Integrated Application


Integrated Applications combine the advantages of appchains and smart contracts to enable developers to build better applications that can onboard users from anywhere.

What Is an Integrated Application? 

Integrated Applications combine the advantages of appchains and smart contracts to enable developers to build more performant and innovative applications that can be easily scaled cross-chain.

First, we need to unpack appchains and smart contracts to understand their respective attributes. This will help to understand the fundamental value of Integrated Applications.

What Are Appchains?

An appchain is a blockchain dedicated to a particular application. It is the most versatile and sovereign way for developers to build blockchain applications, allowing them to be entirely tailored.

For example, a gaming-oriented appchain would likely prioritize low transaction fees and latency to ensure a smooth and optimized gaming experience. It would focus much less on composability and interoperability, because what matters is the contained in-game experience for players. On the other hand, a DeFi appchain would seek to maximize interoperability, because it would seek to achieve distribution through the largest pools of users and liquidity available.

Despite their customizability, appchains are complex, slow, and expensive to build and maintain. They require the running of several concurrent processes, including coordinating validators, launching a token, maintaining dedicated infrastructures (RPCs, relayers, validator nodes, archive nodes, etc) and more. 

What Are Smart Contracts? 

Smart contracts are self-executing digital programs stored on the blockchain that eliminate the need for intermediaries. They execute instructions and release assets when predefined conditions are met.

For instance, a user may choose to aid in securing a network via a liquid staking protocol. The smart contract condition is programmed to manage the staked tokens, delegating them to validators or staking pools, earning staking rewards, and handling any associated governance rights.

As opposed to appchains, smart contracts are more standardized. This helps build appropriate tooling which simplifies the developer experience, reduces cost and improves development time. 

However, smart contracts are traditionally more restrained. They are passive lines of code that can’t do anything unless they’re triggered by a third party via a transaction. They are constrained by the limits of the virtual machine, whereas the blockchain’s code itself can be tailored to do anything.

It’s worth noting that not all Cosmos blockchains have built-in smart contract capabilities like Ethereum. However, the CosmWasm virtual machine is now recognized as a core technology of the Cosmos stack and is widely used in Cosmos SDK blockchains such as Neutron, Osmosis, Sei, Injective, and others.

Integrated Applications 

An Integrated Application presents a breakthrough for Web3 developers. By tapping into the strengths of smart contracts and the platform’s app-specific features, these applications create products that are more efficient, secure, and scalable. Automation, native interoperability, and other advanced features enable developers to build differentiated products and distribute them faster and to a wider audience.

Integrated Applications on Cosmos

Integrated Applications differ from typical smart contracts as they have access to components of the blockchain that exist outside of their virtual machine, broadening functionality for users, such as access to off-chain resources or data.
By drawing on appchain characteristics, Integrated Applications can customize relevant network characteristics such as fees or blockspace. For example, this degree of customizability can enable Integrated Applications to provide gas-free lanes to simplify the user onboarding process, rely on the network’s native cross-chain infrastructure to onboard users from other networks, regardless of whether or not they feature support for smart contracts, or provide services remotely to new markets. They can leverage their network’s native automation mechanisms to execute arbitrary CosmWasm messages at a given interval to provide more reliable or performant services.

Advantages of Integrated Applications

  • Efficiency: improves capital efficiency of the platform and application, enabling a better protocol design (i.e. improving order book functionality for trading).

  • Security: offers developers and users a robust and reliable platform by reducing risks of bugs, vulnerabilities, hacks, attacks, or exploits against the platform and application.

  • Interoperability: connects with different blockchains, allowing the platform and application to scale to new audiences without having to redeploy its contracts and tokens every time.

  • Composability: enables integrated applications to be assembled synchronously, providing a more seamless experience.

Integrated Applications represent a significant shift in access to the power and customizability of appchains, enabling developers to easily build more ambitious applications. They present unique advantages and ensure improved efficiency, security as well as seamless integration with different blockchains.  

These benefits make Integrated Applications, and Cosmos, more attractive and competitive. 

Author: Avril (Spaydh) Dutheil is a Core Contributor at Neutron, the integrated application network bringing smart contracts to the Cosmos ecosystem. He is an experienced digital specialist with a background in marketing, community management, digital services, and infrastructure, with a longstanding interest in computing systems and privacy. Starting his crypto journey when he purchased Bitcoin in his high school cafeteria, Avril went on to work for big industry names including P2P and Lido Finance, growing communities and leading strategic business initiatives. He is now focused on supporting the Cosmos ecosystem, ushering in secure cross-chain DeFi and creating the next generation of blockchain tech.