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The Graph, an innovative provider for indexing data, in the spotlight

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By Bitpanda

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Have you ever tried to find something in a book and spent your time flipping through everything on the off chance it turns up? An alphabetically-sorted index can significantly reduce the time you need to find the desired content. Indexing also plays a big role in blockchains like Ethereum when it comes to querying data. Find out all about The Graph (GRT), an indexing protocol for the simplified querying of data on the blockchain.

The Graph in a nutshell

The majority of internet users may have a very hard time living without Google. Similarly, optimised querying of information is also of the essence for Web 3 users. Enter The Graph, a project that was founded in 2017 with the objective of providing infrastructure to the crypto space in a decentralised and reliable way. The Graph mainnet saw its launch in December 2020.

While they were building applications of their own, the founders of this project realised how cumbersome and annoying it was to collect and transform data from different sources without a decentralised service providing indexing and querying software for blockchain technology.

This is how The Graph was born. Their mission is to provide developers of applications with an indexing protocol to facilitate access to blockchain data and Web 3, and this is what they state on the official website of the project:

“The Graph network is … an open network producing the fastest, cheapest, most reliable way to access data for the crypto economy.”

Find out all the details behind The Graph in their crypto ID:

Discover The Graph

Even for a relatively simple direct data search involving a project with a complex smart contract solution, it would take a DApp (decentralised application) running on a browser hours or even days to find answers. Blockchain properties such as chain reorganisations, possible “uncle blocks”, finality and others make for complicated, conceptually difficult and time-consuming processes in retrieving correct query results from data.

Looking to provide a marketplace for service providers, The Graph ensures that all data is stored and processed on open networks with verifiable integrity and that makes querying this data fast, reliable and secure. The Graph relies on different roles of the network’s participants to execute activities and services. These are Developers, Indexers, Curators and Delegators. 


Participants in The Graph network

Developers

The process of data flow from transactions, subgraph manifests and the database follows a set structure. It begins with decentralised applications that add data to the Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts.

Developers utilising The Graph for their work can create subgraphs in The Graph’s Subgraph Studio for their DApp projects. A subgraph defines which data The Graph will index from Ethereum and how it will be stored. Once deployed, this will form a part of a global graph of blockchain data.

Indexers

Node operators in The Graph network are called Indexers. Indexers are technically skilled operators of nodes that have staked GRT tokens to provide query processing services and indexing which they earn rewards and fees for. Rewards may be slashed if indexers turn out to be malicious.

A node on The Graph scans the entire blockchain database, collects new data and filters out those that are relevant to users' queries. To facilitate indexing, a node identifies each piece of information that answers the queries from subgraphs. The selection made by Indexers is based on a subgraph’s curation signal where GRT, the network’s token, has been staked by “Curators” to indicate high-quality content. 

Curators

As subgraphs on The Graph network are open-source, this means that everyone can build them. Consequently, identifying quality subgraphs that are reliable and provide accurate information may be challenging. This is where Curators come in: they identify valuable pieces of information in a data stream and present them to the target audience in a way that adds value. By signaling (“curating”) such data, Curators highlight to Indexers which subgraphs are valuable and should be indexed as such.

Delegators

Delegators are participants in The Graph network who delegate (“stake”) GRT to Indexers, help to secure the network this way and earn part of the Indexers’ rewards in return. The more GRT tokens that are staked with an Indexer, the more queries they can process. 


Subgraphs in The Graph network

A graph is a drawing that consists of nodes (also called vertices or points). These points may be connected to each other with edges (lines with or without arrowheads) to visually indicate a relationship between points. In graph theory, the term subgraph describes a relationship between two graphs if one of them is part of the other. 

Blockchain data is indexed via subgraphs, which users are able to access through the GraphQL. The API will eventually be fully decentralised, as the number of nodes maintaining the index is increasing continuously.  

The “Subgraph Manifest” is employed to index Ethereum-based data and refers to the description of a subgraph containing data about smart contracts, blockchain events and the process of outlining connections in event data before it is all stored in the platform's database.

How does querying work in The Graph network?

Subgraphs are used to facilitate indexing by identifying pieces of information needed to answer queries. Data retrieval and indexing on the The Graph platform takes place in a cycle with subgraphs containing playgrounds for users to submit their queries via GraphQL, a query language for application programming interfaces (APIs). 

All data consists of events and transactions up to the point of finality. Developers can write and deploy their own subgraphs to support the network’s growth. 

Which blockchains are supported by The Graph?

In line with their mission to decentralise infrastructure for public use, the Graph provides data which can be organised, transformed and shared across applications for users to query.  

At time of writing of this article, The Graph network supports a number of peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols for file sharing and blockchains including Ethereum, IPFS, POA, Polkadot, Solana, Near and Celo

How to start your research on GRT

Before investing in an asset, as always, here are some things to bear in mind. 

  • Always make sure you research the asset you are looking to invest in, a great place to start is a project’s official website, in this case TheGraph.com

  • The high volatility inherent in assets such as crypto means you always need to bear specific risks in mind alongside possible profits

  • Keeping your portfolio well diversified is key, especially in times of high volatility - find out how the asset you are interested in would fit in with the assets you already have. 

Where can you start investing in GRT?

On Bitpanda, you can invest in GRT and more than 2,000 other assets, including cryptocurrencies, crypto indices, precious metals and more from just €1, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and even automatically with Bitpanda Savings

Opening your Bitpanda account is fast, simple and secure via Bitpanda’s web app or on our app for iOS and Android. Go ahead and verify your account, make your first deposit using your favourite payment method - including SEPA Instant - and start investing right away. 

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