Today the Origin development team is happy to announce the launch of the Origin Protocol Demo DApp on the Ethereum Rinkeby test network!
In our DApp, you can create sample listings in different sharing economy verticals such as vacation rentals, tickets, transportation, and simple “for sale” offerings. Below we’ll show you how to use it right in your browser.
While it may look similar to traditional web sites that you have used, the Demo DApp is radically different in its underlying architecture. In fact, just a few years ago it would have been technologically impossible.
Origin does not own a database where the listings are stored. Instead, all data is stored across computers around the world running open source software. Also, you don’t need to register with Origin to participate, only a freely available Ethereum wallet.
Behind the scenes, each listing is stored in a contract on the Rinkeby test network, which is cryptographically linked to extended data on IPFS. Users interact with Ethereum’s blockchain by using the MetaMask browser extension.
That was a lot of buzzwords and acronyms. Let’s cover them one by one:
DApp is short for “decentralized application,” and refers to this new generation of applications that use blockchain technology instead of a traditional centralized server backend.
Rinkeby is the name of Ethereum’s test network, named after a small town in Sweden. The test network runs the same software as the main Ethereum network, but has its own separate blockchain. You can get free Ether on it for testing, but — too bad! — this Ether has no value and cannot be exchanged for real Ether or fiat currency.
IPFS is a project from Protocol Labs that provides decentralized file storage allowing larger content to be stored efficiently across a peer-to-peer network of servers. The letters stand for “Interplanetary File System.” The Origin Demo DApp uses IPFS to store listing details such as photos and textual descriptions.
MetaMask is a free Chrome extension that is an Ethereum wallet, but also acts as bridge between the Web and Ethereum. For example, when you make a purchase in our Demo DApp, code on the web page launches MetaMask with details of where to send Ether.
Our Development Philosophy
While the technical details are impressive, equally new and exciting is how this DApp was created. In a traditional tech startup, we would have developed this code in secret and perhaps filed a few patents by now.
Instead, our DApp was created as an open source project by a collaboration of full time employees and volunteers. All our code is freely viewable on GitHub, and we hope more people will download it and contribute. (Including you!)
If you can’t wait to try the DApp yourself, skip ahead for instructions.
The home screen shows all available listings. The listings are first fetched from the Ethereum blockchain, and then the photos are loaded from IPFS.
Clicking on a listing takes you to a detailed view.
Clicking the “Buy” button will launch MetaMask where you complete the transaction.
The transaction is added to the next block, which will be mined within 15 seconds.
The apartment is now yours, time to pack for Paris!
You can also create a listing of your own by clicking “Create Listing.”
The DApp allows you to create listings for several sharing economy verticals. Let’s list a house for rent.
Next you enter the details of your listing, including photos.
A preview of the new listing lets you see how everything will look before actually posting.
If the preview looks good, “Done” will publish the listing.
Try the DApp
Think of this DApp as a proof of concept and our playground for trying out ideas. While we may eventually reuse pieces of this in production, this is by no means what we envision as the final product. We thought it would be helpful to demonstrate how the various technologies work together from end to end.
The technology stack is still immature, but developing rapidly. It’s still a multi-step process to get set up — much like the early days of the internet.
1. Install MetaMask and create an account
If you already have MetaMask, you can skip ahead to step 2.
Install the MetaMask extension in Google Chrome. It will appear as an orange fox icon in the top-right of Chrome.
Read and Accept the Privacy Notice and Terms of Service.
Choose a password and save the generated passphrase. Even though you’ll be using the the test network, we recommend using a strong password. MetaMask can also be used on the main network for transactions with real value.
2. Get Ether on the test network
Change from Main Ethereum Network to Rinkeby Test Network. It runs the same software as the Main Network, but has its own blockchain, accounts, contracts, and transactions.
To get some Ether to play with, you’ll need to get some from the Rinkeby Faucet. This service will give you test Ether simply by posting your address on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.
First, we’ll need your account address. In MetaMask, click the “•••” button next to your account, and select “Copy Address to clipboard”
Now paste this address into a tweet, a public Facebook post, or a Google+ post. I created my post on the Google+ homepage, and it looked like this:
Once it’s posted, you’ll need to copy the URL of the post. In Google+, you can click the diagonal arrow button to get the post on its own page. You can see my post at https://plus.google.com/114203467826302852415/posts/QUNCrqYc778
Copy the URL, and paste it into the Rinkeby faucet here: https://www.rinkeby.io/#faucet
You can select how often to get your test Ether. “3 Ethers / 8 hours” is good.
In less than 15 seconds your account should be funded! Open MetaMask to confirm that your account now has 3 Ethers. (After 8 hours, you can return to the faucet to request more.)
You’re now ready to try our Demo DApp at https://demo.originprotocol.com/ and spend your hard-earned Ethers!
Learn more about Origin: