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In our daily routines, we frequently use traditional apps that, despite their distinct appearances, share a common architectural structure. They rely on centralized servers for data synchronization. Conversely, decentralized applications follow a unique architectural approach and are entirely constructed using decentralized technologies, leveraging distributed ledger technology like blockchain. This approach eliminates the risk of a central point of failure, eliminates the need for third-party intermediaries, and reshapes the digital landscape by offering users greater independence, security, and transparency. In contrast to conventional apps that depend on centralized servers, This groundbreaking technology has ignited new opportunities, with Web3 and dApps being prime examples.
In this article, we will delve into the comprehensive architecture of a dApp, covering its frontend, hosting, wallets, smart contracts, node access, data storage, and other potential components. Each layer could easily be written as a dedicated blog post, but we aim to provide an overarching summary.
What are Decentralized Applications (dApps)?
A decentralized application (dApp) is a software application that is built on a decentralized network, combining both a smart contract and a front-end user interface. dApps are designed to run on a peer-to-peer blockchain network, leveraging the power of blockchain technology to process data and execute transactions in a secure and transparent manner.
One of the key characteristics of dApps is their open-source nature, meaning that a consensus of the majority of users must agree upon any necessary changes or updates. Also, dApps provide decentralized storage and utilize cryptography to ensure the integrity and security of data. By using a decentralized network, dApps can operate independently without the need for intermediaries, providing greater autonomy and control to users.
What Makes DApps Different? DApps vs. Traditional Apps
There are several key differences between dApps and traditional apps. To quickly understand it, here is the comparison chart between Dapps and Traditional Apps.
|1. Data Ownership||Users have full control over their data and can choose to share or monetize it as they see fit.||Data is stored on centralized servers, and users have limited control over how it's used or shared.|
|2. Security||Decentralized architecture makes DApps more secure against cyber attacks and data breaches.||Centralized databases are vulnerable to hacking and data breaches.|
|3. Privacy||Transactions and data are encrypted, ensuring user privacy and anonymity.||User data can be collected, shared, and sold without consent.|
|4. Intermediaries||No intermediaries are needed; peer-to-peer transactions are possible.||Requires intermediaries like banks, governments, or third-party services.|
|5. Consensus mechanism||Uses consensus algorithms like proof-of-work or proof-of-stake for validation.||Does not require consensus mechanisms; central authorities handle validation.|
|6. Downtime||Decentralized networks are less susceptible to downtime, as there's no single point of failure.||Centralized systems can experience downtime due to server maintenance, upgrades, or failures.|
|7. Customization||Open-source code allows developers to build custom solutions and plugins.||Closed-source code limits customization options.|
|8. Governance||Community-driven decision-making processes allow for decentralized governance.||Governed by a central authority, with little input from users.|
|9. Incentivization||Tokens and cryptocurrencies provide financial incentives for participants.||Lacks built-in incentives for participation.|
|10. Trustless interactions||Smart contracts enable trustless interactions between parties.||Requires trust in intermediaries and central authorities.|
|11. Immutable ledger||Blockchain technology provides an immutable record of all transactions.||No guarantee of data integrity or tamper-proof records.|
|12. Identity management||Self-sovereign identity management through digital wallets and public keys.||Identity management is centralized and controlled by intermediaries.|
|13. Supply chain transparency||End-users can verify the origin, quality, and movement of goods.||Lack of supply chain visibility and transparency.|
|14. Intellectual property||Creators can protect intellectual property using smart contracts.||No native support for intellectual property protection.|
|15. Dispute resolution||Decentralized arbitration and dispute resolution mechanisms.||Relies on centralized legal systems for dispute resolution.|
|16. Accessibility||Anyone with internet access can participate, regardless of location or financial status.||May exclude people due to geographical restrictions or financial barriers.|
Challenges Faced in Creating Decentralized Applications (dApps)
Creating decentralized applications (dApps) can be quite challenging. One of the initial hurdles is understanding blockchain technology and its role in solving problems. This understanding is crucial in determining the need for decentralization and the potential success of the application.
Having a deep grasp of the key concepts of consensus algorithms, blocks, and transactions is important for scaling the dApp if necessary. The architecture of dApps differs from traditional applications, requiring a unique system design to ensure high security, reliability, privacy, and usability.
Another challenge lies in defining the purpose of the dApp and identifying its target users and their specific benefits from using a decentralized application. This information is typically outlined in a whitepaper, similar to Ethereum's well-known example. The whitepaper elaborates on the dApp's technology, purpose, development phases, team involvement, problem-solving approach, and more. It may also include technical details such as the choice of a specific blockchain network.
Fundraising for the project is another aspect to consider. While Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) used to be popular in the past, they have lost favor in recent times. Instead, various entities now support and invest in blockchain ventures. Securing such venture capital typically occurs in the later stages of development. ICOs have more flexibility in raising initial funds compared to venture capitalists or lenders, who often impose business guidelines.
Architecture of Decentralized Applications (dApps)
The architecture of decentralized applications (dApps) typically consists of several components that work together to provide a secure, transparent, and decentralized environment for various use cases. Here are some key components of dApp architecture:
1. Frontend Development
For easier frontend development with dApps, there are libraries and packages specifically tailored for popular frameworks like React. Spheron makes front-end web deployment easy, effective, and efficient and reduces the learning curve of different chains through its simplified platform that takes web applications to Decentralized Storage Networks (DSNs).
Spheron supports 20+ frameworks, including React, Next, Gatsby, and many more, and offers a complete suite of services to support decentralized applications. Users can deploy static sites on Spheron by connecting their Github, Gitlab, or Bitbucket accounts.
With Spheron Web Hosting, users get many features such as Preview Links, Image Optimization, Private Repository Support, Shared IPFS Gateway, EDGE Network, HTTP/SSL by default, Secureon Support, DDoS Mitigation, PPS. Spheron also provides comprehensive documentation, support, and open community, helping users navigate any challenges they may face during deployment and development.
Hosting refers to storing and serving the application's files, allowing users to access and interact with it over the internet. In traditional centralized hosting, dedicated servers are responsible for serving the content. However, most dApps today still rely on centralized hosting, which can result in a potential single point of failure and censorship risks.
Decentralized application hosting, on the other hand, distributes the application's files across a network of nodes, contributing storage and bandwidth resources. Now, it's time to store your website files on a web3 platform like IPFS. To store files on the network during decentralized web hosting, you can leverage the benefit of Spheron Network. Using the platform, you can use many popular frameworks, like Gatsby, Hugo, Next.js, React, Vue, Vanilla JS, etc. Spheron Network has specific guides for each framework to help users prepare their site. Also, you can follow these blogs for a step-by-step guide.
Wallets are used to manage user's digital assets, authenticate users, and sign transactions on the blockchain. There are different types of wallets available, each with its own advantages and considerations.
Browser-built-in wallets are wallets that come integrated with web browsers like Brave, Opera, and Microsoft Edge. They allow users to manage their digital assets and interact with dApps directly within the browser. Browser extension wallets, such as MetaMask or Trust Wallet, are separate add-ons that users can install in their preferred browser. They offer more versatility and support for a wide range of cryptocurrencies and blockchains.
Custodial wallets are managed by third-party service providers, such as exchanges or wallet services, which have control over user's private keys. Non-custodial wallets, like Magic, Argent, or MetaMask, give users complete control over their private keys, allowing them to manage their digital assets without relying on a third party. Non-custodial wallets are commonly used to interact with dApps, and users are responsible for managing their private keys securely.
Nodes are individual servers that participate in the blockchain network by validating and relaying transactions. The front-end of a dApp needs to connect to a node to interact with the blockchain. Services like Alchemy and QuickNode provide access to remote nodes, relieving developers from the burden of maintaining their own infrastructure. Alternatively, developers can run their own nodes using software like Geth (for Ethereum) or Solana's Validator.
Nodes support read and write operations. If an application only requires reading data from the blockchain, no transaction fees must be paid. However, if the dApp supports write operations, transaction fees (gas fees) must be paid. Tatum, for example, provides an option for the dApp developer to pay for the user's gas fees, ensuring that users can fully interact with the dApp even if they don't have enough digital assets to cover the fees.
Users can use a platform like Spheron to host their nodes on the Spheron Network. This makes things simpler because they don't have to use various platforms for different purposes; instead, they can get everything they need in one place on the Spheron platform.
5. Smart Contracts
Smart contracts are the backbone of any dApp. They are written in programming languages like Solidity (for Ethereum) or Rust (for Solana) and define the logic and rules of the dApp's operations. Once deployed, the code of a smart contract cannot be changed, which can make fixing bugs or adding new features challenging.
To address upgradability, proxy contracts are used. Proxy contracts act as middlemen that forward requests to the logic contract while maintaining the contract's state. The logic contract contains the actual code and business logic of the application. Developers can deploy new versions of the logic contract and update the proxy contract to point to the new logic, enabling seamless upgrades without affecting the contract's data.
In addition to in-house smart contracts, a dApp can also connect with smart contracts deployed by others. For example, a dApp like 1inch, a decentralized exchange (DEX) aggregator, interacts with smart contracts of various decentralized exchanges like Uniswap and Sushiswap.
To enable cross-chain interactions, bridges like Wormhole or interoperability protocols like Cosmos can be implemented into the dApp.
6. Indexing Solutions
Indexing solutions play a crucial role in the dApp ecosystem by making blockchain data more accessible and queryable. As blockchains grow in size and complexity, retrieving specific data directly from the chain can be slow and resource-intensive. Indexing solutions create structured, indexed databases that enable faster and more efficient data retrieval. These solutions often offer real-time data synchronization, allowing dApps to quickly respond to on-chain events.
The Graph is a popular decentralized indexing protocol used to develop subgraphs. Many node providers, such as QuickNode, also offer indexing features.
7. Data Storage
While the blockchain is suitable for storing transactional data, it is not ideal for large-scale data storage due to scalability and cost concerns. Decentralized storage solutions like IPFS or Filecoin are commonly used for off-chain data storage in dApps. These services employ encryption and sharding to ensure data privacy and integrity. Alternatively, centralized data storage can be used, but it compromises full decentralization.
Users can use Spheron Network also. Spheron provides a suite of software development kits (SDKs) that enable developers to easily integrate decentralized storage solutions into their applications. These SDKs simplify the process of uploading and managing files on decentralized storage networks like IPFS. Using the Spheron SDKs, developers can save time and resources by avoiding the need to write complex code for file uploading, such as multi-chunking and parallelization. Additionally, the SDKs take care of storage scalability and redundancy, eliminating the need for developers to worry about managing server space or developing load-balancing mechanisms.
The Storage SDK is designed for developers, providing them with powerful multi-chain storage capabilities. It streamlines the process of interacting with various decentralized networks, allowing developers to easily upload, manage, and retrieve data while taking advantage of the security and efficiency of blockchain technology.
The Browser Upload SDK simplifies the process of uploading data to decentralized storage networks directly from browser-based environments. It leverages Spheron's multi-chain storage capabilities, providing an intuitive solution for end-users to securely and seamlessly upload their data. By integrating this SDK into web applications, users can easily store their files on storage networks.
Spheron also provides a storage dashboard. The Storage Dashboard is a user-friendly interface that allows users to upload assets to decentralized storage networks with just a few clicks. It's designed for convenience and ease of use, making it accessible to both technical and non-technical users.
Oracles play a crucial role in the functionality of smart contracts by enabling them to interact with external data sources. They allow smart contracts to access and use off-chain data, which can be anything from weather information to stock prices, sports scores, or even election results. This enables smart contracts to execute predefined logic based on real-world events, making them more versatile and powerful.
Chainlink and UMA are two prominent examples of oracles used in the blockchain space. Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network that provides real-time access to off-chain data, while UMA (Universal Market Access) is an open-source platform that allows developers to build decentralized applications that can interact with off-chain data.
In conclusion, decentralized applications (dApps) represent a groundbreaking shift in the digital landscape. They offer users greater control, security, and transparency compared to traditional centralized applications. With their open-source nature, use of cryptography, and reliance on decentralized networks, dApps provide a new paradigm for software development. This shift is evident in their numerous advantages over traditional apps, as highlighted in the comparison chart.
Creating dApps, however, comes with its own set of challenges. One notable player in the dApp development ecosystem is the Spheron Network, a platform that simplifies the development and deployment of decentralized applications. Spheron offers a wide range of services, from easy frontend deployment with support for various frameworks to decentralized hosting with features like image optimization and DDoS mitigation. Spheron also provides comprehensive documentation and support, making it a valuable resource for dApp developers.
Spheron's suite of software development kits (SDKs) streamlines the integration of dApps, eliminating the need for developers to write complex code for file management and ensuring data privacy and security. The platform's Storage Dashboard provides a user-friendly interface for uploading assets to decentralized storage networks, making it accessible to both technical and non-technical users.
In the fast-evolving world of dApp development, platforms like Spheron Network are instrumental in simplifying the development process, enhancing efficiency, and promoting the adoption of decentralized technologies. As dApps continue to reshape the digital landscape, the support and resources provided by platforms like Spheron are paving the way for a more decentralized, secure, and user-centric future in the world of software applications.