The average app-user doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what happens in the background of the applications we use on a daily basis. With the advent of decentralized applications, an interest in distributed computing has piqued amongst blockchain developers. While many of these apps are decentralized on the back-end, many more use centralized computing resources like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services to get the job done.
The Graph introduces an often forgotten but crucial part to the existing blockchain infrastructure. Decentralized indexing enables the organization of blockchain data into open and easily accessible APIs that are called Subgraphs. Developers can then access and search these subgraphs to build their blockchain apps.
In common terms, imagine you wanted to find out how many crypto punks a certain wallet address owns and at what price they acquired their first crypto punk. If you don’t want to go through that process manually — and when this is done for an app, you can’t have an intern sit in the backend searching everything manually. With Graph protocol, the first step would be to compile the data. It is then indexed into a subgraph that manifests interest for it and includes events the contract needs to pay attention to and how the event data should be mapped to other data that Graph stores in its database.
When this process is complete, you can query all the data to answer whichever cryptopunk related question you had by using the graphQL API.
To make this possible, four different kinds of participants play a crucial role in the graph network: indexers, curators, delegators, and consumers.
Curators: Curators are in charge of curating blockchain data and assessing which subgraphs of high quality need to be indexed. To signal which subgraphs are of more importance, they attach the network token GRT to it.
Indexers: Indexers operate nodes and earn rewards for querying and indexing. They select subgraphs based on their curation signal and prioritize them accordingly to be indexed. When indexers add incorrect data or act maliciously, the GRT they hold can be slashed.
Delegators: delegate their GRT holdings to indexers to contribute to running the network.
Consumers: companies or individuals looking to add blockchain data to their apps and services. They pay for using the Graph network in GRT.
To compensate network participants for keeping things running, all participants are rewarded with a portion of the platform’s network fees. GRT, an ERC-20 token is the native currency of the protocol, and is used for all payments and rewards. With an initial supply of 10 Billion GRT, the developers announced plans to burn 1% of GRT in circulation every year.
The Graph has already been implemented across various popular platforms in the blockchain space. Decentraland, a blockchain game with NFTs, uses the graph to find and list items from other apps on their marketplace, enabling users to buy in a centralized place.
The decentralized exchange Uniswap also uses the graph to access historical trading and price data and conduct analytics. The lending platform Aave employs the graph data to monitor their contracts, check for trade history, and analyze liquidity on the platform.
While invisible to the end-user, the graph is already powering various crypto companies and will continue to do so. With backing from known blockchain investors such as coinbase ventures and the digital asset group, the graph makes it easy for developers to build dApps decentralized on all levels. This full-stack decentralization makes them robust and facilitates interoperability. As GRT is the only way to pay for using these vital services, it’s an asset to watch out for.
GRT is now trading on Bitcoin.com Exchange with BTC and USDT pairs.