💻Subgraph Development

This guide will walk you through the steps required to develop, build, and deploy a subgraph file.

We’ll start with a comprehensive description of The Graph technology, after which we’ll show you how to write and deploy a subgraph configuration.

Note: for this one, we’re also going to show you how you would index the Klayswap smart contract on the Klaytn network.

You can clone the fully functional demo from the Klaytn Indexing repo, along with all the required infrastructure configuration and examples

What Is The Graph?

The Graph is an indexing protocol empowering applications to retrieve, aggregate in a stateful manner, then query data from a blockchain through a customizable and abstracted approach.

Before The Graph, dApps had to build their own data pipeline to fetch the history of targeted smart contracts, store the raw information and create specialized solutions to process it before serving their end users.

What Is an Event?

The EVM has a logging functionality used to “write” data outside smart contracts though emitting formatted logs called events. Events allow smart contracts to “print” information on the blockchain in a way that is more searchable and gas efficient than just saving it to their public storage.

These logs are associated with the address of the emitting contract, immutable once persisted into the blockchain and accessible at any time. The event logs are not accessible from within contracts (not even from the contract that created them). It is their inaccessibility to smart contracts that makes them cheaper to emit.

Emitting events enables the possibility to:

  • Test smart contracts for conditions and invariants

  • Reconstruct a contract`s state by indexing and aggregating past logs

  • Listen for specific events to trigger an offchain operation

  • Access large blockchain data faster and more structured than reading it directly from smart contracts

The definition of an event in the Solidity language looks like this:

event Transfer(address indexed from, address indexed to, uint256 value);

You can think of this as a new special type. We have created a “type” of event called Transfer. The event name is called and can hold a number of variables. There are two kinds of enclosed parameters: indexed and non-indexed. You can assign the attribute indexed to up to three parameters which adds them to a special data structure known as topics instead of the data part of the log. A topic can only hold a single word (32 bytes) so if you use a reference type for an indexed argument, the keccak256 hash of the value is stored as a topic instead. All parameters without the indexed attribute are ABI-encoded into the data part of the log.

Topics enable filtered search of events at the granularity of indexed parameters. For example, can fetch only Transfer events in a blocks range between two specific wallets, from and to.

Can emit an event within the defining contract as:

function _transfer(address sender, address recipient, uint256 amount) internal virtual {
  _balances[sender] -= amount;
  _balances[recipient] += amount;

  emit Transfer(sender, recipient, amount);

Now, anytime we call the _transfer function in this example, it will emit an event of type Transfer.

Example of a Transfer log instance within a random transaction as displayed on the klaytn explorer:

Emitted logs are stored on the blockchain as:

  • Address: the address of the contract or account that emitted the event.

  • Topics: the values (or hashes) of the indexed parameters of the event, the first topic representing the hash of the signature of the event definition.

  • Data: the ABI-encoded non-indexed parameters logged by this event instance.

What Is a Subgraph?

The Graph facilitates the building of custom open APIs through “subgraphs”. A subgraph represents a packed configuration that instructs an indexer node (server) which data to index from a blockchain and how to aggregate it before storing the results structurally into a Postgres database. The indexer exposes each hosted subgraph through a GraphQL endpoint, allowing users to query the data it managed to process so far.

Subgraph Development Dependencies

In order to install The Graph CLI, npm or yarn should be installed either on your machine or on a VSCode development container extending the nodejs docker image.

Install with npm (possibly under sudo privileges):

npm install -g @graphprotocol/graph-cli

Install with yarn (possibly under sudo privileges):

yarn global add @graphprotocol/graph-cli

Additionally, there is the Graph Typescript Library which contains utilities for interacting with the entities store and conveniences for handling smart contract data:

npm install --dev @graphprotocol/graph-ts


yarn add --dev @graphprotocol/graph-ts

How to Create a Subgraph

Once The Graph CLI has been installed, the graph init command can be used to set up a new subgraph project. For Klaytn (EVM-compatible chain) the protocol is ethereum, the subgraph project will be created locally using the subgraph-studio option, the published source code of the targeted contract is searched only on the Ethereum explorer, therefore the ABI of the contract should be manually supplied instead. The subgraph slug can be left blank as the subgraph is not meant to be run remotely on The Graph`s hosted service, not supporting Klaytn.

graph init

On successfully running graph init the console should look similar to:

graph init
✔ Protocol · ethereum
✔ Product for which to initialize · subgraph-studio
✔ Subgraph slug ·
✔ Directory to create the subgraph in · subgraph-demo
? Ethereum network …
✔ Ethereum network · mainnet
✔ Contract address · 0xc6a2ad8cc6e4a7e08fc37cc5954be07d499e7654
✖ Failed to fetch ABI from Etherscan: ABI not found, try loading it from a local file
✔ ABI file (path) · ./abis/IERC20.json
✔ Contract Name · IERC20
  Generate subgraph
  Write subgraph to directory
✔ Create subgraph scaffold
✔ Initialize networks config
✔ Initialize subgraph repository
✔ Install dependencies with yarn
✔ Generate ABI and schema types with yarn codegen
✔ Add another contract? (y/N) · false

Subgraph  created in subgraph-demo

while the contents of the subgraph-demo directory as:

Subgraph Components

The subgraph project exposes the following configuration files:

  • Manifest – subgraph.yaml

A manifest supplies information about data sources, templates, and some metadata for the subgraph (description, repository, etc.). The manifest defines the smart contracts to be indexed by a subgraph, the relevant events on the smart contracts, and how to map event data to the entity types that the Graph Node will store in order to be accessed later.

  • Schema – schema.graphql

This file contains the subgraph's GraphQL schema which dictates how stored data is linked and structured to be suitable for the needs of the dApps querying it. The entities defined here are the object types where event data will be cumulatively aggregated, they define the structure of the Postgres tables to be created for the subgraph and the actual objects storing global data of the subgraph (each entity can be loaded during indexing, modified and stored back atomically within a mapping handler).

  • AssemblyScript Mappings – src/mapping.ts

Contains the logic that transforms received event data into entity modifications to be applied on the store. For each event targeted in the manifest there is an associated handler receiving an instance log of that event as the sole argument. Within the handler, the subgraph developer can access existing objects of some entity type, modify or delete them or create new ones. The mapping handlers are written in AssemblyScript, a subset of TypeScript, which can be compiled to WASM (WebAssembly).

Defining the Manifest:

The manifest contains the location of the schema and mappings files along with the data sources producing the incoming event data. When using the Graph scaffolding command (graph init), the schema file is generated and named schema.graphql and unimplemented handlers placed in mapping.ts within the src directory.

An example of subgraph.yaml would look like this:

specVersion: 0.0.4
  file: "./schema.graphql"
  - kind: ethereum
    name: KlaySwapProtocol
    network: klaytn
      address: "0xc6a2ad8cc6e4a7e08fc37cc5954be07d499e7654"
      abi: IERC20
      startBlock: 42654238
      kind: ethereum/events
      apiVersion: 0.0.6
      language: wasm/assemblyscript
        - Account
        - Balance
        - Transfer
        - name: IERC20
          file: ./abis/IERC20.json
        - event: Transfer(indexed address,indexed address,uint256)
          handler: handleTransfer
      file: ./src/mapping.ts

Provide the path to your subgraph's GraphQL schema file:

file: ./schema.graphql

Describes the data source that is sourcing blockchain events to look after:

  – kind: ethereum
    name: KlaySwapProtocol
    network: klaytn
      address: "0xc6a2ad8cc6e4a7e08fc37cc5954be07d499e7654"
      abi: IERC20
      startBlock: 42654238
  • kind: the blockchain type which in this case is EVM-compatible - ethereum. name: the name given to this specific data source to differentiate it from others. network: identifier of network where the subgraph is supposed to operate, should match the network supplied for the provider URL on the indexer node configuration. address: specific contract whose events are being targeted, intentionally left blank when instructing the subgraph to consider all logs matching on the event signatures alone, regardless of the emitting contract.

  • abi specifies the name of the contract within the ABI file. startBlock signals the indexer from which block to start searching for targeted events. It is recommended to use the creation block of the contract if supplied, otherwise the syncing process will take longer starting from the genesis block without finding any relevant events.

The subset of the entities defined in schema that will be written to the store by this data source:


One or more named ABI files for the source contract as well as any other smart contracts that the subgraph interacts with from within the mapping handlers:

  • abis:

  – name: IERC20
    file: ./abis/IERC20.json
  • eventHandlers:

  - event: Transfer(indexed address,indexed address,uint256)
    handler: handleTransfer

List of the smart contract events this data source fetches from the blockchain and the name of the associated handler for each one. The data source defined in this example manifest fetches only the instances of the Transfer event described in the previous section. The associated handler handleTransfer will be executed for each of these logs emitted on the blockchain in chronological order and sequentially.

Additional information about specifying method call and block handles on https://thegraph.com/docs/en/developing/creating-a-subgraph/#the-subgraph-manifest.

Defining the GQL Schema

Let's consider the case where a dApp (a chain explorer) has to access the balance of a wallet over all owned ERC20 tokens at the moment as well as the history of all outgoing transfers made by the wallet.

In this section we are going to explore how to structure and link data to meet this specification. As discussed before, every single GQL query will be made against the entities defined at this stage which makes the data model of upmost importance in meeting these requirements.

Defining entity types happens at the level of schema.graphql and the available options for querying the subgraph come down to either single instance or collections of an entity type.

A suitable definition of the schema would be:

type Balance @entity {
  id: ID!
  token: Bytes!
  account: Account!
  amount: BigInt!

type Transfer @entity {
  id: ID!
  token: Bytes!
  from: Account!
  to: Account!
  value: BigInt!
  transaction: Bytes!
  block: BigInt!

type Account @entity {
  id: ID!
  balances: [Balance!]! @derivedFrom(field: "account")
  transfersOut: [Transfer!]! @derivedFrom(field: "from")

The semantics of the defined entities are the following:

  • Balance: Entity incorporating the amount of ERC20 of address token the wallet of address account owns. In order to ensure uniqueness, the entity objects have to be indexed by a composite id of account + token which is constructed within handlerTransfer handler. The token and account fields are redundant but easier to access than deconstructing id, the latter acting as a reverse-lookup for the owning wallet - Account as discussed later.

  • Transfer: Entity incorporating an individual ERC20 transfer of value of ERC20 of address token from source from to destination to, emitted within the transaction of hash transaction mined on block number block. Compared to the Balance entity, a wallet could have done multiple transfers using the same token which does not guarantee uniqueness among the objects of this entity. Instead id can be constructed from the block number + log index of the emitted event also accessible inside the handler.

  • Account: Entity incorporating the list of Balance objects and the list of Transfer objects referencing the wallet's address used as id within instances of this entity type.

Entity Relationships

An entity may have a relationship to one or more other entities in the schema. These relationships are available only at query time. Relationships in The Graph are unidirectional. It is possible to simulate bidirectional relationships by defining a unidirectional one on either "end" of the relationship.

Relationships are defined on entities just like any other field except that the type specified is that of another entity.

  • One-To-One

The Balance entity defines an one-to-one relationship to the Account entity at field account. Consequently, inside a query for single or collection Balance entities, account can be unfold using a nested inner query to access its containing fields.

  • One-To-Many

The Account entity defines two one-to-many relationships to the Balance and Transfer entities via the @derivedFrom directive. However, the list of Balance or Transfer objects belonging to a specific Account is constructed and accessible only at query time, outside subgraph's handlers. Emulating one-to-many relationships in this manner increases the performance for both indexing and querying the subgraph, compared to storing an array of entities on the 'many' side and explicitly updating it.

  • Many-To-Many

Regarding a many-to-many relationship, such as a wallet owning any number of distinct ERC20 tokens and the latter having multiple holders at once, the straightforward, but not scalable approach would be to model the relationship as derived on one side entity and explicitly stored on the other one.

For example, the above schema should be extended by defining a Token entity having a list of Account holders that should be directly maintained in handlers, while Account entity will have its list of owned tokens resolved at query time by finding all Token objects including the wallet within their holders.

type Token @entity {
  id: ID!
  holders: [Account!]!

type Account @entity {
  tokens: [Token!]! @derivedFrom(field: "holders")

More information about the supported field-types, entity immutability and relationships can be found in The Graph's documentation.

Code Generation

Instances of the entities defined in the subgraph's schema will end up being written to the Postgres store. In order to instruct the indexer node on how to process each trigger originating from the data source into entities, some form of "handlers" will have to be implemented. The graph codegen command generates type-safe classes in AssemblyScript for each entity and event in order to access their fields inside the handlers. In case of entities, generated classes also provide an interface to the underlying store for loading/storing the entity itself.

For each entity the class being generated provides:

  • type-safe entity loading from the store though load method

  • getters and setters for the entity's fields

  • save and remove  methods to write a whole entity on the store

For each event there the class being generated provides getters for the event's attributes and the metadata of the block and transaction where it has been emitted.

Can import these classes within mapping.ts as follows:

import { Transfer } from "../generated/KlaySwapProtocol/IERC20";
import {
  Transfer as TransferEntity,
} from "../generated/schema";

Run graph codegen command from the same directory where subgraph.yaml is located:

  Skip migration: Bump mapping apiVersion from 0.0.1 to 0.0.2
  Skip migration: Bump mapping apiVersion from 0.0.2 to 0.0.3
  Skip migration: Bump mapping apiVersion from 0.0.3 to 0.0.4
  Skip migration: Bump mapping apiVersion from 0.0.4 to 0.0.5
  Skip migration: Bump mapping apiVersion from 0.0.5 to 0.0.6
  Skip migration: Bump manifest specVersion from 0.0.1 to 0.0.2
  Skip migration: Bump manifest specVersion from 0.0.2 to 0.0.4
✔ Apply migrations
✔ Load subgraph from subgraph.yaml
  Load contract ABI from abis/IERC20.json
✔ Load contract ABIs
  Generate types for contract ABI: IERC20 (abis/IERC20.json)
  Write types to generated/KlaySwapProtocol/IERC20.ts
✔ Generate types for contract ABIs
✔ Generate types for data source templates
✔ Load data source template ABIs
✔ Generate types for data source template ABIs
✔ Load GraphQL schema from schema.graphql
  Write types to generated/schema.ts
✔ Generate types for GraphQL schema

Types generated successfully

Important: After each change to the ABIs imported in the manifest or the GraphQL schema, code generation must be performed again to capture the latest changes.

More information about the code generation phase can also be found in The Graph's documentation.

Defining the Mappings

Mapping handlers describe how the sourced data should be transformed into modifications on the entities defined in the schema. The mappings have to be written in a subset of TypeScript called AssemblyScript which can be compiled directly to WASM (WebAssembly).

For each event handler defined in subgraph.yaml under eventHandlers section there should be an exported function of the same name implemented in mapping.ts. Each event handler has to accept a single parameter event of type equal to the class generated for this event from the ABI specification.

On our example subgraph there is one handler capturing Transfer events from an ERC20 contract and is implemented as:

import { BigInt } from "@graphprotocol/graph-ts";
import { Transfer } from "../generated/KlaySwapProtocol/IERC20";
import {
  Transfer as TransferEntity,
} from "../generated/schema";

function createAccount(address: string): void {
  let account = Account.load(address);
  if (!account) {
    account = new Account(address);

export function handleTransfer(event: Transfer): void {
  let id = event.params.to.toHex().concat(event.address.toHex());
  let balance = Balance.load(id);
  if (!balance) {
    balance = new Balance(id);
    balance.token = event.address;
    balance.account = event.params.to.toHex();
    balance.amount = BigInt.zero();
  balance.amount = balance.amount.plus(event.params.value);

  id = event.params.from.toHex().concat(event.address.toHex());
  balance = Balance.load(id);
  if (!balance) {
    balance = new Balance(id);
    balance.token = event.address;
    balance.account = event.params.from.toHex();
    balance.amount = BigInt.zero();
  balance.amount = balance.amount.minus(event.params.value);

  // do not have to load `Transfer` entity as it is unique each time
  id = event.block.number.toString().concat(event.logIndex.toString());
  let transfer = new TransferEntity(id);
  transfer.token = event.address;
  transfer.from = event.params.from.toHex();
  transfer.to = event.params.to.toHex();
  transfer.value = event.params.value;
  transfer.transaction = event.transaction.hash;
  transfer.block = event.block.number;

There is a single handler handleTransfer which receives a Transfer event as the sole argument and has to update affected entities accordingly to the specification. An ERC20 transfer is changing the balances of both the source and destination wallets given by from and to fields of the received event. Even though Account has only "derived" fields, we still have to create both entities on the store to make instances of this entity available at query time. The handler then proceeds to create/update the Balance entities associated to both accounts for the ERC20 emitting the log. The subgraph is more general and able to construct balances in all existing tokens on the blockchain, however in our case we filter only logs emitted by source.address (in the manifest).

Nonetheless, the subgraph should also store a new Transfer in order to record the unique transfer for later retrieval of a wallet's history by the dApp.

Building the Subgraph

The handlers code in src/mapping.ts is neither checked nor compiled into WASM at the code generation phase. graph build command will handle the compilation and highlight any syntax and type errors encountered. Once all the compile errors have been fixed, the subgraph bytecode can be deployed to the indexer.

Create and Deploy the Compiled Subgraph

The commands required to install the subgraph on the indexer are:

graph create --node http(s)://<indexer-node-hostname>:8020 <subgraph-name>
graph deploy --node http(s)://<indexer-node-hostname>:8020 --ipfs http(s)://<ipfs-node-hostname>:5001 <subgraph-name>

Querying a Subgraph

After the subgraph has been deployed on the indexer node and the indexing starts, the subgraph becomes available in the local browser on the explorer page at port 8000 and path /subgraphs/name/<subgraph-name>/graphql or for directly querying at path /subgraphs/name/<subgraph-name>.

  account(id: "0x2968c66f14308673c12812febfa58cfe87c4e5a8") {
    balances(first: 1000) {

This query returns all Balance objects associated to the provided address (or the first 1000 of them), sorted ascending by their ids along with the nested data of token address and balance value for each one. This query executes by default in the context of the latest indexed block.

Time Travel Queries

You can query the state of an entity not just at the latest indexed block (default option) but also in the context of an arbitrary past block. This block can be specified either by its number or hash by including the block field into the toplevel arguments of the query.

    id: "0x2968c66f14308673c12812febfa58cfe87c4e5a8"
    block: { number: 49548688 }
  ) {
    balances(first: 1000) {

This query returns the list of balances of the provided address as they were at a particular block.

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