If you have been keeping up with the advances in the blockchain space, you may have heard of the Graph protocol. The Graph (GRT) is a decentralized, censorship resistant, and open-source indexing platform for blockchain data. By specific norms or schemes, data is arranged in an organized manner by the Graph. The Graph Protocol is often referred to as the Google of Blockchain.
In case you are still not clear on “what is the Graph”, in this post we try to answer your query in further detail, and also see the answer to another popular query, “how does the Graph Work?”
What is The Graph?
In simple terms, the Graph is a decentralized protocol that helps for indexing and querying data from blockchains. With the help of the Graph, it’s 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, the 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 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, and this affects the reduction of economic opportunities and self-determination for many.
Even after the introduction of the blockchain-based decentralized applications (DApps), the data was 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 Graph 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.
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 by the following roles:
Indexers operate nodes in the Graph protocol and are incentivized for their activity.
Curators are those individuals who signal the valuable indexes in subgraphs.
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.
The Graph is among the newer web3 projects, launched only in the December of 2020. The Graph 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.
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