Dune Analytics Simplifies Blockchain Data Analysis – The New Stack
One of the more interesting facets of blockchain is the fact that each transaction is recorded as a publicly visible record. Any developer can analyze the raw transaction data through direct requests from the blockchain. Interpreting these records in a meaningful way is quite a bit more complicated because each record can also be the result of triggering multiple smart contract interactions and some of the relevant metadata about the transaction record may be stored off-chain. Dune Analytics tries to make blockchain data more accessible by organizing it into more familiar database table structures.
One of the reasons Dune is rapidly gaining popularity is the fact that searching for data and creating dashboards is both free for all users and familiar to most developers with SQL skills. If you can write SQL queries and have a basic understanding of blockchain data structures, you can create visualizations and dashboards of blockchain data. Community contributors are affectionately referred to as “wizards”.
In an interview with The New Stack, Hugo SánchezGrowth Manager at Dune Analytics, said: “Dune is a community-first platform. There is so much data and so much insight to show that it is impossible for a single company to do all the data analysis themselves. By being open, we try to create openness in the space and increase access to information. Being community-oriented is a strategy for having better data and better ways of displaying the data.”
There are many community-created queries and dashboards to browse in the Dune library. A popular example is this dashboard of statistics, created by Dune user nguyentoan, about the usage of the “move to earn” app Stepn, which was much hyped for its profits for the second quarter of 2022. If the example chart below is any indication, users have since gone on to something else in Q3.
Blockchain data can be searched via SQL
The original Dune database was built using Postgres and supported PostgreSQL for queries. A newer Dune Engine V2 was built on Apache Spark hosted on Databricks, which uses Databricks SQL for queries. In either case, you can search for raw tables of blockchain data from Ethereum, Solana, Polygon, Binance Smart Chain, Optimism, and Gnosis Chain, with a smaller set of tables containing decoded smart contracts. With Dune Engine V2, the wizard theme is extended by referring to community contributions of views, tables, and data validation tests as “wizards”.
Free access to create and share dashboards comes with a few limitations. Any dashboard you publish is visible to the rest of the community with Dune watermarking. There is no way to extract the data from Dune with a free account. A Pro account gives you access to make your questions and dashboards private without watermarking. You can also export the results of your searches as a CSV. Currently, free accounts allow you to run three queries in parallel, while a pro account extends the limit to six parallel queries.
I asked Sanchez about the possibility of an API to execute queries and export results. According to Sanchez, an API is the Dune community’s most requested feature. The company plans to ship an API before the end of the year, which will likely make it easier to incorporate blockchain data into your own analytics applications.
While much of what is created on Dune is done by the community for the community, the company has also created a program for wizards to get paid via the wizard request program. This program basically allows anyone to make a data analysis request, along with a bounty for the request, which is posted to the larger community for fulfillment. If you have solid SQL skills, this is definitely a way to contribute to Web3 projects without having to be a Solidity or Rust developer.
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