Indexed Blockchain Data Vs. JSON RPC APIs for Web3 Applications
Dr. Ravi Chamria
Dr. Ravi Chamria
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Single New Blog Page
Indexed Blockchain Data Vs. JSON RPC APIs

Blockchain applications are expanding to multiple industries and sectors previously not imagined, and that’s why reliable access to on-chain data is becoming more critical than ever. Whether you are building a web3 application from scratch or want to include next-level functionalities in it, you will need a diverse set of data at various stages. JSON RPC APIs and indexed blockchain data are the two widely preferred and feasible options for retrieving blockchain data in a transparent, secure, and immutable manner. Through this comprehensive guide, we will dive into a comparative analysis of Indexed Blockchain Data vs. JSON RPC APIs, allowing you to understand which one is the perfect choice for your application data needs. Before that, we will brief you on these two methods to recap a few basics. 

Indexed Blockchain Data Vs. JSON RPC APIs

What is Indexed Blockchain Data?

Indexed blockchain data is a form of organized, structured, and formatted on-chain data processed out of the raw data stored across any blockchain protocol, be it public L1, L2, appchains, or rollups. A data indexer is a tool that crawls and indexes blockchain data, aiming to streamline data accessibility and searchability for all kinds of applications and data consumers. As we know, the blockchain contains vast amounts of data, and its database continues to expand with the addition of newer blocks. Retrieving specific data from such a vast decentralized database can be a cumbersome process because blockchain does not have a native mechanism for data organization and retrieval. With indexed blockchain data, applications can effortlessly get all the precise data they need via GraphQL queries, such as the account address of a particular token, token balance, smart contract states, and assets

Want to dive deeper into the landscape of blockchain data indexing? Refer to the dedicated guide on this topic, linked below: Blockchain Data Indexing: Navigating its working and challenges

Indexed blockchain data is useful for applications that filter and sort specific and important data from a range of blockchain databases. Plus, they want to make various requests simultaneously. Retrieving data from a precompiled database is latency-free and scalability-oriented, meaning that its performance remains intact regardless of the growing demand or frequent retrievals being made. Achieving these benefits can be challenging even if using RPC APIs or dedicated archived nodes. 

What are JSON RPC APIs?

JavaScript Object Notation Remote Procedure Call or JSON-RPC API is a lightweight plus flexible protocol designed to enable data exchange between the client and the server. To get access to RPC APIs, you need to run full nodes. The simple idea behind JSON RPC APIs is that a client will send data requests to the server, to which the server will respond with a relevant response. JSON RPC APIs are an ideal choice for applications that do not have high data demands, very fast responses or don’t need specific data. However, multiple RPC requests are possible with JSON RPC API with some exceptions such RPCs should share a common address space. Otherwise, you need to wait for the server to send a response; only then can it make another request. 

Choosing between Indexed Blockchain Data and JSON RPC APIs: Key things to consider 

Both indexed data and JSON RPC APIs offer their own key offerings. Thus, choosing the suitable method depends largely on vital factors such as your application’s data requirement, use case type, and, most importantly, the efforts you are ready to put into managing the underlying infrastructure of data indexers and RPC APIs. However, note that, JSON RPC APIs are designed to retrieve blockchain data that the network agrees to avail, otherwise for specific data, indexed data will work. Below, we have discussed some important parameters to help you decide if your application needs the Same, indexed data or RPC APIs.

Infrastructure setup and maintenance: 

Infrastructure setup and maintenance requirements are obviously different for indexed blockchain data and JSON RPC APIs. Similarly, their costing is different too. For JSON RPC APIs, you need to manage infrastructure for RPC APIs. Speaking about indexed blockchain data, you need data indexers plus RPC APIs to fetch specific & complex data. Hence, costing is a little high in case of indexed data. But to compensate for this, data indexers offer faster response time, specific queries, and zero uptime issues. 

Response time:

Response time in JSON RPC APIs is high in case of direct API calls for retrieval of generalized data. Whereas, the response can be delayed when there’s a need of breaking down complex blockchain data into a specific format and then making the formatted data available for retrieval. With indexed data, applications always see a high response time, irrespective of the data patterns. 

Scalability performance and uptime:

As blockchain networks continue to grow, their data volume escalates, causing management-related challenges. JSON RPC APIs struggle to scale  as per the increasing load and it requires additional resources, which often leads to higher costs and hassle at the same time. With indexed data, applications can easily switch to a new protocol and retrieve data out of this without causing issues like slow response and latency that usually occur in the case of RPC methods.

Complexity level for users: 

Operating JSON RPC APIs to request data is straightforward, but complexity exists when there’s a need for retrieving data from different blockchain networks. Your technical team must have a complete understanding of each blockchain’s specifics from which they need to integrate or pull data. In the case of indexed data, developers can utilize a similar schema and mapping to implement indexes on different networks with minimal modifications. Leading data index tools such as Subgraph even support cross-chain queries through advanced graph-cli function. 

Customization of data queries:  

Customization of data is important to allow web3 applications to fetch specific data from the blockchain, such as total NFTs of a particular address. With JSON RPC APIs, customization is very challenging as you need to program HTTP queries and do heavy configuration on the server. For indexed blockchain data, you can simply define customization parameters in the schema itself, which is easy and less time-consuming. However, you must have knowledge of data indexer-related programming languages and development methods. 

Agnosticism to different networks:

Indexed blockchain data has been designed to be protocol-agnostic in nature and therefore it enables applications to access data seamlessly from multiple networks despite the type of underlying protocol. Doing this same thing may not be possible with JSON RPCs because they are not database servers. Instead they are blockchain nodes that abide by consensus rules. Hence, you need to operate multiple node endpoints to get data from different blockchains.

Indexed Blockchain Data Vs. JSON RPC APIs: The Analysis

Indexed Blockchain Data Vs. JSON RPC APIs

Top use cases of Indexed Blockchain Data 

Knowing that indexed data is a solution to all the challenges that exist in JSON RPC APIs, let’s discuss top use cases of indexed blockchain data:

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications

DeFi applications rely heavily on indexed blockchain data to retrieve complex blockchain data such as TradeFi data, transaction history of a specific address, liquidity pool balance, and smart contract transactions, ensuring better financial operations and enhanced user experience.

Web3 gaming platforms 

Web3 games need very specific blockchain data to streamline the operation of various activities on their platforms, for example- Characters and art details, voting & governance details, digital asset ownership and transferability. With indexed data, gaming dApps can get relevant information without hassle.

Custom indexing for Smart Contracts

Applications that want to index blockchain data for custom smart contracts can set up their own data indexers to retrieve data beyond Ethereum’s standards like  ERC20, ERC721, or ERC1155 or ERC721. This feature is mainly useful for developers who want to integrate advanced search and filtering options in their app’s user interface. 

Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) 

NFT platforms can use indexed data to query specific information such as on orders, marketplace assets, and custom smart contract transactions. This allows NFT apps to ensure a smoother experience for those engaged in trading NFTs.

Fulfill your application’s data demand with Zeeve

Zeeve simplifies blockchain data retrieval for all kinds of applications, be it a gaming dApp, DeFi platform, enterprise application, or DAOs. For that, Zeeve allows projects to run subgraph-powered data indexers, which can be shared or dedicated based on specific data requirements. Using Zeeve’s Traceye, anyone can launch their custom data indexer via low-code way within minutes and ensure hassle-free maintenance with the hosted service offered by Zeeve. Further, if you want to use JSON RPC APIs, you can deploy, manage, and scale RPC nodes on Zeeve–managed infrastructure and get access to your preferred blockchain’s endpoints. 


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