Building a free-to-use social DApp


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Cointelegraph is following the event of a wholly new blockchain from inception to mainnet and past by way of its collection, Contained in the Blockchain Developer’s Thoughts, written by Andrew Levine of Koinos Group.

In my first article on this collection, I defined why Ethereum and Steem haven’t been capable of deliver a mainstream social decentralized application (DApp). In my second article, I defined how EOS attempted to combine features of both chains however it did so in a means that also required customers to purchase high-priced random-access reminiscence (RAM) for accounts and good contracts.

On this article, I wish to take a distinct method to this downside, not based mostly on comparisons to current platforms however based mostly on first ideas. As a substitute of constraining our imaginations based mostly on the constraints of the earliest makes an attempt at general-purpose blockchains, let’s, as an alternative, have a look at the issue from the developer’s perspective. What do they want with a purpose to ship the person expertise that mainstream customers require? In my earlier article, I described this as “fee-less with out exceptions.” In different phrases, they need completely free-to-use purposes.

Constructing a free-to-use DApp from first ideas

The very very first thing {that a} person might want to use an utility of any variety is an account, so introducing a price right here would instantly create a detrimental person expertise. We wish to decrease friction for the person in order that we will maximize virality — we definitely don’t wish to drive them to purchase an account. However, we don’t wish to clear up this downside by merely forcing the developer to pay that account creation value as a result of this may improve their prices.

Associated: Gas-free transactions will revolutionize Web3

This downside is a straightforward one as a result of it has already been solved by Bitcoin and Ethereum, each of which permit customers to create addresses free of charge. Considering from first ideas then, if we don’t need builders or end-users to need to pay for accounts, we want a blockchain with addresses that perform as accounts.

Who pays?

Utilizing Bitcoin or Ethereum-style addresses permits us to create accounts with out both the end-user or the DApp developer having to eat the price. Nice. However, now we would like folks to really use the decentralized utility which signifies that we would like them to run a pc program on a decentralized laptop and eat a few of the laptop’s sources. We wish to allow them to do one thing that can have a real-world value that somebody has to pay. It’s only a matter of who, proper? Nicely, this assumes that there’s just one strategy to cost folks.

That is exactly the place first-principles pondering supplies a lot worth. Charges are the normal means we cost folks for utilizing blockchains, so if we simply assume that that is the one resolution then the one conceivable possibility turns into who pays the price, not whether or not there may be another method to the issue.

Associated: The power of cheap transactions: Can Solana’s growth outpace Ethereum?

Charging alternative value

Taking folks’s cash is one strategy to impose a value (i.e. lowering their token steadiness) however there may be one other type of value: alternative value. Taking folks’s means to make use of their tokens (i.e. their cash).

If we may create a decentralized system for “charging” folks to make use of the blockchain, not by taking their tokens, however by taking away their means to make use of their tokens (for a time frame), then we may permit them to make use of the blockchain with out taking any of their tokens.

Not solely that, however as soon as that time frame is over, they may select to make use of the blockchain extra, which means that they wouldn’t need to continuously be shopping for extra tokens simply to have the ability to proceed utilizing the appliance they love. This is able to dramatically improve person retention and additional maximize progress.

Online game expertise

We now have a mechanism for charging customers that doesn’t really feel like a price, however our goal is to ship a mainstream person expertise. Requiring folks to consciously lock cryptocurrency tokens earlier than they will use an utility is just not a mainstream person expertise.

If we will’t require folks to consciously lock tokens, meaning we want a system that permits folks to easily use the blockchain with none thought. All meaning is that the system has to resolve the dimensions of the chance value as an alternative of the person. Taking this determination out of the arms of the person permits us to design the system in order that the dimensions of the chance value is as little as doable, all whereas sustaining financial sustainability. This provides the person confidence that they’re by no means “overpaying” (even when it’s only a chance value) whereas once more maximizing progress by reducing boundaries. The cheaper transactions are, the much less they really feel like charges — the higher the person expertise — and the sooner we will anticipate the person base to develop.

After all, the person deserves to know the way a lot of their tokens will likely be locked in the event that they select to carry out the motion. What we would like is mainly a mana bar from a online game. The person ought to be capable of see how a lot free utilization of the blockchain they’ve based mostly on the liquid tokens that they’ve of their pockets. After they go to carry out some motion that consumes blockchain sources, they need to be capable of see how a lot of their mana will lower after they carry out the motion. In the event that they discover that value acceptable, they merely carry out the motion, similar to minting a nonfungible token (NFT), their mana is consumed and the correct quantity of tokens are locked for the set time frame. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The ultimate barrier

There’s one final downside: With the system we have now described, the end-user nonetheless has to have some tokens of their pockets. Typically, that signifies that they nonetheless need to make a purchase order (of tokens) earlier than they will use the appliance. Whereas we nonetheless have a reasonably good person expertise, telling folks they need to spend cash earlier than they will use an app is a barrier to entry and winds up feeling a complete lot like a price. I might know, that is precisely what occurred on our earlier blockchain, Steem.

To resolve that downside, we added a function known as “delegation” which might permit folks with tokens (e.g. builders) to delegate their mana (known as Steem Energy) to their customers. This fashion, end-users may use Steem-based purposes even when they didn’t have any of the native token STEEM.

However, that design was very tailor-made to Steem, which didn’t have good contracts and required customers to first purchase accounts. The largest downside with delegations is that there was no strategy to management what a person did with that delegation. Builders need folks to have the ability to use their DApps free of charge in order that they will maximize progress and generate income in another means like a subscription or by way of in-game merchandise gross sales. They don’t need folks taking their delegation to commerce in decentralized finance (DeFi) or utilizing it to play another developer’s nice sport like Splinterlands.

We wish customers to have the ability to use a selected DApp with out having to purchase tokens first, and, as at all times, we don’t need the developer to need to spend any cash to make this occur. That final half is hard as a result of the normal strategy to clear up this downside is by designing the good contract in order that the developer can select to pay the price as an alternative of the person. However, bear in mind, we’ve already solved this downside as a result of nobody is paying a price for something, simply a chance value. So long as the developer has tokens, they will select to pay the “mana” that somebody wants to make use of their utility.

Free for builders?

However, what if the developer doesn’t wish to purchase tokens? What if they’ve an current utility with a thriving person base that the platform could be fortunate to draw? It’s in the most effective curiosity of enormous token holders to draw prime quality builders to a platform to allow them to simply do the identical factor. The stakeholder may let the developer set them (the stakeholder) because the “payer” of mana for the developer’s good contracts.

The stakeholder isn’t shedding any cash by doing this however they’re nonetheless capable of deploy their capital to assist worth creation and progress, which is nice. If the stakeholder supplies their mana to a developer whose app provides great worth to the platform, then the worth of their token holdings will go up. If the developer’s app doesn’t add worth, the stakeholder has an incentive to cease offering their mana to that developer and discover another person who could make higher use of their mana.

We have now now discovered not solely tips on how to make a DApp free-to-use for the end-user, as an added bonus we have now discovered tips on how to make the blockchain free-to-use for builders whereas giving massive stakeholders a strategy to put money into progress and worth creation with out sacrificing any of their token holdings.


However, all of that is simply in idea proper? Truly, no. What I’ve described right here is strictly how we’re constructing Koinos. In reality, all of those options are already dwell on our present testnet with the third and remaining model of the testnet coming quickly. If you wish to study extra about mana, you possibly can read the white paper right here.

This text doesn’t include funding recommendation or suggestions. Each funding and buying and selling transfer includes threat and readers ought to conduct their very own analysis when making a choice.

The views, ideas and opinions expressed listed here are the writer’s alone and don’t essentially mirror or symbolize the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Andrew Levine is the CEO of Koinos Group, a staff of business veterans accelerating decentralization by way of accessible blockchain expertise. Their foundational product is Koinos, a fee-less and infinitely upgradeable blockchain with common language assist.