In the fast-moving world and rapidly developing decentralized applications (dApps), there are multiple industries where blockchain has found its applications. Many blockchains that primarily existed in the crypto world are isolated from one another due to which the users have to face trouble in moving assets from one network to the other.
The absence of interoperability also limits the scalability and utility of the decentralized applications (dApps). The developers while building the dApps accept these pros and cons of the blockchain network.
Ethereum blockchain is one of the most prominent smart contract platforms that attributes Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), a powerful virtual machine atmosphere used to build dApps. Ones who want to utilize the EVM are forced to build on the Ethereum platform despite being slow and costly.
What is a dApp?
It is an application that runs on a decentralized network. It is a combination of smart contract and fronted user interface. As the name indicates, ‘decentralized’ which means that it is not controlled by a single entity and is the best choice for the cases where many untrusted and anonymous parties need to interact with each other.
As the blockchain technology is evolving, new applications are emerging for partitioning dApps data to improve its performance while decreasing the charges.
What do dApps Require?
In order to meet the requirements of the customers the dApps should have the following properties.
The dApps operate on a network of the blockchain. As more people will start using the dApps the more its speed will reduce causing problems. Due to such limitations, people look for the alternatives of the dApp they are using, the one with better working speed. As everyone wants to manufacture a successful product, So the deciding factor that whether to use an application or not is its running speed.
Every program that runs on the blockchain requires computing power. A single dApp requires more computing power than the regular apps. When a dApp operates, it utilizes too many computational resources that causes an obstruction in the blockchain network. The dApp developers are trying to overcome this issue and resolve it but at present it is causing problems for the users.
What is Scaling?
There are abundant benefits of the blockchain technology such as high level of security, decentralization, non-trustworthy interactions and permanent records. In an ideal case, a blockchain can handle infinite number of transactions per second. But it takes an ample time and computing power in real world as each transaction has to be processed, distributed and verified. To tackle this problem, the blockchain developers are trying to improve the handling power of the blockchain. This means a larger number of transactions and faster processing power. This is done by scaling. It makes the blockchain transactions efficient, more convenient and easily accessible to all.
Are dApps Scalable?
DApp technology is still developing with time. The owners have started working on how to solve the existing problems. They are finding out the ways to expedite the process and it can only be done through scaling. A scalable app is highly appreciated. It has high speed, is more flexible and has more features and functions.
Why do we need to scale dApps?
The main goal of scalability is to increase the transaction speed and the number of transactions per second while keeping intact the decentralization and security of the app. While the speed of transactions is important, the scaling solutions that make sure the decentralization of apps must remain secured. It is important to maintain a low barrier towards node to prevent a shift of the app towards centralized and insecure processing power.
How to scale dApps?
There are two different kinds of scaling operating simultaneously. These are:
- On-chain Scaling
The increase in the capability of the core blockchain layer is termed as on chain scaling. The most common of the on-chain scaling prescription is to make the number of transactions per second better by increasing the amount of data allowed to fit in each block. More transactions could be made to fit in each blockchain interval by raising the limit of data.
- Off-chain ScalingO
Off-chain Scaling, on the other hand, is th synthesis of additional layers that can handle without having to depend on the core blockchain. Piling up many payments into one transaction, sidechains, and payment channels are the examples of off-chain scaling.
DApps and Ethereum Blockchain
The actual driving force behind the increasing trend of the decentralized apps is the Ethereum blockchain. These are basically the programs that function specifically on Ethereum network. So, they are termed as Ethereum dApps. This is because of the smart contracts that are at first installed on the Ethereum network and which store the data on the platform’s blockchain.
The smart contracts are computer programs that carry out the transactions automatically when two parties are ready to trade and fulfill certain demands. This happens when there is no mediator involved between them. Smart contracts are less costly, more efficient and secured than the normal daily life payment methods. It also saves the time and energy and avoids any misunderstanding between the two parties.
The dApps allows the smart contract to perform its function. It enables any two anonymous people in any part of the world to interact and perform transactions without the involvement of any broker. This reduces the extra formalities and the transaction charges, simplifying the trade process.
An EVM provides a safer test environment to the developers of the dApps so that can safely test their apps before presenting them at the public platform. Ethereum’s Virtual Machine provides an execution atmosphere for the developers where they can easily and securely manufacture and examine the dApps without the requirement of possessing any powerful processing machinery personally.
The EVM is present in a separate atmosphere than the remaining Ethereum’s network. This kind of practice is necessary for the development and success of dApp as it provides the developers an opportunity to build feasibly while using the maximum power of the smart contract without any blockages or without making their networks accessible to any security malfunction.
Ethereum is a decentralized property that could be easily accessed by anyone around the world, this ensures that EVM development is easily accessible to all. Same as the Ethereum blockchain, EVM is connected with the nodes that are further linked to the Ethereum network.
Application Pattern for Scaling dApps
Ethereum provides the core blockchain framework required to record the decentralized transactions. To achieve the high throughput, speed and low expenditure in the data framework, the dApps reduce the need to directly read or write Ethereum with sidechains, index accelerators or off chain data bases. To make the reads more legible in the infrastructure, the dApps grasp the off-chain index accelerators like ‘The Graph’. The Graph is and index protocol for testing a network such as Ethereum etc.
Anyone can build the subgraphs too making the data easily understandable and accessible to all. The graph indexes the blockchain data so that when the on-chain data is referred, the low bandwidth could be maintained.
Another part of the infrastructure is the off-chain data that actually consists of information not published to the blockchain for the safety and performance purpose and is crucial to the operational aspect of an application.
One should be aware that some off-chain data can be secured in the blockchain directly, but this section of data could be better chosen for an OLTP database due to its better performance, privacy and charges related with utilizing blockchains directly for the information that does not need to be part of the publicly verifiable and recognizable blocks.
DApps usually do not allow blockchain to store the public credentials as they would be accessible to all easily. If they kept this information as a part of their block transactions, anyone could get his hands over the information such as identity and private details of the dApp user who carried out the transaction.
What is Interoperability and What is its Importance for dApps Scaling?
Interoperability is basically the property that ensures that the blockchains interact with one another. Since the inception of Bitcoin, most of the blockchain networks exist isolated from one another. This is the reason that mostly customers find it difficult to move their assets from one network to another. This limits the utilization of dApps and other conveniences offered by the specific chains.
The absence of interoperability not only limits its customers, but also limits the dApp developers by pushing them to create one chain despite its merits and demerits. As interoperability ensures that infinite number of people could access to the network, the limitations also inhibit the network from scaling.
Blockchain Networks Appropriate for dApps Development
Let us consider the example of the Polkadot network. It is a lineage network looking upon interoperability and constructing upon the ideas presented by Ethereum. It is basically a blockchain mechanism whose main purpose is to bring together the blockchain networks into one coherent atmosphere.
This protocol is divided into two chain types
The main chain (also termed as relay chains)
The main chain of Polkadot is same as the blockchain networks that provides transaction consent and safety. On the other hand, the parachains are the chains that mobilize the capacity of main chain and pass information towards the main chain. Polkadot possess a coherent transaction history.
Without sacrificing the scalability, Polkadot look upon to offer all kinds of use cases by imparting safety via the main chain and permitting for developer built parachains. This practice will also enhance the interoperability as this versatile practice will motivate the developers to construct platforms and develop connections between the blockchain networks.
Polkadot also provides a digital atmosphere through a substrate.
What is substrate?
A substrate is the similar concept as Ethereum’s EVM. It also provides an isolated environment to the developers so that they can develop and examine their apps in a safer atmosphere. It is an open-source platform that provides the developers with an infrastructure for constructing their own parachains. While being interoperable at the same time with the existing blockchain networks, the substrate powered chains are bound with the Polkadot main chain.
Platforms Utilizing Substrate for Scaling
A number of projects have been developed within the substrate domain. One of them is an CLV chain. It is a chain that is functioning to provide interoperability with the EVM along with other blockchain webs.
CLV Chain is a substrate dependent layer 1 chain that is synchronized with the EVM that means that the developers could feasibly mobilize their projects and smart contracts to the CLV chain web in spite of having them written in reliability within the EVM. The interoperability possibilities of the Polkadot synchronized with the EVM ensures that the developers can install their decentralized apps to Ethereum along with the remaining parachains.
DApp developers will get the benefit of the direct corporation with well-known applications such as MetaMask and Remix that will help to integrate the development procedure and will make the more useful dApps accessible to the CLV customers. Hence, if more dApps utilize the interoperability possibilities that Polkadot offers, scalability would be more celebrated in future.
Best Practices in Scaling Ethereum dApps
Following are the best methods of scaling Ethereum dApps.
- State Chains
The homologous “off chain” transactions can be out by the customers via state channels. The messages via these channels are only transferred onto the main chain by these channels when they want to leave the channel.
These are basically the payment channels by which the user transfers the value outside the main chain and then return to the main chain in order to resolve the channel. They are designed in the same way as the Bitcoin Lightening Network.
Advantage: The biggest advantage is that it is not complicated functionally and involves no complexities. If any of the two parties want to send each other any ETH, they will do so by transferring funds again and again. But using this method, they can handle all the transactions off chain and returning to the main chain when the transactions are completed.
The process of separating the database horizontally in order to divide the load is called as sharding.
By the addition of more chains known as ‘shards’, the congestion and blockage in the blockchain network could be lessened. Moreover, in the Ethereum context, this process also speeds up the transactions per second.
However, sharding requires much research and testing before implementation over the blockchain. This makes it one of the most arduous methods across the Ethereum network.
Advantage: While addressing the scalability issues, blockchain sharding is important to mention. It helps in scaling down the Ethereum blockchain that consequently increases the number of transactions that can be processed in one second
To solve a complex crypto equation and mine over the blockchain using Proof of Work (PoW), miners need to dissipate much energy. If they are able to solve the mathematical problem correctly, they get a reward in return. This procedure dissipates a lot of energy and computing power and it keeps on increasing with time. This practice is less efficient and more costly.
Casper is a protocol that converts the Ethereum’s Proof of work to Proof of stake model in which the miners are replaced by the “validators” and they “validate” the blocks on the blockchain network instead of mining.
Advantage: This method shields the blockchain from external harmful attacks. In case an attack is stopped, the user money are directly attacked in PoS and he or she immediately loses all the funds.
Plasma is a scaling technique that carries out the transaction process off chain or off the Ethereum decentralized network. Many small blockchains also referred as “child chains” can be separated and become a branch of the original blockchain normally known as “root chain”.
Consequently, every diverging child chain can compute and keep its own payment history despite being still dependent on the root chain for the security purposes.
Advantage: It has maintained its own standards and rules. Though all child chains will have different requirements, it will still support a transaction while staying in a secured environment.
Raiden is a off-chain scaling method where the nodes are allowed to keep the evidence of all transactions safe without the requirement that the transactions should be verified by the blockchain.
Between any two nodes, one can build a state channel. It is basically a two-dimensional channel between both the nodes and is agreed upon and endorsed by the two participants involved.
Advantage: This method reduces the gas consumption fee for each transaction. The transaction between nodes requires less gas than the transaction directly from the root chain.
In the today’s world, thousands of people are working on scaling methods. Scaling the dApps will improve the transaction speed and increase the number of transactions per second while keeping the security and decentralization of the apps intact. This will result in motivating the users to utilize the dApps more. Developers are also working on reducing the transaction fee and turning it into a network feasible to all users. This will result in a more vigorous network that would be less costly and accessible to all.