Graph Horizon: Pioneering Decentralized Data in the Web3 Tech Stack

As announced in the New Era roadmap, The Graph’s vision has expanded beyond subgraphs and GraphQL to serve more web3 data, more users and builders, and more use cases.  As part of this new era, the Edge & Node team has proposed Graph Horizon -  a visionary transformation of The Graph into a more permissionless and fully modular protocol, designed to service a limitless array of data services and query languages, along with introducing several protocol enhancements and updates. As explained in The Graph Forum, the evolution outlined in Graph Horizon signifies a major step forward in The Graph’s commitment to offering unparalleled flexibility, heightened security, and enhanced efficiency in providing the world with decentralized data services.

What is Graph Horizon?

Graph Horizon is the name for a proposal that sets forth the next iteration of The Graph protocol, and it is the result of years of research and discussion amongst the core developer teams and ecosystem contributors. Graph Horizon aims to help support the new era of The Graph by introducing a dynamic, modular framework for the protocol that makes it more permissionless and efficient. Several core ideas distinguish Graph Horizon from the existing protocol, such as the addition of a general-purpose staking contract for the protocol.

Consider one example of how Graph Horizon proposes to improve the work of Indexers and increase modularity. Imagine an Indexer on The Graph Network, equipped and ready to index a subgraph. Through Graph Horizon, this Indexer can offer to index a subgraph, committing to a specific indexing speed after receiving it, and maintain the service for the specified time period. To ensure accountability, the Indexer places a slashable GRT stake— a form of economic security. If the Indexer fails to fulfill the agreed-upon indexing service, they risk losing this entire stake. This mechanism not only allows the consumer to be confident that their subgraph will be indexed as agreed, but also elevates the level of trust and reliability in the services offered on The Graph Network. This is just one simple example of how Graph Horizon provides security and efficiency, facilitates secure data exchanges, and offers a mechanism to allow a wide array of data services tailored to diverse user needs.

What are the Benefits of Graph Horizon?

Graph Horizon stands for a new level of straightforward data exchanges, as well as more diverse and tailored data services to The Graph Network. The details of each data service are specified using a smart contract, including the cost and requirements, and the Indexer’s expected behavior. This clarity about service provision enables trustless coordination between those who provide data services and those who use them.

Unleashing Modularity

Graph Horizon embodies a growth-oriented approach by embracing modularity, a crucial principle as the blockchain ecosystem evolves towards a structure where distinct layers—such as data availability, consensus, and execution—are optimized for specific functions. This modular architecture not only enhances efficiency and flexibility but also lowers costs and supports a diverse blockchain landscape. By integrating The Graph within this modular stack, Graph Horizon positions the protocol as a key component in the ecosystem, enabling seamless data querying across various environments and ensuring its pivotal role in the evolving blockchain architecture. This strategic focus on modularity, including active research into modularizing indexing and querying, ensures The Graph remains adaptable and essential in the face of rapid technological advancements, fostering a rich environment for innovation and development in decentralized data services.

Permissionless Participation

Graph Horizon champions a more permissionless environment. In this competitive and censorship-resistant network, there are no barriers to entry imposed by governance. This open-access philosophy ensures that anyone with the drive and innovation can contribute to and benefit from The Graph. Graph Horizon improves upon the existing protocol to nurture a more vibrant and inclusive community where ideas can flourish without authorization constraints, fostering a rich landscape of decentralized services. This translates into a real-world scenario where a small startup or independent developer has equal opportunity to contribute and benefit from The Graph ecosystem as larger, established players. The lack of entry barriers encourages innovation and diversification within the community.

Cost-Effective Solutions

Graph Horizon’s design is built with efficiency and value in mind. Its architecture is crafted to minimize waste, ensuring that every resource is utilized to deliver the maximum amount of value to users, network participants, and developers. This cost-effective approach not only benefits Indexers but also end-users, who can access high-quality services at a consistently competitive cost. The focus on efficiency without compromising on quality is a testament to Graph Horizon's commitment to sustainable and accessible web3 data services.

Interoperability

Graph Horizon extends beyond modularity and simplicity—it brings to the table a critical new feature: interoperability. The ability to provide a multitude of data services seamlessly on a single network is a game-changer. This interoperability is pivotal in expanding the range of services and adapting to the rapidly evolving needs of the web3 world. It allows for diverse service offerings, faster deployment, and greater flexibility in responding to user demands. By ensuring that different services can interoperate efficiently within The Graph Network, Graph Horizon is not just enhancing the network's capability but is actively future-proofing it.

What This Means for Network Participants

As Graph Horizon radically improves the protocol, it's important to understand its implications for current network participants. This evolution of the protocol is designed to be inclusive and beneficial for all members of The Graph's ecosystem. Here is a summary overview of how various network participants are impacted by Graph Horizon.

Indexers

Graph Horizon proposes a more flexible and efficient ecosystem. The core change is the introduction of an immutable, generalized staking contract that allows for heightened economic security as well as permissionless addition of various data services. Indexers have the capability to participate in more data services with different stake requirements, fee structures, and rules of operation, offering them unprecedented control and flexibility in their role within The Graph Network.

Delegators

Graph Horizon introduces significant changes for Delegators, emphasizing their role in ensuring economic security within The Graph's ecosystem. In order to elevate the responsibility of Delegators, Horizon introduces a key feature: slashable delegation, meaning that in the event of an Indexer's misconduct, a portion of the delegated stake can be slashed. This change elevates the importance and impact of Delegators, as their stakes contribute to the network's security more directly. However, it's crucial to note that the risk to Delegators is mitigated by the protocol's design, where an Indexer's self-stake is slashed first. Only in cases of severe misconduct, where the Indexer's entire self-stake is exhausted, would Delegators' stakes be exposed to slashing. This mechanism is expected to require minimal additional vetting of Indexers, maintaining a balance between security and ease of participation for Delegators. It also encourages Delegators to distribute their stake across many Indexers, fostering decentralization. However, Graph Horizon also removes the delegation tax, and introduces the possibility of more flexible withdrawal periods.

Developers

Developers who use The Graph to access blockchain data may benefit significantly from the changes proposed in Graph Horizon. The evolution towards a more modular and permissionless protocol means that developers have greater freedom and flexibility in how they interact with The Graph. They can expect to see a wider variety of data services available, as well as more efficient interactions within the ecosystem. Graph Horizon's modular framework means the ability to seamlessly integrate a diverse range of data services into their applications. For instance, a developer could easily access advanced analytics services or real-time blockchain data feeds, enhancing the functionality and responsiveness of their dapps without the need for extensive backend modifications.

This change is aimed at fostering innovation and growth, as developers have more opportunities to build and optimize their subgraphs and other data services within a more dynamic, decentralized environment.

Data Service Developers

Data Service Developers emerge as pivotal contributors, harnessing the open and permissionless protocol to innovate and diversify The Graph Network's data service offerings. Their role involves not only the creation but also the seamless integration of new data services, which are critical in expanding the network's capabilities and utility. Data Service Developers also play a key role in future-proofing The Graph Network by continuously introducing advanced and scalable data solutions that anticipate and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of web3 technologies. Moreover, their contributions help establish a more interconnected and interoperable network, fostering a collaborative environment where various data services can operate in harmony, enhancing the overall utility and user experience within The Graph ecosystem. Anyone is enabled to become a data service developer to support their preferred data service with The Graph Network.

Final Thoughts

When subgraphs were invented within The Graph ecosystem, they quickly became an industry standard, being adopted by nearly every web3 builder. Graph Horizon can empower the next generation of developers to build with subgraphs and more, accessing blockchain data whichever way is needed!

Graph Horizon holds revolutionary potential, transforming data online as we know it and expanding The Graph into the modular data hub not just for subgraphs, but any and all decentralized data services.

Graph Horizon is being actively developed, and you have the opportunity to participate by starting discussions, voicing concerns, or leaving feedback on The Graph Forum.

About The Graph

The Graph is the source of data and information for the decentralized internet. As the original decentralized data marketplace that introduced and standardized subgraphs, The Graph has become web3’s method of indexing and accessing blockchain data. Since its launch in 2018, tens of thousands of developers have built subgraphs for dapps across 40+ blockchains - including  Ethereum, Arbitrum, Optimism, Base, Polygon, Celo, Fantom, Gnosis, and Avalanche.

As demand for data in web3 continues to grow, The Graph enters a New Era with a more expansive vision including new data services and query languages, ensuring the decentralized protocol can serve any use case - now and into the future.

Discover more about how The Graph is shaping the future of decentralized physical infrastructure networks (DePIN) and stay connected with the community. Follow The Graph on X, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and Medium. Join the community on The Graph’s Telegram, join technical discussions on The Graph’s Discord.

The Graph Foundation oversees The Graph Network. The Graph Foundation is overseen by the Technical Council. Edge & Node, StreamingFast, Semiotic Labs, The Guild, Messari, GraphOps, Pinax and Geo are eight of the many organizations within The Graph ecosystem.


Category
Graph Protocol
Author
Edge & Node
Published
February 8, 2024

Edge & Node

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