Blockchain applications have proved their potential in decentralizing data and making transactions transparent while ensuring military-grade data security and creating a hack-proof system. No wonder Blockchain app development has become the buzzword of modern times.
Take a look at the interesting stats researched by the popular portal techjury.com.
1. Blockchain solutions can minimize 30% of the infrastructure costs in the banking sector.
2. Using Blockchain solutions, Finance firms will be able to save up to $12 Billion per year.
3. The number of Blockchain wallets registered crossed 81 million as of March 2022.
4. By the year 2025, 55% of healthcare apps will commercially deploy Blockchain.
5. By the year 2024, the total revenue generated by the Blockchain tech market across the globe will be around $20 Billion.
The aforesaid stats indicate the rising popularity of Blockchain apps. Needless to say, businesses are planning to leverage the goodies of Blockchain while entrepreneurs are viewing Blockchain app development as a lucrative option.
As Blockchain app development gains momentum, it’s important to note that it involves complex requirements and specific expertise. Hence, businesses planning to adopt Blockchain must understand the nitty-gritty of Blockchain and its development strategy before commencing their journey with Blockchain. This post guides you through the Blockchain architecture and the best practices of Blockchain app development.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger or database and is shared amongst the nodes of a computer network. Information gets stored electronically in a digital format. Data is stored within Blocks and the Blocks are linked via cryptography. When new data needs to be added, it gets stored in a fresh Block. After data is fed into the Block, it gets chained with the previous Block. The data gets chained together chronologically and a chain of data is formed. Each block is given a unique timestamp when it gets added to the chain.
The immutable ledgers & transaction records created on a Blockchain cannot be deleted, modified, or destroyed. Blockchain apps and solutions have contributed immensely to securing data and building trust amongst users without the involvement of any third party.
Blockchain App Architecture: Key Components
Check out the key components of a Blockchain app architecture!
A Node refers to a computer or a user present within the Blockchain. Here, every user holds a copy of the entire Blockchain ledger.
This is the smallest building block within the system that contains records, data, information, etc.
This is a data structure that retains a set of transactions taking place within the system and is distributed to every node present in the Blockchain network. Every Block contains specific data, the hash of the Block, and also, the hash of the previous Block.
The cryptographic hash algorithm, SHA 256 generates the hash for every Block. A hash, like a fingerprint, is a record containing some letters and digits. The key role of a hash is to identify the structure of every Block in a Blockchain network effortlessly and detect any modifications in the Blocks. A hash gets attached to a Block automatically as the Block is created and if the Block is modified the hash changes as well.
A Chain is a sequence of blocks ordered in a specific manner.
These refer to special nodes that verify the blocks before any data gets added to the Blockchain network. Nodes check whether the information provided by the new Block is correct.
This contains a bunch of arrangements & rules that define how a Blockchain will execute its operations. Whenever there’s a new transaction or record within the Blockchain network, a new block is built. Thereafter, the system verifies every existing record and digitally signs them for ensuring its genuineness. The new block is verified by a majority of the nodes present in the network before it gets added.
Here's how a Blockchain functions!
This unique architecture cryptographically secures the data stored on Blockchain and makes the system immutable. If unauthorized users intend to tamper with any data present within the Blockchain, they’ll have to tamper with all the blocks, recalculate the proof-of-work for every Block, and control more than half of the nodes. For this reason, data stored within a Blockchain peer-to-peer network is tamper-proof.
When should you consider a Blockchain Solution for your Business?
Blockchain solutions are trending these days! This doesn’t mean that all services or industries need to consider Blockchain app development! So, it’s important to analyse whether or not your business/services will benefit from a Blockchain solution. Check out the scenarios when a Blockchain app solution would prove beneficial to you and will yield productive outcomes.
A mobile app that handles users’ money:
If your mobile app involves insurance services, e-Commerce, payment gateways, etc. Blockchain-enabled smart contracts will be a viable option to consider. Such contracts will make sure that all financial transactions are secure and transparent. This approach will also minimize the number of intermediaries involved and the fees for financial transactions.
Use cases: Insurance, money lending/transfer, forex exchange, real estate, etc.
Automation of Business Functions:
Smart contracts automate complex operational tasks, specifically those related to payment transactions and document flow.
Use cases: Real-estate transactions, customs clearance functions, distribution of government benefits, etc.
Authentic identification/Verification System:
If you need a reliable system for identifying or verifying data, identity, or information; Blockchain implementation proves advantageous.
Use cases: Real estate registration, copyright, personal identification, etc.
Storage & Processing of Data:
If your business needs a database for storing data or involves the processing of huge chunks of data, Blockchain implementation will be helpful. You’ll be able to store data on a distributed ledger. Besides, you need to maintain a single ledger; this ledger can be accessed by all the authorized participants on the Blockchain network.
Use cases: Healthcare, IoT, etc.
Privacy & Security of Confidential Data:
If you need a hack-proof system to protect the privacy & security of sensitive/confidential data; there’s no better option than a Blockchain solution. This approach works wonders in securing electronic patient data/PHI in the Healthcare sector.
Use cases: Sharing of personal information, Banking & Finance, data security, etc.
Trust, Transparency & Traceability:
Well, there are some use cases that require trust, transparency, & traceability. And, in such scenarios, Blockchain app development is the most viable solution. This is because Blockchain enables you to create a transparent system with traceable records & auditable history. This way, authorized participants can effortlessly track data and view the history of all modifications made. This approach is required when your services need to earn users’ trust like in election processes, spending of charitable funds, etc. Or, you would like to gain a competitive edge by offering trustworthy & transparent services to your consumers, like tracing the authenticity & origin of the products in the supply chain in eCommerce or pharmacy businesses.
Use cases: Voting, Government Contracts, Retail, Supply chain, Logistics, etc.
Blockchain App Development: Step-by-Step Guidance
Once, you are convinced that your business operations or services require a blockchain app; set the ball rolling. Here are the most important steps to consider for Blockchain app development.
To begin with, identify the industry, the requirements of that domain, your targeted audience, etc. If you have already picked the industry, figure out what operational challenges will a Blockchain solution solve. Also, conduct a thorough competitor analysis and decide on the functionalities & USPs that you plan to offer.
Step#2 Picking the Right Solution
Thoroughly analyse the Blockchain solutions available and pick the right solution that suits your business objective. Your Blockchain can be private, public, or hybrid.
To run a public Blockchain, pick open Blockchain solutions like Bitcoin or Ethereum to develop an iOS/Android mobile app. In a public Blockchain, everyone becomes a node and can access the transaction history recorded. You can also use Blockchain software to build a private network or create your own Blockchain network. For creating a private Blockchain network, you need to install Blockchain software and then run it privately without any third-party access. You will also get the option to create a private network with trusted peers or partners.
A Hybrid Blockchain refers to a network that combines the components & protocols of public and private Blockchains. Usually, access is granted via smart contracts. Such solutions are helpful for firms that wish to create their permissioned network along with networks that can be publicly accessible as well.
Another popular option is BaaS (Blockchain as a Service). You can avail of Cloud services from a BaaS provider for your application. Popular BaaS providers include Microsoft, IBM, Azure, BlueMix, Amazon, etc.
Step#3 Picking an App Development Partner/Resources
Now, it’s time to choose the resources for developing your Blockchain application. You must remember that Blockchain app development is more complicated as compared to ordinary apps. Here, the practice of hiring independent developers & crafting an app using ready-made templates won’t work. You need the right resources with specific skill sets, adequate experience, and the necessary expertise. Therefore, partnering with an experienced Blockchain app development company will be a smart option to go with. A software firm will provide all kinds of resources like UI/UX designers, developers, testers, etc. that are needed for your project.
Step#4 Selection of Programming Language
The choice of programming language depends on your project requirements. The programming languages used for Blockchain app development are Python, C#, C++, Java, Go, Plutus, Michelson, Solidity, Rholang, and Scilla. Some languages are suitable for asynchronous code handling while some of them are required for executing smart contracts.
Step#5 Platform Selection
Now, pick a suitable platform for Blockchain app development. Make sure that the platform you choose possesses the basic prerequisites; it must be decentralized, transparent, and secure.
Ethereum: This is the most widely used open-source Blockchain app development platform that is known for its flexibility. It enables you to create solutions like smart contracts, dApps (decentralized apps), and ICOs. Ethereum allows you to develop a Blockchain app and build your own eco-system. The platform uses the programming language Solidity, but you can employ other programming languages as well for creating dApps because of the HTTP API. This platform is governed by Ethereum developers.
Tron: This platform is a free global system for Blockchain apps dealing with finance. Tron enables one to exchange digital content or tokens easily and cost-effectively. Moreover, these exchange transactions are executed instantly with minimal commission charges. The items exchanged can be TV shows on Netflix, movies, or even gaming items.
OpenChain: This is a distributed ledger platform leveraged by businesses or entities for the secure management of digital assets. This open-source platform employs a single authority for validating transactions. For this reason, the platform requires only one administrator for the task of validation. Also, OpenChain doesn’t involve any transaction fee. Like Hyperledger, OpenChain is also managed by the Linux foundation.
Ripple: This platform has been created for financial services and is an excellent pick for developing a finance-based solution. With Ripple, you can easily carry out monetary transactions with any entity across the globe. Ripple’s Blockchain network called RippleNet connects banks, corporations, payment service providers, digital assets exchange transactions, etc. This platform is known for its speedy transactions, it enables around five transactions per second.
R3 Corda: This platform is widely used in banking services, trading, finance, healthcare, e-Commerce, healthcare, supply chains, etc. Corda allows you to build permissioned Blockchains that can be effortlessly integrated with already existing legacy systems, even if those systems are outdated. R3 Corda is managed by the Hedera Hashgraph Council.
IOTA: IOTA or Open-Source Internet of Things is a popular pick for apps or solutions that involve consumer-centric transactions. Here, a directed acrylic graph is used in place of the traditional Blockchain, DAG. Using IOTA, one can process limitless transactions at a time. Also, the transactions are commission-free and get confirmed much faster. As such, the interactions between IoT devices become quicker and safer.
EOS: This platform is used for creating decentralized applications that depend on smart contracts. The major offerings of the EOS platform include the hosting of dApps, smart contract capability, and the storing of enterprise solutions in a decentralized way. The ECAF (EOSIO Core Arbitration Forum) governs this platform.
NEO: This platform facilitates the creation of decentralized solutions that need to perform well and require high scalability. The NEO token is used for the payment of transaction fees. Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance is used for handling high-load decentralized applications and ensuring that the apps’ performance does not get hampered during high-load times.
Step#6 Plan the App Framework
Planning the app framework is the basic building block for Blockchain app development. Here, you need to define the Blockchain solution’s core structure, design, look, user roadmap, etc. You also need to plan the app screens and how they’ll connect with each other. For framework planning, you can use a mind-mapping tool and lay out the user roadmaps & the app’s core components through various Blocks.
There are two ways of framework creation – high-precision or low-precision. Low-precision framework creation refers to the process of representing the basic app structure via a rough schematic sketch. But, if you create a structure where you use images, articles, links, etc. instead of annotated blocks; it becomes a high-precision framework creation.
Step#7 UI Designing
After you’ve created the framework, it’s time to design the user interface. Take a look at the steps involved in creating the UI of a Blockchain app.
Define the Style & Concept
For this task, you need to prepare multiple sets of images (moodboards). These moodboards display app screens with various fonts, color schemes, illustrations, buttons, etc. Hence, it becomes easy for you to pick the aptest style.
Create the Concept
For finalizing the design concept, you can employ a high-precision framework. During this phase, you need to figure out the appearance of the completed app. Usually, one to three app screens are designed and sent for approval to relevant resources.
Create All Screens
Now, create all the screens that your app will have. Create a schematic structure of the UI screens and combine all the screens to form an interactive prototype. This prototype is handy as it provides you with an approximate user experience without actually implementing the UX through coding.
Animations are important for creating a visually attractive interface. Create the interface animation and edit it wherever necessary. Define aspects like screen transitions, how icons will click, image/video openings, etc. Usually, tools like Adobe photoshop are used to create animations, and videos are generated. These videos showcase how an animation will look in the final version of the app. The videos will guide the Blockchain app developers to implement the design as well as the app features in the code.
Once the design is completed, the designers send a UI kit and all other necessary materials along with their documentation to the developers. This UI kit comprises interface elements like fonts with icons, sprites, etc. as well as the states of these elements.
Development & Coding
Now the UI/UX is designed and this design needs to be implemented. Also, you need to implement the app’s business logic. Here, the process of coding starts. You need to create the front-end and the back-end of your Blockchain app. The back end of a Blockchain app has to be entirely decentralized. So, you need an experienced app development team that is well-versed in the complicated languages and protocols required for Blockchain app development.
The execution of this phase depends on the choice of the programming language, platform, Blockchain consensus mechanism, and SDK APIs. You need to determine the way nodes will transact with each other and the communication strategy that will be followed. You will also have to decide whether you would like to create your own Blockchain network or will opt for a BaaS provider.
It is advisable to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at first, instead of a full-fledged app at this stage unless your business requires so. The MVP strategy helps you to validate the concept of your app and receive feedback on the areas of improvement. Based on this feedback, you can add the necessary features later through app updates. The MVP approach aims at reducing risks and saving you investment costs at the beginning. However, do not forget to include some USPs in the MVP so that your Blockchain app is competitive and gains recognition amongst your targeted audience
It is important to test the functionalities of your Blockchain app and this process begins in the developmental phase itself. Every feature and Block you add during Blockchain app development has to undergo Q.A. testing. You need to pay special attention to the testing of the smart contract feature as its testing process is quite unique. And, if your smart contract is running on platforms like Ethereum, you won’t be able to make any modifications later on. Any errors, bugs, or misses by the Q.A. team remain intact if not addressed timely.
Deployment & Maintenance
Now, comes the final step – deployment of your Blockchain application. This phase involves registering your Android/iOS app to marketplaces like the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and adding smart contracts to the Blockchain solution.
Maintenance and support play a crucial role post-deployment. The App’s framework, libraries, operating systems, etc. need to be revamped depending on the necessity. Rolling out updates and adding new functionalities from time to time will ensure that your app stays relevant as per ongoing trends and you can offer the desired features to your customers.
This step is necessary to popularize your Blockchain app amongst your target audience groups. The following strategies are recommended for app promotion. Besides, uploading your app to the Google/Apple stores, you can also add your app software to the free app listings, social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., and online aggregators.
You can also opt for paid ad campaigns; these involve pay-per-click or ad viewing on search engines, websites, and social media sites. Social media marketing & content marketing on popular sites is also a sound app promotion strategy. Also, sending e-mail newsletters to target audience groups is an effective option. These newsletters may contain content, images, videos, or animations. Furthermore, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is necessary for optimizing your content and building links.
To create an impeccable and productive Blockchain app, it’s important to understand the Blockchain app architecture thoroughly and follow the tried and tested development methodologies. Also, you need to involve experienced and skilled developers and designers who can handle the complexities and challenging requirements of Blockchain app development.