An introduction to ‘Headless’ dApps

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Robert Kornacki

27 November, 2020

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This new approach offers a streamlined interface for interacting with on-chain contracts, enabling anyone to build dApps using simple building blocks.

So-called headless dApps are a new idea in the blockchain world, and one that offers exciting new possibilities for developers and the DeFi sector. It’s also one that Ergo will be exploring in due course.

Before we make further announcements, it’s worth exploring the idea a little further. If you’re new to the idea of headless dApps, you’ll likely have questions…

What are ‘headless’ dApps?

Headless dApps are a brand new technical and business model for developing dApps that is just beginning to take hold in the blockchain space. Headless dApps are the pure and portable self-contained logic for reading and participating in on-chain smart contract protocols. In other words, a headless dApp is a piece of software that exposes the complex on-chain protocols to the off-chain world with a streamlined interface that anyone can build on. The dApps themselves have no frontend of their own – hence they are ‘headless’.

Why is that a good thing?

Headless dApps provide the freedom to build an entire decentralized ecosystem. Because headless dApps are pure and portable by default, they can be compiled to any desktop OS, mobile OS, or browser. Because they have a streamlined interface, they can be integrated into scripts and bots trivially. Because they are composable, they can be used together in applications – for example, to enable arbitrage between different protocols, or entire new user experiences to be developed without having to understand how each and every supported headless dApp works in detail. This makes them ideal for newer devs with limited experience of developing smart contract protocols. They can still create powerful applications and have a real impact in the dApp world without immersing themselves in the intricacies of how every dApp functions.

What are the business implications of headless dApps?

Headless dApps open up the ecosystem for a whole new business model. Rather than smart contact protocol creators sucking up all potential profit/value from the success of the protocol, headless dApps uncover as yet untapped revenue streams for front-end devs. By decentralizing the potential profit from the protocol creators to include each and every frontend that is developed, we move away from the current model of popular dApps with a single hosted frontend. Instead, there’s the opportunity to incentivize a robust ecosystem composed of numerous independent frontends, built by multiple devs and companies – all of whom can profit from improving the ecosystem as a whole.

TL;DR?

Headless dApps provide any developer with easy access to powerful blockchain functionality, allowing them to create and monetise their own applications based on these building blocks.

Watch this space – because we have some great new developments on the way very soon!

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