What is a Blockchain RPC Node API and How to Choose the Right RPC Provider?

As APIs are heating up the development world and blockchain is the talk of town these days, we are assuming you already know about these two technologies — at least to an intermediate level — before we start discussing the RPCs in particular.

Exploring the Blockchain RPC Node API — an Overview of APIs

A Remote Procedure Call (RPC) happens to be the most straightforward form of an API which allows developers to communicate to a server to remotely execute code — in short, it is very similar to a function call, but between two different systems. Since Web APIs (aka REST APIs) are popular these days, please note that technically, an RPC is termed as a Web API when it’s implemented in HTTP. So the core concept or logic is the same, but due to the involvement of a different protocol, the syntax changes and so does the name. While REST APIs are quite easy to implement and work really well in most of cases, there might be a few instances (particularly in large-scale applications) where REST might fail and that is when developers need to go old-school and depend on RPCs to enable an application to communicate internally.
You might ask yourself how a RPC is a better option when compared with REST, which is used by way more developers and systems? To understand this, it is important to have a look at the following comparison.

Why Do We Need RPCs in Blockchain? A Quick Comparison from the Blockchain Perspective

REST APIs support CRUD operations which means that for creating, reading, updating, or deleting something, you have separate methods. However, since blockchains maintain immutable records and there is no point in having records like updates or edits, RPCs are a more suitable option as they are quite generic and entertain GET and POST operations only. It means that for any information that you want to retrieve, you have to use GET, while if you want to instruct the node to write/create a block at its side, you have to use the POST method instead.
Due to its simplicity, this approach gives the developer a lot of freedom and enables him to perform literally any chain operation with the GET and POST methods only. Since REST APIs are rather particular, you can only expect CRUD operations from them and at the scale at which the blockchain industry is developing and introducing new approaches, we need something as generic as RPCs.

How to Use Blockchain RPCs and Choose the Right Provider?

A note at the outset, in the blockchain ecosystem, we generally refer to servers with the term node. To run blockchain RPCs, you need a node and it totally depends on your preferences whether you wish to set up and handle the entire DevOps of a node by yourself or if you decide to outsource this to a service provider and focus primarily on your use case.
If you do not want to burden yourself with infrastructure operations, you would have to partner with a node provider. You can choose a dedicated node (offered for example by QuikNode) or use a SaaS-based API utilizing shared infrastructure (as offered by Infura or Anyblock Analytics) to connect with the test or production network of any blockchain you want.

Therefore, we will walk you through a couple of things that you might consider before selecting a RPC node provider:

  1. They should offer end-to-end support (the team should be available to provide help at any step) so you do not have to switch third parties multiple times while connecting to your node (although it is not a flaw, it just reduces the efficiency)
  2. They should have multiple load-balanced nodes deployed in different regions to offer low latency
  3. You should be able to retrieve the complete data of the node indexed properly so it can be queried whenever required
  4. The provider should be following an internationally recognized data protection law (e.g. GDPR) to ensure their nodes keep the data and your access to it private and secure
  5. You should be able to get real-time alerts on your dashboard so the health of your node is always viewable (it should show all the important metrics, like processing time, number of transactions, hit/miss requests, etc.)
  6. The archive data should be included for queries that go back further in the blockchain history

Conclusion

So, it is quite evident that while both REST and RPC APIs have their advantages, RPC APIs seem to be a better option, particularly when blockchain is involved.
The second most important takeaway of this article is that you need to make the crucial decision whether to go for setting up a node yourself, a cloud-based shared node, or a dedicated node.
It will not only allow you to be efficient and focused on the development of the platform — hence, producing a high-quality code — but you might also save a hefty cost that would otherwise be spent on managing an operations team.
Therefore, you might want to try Anyblock Analytics’ RPC API, which allows you to outsource the complete infrastructure and DevOps work, setting up the nodes for over 22 public blockchain networks so you do not have to waste time in configurations.
If you want to run a dedicated node on a permissioned private enterprise blockchain in your name, Anyblock can also provide this Node as a Service.

Freddy Zwanzger — Co-Founder of Anyblock

Interested or questions?

Freddy Zwanzger
(Co-Founder)
freddy@anyblockanalytics.com
+49 6131 3272372

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Originally published at https://www.anyblockanalytics.com on February 11, 2021.

Anyblock Analytics is a German blockchain solution provider. We offer consulting, tools and data to integrate business processes with blockchain.