The Graph Protocol

The Graph Protocol

The Graph is a decentralized protocol for indexing and querying data from blockchains, enabling efficient access to blockchain data for decentralized...

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The Graph (GRT) is a decentralized, censorship resistant, and open-source indexing platform for blockchain data. Through specific norms or schemes, data is arranged in an organized manner by the protocol. The Graph Protocol is often referred to as the Google of Blockchain.

The World Wide Web has come a long since its inception. In the early days, the internet was like an untamed jungle of information, where finding what you were looking for was akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. But then came the emergence of search engines, and suddenly the internet became much more navigable. Google, in particular, became the go-to search engine, synonymous with an internet search.

Fast-forward to the present day, we find ourselves on the cusp of another transformation in the web3 space. Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) drive an unprecedented shift toward decentralization, but this shift comes with challenges. As more and more information is stored on the blockchain and DLT-based platforms, the need for efficient ways to access and organize that information is becoming increasingly urgent. In short, the web3 space needs its own Google.

Enter the Graph protocol. This innovative indexing and querying protocol aims to solve the problem of navigating the decentralized Web3 space by acting as a librarian, organizing and mapping the vast amounts of data stored on the blockchain and DLT-based platforms. 

Just as a traditional library catalog helps you find a specific book on a specific topic, the Graph allows developers to quickly and easily find the data they need to build fast, reliable, and user-friendly decentralized applications. With the Graph, the decentralized Web3 space is poised to become a much more navigable and accessible place.

What is The Graph?

In simple terms, the Graph is a decentralized protocol that helps indexing and querying data from blockchains. It’s now largely possible to query data that is usually difficult for users to access directly. The Graph protocol can be used to search for any Ethereum data through simple queries.

Why was the Graph protocol needed in the first place? DeFi and NFT projects like Uniswap and Bored Ape Yacht Club store data on Ethereum Blockchain that’s hard to read or query. For Bored Ape Yacht Club, information like supply and other basic information is available. This is because it is totally programmed into smart contracts. But for advanced queries like aggregation and search, as well as for filtering across specific address holdings, smart contracts are not enough. To obtain this data, we need to process every transaction that was ever emitted and read the metadata from IPFS (Inter Planetary File System) using Token ID and IPFS hash. Moreover, the whole process will take hours or even days to finally access the data we need.

The Graph Protocol solves this problem by decentralizing the query and API (SubGraphs) layer, and we don’t need to look so deep for the information we need. 

Notably, on the Graph protocol, ‘indexing’ is the process of organizing the data in accordance with the protocol instructions. With the Graph blockchain data sourcer, querying will be easier. 

History of the Graph Protocol

Nowadays, web applications like Facebook, Google, Youtube, and LinkedIn are well-known. But these applications store data with centralized corporations that play a major role in monopolism. This centralization will be in the hands of a few, adversely impacting the economic opportunities and self-determination for most others.

After the introduction of blockchain-based decentralized applications (DApps), the data were either owned or managed by the community. In these cases, the data is in the hands of users as they control their data. As DApps are becoming more popular, the data is also increasing rapidly. Operations like filtering, pagination and sorting require creating and maintaining indexes, which takes lots of time to process.

To change this, the Graph was introduced. The protocol provides the infrastructure layer for the emerging web3 and solves the issues with querying and organizing data.

How Does the Graph Work?

Now that we know ‘what is graph blockchain?’ let’s have a look at ‘How does the graph work?’ Through a subgraph description, the Graph learns how and what data to index on Ethereum: this is known as a subgraph manifest. After writing the subgraph manifest, we use the Graph CLI to store the definition in IPFS and command the indexers to index data for that subgraph.

How Does the Graph Work
Source: The Graph | What is the Graph blockchain, and how does the Graph work?

The Graph works by first allowing decentralized applications to add data to Ethereum through transactions on smart contracts. Through the transaction, one or more events are emitted by the smart contract. The Graph Node then continuously scans for the new blocks and the data for your subgraphs that they may contain. When the Node finds one, it updates the data entities that the Graph Node stores in response to Ethereum events. The application then queries the Graph Node through a complex process using GraphQL to get the index data. Finally, the data sourced is displayed to the end user.

The efficient operations of the Graph Protocol are ensured through the following roles:

1. Indexers

Indexers operate nodes in the Graph protocol and are incentivized for their activity.

2. Curators

Curators are those individuals who signal the valuable indexes in subgraphs.

3. Delegators

Delegators stake GRT (the native token of the Graph platform) on behalf of indexers and leave the operations of nodes to them as well.

GRT is the native token of the Graph protocol, as mentioned before. The token has the following utilities:

  • GRT acts as an internal means of payment within the Graph protocol.
  • GRT tokens are used to reward curators, indexers, and delegators.
  • Consumers are required to pay with GRT when querying information. 

This is how the graph works.

How To Use The Graph?

Using the Graph can initially seem daunting, but it’s quite straightforward once you understand the basic concepts. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Choose a subgraph: The first step is identifying the subgraph you want to query. A subgraph is a subset of data on a specific blockchain, such as Ethereum or IPFS.
  2. Define your query: Once you have identified the subgraph you want to query, the next step is to define your query. This involves writing a GraphQL query that specifies the data you want to retrieve from the subgraph.
  3. Query the subgraph: With your query defined, you can now query the subgraph using the Graph Node, which is a software component running on a server and provides an interface for querying indexed subgraphs.
  4. Analyze the results: Once you have queried the subgraph, you will receive a response in the form of JSON data. You can then analyze this data to extract the information you need for your application.

What are the Benefits of Using The Graph Protocol?

The Graph protocol offers several benefits, making it an attractive option for developers looking to build decentralized applications. Here are three key benefits:

1. No tradeoff

One of the primary benefits of using the Graph is that it allows developers to build dapps without sacrificing performance or reliability. This is because it provides an efficient and scalable indexing and querying protocol that allows developers to access and retrieve the blockchain data easily. By providing this infrastructure, The Graph eliminates the need for developers to spend time and resources building their indexing and querying systems, freeing them up to focus on building the best possible user experiences for their applications.

2. Flexibility and Convenience

Another benefit of using the Graph is its flexibility and convenience. It supports many blockchain protocols, including Ethereum, IPFS, and POA, and allows developers to switch between them as needed easily. 

Additionally, Graph provides a user-friendly web-based interface that allows developers to easily explore available subgraphs, define queries, and analyze results. This makes it easy for developers to experiment with different data sources and query patterns, allowing them to iterate and refine their applications quickly.

3. Infrastructure for a Decentralized Web

Perhaps the most significant benefit of using the Graph is that it provides the infrastructure to support a decentralized web. By allowing developers to access and retrieve data from the blockchain easily, Graph makes it possible to build dapps that are fast, reliable, and user-friendly. This, in turn, helps to advance the goal of creating a decentralized web that is more secure, transparent, and open than the current centralized web. 

With the Graph, developers have the tools to help usher in a new era of decentralized applications that can transform how we interact with technology and each other.

What is The GRT Token?

The GRT (Graph Token) is the native cryptocurrency of the Graph network, a decentralized protocol for indexing and querying blockchain data. The GRT is an ERC-20 token, which means it is built on the Ethereum blockchain and can be stored in any wallet that supports ERC-20 tokens. 

The GRT plays an important role in the functioning of the Graph network. It incentivizes and rewards network participants, including indexers who provide computing power, curators who identify and signal high-quality subgraphs, and delegators who stake their GRT to support the network.

Moreover, the GRT is a governance token, allowing holders to vote on network upgrades and change proposals. This gives the community a voice in the evolution of the Graph network, helping to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of its users over time.

What is the Future of The Graph?

The future of the Graph looks promising as it plays a crucial role in developing the web3 ecosystem. As more and more applications move towards decentralized technologies, the demand for reliable and efficient data indexing and querying solutions is expected to increase. The Graph is well-positioned to meet this demand and become a crucial infrastructure layer for web3.

One of the key initiatives for the future of the Graph is its plans for a multi-blockchain network. Currently, the Graph supports Ethereum, IPFS, and POA but plans to expand to support other blockchain networks such as Polkadot, NEAR, and Solana. This will increase the number of available subgraphs and allow for cross-chain interoperability, making it easier for developers to build complex dapps.

The Graph is also improving its developer experience, making it easier for developers to build and deploy subgraphs. It is further planning to launch Graph Explorer, enabling developers to easily search and discover subgraphs and APIs and build, test, and deploy their own subgraphs.

Another area of focus for the Graph is governance. As the network grows and evolves, the community must work together to ensure that the network is scalable, reliable, and sustainable. The Graph plans to continue prioritizing community governance, allowing stakeholders to propose and vote on network upgrades and changes.


The Graph is among the newer web3 projects, launched only in the December of 2020. The protocol assures users with trustworthy on-chain data in the field of blockchain, and many well-known blockchain platforms already endorse the project. The future of GRT looks very bright indeed. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What Does The Graph Do?

The Graph is a decentralized protocol that allows developers to index and query data from various blockchain networks, including Ethereum, IPFS, and POA. The protocol enables developers to build decentralized applications that can quickly and efficiently access relevant data without centralized intermediaries. The Graph accomplishes this by using a decentralized network of nodes called indexers to process and serve queries. The result is a more reliable and efficient data infrastructure for the web3 ecosystem.

2. What is The Graph Coin Used For?

The Graph’s GRT token is a native cryptocurrency within the Graph network. It incentivizes and rewards network participants, including indexers, curators, and delegators. Additionally, the GRT is a governance token, allowing holders to vote on network upgrades and change proposals. The GRT also pays for query fees and other network services. Overall, the GRT plays a crucial role in the functioning of the Graph network, providing the incentives, rewards, and governance needed to create a decentralized protocol that is fast, reliable, and user-friendly.

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