What is a dApp? A Deep Dive Into Decentralized Applications

    Web2 peeps, meaning all of us, always complain about censorship on apps and websites. Seriously, we can’t seem to post anything on any app without worrying about being slapped with a ban. Or even worse, risking losing our accounts forever. Petition to decentralize these apps. Worry no more, Web3 has got our backs. Welcome to the world of dApps. 

    What is a dApp?

    If you open your phone, you see that it’s flooded with applications like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These apps run the code created by the company. 

    So, if you’re using Instagram, you’re interacting with the code written by Instagram. They access and store your data. This is what we call ‘centralized’ applications. 

    There is one ‘central’ authority that is in control. 

    Centralized app IG

    However, a dApp is different. A dApp is short for a ‘decentralized’ application. 

    It’s basically an application built on a decentralized network (the blockchain). When you use a dApp, instead of interacting with a company’s server, you interact with the blockchain.

    The blockchain is a decentralized ledger so there is no central authority. 


    What is the difference between centralized and decentralized apps? 

    Centralized app:

    • Single owner = ‘central’ authority 
    • The app is based on one or more servers controlled by that single owner
    • You send and receive data back and forth from the owner’s server

    Centralized App

    Decentralized app:

    • No ‘single’ owner = ‘no central’ authority 
    • Operates on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network 
    • Users engage directly with one another without the need for an intermediate party

    Decentralized app

    How Does a dApp Work?

    Now that you know what is a dApp, let’s see how it works. When you think of a dApp, you should think of the following formula:

    dApp = smart contract + frontend UI (user interface)

    What Is A Smart Contract? 

    A smart contract is a self-executing program that conducts sale agreements between two parties. It’s a code that lives on the blockchain and runs precisely as programmed. 

    It’s built on the “if X is true then Y is done” basis. There are a set of pre-determined terms that once met, the smart contract automatically executes the function. 

    Smart contract deal between two people

    A smart contract looks like this:

    Smart contract example

    dApps rely on the smart contract as their backend code. So, it’s the man, or woman, behind the scenes making all the magic happen. 

    Again, it’s built on the “if X is true then Y is done” basis. This digital contract enables all the actions needed to go through based on the written terms and conditions. 

    If you meet the requirements, the action is executed in the P2P network. But, if you don’t meet the requirements, dApps actions are neutralized and the system returns to its initial state. 

    Now that you know the behind-the-scenes of decentralized applications, let’s check what they look like on the scene. 

    dApp Frontend UI

    The frontend UI is the fancy word for what you see when you open the dApp. It’s no different than what you see on other apps.

    Below is an example of a dApp called Diamond that can be considered the web3 alternative for Twitter. You can see that it looks no different than the normal apps we use.

    Diamond Twitter alternative

    So, the smart contract is what codes all the functionalities of the app and the UI is what you see when using the app. 

    dApps Benefits

    Now that you know what is a dApp and how it works, you might be wondering: what are the dApps’ advantages? Again, a smart contract is the backbone of a dApp. So a decentralized application’s benefits lie within a smart contract’s characteristics. 

    Smart Contracts Crafting dApps’ Advantages

    It’s important to note that the smart contract is a key factor that makes dApps superior to the usual apps. 

    Smart contract characteristics

    Smart contracts are:

    • Open Source: Anyone can access the smart contract and check its content.
      • Making dApps transparent: You literally can access how these apps work so you make sure there’s nothing fishy going on behind the scenes.
    • Immutable: Once the smart contract is deployed, you can’t modify it. 
      • So decentralized applications preserve data integrity: You can rest assured that no one is changing it every 30 seconds.
    • Autonomous: Once all conditions are met, smart contracts execute what needs to be done without the intervention of a third party. 
      • Making Apps are private: No third party will mingle with your business. 
    • Programmable: You can customize the smart contract based on your needs. 
      • So, you can build dApps based on your preferences

    Smart contract

    Further Benefits

    dApps benefits don’t stop here. There’s more. 

    dApp benefits

    • Zero downtime: Since the dApp’s smart contract lives on the blockchain, once it’s deployed, the network will always be available.
      You won’t have to suffer like you do when Twitter or Instagram is down.
    • Security: This is thanks to the nature of the blockchain as it requires a lot of computational power to be attacked. This attack is almost impossible.
      Therefore, malicious actors cannot launch denial-of-service attacks targeted toward individual dApps making the latter very secure. 
    • No censorship: No entity can block you from using the dApp in the way you prefer. You can post, share, and do whatever you want. 
    • Isolated: dApps are executed in a virtual environment known as Ethereum Virtual Machine so that if the smart contract has a bug, it won’t mess with the normal functioning of the blockchain network

    dApps drawbacks

    A dApp is a double-edged sword. It has its benefits but it sure has its disadvantages too.

    • Difficulty to achieve a user-friendly experience.
    • Scaling issues: Scaling is very extremely hard to achieve in order to reach a high level of security, transparency, integrity, and reliability. This is the core of the blockchain trilemma.
    • Hard to maintain: Developers find it hard to add updates to their apps because the smart contract is immutable.
    • Network congestion: The network can only process about 10-15 transactions per second anything more can cause network congestion.
    • Prone to problems: dApps are still in their experimental phase so they’re prone to problems. 

    dApp negatives

    And, just like everything else in web2 and web3, scams are inevitable. 

    Some dApps have been used to distribute malware or viruses. This could harm the users’ devices. Also, some dApps require you to sign in with your wallet. 

    So, you have to be careful not to connect your wallet to a wallet drainer app. You just have to be aware and double-check all the sites you’re connecting your wallet to. 

    What Are Some dApps Examples?

    dApps have been developed for multiple purposes like social media, gaming, and even finance. For example, as previously mentioned, Diamond is a web3 alternative for Twitter. 

    There are also multiple web3 alternatives for web2 apps. 

    What is a dApp, dApp examplesWe’ve already covered dApps examples here but here are a few:


    So, what is a dApp? It’s an application, just like any other in web2, but built on a decentralized network (blockchain). Being built on the blockchain, it makes it very secure, private, and transparent. But, it’s also hard to maintain and scale. These issues, however, are inevitable in web3. Some are working on creating an updated and better web, called web4. Check it out here!


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