This proposal defines a process for defining the canonical behavior of the subgraph API in the protocol as well as establishing the matrix of subgraph API features and their corresponding supported protocol features.


A core value proposition of The Graph, as a decentralized protocol for indexing and querying public data is that a Consumer can trust the integrity of the work performed by the network, with minimal or zero trust in any individual Indexer. There are a number of techniques for achieving this with varying degrees of trust minimization. These include off-chain reputation systems as well as mechanisms that may be combined with slashing such as arbitration, refereed games and cryptographic fraud or validity proofs.

In general, the more trustless the mechanism, the greater the research and engineering effort required to implement it. This proposal therefore describes a support matrix comprising which subgraph API features can be used in conjunction with which features of the protocol, as determined by the strength of the techniques available for guaranteeing the integrity of said features. Having this granular support matrix allows new subgraph API features to be continuously and immediately added to the protocol with additional protocol features supported for those features in later stages--all while driving query volume for these features to the decentralized network, as opposed to any centralized services that might be used to expose these features.

Additionally, all the mentioned techniques with the notable exception of reputation systems, require that the work that Indexer perform be defined deterministically. Therefore, this proposal also describes how a canonical version of the subgraph API may be established via decentralized governance. This is a hard requirement for supporting protocol features such as disputing and slashing Indexers for invalid indexing or query work.

High Level Description

The high level process consists of the following elements:

  1. Graph Node as the reference implementation of the Subgraph API

  2. Graph Node versioned using SemVer

  3. Graph Node as the source of truth for feature detection

  4. Graph Council defines canonical Graph Node version

  5. Graph Council defines subgraph feature support matrix

  6. (Optional) Graph Council defines N-1 support window

Graph Node as reference implementation

In the absence of a detailed technical specification of the subgraph API, Graph Node shall act as the reference implementation for the behavior of the subgraph API. This means that behavior implemented by Graph Node, even that which might be considered "buggy", is canonical from the standpoint of the protocol. The official version of Graph Node is located in this repo, which is maintained by The Graph Foundation with the help of external core contributors.

Graph Node versioned using SemVer

Graph Node should be versioned using the widely used SemVer conventions. Specifically, backwards incompatible changes to Graph Node must be accompanies by a major version bump, unless those changes are to features that are marked as "experimental". Experimental features may be changed arbitrarily across minor versions, but should be stable across patch versions.

Graph Node as the source of truth for feature detection

Graph Node will act as the source of truth for what named features are being used by a subgraph. Subgraphs should list in their subgraph manifest what indexing related features they are using, and if Graph Node detects that a named feature is being used by the subgraph that is not explicitly listed in the manifest, then it should consider that subgraph invalid.

Note: Listing subgraph features in the manifest need not place an undue burden on the subgraph developer as these features can be automatically added at build time using the Graph CLI.

Graph Node should also expose an endpoint that the accepts a query and returns what query related named features the query is using.

Graph Council defines canonical Graph Node version

The Graph Council should specify the canonical version of Graph Node via a Graph Governance Proposal. This proposal should include an epoch number in which the upgrade to the new canonical version of Graph Node will become active.

Graph Council defines feature support matrix

The Graph Council should specify the feature support matrix for the named subgraph features included in the canonical version of Graph Node.

This support matrix will include the named subgraph features as rows and their corresponding supported protocol features as columns (see Subgraph feature support matrix).

(Optional) Graph Council defines N-1 support window

When upgrading the canonical Graph Node version via a Graph Governance Proposal, The Graph Council may specify a support window during which time the previous version of Graph Node may also be considered valid.

This should be specified as an epoch number in which the previous version will no longer be considered valid. This epoch number must be equal to or greater than the epoch number in which the new canonical version of Graph Node becomes active.

Detailed Design

Subgraph Data Source Types vs. Subgraph Core Features

With respect to the protocol support matrix for subgraph features, we can break subgraph features down into two broad categories:

  1. Data Source Types

  2. Data Source Specific Features

  3. Core Features

Data Source Types correspond to specific blockchains and storage networks indexed by The Graph.

An example of this might be ethereum, ipfs, or near.

Data Source Specific Features These are features for supporting a speciifc data source type, such as host functions for calling the data source, data source specific types, or deserialization functions.

An example of such a feature might be the ability to use eth_call w/ EIP-1898 support.

Core Features correspond to functionality for indexing and querying blockchain data, that are completely agnostic of the underlying data source type.

An example of such a feature might be the ability to send full-text search queries.

Furthermore, all subgraph features comprise one or both of the following two types of functionality:

  1. Indexing functionality. These include changes to the mapping API and supported GraphQL schemas. These have the potential to impact Proofs of Indexing (PoIs) as well as query Attestations.

  2. Query functionality. Includes changes to subgraphs' GraphQL query API. These do not impact Proofs of Indexing (PoI) but will impact query Attestations.

Core features may comprise both indexing and query capabilities, while data source types and data source specific features primarily impact indexing functionality.

Determinism of subgraph functionality

A subgraph feature may lack determinism for any number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • The feature is experimental and not intended to be stable across minor versions of Graph Node.

  • The engineering work has not yet been done to validate that feature is completely deterministic.

  • Open research questions exist as to how to implement the functionality in a deterministic manner.

  • There is a known determinism bug in the feature that has not yet been fixed.

A subgraph may lack determinism in either the indexing or querying capabilities that comprise the feature. If the only non-deterministic functionality of a subgraph are related to querying, then the remainder of the subgraph functionality may be treated as deterministic. However, if indexing functionality used by a subgraph is non-deterministic, then no other indexing or query related functionality in the subgraph may be treated as deterministic.

Levels of trust minimization

There are two levels of trust minimization that exist in the protocol today:

  1. Reputation

  2. Arbitration

Additionally, there are other forms of trust minimization that may be added to the protocol in the future, including but not limited to: 3. Refereed games for indexing fraud proofs 4. Cryptographic query fraud proofs 5. Cryptographic query validity proofs

Reputation. If a Consumer notices that an Indexer that has likely provided an invalid query or Proof of Indexing (PoI), for example by comparing the result to that of another Indexer with high reputation, then they may lower their reputation score. Reputation may be local to an individual Consumer or shared amongst many Consumers.

Arbitration. An Arbitrator, nominated via decentralized governance, reproduces the work of an Indexer, and decides the outcome of query or indexing related disputes. An Indexer that loses a dispute is slashed, which means a portion of their staked tokens are forfeit.

Given that arbitration relies on being able to reproduce the work of an Indexer, it is only available for deterministic subgraph functionality. A subgraph query that uses non-deterministic query functionality may not be submitted for a dispute settled via arbitration. A subgraph that used non-deterministic indexing functionality may not be involved in an indexing dispute nor a query dispute.

Protocol feature trust requirements

Certain features of the protocol either directly relate to or depend on the level of trustlessness supported by the indexing or query functionality of a subgraph. These features include:

  • Query disputes and arbitration

  • Indexing disputes and arbitration

  • Indexing rewards

Indexing rewards are intended to reward real indexing work, thus if indexing work can not be verified by an Arbitrator, then it should not be rewarded at the protocol level.

Additionally, it is useful to to explicitly note that any feature that has been implemented in Graph Node supports the following feature, regardless of the level of trustlessness supported by the feature:

  • Querys

  • Query fees (for Indexers, Delegators, Curators)

  • Agora cost models

Subgraph feature support matrix

The subgraph feature support matrix defines the intersection of subgraph features with their corresponding status or protocol features that may or may not be supported by them.

It also groups in such a way that corresponds to where the named feature would show up, eitehr in the subgraph manifest, or in the query-specific feature detection endpoint in Graph Node.

Example structure:

Subgraph FeatureImplementedExperimentalQuery Dispute ArbitrationIndexing Dispute ArbitrationIndexing Rewards

Core Features

Query Related

Full-text Search






Indexing & Query Related

Non-Fatal Errors






Data Source Types







EIP-1898-compatible eth_call






Ethereum + IPFS






Graph governance proposal format


Subgraph Manifest format


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