One of the most interesting facets of the blockchain is the fact that every transaction is recorded as a publicly viewable record. Any developer can analyze raw transaction data via direct blockchain queries. Interpreting these records in a meaningful way is a little more complicated, as each record can also result from the triggering of multiple smart contract interactions. and some of the relevant metadata regarding the transaction record may be stored off-chain. Dune Analytics attempts to make blockchain data more accessible by organizing it into more familiar database table structures.
One of the reasons Dune is rapidly growing in popularity is that querying 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 blockchain data visualizations and dashboards. Community Contributors are affectionately referred to as “Wizards”.
In an interview with The New Stack, Hugo Sanchez, Head of Growth at Dune Analytics, said, “Dune is a community driven platform. There is so much data and insights to emerge that it is impossible for a single company to do all the analysis of the data itself. By being open, we try to create transparency in space and increase access to information. Being community-oriented is a strategy for having better data and better ways to bring the data to light.
There are many community-created queries and dashboards to browse in the Dune library. A popular example is this statistics dashboard, created by Dune user nguyentoan, on the use of the Stepn “move to win” app, which was highly publicized for its profits in the second quarter of 2022. If l he sample chart below is an indication, users have since moved on in Q3.
Blockchain data queryable via SQL
The original Dune database was built using Postgres and had PostgreSQL support for queries. A more recent Dune Engine V2 was built on Apache Spark hosted on Databricks, which uses Databricks SQL for queries. Either way, you can query 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 theme of the wizard is extended by referring to community contributions of views, tables, and data validation tests as “spells”.
The free access to create and share dashboards comes with some limitations. Any dashboard you publish is visible to the rest of the community through the Dune watermark. There is no way to extract data from Dune with a free account. A Pro account allows you to make your queries and dashboards private without a watermark. You can also export the results of your queries in CSV format. Currently, free accounts allow you to run three queries in parallel, while a pro account extends that limit to six parallel queries.
I asked Sanchez about the possibility of an API to run queries and export results. According to Sanchez, an API is the most requested feature by the Dune community. The company plans to ship an API before the end of the year, which will likely make it easier to include blockchain data in your own analytics applications.
While much of what is created on Dune is made by the community for the community, the company has also created a program for wizards to be paid through the Wizard Demand Program. This program basically allows anyone to create a request for data analysis, along with a bounty for the request, which is posted to the greater community for fulfillment. If you have strong SQL skills, this is definitely a way to contribute to Web3 projects without needing to be a Solidity or Rust developer.