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What are DApps?

It is an open secret that blockchain tech is changing the world as we know it. From applications in healthcare, to transportation, financial payments, entertainment, cloud services, and even government, every day seems to bring us closer to the potentials of this tech, as well as mass adoption. On the list of new innovations springing up from blockchain are decentralized applications, otherwise known as DApps.

Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube, and several other websites store data in ‘honeypot’ servers, making them prone to hacks, data breaches, downtimes, and shut downs. Now imagine applications that are not owned by anyone, cannot have downtime, and cannot be shut down. As ridiculous as this may sound, this is what DApps is all about, and blockchain is making this possible.

It is important to note that there is currently no concrete or streamlined definition of DApps. However, for an application or project to be a DApp, it must fulfil the following criteria:

Features of DApps

Decentralized

A DApp must be decentralized, meaning it does not run on a centralized server. Instead, all records of operation and transactions are stored on a public ledger. They run on blockchain networks and their public ledgers must be accessible to all the nodes within the network. Think of it like a torrent, several users on the network have the file, and upload fragments of it once another member needs it.

Incentivized

For any application to be classified as a DApp, its network must be incentivized. Nodes in the network needs to be rewarded for the work they are doing. This is necessary because the work of central servers have been removed, and nodes now individually and collectively perform the work that these servers would ordinarily perform. Without any form of incentive, the network will collapse. After all, nobody wants to keep working for free.

As a means of reward, DApps have crypto tokens which serve as fuel for the network. These tokens are native to the apps and are used to perform transactions within the network. At such, they become some sort of store of value.

Open Source

One of the highlights of DApps is that nobody can claim ownership of their coding, and neither can they be shut down or experience downtime. DApps are open source projects and their source codes are available to the public. For this to work, the project is typically built on collaborative community efforts – developers from all over the world come together digitally to create the app protocol. As with similar projects, decision making and governance is based on consensus.

Consensus Mechanism

What happens if a group of individuals want to follow a particular path, while others don’t? We’ve seen a lot of forks in the cryptocurrency space and this hints that despite the autonomous nature of DApps, there needs to be a form of consensus and governance. Decision with DApp framework follows a cryptographic hashing protocol, the most popular being Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake.

In conclusion, in order for an application to make the cut as a DApp, it must meet all four features discussed above. Some of the most popular DApps include Golem, Augur, and Aragon.

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