What is a DApp? 7 steps to build a decentralized app

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by Dmitry Elisov
Oqtacore CTO
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DApp is an app that runs on blockchain instead of centralized servers. This means that the app data is not stored by an individual or a developer, but by users themselves; everyone has a copy of the data. 

Decentralized apps are now very popular. In Q1 2022, the number of DApp users surged to 2.4 million, a 396% increase from last year. 

But how do we know which app is decentralized and which is not? And what’s the difference between developing a Web3 DApp and a regular app? OQTACORE has put together answers to all these questions.

Smart contracts

At the heart of DApps is a special algorithm for the app’s backend; a smart contract that demonstrates all the business logic.

Smart contracts are codes that automatically execute commands according to given terms and conditions. They work on the “if-then” principle: all app users agree on a set of rules, and IF each party fulfills them, THEN the transaction takes place in the app on the blockchain. 

Let’s look at an example. For user A of a decentralized application to get a ticket from user B for a concert in the Roblox metaverse, he will have to pay 0.3 ETH. He doesn’t have to worry that the transaction won’t go through or that user B would change the price of the ticket or not send it at all. The smart contract ensures that the ticket would come automatically after payment, and no one can change the terms of the transaction.

How is DApp different from regular apps?

For the user, there’s no difference. Most DApps have the same GUI as regular apps. But the fundamental difference is that a DApp allows you to interact with the blockchain and also most DApps would require you to sign your transactions using your wallet on the blockchain. 

Examples of DApps: 

  • Pancake Swap: a crypto exchange, part of Binance Smart Chain; enables its users to swap BEP-20 standard tokens 
  • Upland: an EOS-based game; real estate in the metaverse that can be bought, exchanged, and sold for real assets
  • OpenSea: one of the largest NFT marketplaces at the moment; first was developed on the Ethereum network but later integrated on the Polygon blockchain.

So, we have figured out the basic features of the apps, and now let’s move on to how to develop a DApp.

How to build a DApp: 7 steps

1. Define the problem

Or what your app should do. This can be a decentralized counterpart of a Web2 app, like Uber or Twitter, or something relevant for Web3: a marketplace, a blockchain game, or even a decentralized recruitment website. The main thing is to solve the consumer’s real problem. 

2. Write a proof of concept (POC) 

But just an idea is not enough; you need to prove that your app idea is viable. This requires a proof of concept, which will test your Web3 DApp with minimal overhead. And if you don’t know how to develop a proof of concept, feel free to contact OQTACORE development team.  

3. Choose a tech stack

Now let’s move on to the technical part. First, let’s choose the tools: the technical stack depends on the specific app idea and its functionality. For example, OQTACORE uses the Truffle suite, Ganache, Solidity programming language, and Remix environment to develop Ethereum DApps.

To create the interface, we use React.js, Node.js and Web3.js for the web version, and React Native for mobile devices.

4. Choose a DApp blockchain and build a smart contract 

Choose the blockchain(s) on which the app will run. If you plan to create a DApp with transaction-based actions, the Ethereum Network or Polygon will be suitable for that. These blockchains are often chosen for the first unsophisticated DApp, as they are easier to write a smart contract for due to huge community support and the abundance of third-party tools such as Infura and Moralis. 

5. Add cryptocurrency wallet support

First of all, add a crypto wallet support. This would enable users to connect their wallets via which they would be receiving cryptocurrency or NFTas bonuses and rewards. We recommend making it possible for users to connect multiple wallets because the typical user today has two or more crypto wallets. Moreover, there are more and more wallets themselves, and you should not be limited to Metamask, Coinbase or Binance. 

Note: there is a wallet connect protocol, which 99% of wallets are compatible with. Its connection solves the problem of connecting almost all existing wallets. 

6. Choose a backend architecture

There are two types of DApps: transactional and those supported by centralized servers. We’ve already described the first ones in detail at the very beginning of this article. They work solely with smart contracts, e.g. to pay a user bonus, to transfer NFTs or to perform any network action within the app. This type of app does not need additional servers to run and only needs blockchain. They are designed for enthusiasts and are not very popular.  

The second type of app, on the other hand, is trickier, because its functions include not only the execution of transactions but also other actions that still require a server part, as well as a user interface. Servers, for example, will store information about a user’s social network DApp profile. This data cannot simply be written into the blockchain. Such apps are similar to classic apps and the bulk of people use them. 

7. Don’t forget about the Interface

Nowadays not a single app, including decentralized ones, can do without a well thought-out UX design. How to design an interface and what are the features of a UI/UX design, we’ve discussed in the articles “UX design in modern business: what is it and what are its stages?” and “UX/UI design for today’s blockchain platforms”.

Based on how DApps are structured, they come with advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of DApps:

  • Anti-censorship. No government or organization can prevent users from working with DApp, prohibit them from conducting transactions, deploying applications or reading data from the blockchain. 
  • Anonymity. Most DApps don’t require your personal information – a digital wallet is enough to sign up.
  • Fail-safe operation. DApp smart contracts work 24/7 and will continue to work as long as the app’s blockchain exists.
  • Data immutability. Cryptography ensures that data recorded on the blockchain cannot be falsified. Besides, users can verify transactions themselves thanks to open source, which is why the DApp security has increased.

Disadvantages of DApps:

  • Too much transparency. Since all transactions are available on the blockchain, there is a problem with storing customer data. How do you keep it private from other users? The server part that we described above helps in this, but then app decentralization suffers, and there are no other methods yet.
  • Usability. The user experience of some Web3 DApps leaves a lot to be desired. However, it is likely that the more organizations adopt blockchain, the better the quality of UX design will become.
  • Maintenance. Once the app has been deployed, it is harder for the Ethereum DApp developer to make updates if the app does not have a separate backend. The fact is that a hosted smart contract cannot be modified or deleted at all, so to facilitate updates, data (e.g., user data) is usually moved to servers, but again, then decentralization suffers. 
  • Network delays. Sometimes blockchain networks are overloaded especially if the DApp uses too many computing resources—the app speed can be slow.

Despite these limitations, DApps are still the backbone of Web3.0. Blockchain-based apps are becoming more and more numerous, and in the near future they will fill the market, displacing Web2 competitors.

If you want to keep up with the trends and you have a DApp idea, but you don’t have a development team, do not hesitate to contact the OQTACORE team for your DApp development services. We have assembled a full team of specialists, from UI/UX designers to full stack developers and project managers, who build DApps by all modern standards.

Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I start working with OQTACORE?

We have a call and discuss details of the project

You make an initial payment for the project

Our CTO and your assigned Project Manager write the specification documents for the project

We discuss and approve the specs with you

We compile the specs into a development schedule

We implement the specs with releases every two weeks

How much does MVP cost?

It depends on the package you choose. Feel free to explore each package with prices and examples on our landing page or use our calculator.

How much time is take to build an MVP?

Prototype – 10 days

MVP for one platform (Android/iOS/Web) – 1-3 months

MVP for three platform (Android/iOS/Web) – 3-6 months

Do you sign an NDA?

We sign an NDA with each customer. All the source code and intellectual property will belong to you.

Who will I communicate with during the project?

You will have 24/7 access to PM Saveliy Leniivin and CTO Dmitry Elisov, who will guide your project from start to finish.

What are the team’s working hours?

We work on weekdays Pacific Standard Time (PST), UTC -8. 8am – 11pm. This schedule allows us to communicate with you and to do the work as efficiently as possible, regardless of the time zone difference.

How can I control the project?

You will have access to Jira (it is a project management software used by many companies in the world), where we will manage your entire project. There, you will see each task and its due date.

Is it possible to add/remove features after the project has started and specification and implementation plan have been approved?

Yes, it is possible. We will create an additional specification, in which we will write down the additional features you want to introduce, and we will add them to the UI design and development plan.

What will I get as the end result?

A ready-to-use application that can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play or used as a web app + all copyright for the code + documentation.

Can I come and visit your office?

You can visit us any time!

Are you a team of just 7?

Our core MVP team consists of seven people: CTO, IT PM, Designer, Backend software developer, Frontend software developer, QA tester. This is an example of our team that will interact with you during the creation of your MVP. As the app develops and expands, other members will join the team.

Apart from developing MVPs from scratch, we have a team that is engaged in maintaining current projects and scaling them. For one of our customers, we have assembled and manage a team of 23 programmers who are continuing to develop our customer’s successful startup right now.

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