What are DApps and Smart Contracts?
Decentralized Applications (DApps) are open-source applications or programs that exist and run on a distributed network like a blockchain. Unlike traditional applications, DApps are not controlled by a single entity on a centralized network. Though they look similar to traditional applications in front-end UI, they have an entirely different type of backend code.
DApps are a radical new way of building and operating applications. Apart from having the distinction of being built on decentralized networks, DApps are different from traditional applications as they have smart contracts at their core. Smart contracts are what allows DApps to connect to the blockchain.
In short, DApps are basically blockchain-enabled applications whereas the smart contracts act like a logic brick that empowers DApps to connect with a blockchain.
What are DApp (Smart Contract) Platforms?
Blockchain technology is being used to create applications beyond just enabling cryptocurrencies. DApps is one such application that has recently caught the imagination of both users and developers across a wide range of industries. But not all blockchains are designed to host smart contracts and DApps. The blockchains that allow for the deployment of DApps are called DApp platforms.
As the blockchain industry continues to grow, various DApp platforms have emerged. These DApp platforms offer several functionalities and unique possibilities to both users and developers.
Top DApp Platforms (Smart Contract Platforms)
Ethereum is the world’s first DApp platform. Ethereum’s first-mover advantage regarding the deployment of smart contracts and DApps on its blockchain has helped it attract significant investments and gain traction among the developer community. And it still continues to be the most popular choice among developers to this day. The immense popularity of Ethereum among users and developers has turned out to be both its strength and weakness. While the large number of DApps has helped Ethereum create a vibrant ecosystem, it also led to scalability issues. The overload from the number of transactions has led to slow transaction speeds and high processing fees. The transition to Ethereum 2.0 is expected to resolve these issues.
2. Binance Smart Chain
Binace Smart Chain (BSC) is a blockchain that runs parallel to the original Binance blockchain, Binance Chain. BSC is different from Binance Chain as it supports smart contracts and DApps. But both the blockchains are cross-compatible as it allows users to transfer assets between the chains. The initial success BSC had can be attributed to its fast processing speeds, low transaction fees, and compatibility with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which made it easy for the developers to switch their DApps from Ethereum to BSC. The majority of the DApps that have been deployed on BSC have their focus on Decentralized Finance (DeFi) solutions.
Cardano is a third-generation, decentralized blockchain which has pioneered a new approach with a lot of emphasis on science and research for the development of its blockchain and DApp platform. Cardano’s completely research-drive approach aims to build a resilient and sustainable blockchain to achieve security, scalability and interoperability that is required for real-world applications. Cardano also touts itself as being the only extensively peer-reviewed blockchain platform in the industry. But this approach to the development of the network has caused delays and the smart contract platform is not fully ready for DApp deployment yet.
Polkadot is a multichain ecosystem that aims to create a scalable and interoperable network of blockchains. It is more of a blockchain ecosystem where various platforms are connected to each other, rather than a blockchain in the traditional sense. While the central chain of Polkadot ensures the security of the entire network, the sidechains increase the network’s capacity and scalability. By bringing together the features from multiple blockchains, Polkadot paves the way for new DApps and marketplaces to emerge. Building on the promise of previous blockchain networks Polkadot can offer fundamental advantages to developers and end-users.
Solana is a DApp platform that is known for its lightning-fast, high-performance blockchain network. It has the ability to process over 50,000 transactions per second (TPS) while providing a highly secure environment for its users. The high TPS along with scalability makes Solana ideal in terms of creating Decentralized Finance (DeFi) projects like Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) or staking platforms. The lightning-fast processing times have garnered a lot of attraction from both small-time users and enterprise customers alike. This interest from the institutional investors is quite evident from its partnerships with well-known projects like Tether (USDt), Chainlink, Serum etc.
6. Polygon (MATIC)
Polygon is the first well-structured, easy-to-use platform for Ethereum scaling and infrastructure development. It is the answer to some of the challenges faced by Ethereum today. Polygon aims to provide faster and cheaper transactions on Ethereum using Layer 2 sidechains, which are blockchains that run alongside the Ethereum main chain. Polygon effectively transforms the Ethereum network into a full-fledged multi-chain system by making other blockchains compatible with network. The scalability and low fees has attracted a significant number of DApps to the network from Ethereum and other blockchains.
Tron is a decentralized blockchain platform that aims to build a free, global digital content and entertainment system with distributed storage technology. The blockchain focuses on reducing the cost of publishing and accessing digital work. The idea is to create a peer-to-peer network to bridge the gap between content creators and content consumers by eliminating the middlemen. The DApp platform has also caught the attention of the gaming industry. Tron has been a popular blockchain for building DApps.
EOS is an open-source blockchain platform that was built for the development of industrial-scale DApps. The blockchain was built to be a user-friendly and business-friendly tool for building DApps that has the ability to conduct super-fast transactions and is completely feeless. Building DApps on EOS is a reasonable choice for developers due to low transaction and smart contract deployment costs. The feeless nature of the blockchain sets them apart from the competition and gives them an edge in gaining more widespread adoption. However, there are fears that its structure is too centralized, and that the possibility of state intervention is high since the majority of the entities that govern the chain are in China.
Algorand is a self-sustaining, decentralized, blockchain-based network that supports a wide range of applications. They were built to solve the blockchain trilemma of achieving speed, security and decentralization simultaneously. The blockchain was designed in a way that ensured very low fees as well as no mining requirements. Algorand which can be used to create powerful DApps, is geared towards fast payments and thus can be used effectively for Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications. Algorand also has a second layer that is capable of running larger, more feature-packed smart contracts.
Tezos is an open-source Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain that facilitates the building of DApps. One unique feature of Tezos is its ability to implement real-time modifications on the chain as needed. This ensures that the protocol changes does not result in hard forks, and consequently, community fragmentation. Tezos drew a lot of attention during its launch as it had one of the biggest initial coin offerings (ICO) of all time, raising $232 million, but dealt with significant adversities and delays after the launch.
Other DApp (Smart Contract) Platforms
- Internet Computer