• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

What Is Dune Analytics And How To Use It?

dune analytics

Dune Analytics launched as a tiny outfit in 2018. But what started out as a two-man team has since been compared to Github for blockchain data. It has also attracted some of the most recognizable investors in the space, including Dragonfly Capital, Binance, and Multicoin Capital.

In today’s world of web2, companies of all shapes and sizes, from giants like Amazon and Facebook to boutique media agencies, rely on selling users’ private data as a business model. 

So how does web3, more specifically Dune Analytics, challenge this paradigm? And how can you use it to your advantage?

What is Dune Analytics?

© Dune

The “gold” is in the data, so to speak. (Sats, in our case.) And when we speak of blockchain data and analytical tools, several options exist (e.g., Nansen). But the chosen topics for analysis are subjective, monthly plans can cost a pretty penny, and these “solutions” are centralized.

Enter Dune Analytics. 

Recently rebranded simply as Dune, the company takes on-chain crypto data and makes it easy for users to slice, visualize, and analyze it—but even this is too generalized a statement that doesn’t do the company justice. 

See, Dune took just 3 years to secure unicorn status, with a $1 billion valuation. So what exactly is Dune Analytics, and what makes it so special? And how can it even compare to data giants like Google when its interface looks like this

© Dune

Yep. The interface leaves much to be desired. (Soooo much.) 

But UI aside, let’s take a look at what makes Dune different. First, it introduces a bottom-up model, with its community of analysts. In other words, Dune doesn’t assume to know what its audience wants. Instead, it incentivizes its community with financial rewards to produce dashboards. This means that the platform operates purely based on user-generated content. 

Second, Dune uses blockchain data, which web2 companies do not. (More on this later, and why it’s a crucial differentiator.) Examples of the types of data you can pull range from getting a general overview of Ethereum’s performance, with gorgeous data visualization charts, to tracking the top 1000 wallets on Ethereum. As you can probably tell, this type of data is highly and immediately actionable, thus making it extremely valuable in the right hands.

So, are there any other reasons we might want to use Dune? Well, here’s another: It’s free. Of course, Dune Pro is available at $390/month if you want all the bells and whistles. (That might sound expensive. But shop around, and you’ll quickly find that other data analytics platforms happily charge four figures per month.)

You can skip queues and even run parallel queries as a premium user. You get privacy options for your dashboards and queries too. Finally, you can also export your data as CSV files. 

But if you’re just getting started? Stick to the freemium version for now, since it has much to offer.

History of Dune

© Isaac Smith | Unsplash

Schibsted Media Group is a company in Norway that’s nearly 200 years old. It boasts 5000+ employees, is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, and has deep pockets. How deep? Well, a few years ago, they decided to fund a blockchain team to explore their viability. 

The two team members happened to be Mats Olsen and Fredrik Haga, who would later go on to found Dune. But before the dream, Olsten had started as a lowly research intern at the company. From there, he climbed his way up to blockchain analyst, where he programmed smart contracts for freight companies. Haga, his future cofounder, was armed with an MA in Economics and paid his bills as a data analyst.

Eventually, the duo realized that the media group was too big and too traditional. It would not be able to lean into and leverage blockchains the way Mats and Fredrik had envisioned. So, in 2018, the two friends took a chance and jumped ship, handing in their notices to chase the dream.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. 

As mentioned, it took 3 full years for them to reach unicorn status. But that wasn’t the result of years of steady revenue building. No, it was a rapid windfall. 

In other words, they had constantly been drowning in rejection after rejection. Then, one day, Binance came along and must’ve seen their potential. So much so that they were funded with a cool $2 million, which was around the time when the tide started turning. 

I’ll save you the rest of the history lesson, but know that Dune was no overnight success story. Mats and Fredrik took years of iterative feedback implementation and critical brainstorming to get Dune to where it is today.  

How does Dune Work?

© Dune

Earlier, we mentioned that Dune differs from other analytics platforms based on several factors. For instance, Mario Gabriele from The Generalist points out that traditional companies tend to release their quarterly reports. Compare this to blockchain data, which is available immediately.

What are the implications?

This implies that data that’s available so readily and immediately—not to mention continuously—can also be consistently actionable. Let’s follow this thought to its natural conclusion. We can see that this interactivity thus changes the nature and state of the chains based on real-time data actioning and feedback.

In other words, the blockchain can be viewed as a living, breathing organism that reacts and responds to user actions based on its data. And those responses and reactions are in turn fed back as data to users, thus interlocked in a continuous feedback loop.  

So how is Dune able to provide all this data anyway? 

By aggregating it all from its supported chains and sorting them into SQL databases. But it’s the community’s job to use the data and tools provided. The team leaves it to the data analysts to extrapolate interesting and actionable insights for other users. This is Dune’s value proposition. 

If we think collectively of Dune users as a community, we can divide them into different tiers on a pyramid. At the very bottom sit the vast majority of users, the casual viewers who like to browse specific project dashboards they’re interested in. Query experts and data analysts are in the middle, since they’re proficient at data analysis. And sitting squarely at the top are the “Dune wizards”.  

A “wizard” is Dune’s term for its community of data creators. As a data creator, you can use your skills to showcase your data expertise. You can do so by creating your own project dashboard and charts, and by sharing them with the community. 

Dune also runs a bounty program, a way to incentivize wizards to create more dashboards for specific purposes. So, in addition to financial compensation, wizards can build a solid reputation as formidable data analysts.

Although Dune is limited to several chains, it’s rapidly expanding from Ethereum and its Layer 2 solutions to Solana and other chains as well. Currently, it also supports Gnosis Chain and Binance Smart Chain. In the future, the Arrakis upgrade will feature Dune Engine V2, which is currently in beta. The beta enables access to cross-chain data queries.

How to Use Dune

© Dune

Here’s a quick Dune Analytics tutorial for those who don’t know how to speak SQL. 

To use Dune and gain access to its fullest freemium features, you have to create an account. Yeah, we hear you. It’s web3, so why can’t you just connect your wallet address to Dune’s app? Sorry. Dune requires you to sign up via email, at least for now.  

Once you’re in, the best place to start is to look at dashboards that wizards have built. Dune uses a star system to organize the results based on the most popular dashboards.  

© Dune

You can also sort by your favorite dashboards or by trending and New dashboards. If your results are too broad, you can use the filter function on the right-hand sidebar to narrow down your search results. 

You can use the Search field to look up dashboards for a project (e.g., Uniswap), a specific crypto sector (e.g., decentralized finance), or even an entire ecosystem (e.g., Optimism).

Breaking down dashboards

Now that we’re on the subject, let’s take a look at these 3 types of dashboards, and show examples of each. 

Project Dashboard example (i.e., DAO performance of Famous Fox Federation, a blue-chip NFT project on the Solana chain):

© Dune

Sector Dashboard example (i.e., activity of DeFi users on Ethereum):

© Dune

Ecosystem Dashboard example (i.e., the state of Ethereum gas fees):

© Dune

Now that you know the three basic types of dashboards, let’s look at dashboards on the individual level.      

On the individual dashboard page, you can hover over the charts to uncover additional info. You can also click on any section title to drill deeper into each section. Drilling down reveals the query data, as well as the output data. (As mentioned earlier, premium users can export this data via CSV.)

You can also rerun queries to refresh the data. How do you rerun a query? It’s simple. All you have to do is open up the dashboard, and it’ll update itself. It may take some time though, since you’re being added to a queue. 

© Dune

 

The process can run anywhere from a few minutes to hours. You can check how long a specific section’s taking to refresh by clicking on the checkmark in the lower-right-hand corner.

By the way, you can also embed a dashboard into your blog. And if you want to dig deeper, then it’s worth learning SQL because you can fork other users’ queries. Forking a query simply means taking someone’s dashboard and editing it to suit your needs.

How to Create a Dashboard in Dune

© Dune

If you know SQL, here’s a quick tutorial on getting a dashboard set up and running.

Step 1. Click on “Menu”, and then click on “New query”.

Step 2. Pick the chain you want to work with. Alternatively, you can choose Dune Engine V2 (currently in beta), which works with Solana raw data, for example. 

Step 3. You can search the data sets below. For instance, clicking on a specific data set reveals the strings you can use to query the data.

Note: Dune Engine V2 provides more interesting data sets. You can query the raw data, or even go project- or sector-specific.

Dune: A Powerful Tool in SQL-native Hands

© Caspar Camille Rubin | Unsplash

Before we close, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. 

Let me give you the bad news first: Unless you know SQL, you won’t be able to run queries. But the good news? SQL is an easy language to pick up. Even if you’ve got minimal experience in programming, you can lock it down within 2 to 3 weeks. 

Keep in mind, it’s okay if you’re in love with data but don’t have the time to pick up SQL. You can always reach out to your favorite wizards and see if they’d like to work on a project for you, for a fee, of course.

As with any tool, a tool is only as powerful as its user. Just like a paintbrush in hand doesn’t make me a Van Gogh (I draw amazing stick figures), Dune is only as powerful as its user. Having said that, I leave this info in your very capable hands. 

Happy data mining!

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