Maintaining Decentralized Apps and Applying Updates

July 19, 2022
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Among the many qualities of blockchain technology is its ability to maintain integrity at an unprecedented level. The structure of blockchain infrastructure offers an ideal foundation for an open, distributed, and tamper-proof information network. The decentralized nature of blockchain is also why many developers now focus on creating decentralized apps (also known as DApps) in the first place. This article complements our previous article series on blockchain technology which you can start reading below:

Unlike in a unified production environment, however, DApps are designed to run across an entire blockchain network rather than being hosted on a single environment. This means updates also need to be applied to the entire network. To maintain decentralized apps requires that you stay true to the network requirements and rules. Of course, it also means the network should maintain itself to a certain extent.

Understanding the Requirements

Before we get into how decentralized apps can be maintained and updated, we need to understand the requirements of new commits and pull requests. For an update or maintenance package to be recognized, it should be open source, with the code for an update made available to all users in the network.There is an approval process for updating decentralized apps too. Depending on the network, a pull-request needs to be approved by certain primary developers or the community as a whole. This is can introduce a challenging component to the process but it’s an essential aspect for maintaining the integrity of the blockchain network.It’s typical that there are a number of ‘key figures’ in the development of several decentralized apps that need to lead the fray in an update. They still have the same access level as everyone else, but users tend to come to them for requests and solutions. Bear in mind perhaps that pull-requests shared by recognized developers are more likely to be approved quickly.It’s also worth remembering that some decentralized apps have specific requirements on top of these basic ones. Before pull-requests are committed to the master branch, additional screening may be required. There are also best practices and coding requirements added as extra security measures, all for the sake of maintaining integrity.

The Update Process

The actual update process is more straightforward than many realize. Each decentralized app has a repository or Git that developers can connect to. This is where issues are published and discussions about them happen. Any developer in the network can choose to tackle any issue decentralized app has.Once a new solution is ready, the developer then issues a pull-request. This is where the verification and review process begins. The code is made public and everyone in the network can review it thoroughly. In larger networks, there are even tests and simulations designed to determine if the solution works with the network natively.Once the pull request is accepted, the new solution gets added to the main node and the master branch of the Git. After that main node deployment, the rest of the network will follow. Each node in the network will download the new code and implement the necessary changes accordingly.What’s interesting is how certain apps perform this same routine. There have been situations when the update to the network is performed in a single machine rather than the entire network. This is usually the case for blockchain-based web applications, where the web application is actually hosted on a single server rather than the entire network.To maintain integrity, the entire block needs to be downloaded to the system before updates are committed. Once the process is completed, the application connects back to the network and gets verified as a valid part of the blockchain.

Smart Contracts and DApps Maintenance

Due to its decentralized nature, blockchain technology isn’t something that systems and users can interact with directly. To allow for a deeper level of interaction, we use smart contracts as a bridge. Smart contracts contain rules related to business logic and the network itself. A smart contract is the key to blockchain’s immense integrity and reliability because it cannot be changed once implemented.As a form of self-maintenance, decentralized apps use proof-of-work or PoW and proof-of-stake or PoS. These are consensus establishing mechanisms that continue to maintain the integrity of the network and the application running on top of it.PoW rewards people according to the work they perform. It is the underlying function of Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining. PoS, on the other hand, measures the stake of each stakeholder and the weight of a decision made by users according to their stake.These mechanisms aren’t exclusive to one another. Peercoin, for instance, uses both PoW and PoS to maintain integrity. The result is a more resource-efficient blockchain network that is less prone to attacks.Everyone in the network has a say, so it is not possible to change a decentralized app completely without the approval of the network. To make maintaining decentralized apps easier, a team of main developers—usually the original development team—is typically assigned with commit credentials.The rest is fully automated though. As a matter of fact, that is one of the benefits of using a decentralized app. There is no single point of failure and the integrity of the entire app continues to be maintained by the whole community.Ibexlabs is an experienced DevOps & Managed Services provider and an AWS consulting partner. Our AWS Certified DevOps consultancy team evaluates your infrastructure and make recommendations based on your individual business or personal requirements. Contact us today and set up a free consultation to discuss a custom-built solution tailored just for you.

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