Module 6: Tips & Tricks

... 2022-9-24 About 4 min

# Module 6: Tips & Tricks

# Block v Events v Calls

To process a SubQuery project and index data as fast and as efficient as possible, it is necessary to understand how things work under the covers.

SubQuery has three handlers to process blockchain data: block handlers, event handlers, and call handlers.

Block handlers are very inefficient. They inspect every single block to grab data to index. In a case with over seven million blocks, if each block could be indexed in 10ms, this would take over eight (8) days to fully index the blockchain. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid using block handlers if possible.

Event and call handlers are the recommended handlers to use, in conjunction with mapping filters of course, as their performance is much better. The mapping filter allows the project to index only the blocks that satisfy the filter criteria.

For example, below is a filter indexing the staking module and the Rewarded method.

- handler: myCustomHandle
    kind: substrate/EventHandler
    filter:
       module: staking
       method: Rewarded
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Note

For even more performance gains, using a dictionary is highly recommended.

# Using a Dictionary

The concept of a dictionary was introduced in previous modules (For e.g. Module 5 - Overriding Endpoints).

Due to its importance, pleae review Understanding how a dictionary works and remember to include it in all your projects.

# Event & Extrinsic Names

A popular question while creating SubQuery projects is - how do you know what data you can extract from the Polkadot blockchain?

There are several resource options:

  1. Polkadot documentation
  2. Polkadot blockchain explorer
  3. Interacting with the Polkadot API directly

# Polkadot Documentation

The Polkadot documentation can be found at: https://polkadot.js.org/docs/ (opens new window).

# Polkadot Explorer

The Polkadot blockchain explorer is also a great place to become familiar with what information is available to be extracted. There are several options to choose from:

Note that not all explorers are equal. Some may be easier to use and some may represent the data you need in a clearer manner. You’ll end up with a few favourites over time.

# The Polkadot CLI API

The previous two methods of knowing what blockchain data is available, along with the type (which is just as important), are great. However, learning to connect directly to the Polkadot API via command line provides several advantages.

To begin with, it provides access to the most up to date API specifications because the documentation (opens new window) could be slightly outdated.

Furthermore, it allows developers to understand the exact arguments and their types. This is essential when there are issues and debugging is required. And finally, it is very useful when integrating with custom chains where sometimes documentation is not available.

# Connecting to the API

To connect to the API, run the following command:

npm install --save @polkadot/api
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node --experimental-repl-await
const { ApiPromise, WsProvider } = require(`@polkadot/api`)
const provider = new
WsProvider(`wss://polkadot.api.onfinality.io/public-ws`);
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If custom chainTypes are required:

const types={}
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If types are needed:

api = await ApiPromise.create({ provider, types});
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Without types:

api = await ApiPromise.create({ provider });
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# Fetching a Block

To get block hash at the height h, run:

const blockHash = await api.rpc.chain.getBlockHash(h)

const blockHash = await api.rpc.chain.getBlockHash(1234567)
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  • Then:
const block = await api.rpc.chain.getBlock(blockHash)
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# Getting Extrinsics Within a Block

To get all extrinsics:

const extrinsics = block.block.extrinsics;
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For a particular extrinsic: (Change the 1 to a desired extrinsic number)

const myExtrinsic = extrinsic[1];
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To check the args (input for transaction) types, enter:

myExtrinsic.meta.args
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You should see a Vec/array. The size of the array means how many arg this extrinsics takes, and each arg metadata info should include 'name', 'type', 'typeName'.

We are looking for the type. For eg: 'MultiAddress' is the type interface from Polkadot/api.

# Getting Events at a Certain Block Height

Events cannot be extracted from a block, but they can be queried. Since we already have the blockHash(from above), we can ‘lock’ the current API to this particular block height.

  • Start with:
const apiAt = await api.at(blockHash)
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Then:

const events = await apiAt.query.system.events();
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  • Next, specify the specific event of interest. Eg for event number 4:
const myEvent = events[4];
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Finally, enter:

myEvent.event.meta.toJSON()
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  • And you should see something like this:
> myEvent.event.meta.toJSON()
{
    name: 'Withdraw',
    fields: [
            { name: null, type: 0 , typeName: 'T::AccountId', docs: [] },
            { name: null, type: 6 , typeName: 'T::Balance', docs: [] }
        ],
    index: 8 ,
    docs: [
        'Some amount was withdrawn from the account (e.g. for transaction fees). \\[who, value\\]'
        ],
    args: [
        'AccountId32', 'u128'
        ]
}
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# Type Safe Properties

"Type safe" usually refers to languages which ensure that an operation is working on the right kind of data, at some point, before the operation is actually performed. This may be at compile time or at run time.

In Polkadot, everything has a type (opens new window). It means that any variable created needs to have a type cast. For example:

record.blockNumber = event.block.block.header.number.toBigInt();
record.amount = (numberYes as Int).toNumber();
record.bigAmount = (data as Balance).toBigInt();
record.bool = (data as bool).valueOf();
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# Logging

To log data to the CLI from within the mappings functions, when a subql node is running, the logger.info command can be used:

logger.info("Blockheight: " + event.block.block.header.number.toNumber());
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When running a subql node locally via a command line, a log level can also be added to help troubleshoot. See Subql CLI logging reference.

# Debugging

In order to debug SubQuery projects such as stepping through code, setting breakpoints, and inspecting variables, you will have to use a Node.js inspector in conjunction with Chrome developer tools. See How to debug a SubQuery project?

To debug a local subql node, the --debug flag can also be used from the command line.

> subql-node -f . --debug
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See Subql CLI debug reference.

# Changing the Batch Block Size

Using a smaller batch size can reduce memory usage and not leave users hanging for large queries. In other words, your application can be more responsive. See How to change the batch block size.

# Changing the Starting Block

Note that some events only start to occur at higher block height. Hence, one way to test a mapping function faster is to adjust the starting block height. See How to start at a different block height?.

# Bonus Tutorial

Last update: September 24, 2022 05:55