Introduction to the Interoperability of Dapps

Beginner’s Guide / 07.06.2020

A Dapp is the next level in technological innovation. A Decentralized application is basically a platform that connects two or more parties without the need for any arbitration. This is achieved through the help of a blockchain (that forms the infrastructure) and Smart Contracts (because they bind the parties together).

Decentralized Applications or Dapps are taking the world by a storm. In the book Blockchain Revolution, the authors Don and Alex Tapscott argue that traditional centralized applications like Uber, Facebook, Airbnb can quite possibly be replaced by Dapps that mimic their features because Dapps are cost-effective, won’t (probably) charge fees and most importantly, are decentralized by definition.

Innovation Spur in the Dapp World

The interest in developing and implementing decentralized applications started its ascent in the early days of 2017, just about the time when the infamous bull run began. The concept of a dapp fascinated developers from all backgrounds as it means that they could build an application that was distributed from the ground up. This meant that applications that leverage the capabilities of a blockchain could be developed, and at the same time, be scalable enough for use by the mass audience.

The early days of the “Dapp Revolution” were quite extraordinary, as the space saw unparalleled innovation in ideas, implementation, and applicability. It seemed thousands of new ideas for a decentralized application were being put forward every day, varying in application from the world of finance to gambling games. Dapp became a hammer that saw any and every idea as a possible nail to innovate on.

Building Bridges on the Blockchain

  • The CryptoKitties Fiasco

CryptoKitties was one of the world’s first decentralized games/collectible to be built on blockchain technology. As you might know, that Blockchain is the same technology that runs Bitcoin and Ethereum. So, when Cryptokitties came out, it was perceived as an interesting innovation, as it gave people a new way to think about the prospects of blockchain technology.

Just like another cryptocurrency built on blockchain, one can buy, sell, or trade collectibles on CryptoKitties like it were a traditional collectible. Just like any other cryptocurrency, the collectibles on Cryptokitties are secure, scarce, and transparent, thanks to blockchain technology. In this particular case, each “cryptocat” has its own number and 256-bit genome and DNA, which makes it unique.

  • Innovation of HyperDragons

In reality, the HyperDragons dapp might look novel and interesting, at best. But in retrospect, it was one of the most innovative applications built on the Ethereum Blockchain.

HyperDragons was a collectible based game, similar to Cryptokitties. It uses an Ethereum ERC721 non-fungible token to create unique virtual dragons that players can trade. Each virtual dragon has its fighting abilities, which are determined by three factors: the dragon’s skills, glory, and hit points. A player can send his or her dragon to participate in fighting competitions to prove its worth on the battlefield.

Now here comes the part where things turn interesting. The best part of the game is that it uses resources from a different game called CryptoKitties. In HyperDragon, one can use the kittens collected from CryptoKitties to feed the dragons. In essence, the developers connected a dapp with a fundamentally different mechanism to their dapp, making them interoperable. Breaking it down further, the digital token of one platform was used to create the digital tokens of another different platform.

This novel idea sparked a chain reaction in the blockchain space as it allowed people to conceptualize innovative applications that borrow from other seemingly unrelated applications, something unprecedented in the centralized technology world.

Inevitability of Interoperability

By definition, Interoperability means the situation when two or more characters, products, or infrastructures co-operate to share their characteristics. In the world of software, this more or less stands for the same thing. Ever since the advent of the internet, interoperability has always been the way forward. Examples of interoperability on the Internet are places where websites and applications ask for a Facebook sign-in so that you do not make another account or when you use your Bitmoji to send Emojis on Snapchat and so on.

Previously, Interoperability within and among blockchains was considered a huge challenge. It tickled the brains of developers who thought about building bridges that connected different platforms and applications. The biggest challenge to interoperability was the existence of many blockchain networks that all differed in parameters, such as consensus models, transaction schemes, and smart contract functionality.

With the bridge that HyperDragons built between it and Cryptokitties, developers understood that interoperability was not an impossible task. By connecting several seemingly different applications, one compounds the utility of not just one, but all the applications that are connected.

According to Nadejda Alkhadi, an analyst at iTransition, interoperability among blockchains could have huge benefits for the entire sector. Some of the benefits she laid down were:

  • Smooth information sharing across participating blockchains
  • Easier execution of smart contracts across blockchains
  • Sharing of blockchain solutions and cooperation on the ongoing development for enterprises
  • The possibility for IT staff to develop a deep knowledge of a few prominent blockchain standards instead of having a basic knowledge of many protocols
  • Opportunity to develop partnerships within the blockchain ecosystem

As more and more applications, platforms, and blockchain networks are developed by the day, there is a need for a framework for interoperability now more than ever.

For that very reason, platforms like Cosmos, Polkadot, and Ark among others, have seemed to realize the importance and started bringing out solutions that might help developers from any part of the sector to form a connection with anyone else. One can only imagine the possibilities of innovation and creativity when the entire world of Blockchain is connected, buzzing with activity, creativity, and innovation.

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Sudarshan M is a long time crypto-enthusiast. Pulled in by bitcoin early on, it did not take long for Sudarshan to divert all of his academic attention from business studies to blockchain by doing his Masters and eventually pursuing his PhD in the subject.