Considering blockchain application development but don’t know where to start?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll explain how blockchain app technology works, explore the benefits and share how to build a blockchain app in 7 steps.
Table of Contents
What Are Blockchain Applications?
Blockchain applications are decentralized, shared databases, meaning that all users have access and can exchange messages and data without a server acting as an intermediary.
The main difference between blockchain applications and traditional apps is that traditional apps are owned and managed by a centralized authority. In traditional databases, all data is kept on the central server and the central authority must verify a user’s credentials before granting access to the data.
Blockchain apps are commonly used for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but their use extends far beyond that. Many companies are adopting blockchain application development to provide financial exchange services, real estate transactions and store medical data securely, among other uses.
How Does Blockchain Technology Work?
Blockchain technology is a decentralized, distributed ledger of transaction that stores data in groups or blocks. When a block meets its full storage capacity, it is closed and linked to the block filled previously, thus forming a chain.
When new information is added, it is stored in a new block.
The data stored in blockchains is shared across all devices connected to the blockchain, so everyone has access to it.
For example, if your company uses a blockchain application to exchange data and collaborate, all team members will have access to it.
Think of it as a Google document that you create and share with your team members. You can all access the document at the same time and all changes made to the document are transparent and made in real-time.
Every time a transaction occurs, such as a payment or fund transfer, information about that transaction is added to each member’s blockchain.
There are two types of blockchain solution types:
When it comes to network-based blockchain development, there are three types of networks you can use to develop your blockchain application:
1. Permissionless blockchain
In a permissionless blockchain, the network is public, meaning that it is accessible to all members regardless of their device. Everything is public and all members can interact and make transactions all while remaining anonymous. An example of a permissionless blockchain where anyone can become a member is Bitcoin.
2. Permissioned blockchain
In a permissioned blockchain, the network is private. This means that only authorized users can join the network and there is a set of rules that all participants must follow when making transactions. Permissioned blockchains are typically used by enterprises for internal purposes. An example of a permissioned blockchain is the open-source platform Hyperledger.
3. Hybrid blockchain
A hybrid blockchain is a mix of both public and private. It allows organizations to create a private blockchain next to the public one, so they can control what data is accessible to everyone and what remains private. An example of a hybrid blockchain that takes the best of both worlds is XinFin.
Based on cryptocurrency support, blockchains can be divided into cryptocurrency-based and non-cryptocurrency based blockchains.
Blockchains have an important role in cryptocurrencies. Some popular solutions based on cryptocurrencies include digital wallets that can send, receive and store cryptocurrencies and crypto exchange systems using for trading with cryptocurrencies and other digital currencies.
Non-cryptocurrency based blockchain
Non-cryptocurrency based blockchains, as the name suggests, are not dependent on cryptocurrencies. Due to the transparency and high protection of data, non-cryptocurrency based blockchains are primarily used for inventory management and storing data across industries.
They are based on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), which is a decentralized digital database distributed across devices, where each device has access to the database. There is no central authority in a decentralized database.
Benefits of Blockchain Apps
The demand for blockchain applications is growing, and it is expected that the global market will reach almost $20 billion by 2024. Along with its popularity, the number of blockchain app development tools is growing as well, creating endless possibilities for businesses across industries.
The reason why blockchain application development is getting so much traction lately is because of their multiple benefits for businesses. The five major benefits of blockchain applications include:
One of the biggest advantages of blockchain applications is increased security. Unlike traditional applications that are prone to hacker attacks and data theft, blockchain apps are safe because no third-parties can interfere.
With blockchain applications, data is not stored on a server, but across a network of devices, so hackers cannot view the information.
If a change occurs, users can immediately detect it, because they have access to a copy of all chains located on the devices of all network members.
Speed and Efficiency
Blockchain technology streamlines processes so transactions are completed faster. All documentation is stored in the blockchain and there is no need to reconcile numerous ledgers. There is also no third-party involved so everything goes much faster and smoother.
There is also the possibility to automate processes using “smart contracts,” where you can automate the next step in a transaction and thus increase speed and reduce the chance of human error.
With blockchain applications, all users have access to transaction information. If there is an update in the blockchain, all users have to accept it so nothing goes by unnoticed. This greatly reduces the possibility of fraud.
Blockchain technology ensures data integrity and provides protection from changes. As mentioned previously, you can’t make a change in blockchain data without altering subsequent blocks at the same time.
Blockchain technology provides privacy to all users.
Even though they are decentralized, all interactions between members remain private so users can rest assured the details of their transactions are anonymous.
How To Develop a Blockchain Application
If you’re considering blockchain app development, knowing where and how to start is crucial. Here is our step-by-step process on how to develop a blockchain application:
1. Decide If You Need a Blockchain Application
Before you put your idea into motion, evaluate it. See if you really need a decentralized app before you start the blockchain application development.
You can do this by considering the problems you wish to solve.
Is blockchain crucial for your project?
How will blockchain benefit your application?
Yes, blockchain ensures greater transparency and ease of transactions, but blockchain app development is a serious and costly project so make sure it’s the right fit for what you need.
For example, if you work in healthcare and you want to build a blockchain-based record to ensure secure sharing of medical data, you first need to understand the use cases of the apps and how it will benefit you and your customers.
2. Choose a Blockchain Platform
Now that you have concluded that you need a decentralized app, the next step is to choose a suitable platform for blockchain app development.
Here are your platform options: You can build your own blockchain framework from scratch, you can choose one of the popular blockchain platforms, or you can use a white-label solution provided by Blockchain as a Service and use third-party cloud services.
The choice depends on the problems you seek to solve with your blockchain application as well as the consensus mechanism or the specific protocols used in a blockchain to reach an agreement on a single data value.
Building your blockchain framework is time-consuming and expensive, so it’s worth considering the already available open-source platforms and using their code.
Some of the popular blockchain platforms include:
- Ethereum: This blockchain platform uses the Solidity programming language and lets you use smart contracts.
- Hyperledger Fabric: This platform is ideal for corporate purposes such as exchanging data within company members.
- R3 Corda: Perfect for eCommerce, supply chain and healthcare, R3 Corda is a platform for developing permissioned blockchains.
3. Create a Prototype App
Given the scope and the cost of a project like blockchain application development, we suggest creating a prototype app first to ensure everything works well before pushing it live.
This will help you test your idea and think about the roles that network participants will have, the transactions they will make and how they will interact with the database.
In this stage, you need to decide which parts of your app will be on the blockchain and which won’t. Some functionalities of your mobile or web app might not require blockchain technology and can instead use cloud hosting.
You also need to decide whether you will use the permissionless or permissioned blockchain that we spoke of earlier. Think about accessibility and whether you will decide who can join the network (permissioned) or if it will be open to everyone (permissionless).
To build a prototype of your blockchain app, you can use Azure Blockchain Workbench which has very straightforward steps.
4. Plan Visual and Technical Designs
When your prototype app is planned and approved, you can start creating visual and technical designs.
Create user interfaces for various app components to give you an idea how your app will look. If your app’s UI is poorly designed and doesn’t provide a good user experience, it’s unlikely that people will use it.
The same goes for UX, so you need to ensure the UX is designed in a way that will provide the best user experience. Create technical designs to get an idea of what the app’s architecture will look like.
5. Develop Your Blockchain App
If the prototype phase went well and you have figured out the front-end of your app, you can proceed to back-end or developing your blockchain application.
The blockchain application development process will look different, depending on:
- The platform you’re using to build your app
- The language you choose for the project
- Consensus mechanism
What the transactions and interactions among all nodes (devices like computers and laptops that act like small servers) will be like
The duration of the development phase will also depend on your requirements and can take up to several months.
When you develop the first version of your blockchain app, it must undergo thorough testing before you continue.
When the testing is done, you then proceed to test the internal structure of the software using white-box techniques such as data flow testing, control flow testing, branch testing and statement coverage. At this time, your app is in the alpha stage.
After this, you prepare the app for the beta version where your app is complete but some minor issues and bugs still exist. After testing the functionality and fixing the bugs, your blockchain app is almost ready for deployment.
6. Test Your App
Before deploying your blockchain application, you need to test it to identify any lingering bugs and fix them before pushing the app live.
For app testing, you can use a test network. It’s important to test all aspects and functionalities of the app before launch, including UX and integration.
The best solution is to deploy your beta version blockchain app to a Blockchain Testnet where real users can try the app. A testnet is a network that is an almost identical copy of the blockchain that allows you to test your application at no cost.
You need to ensure that everything works properly before the app goes live.
7. Launch Your App
Once the testing stage is complete and you have identified and fixed any lingering bugs, the final step is to launch your app.
However, the job is not done here. Once the app is live, you need to monitor its performance and analytics to see how well your app is performing and make adequate changes if necessary.
Wrapping Up On Blockchain Application Development
With all the benefits they provide such as transparency, speed, efficiency, high data security and integrity, it is no wonder blockchain applications are becoming so popular.
Whether they’re permissioned, permissionless or hybrid, it is only a matter of time before blockchain application development becomes mainstream and massively adopted by various industries.
If you’re embarking on a blockchain application development journey, follow all the steps from start to finish:
- Decide if you need a blockchain application
- Choose a suitable blockchain platform
- Create a prototype app
- Create visual and technical designs
- Develop your app
- Test your app
- Launch your app
Remember to test your blockchain application thoroughly before deploying to ensure all bugs and discrepancies are eliminated and the app functions properly.
Good luck with your blockchain project!