Holochain and Holo… What’s the deal?

Raymond D. Powell
Apr 22, 2018 · 3 min read

What is Holochain?

Holochain is an opensource distributed application development and execution environment. It is free to download, install, use, and distribute. There is not (and can never be) a cost associated with building or running a Holochain application.

While some folks associate Holochain with Blockchain, there are actually more practical differences than there are fundamental similarities. While Ethereum is fundamentally a cyptocurrency that allows for the creation of smart contracts (dumb apps?) on top of it, Holochain is a distributed application development ecosystem. One of the applications you can build is a cryptocurrency. Holochain applications have much broader potential to contribute to the transformation of our daily lives. I predict that every major web application we use today (Facebook, Uber, Google Docs, etc) will be replaced by distributed versions running on something like Holochain in the next several years.

One of the reasons for this fundamental transformation is that Holochain application users communicate with each other peer-to-peer. There is no central server, no central data store, and no central processing of application functions. Every device run by every user acts as a web server of the application’s user interface, and a data store for the applications data. When a user runs a Holochain application, they do so from their web browser by pointing it to http://127.0.0.1 or http://localhost. This URL points the browser to the users own device. The magic of Holochain allows each of those devices to maintain application communication and data integrity between them, so that to the user, it acts like every other website they visit.

When a developer builds a Holochain application, they need to make sure that every user of their application runs Holochain. With the current state of operating systems, this can be a tedious process that is both confusing and scary to average users.

Enter Holo…

What is Holo?

Holo is the new cloud. A cloud that is built and maintained by the crowd. Literally—the Holo cloud was actually crowdsourced into (pre-)existence.

When someone writes a Holochain application, and it is the kind of application that they want the whole world to be able to run, it would slow down adoption significantly if they required every user to go through an installation process rather than just pointing them to a URL.

The Holo cloud solves this problem. Instead of paying a monthly fee to a web hosting provider (think HostGator or Amazon) to host their application, developers can pay a bounty to the Holo crowd, where each member of the crowd has either plugged in a HoloPort, or has run Holo software on their own hardware. It is predicted that the monthly cost of paying those bounties will be equivalent or less than the costs of standard web hosting, and there is no central data center to depend on!

Each time an internet user points to the application’s URL, the Holo network selects one of the Holo crowd devices to run an instance of Holochain on their behalf, resolving the need for that user to run Holochain on their device.

In Summary

If you want to develop a Holochain application, you do not need to ever worry about incurring any costs. You can share and run your application at any scale, without any central middle-man (not even Holochain or Holo) even having the capability to charge, or to enclose your application in any way.

If you want to publish your application for the world to use, Holo is there to enable that for you, with minimal costs and complications.

If you are excited about having Holochain apps in your life, you can rest assured that it doesn’t have to be any more difficult than pointing your browser to a URL!

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