challenges
Implementing decentralized apps does not come without an inherent set of obstacles to prevail against. For starters, updating such apps or releasing bug fixes to the network is not as straightforward as with conventional, centralized apps running on a server. For the network to be updated, all nodes inside that network must agree to the update and must run the update routine together. This alone is a huge challenge to overcome.
Scalability is another thing to anticipate when developing a DApp. Since updates are more difficult to implement, you cannot start with a Minimum Viable Product and just simply plan future developments from that point. Scale is something that needs to be considered from the start, especially when you add factors such as changing data structures and the way information is stored.
There is also the fact that verifying users and (KYC) understanding or Knowing Your Customer is not always easy in a blockchain. While the network itself stores data in a transparent and verifiable way, the users behind each node and those accessing the network from the front side of the DApp are not always easily identifiable. There is also no single controller or authority handling the verification task.
Developing decentralized apps is both easy and complex. The actual development process itself is straightforward, especially now that you have ready-to-run frameworks, tools, and kits to work with. Depending on the app you want to create, you can get a decentralized function to run on top of a blockchain foundation in a relatively short amount of time.
The main challenge is creating the network on which the app can run. Yes, you need to attract nodes and get people to use the app for it to scale in a healthy manner. There are existing blockchain networks that you can tap into, but at some point, you have to rely on a network designed to run the DApp itself.
This challenge leads to a common approach when developing a DApp. The process starts with releasing information about the DApp you want to develop to generate interest. If you see successful DApps currently on the market, almost all of them started life with a simple whitepaper that others can access.
You can then run an ICO to get people involved more seriously. Launching tokens to bring people and nodes into the network is a great way to measure the blockchain before you start building the actual app. In some cases, you can also develop the DApp alongside running an ICO campaign. Remember that scalability is a challenge here, so plan ahead and anticipate the size of your network.
This is where you start developing the app. As mentioned before, you now have more resources to work with. Dapp is a tool that you can use to develop with Ethereum. You can also use Seth to help with slicing and distributing transactions across the network. Solc is another tool designed to work with Ethereum. It is a compiler with added features for decentralized apps.
Truffle and Embark are the two most used frameworks and they are perfect for when you don’t want to deal with the hassle of using specific tools at different stages of the development process. In the case of Truffle, you even have libraries and direct access to pre-built commands for maximum flexibility. It handles smart contracts and custom built pipelines out of the box.
Once the app is ready, you can release it to the network and have users start interacting with the DApp. The next big challenge is maintaining the app and applying updates to the entire network, but we are going to save that for another article.
In the meantime, it is easy to see how decentralized apps running on top of blockchain is the way forward. It is so much more than gaining immense reliability and better transparency; DApp utilization brings endless possibilities in various industries, including both financial and, perhaps just as importantly, non-financial fields. It will be interesting to see how much further blockchain and decentralized apps go in the near future.
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