Without accurate, reliable data, DApps won’t work. Unfortunately for developers, data from decentralised sources is, by its design, harder to obtain than information from centralised sources. Retrieving data from a centralised source is the equivalent of using the search function on an internal database which will return the data you’re looking for instantly. However, the risk associated with centralised sources is their single point of failure — if the network goes down, the data is irretrievable.
Decentralised sources, such as those based around blockchain technology, rely on a series of disparate yet connected nodes, each of which play a role in verifying transactions on the chain. Each node stores a copy of the blockchain, meaning that if one goes down there are plenty left working from which to retrieve the data. This resilience comes at a cost however — there is no built-in search function for blockchain data, and data retrieval from such a network can be a slow, resource-intensive process. Existing protocols designed to resolve the issue are hit and miss both in their design and their functionality, but the growing adoption of blockchain technology means that retrieval of all types of data from blockchains is becoming more pressing. The data is there to be pulled and analysed, but there remain few fast, reliable, and robust methods of data retrieval within the blockchain ecosystem.
How to solve a problem like a blockchain
The main reason why data from a blockchain cannot easily be queried is because it is not a simple database. Whereas a database is a contained collection of information that can be optimized for query performance, a blockchain is a secure, immutable ledger of transactions stretching back, in some cases, over a decade. Blockchains are designed with security and immutability in mind, not convenience. Therefore, DApps that want to take advantage of the data within a blockchain have to not just find a way of arranging the myriad of data in a readable order, they have to be able to identify and extract the required data quickly, while also keeping up to date with the data constantly being added to the blockchain.
It’s clear to see, then, why data retrieval is such a hot topic among blockchain developers. There is a gap between the valuable data being added to a blockchain on a minute-by-minute basis and software that can continually analyse this data and be ready to receive multiple queries from it. Subsquid is uniquely placed to bridge this gap for the Polkadot development community thanks to its combination of performance, versatility and reliability. As we have seen, query nodes often struggle to retrieve data from large and continuously growing blockchains, with the process being slow, complex, and resource-intensive. However, Subsquid allows developers to fetch data quickly and accurately, no matter the growth rate of the blockchain, making it a game changer in the Polkadot DApp world.
Subsquid changes the game
Among other key elements, Subsquid features fast development cycles thanks to the use of HYDRA Indexer and HYDRA Indexer Gateway protocols, enterprise-grade APIs, and a combination of low resource utilisation, high flexibility and customisation for end users.
These features will benefit Polkadot developers hugely, allowing them to create DApps safe in the knowledge that the data central to their success will be easy to find, quick to arrive, and that the APIs that carry them will be reliable and robust.
Ultimately of course, the purpose of developing DApps is so that people can use them, and people won’t use them if the data that serves them is slow to arrive, incomplete, or doesn’t arrive at all due to overloads on the network. Currently, only people with a passion for emerging technology are using DApps, due in part to issues with ease of use. They are understanding of the flaws and obstacles involved in using them because they are keen to experience the cutting edge of technology, to experiment with what might, or might not be, the next big thing.
Helping DApps make the breakthrough
The world at large is ignorant of blockchain technology and what it can do, partly because there aren’t any great examples of it in the public domain yet. DApps are where traditional mobile apps were a decade ago, or perhaps even longer ago, mainly because they aren’t as easy to use as their centralised counterparts. All too often they are let down by the range of information available, or the speed at which that information can be retrieved. A regular person on the street isn’t going to swap their Apple or Google Maps app for a decentralised version that takes forever to update, regardless of the fact that the DApp won’t record their data. People want apps that are easy to use, responsive, and reliable.
To date, developers have found it very hard to create DApps whose data retrieval speed is able to rival that of their centralised counterparts. With Subsquid and the Polkadot blockchain however, developers are finally able to create DApps knowing that fast, flexible, and reliable blockchain data retrieval is finally here, offering them the chance to expand their horizons and create applications that break through the barrier into mainstream usage.
To find out more about how Subsquid is helping Polkadot DApp developers break down these barriers, join us on our Discord server to chat to one of our helpful Subsquid team members or other users. For more background information on Subsquid and what it’s all about, head over to our website and check selected materials.