A dapp is an abbreviation for decentralized application, and in short an abbreviation of the future of the internet. The best way to describe what a decentralized application is to first start with what it is not. A dapp is not Facebook, it is not Twitter, in fact it is not like any website you have interfaced with today. The websites that you post pictures in or write pithy posts in is stored in a server. These servers are databases which collect user’s information. Everyone can use Facebook, but only Facebook employees have access to theses servers which collect your information.
There has been much political discussion on what to do about maintaining data privacy, and ensuring that users have more ownership over their data, but there has been less conversation on how to construct web applications that resist such greedy hoarding of data.
Blockchains can not cure cancer but blockchain applications (dapps) may be a promising antidote to what is ailing us in the realm of data stewardship. But what exactly are dapps? Simply put dapps are applications that do not have a centralized database. The “backend” of a dapp is an open blockchain like Ethereum where everyone can view data and transactions. Dapps create a transparent web where users cease being the product. There are several dapps in production like Peepth, CryptoKitties, and Status.
Dapps are also useful for peer-to-peer businesses. Right now if you want to rent out your car or house you have to go through a third party like Uber or Airbnb. Even though these services make monetizing your car and house easy, these platforms also take a healthy chunk out of your profits. On the other side of the coin,dapps like Crypto Cribs are giving hosts a chance to pocket most of their money.
Even though dapps hold a lot of promise, they are not without their problems. Transactions happen much slower with a decentralized application- Ethereum can only process 25 transactions per second. Foundational changes to Ethereum- are being made to address this issue. These changes will take time to make their way to the mainnet- so in the meantime there are Layer 2 solutions - like Raiden and Plasma which is trying to find a solution now.
Are you a web developer interested in building dapps? The most mature platforms to build on at the moment would be Truffle and Uport. After taking a look at those platforms, you will be ready to dive deeper in the world of dapp development and learn how to innovative debt markets, and you can even build a system that rethinks democracy.