What Is a Blockchain Explorer?
A blockchain explorer (or block explorer) is a search engine that allows users to view the contents of a blockchain. It provides the necessary data for developers and traders to verify and analyze crypto transactions without an intermediary.
A typical block explorer provides live and historical data on the latest cryptocurrency transactions, blocks, fees, and more. Traders can also explore wallet addresses, block difficulty, and smart contract details.
Traders can use block explorers like Etherscan to copy the activities of “crypto whales.” By tracking their wallets and setting up alerts, users can mimic the moves of other successful traders in the market.
Overall, blockchain explorers are a key element of the decentralized yet transparant nature of the blockchain industry.
What Can You Use a Blockchain Explorer to Do?
Blockchain explorers can be initially overwhelming for new users due to the sheer volume of data on display. However, they can become invaluable tools for investors with time, providing insightful behind-the-scenes information about the network’s activities.
Besides retrieving live data, blockchain explorers are great tools for record-keeping purposes. This is because users can easily keep track of their transactions through block explorers. They can also directly export their crypto transactions as a CSV file for tax purposes.
Block explorers provide information such as the wallet address that owns a specific asset, discovery details for a particular transaction, and the list of transactions compressed into a block.
Besides keeping records and enabling anyone to peep behind the curtains, traders and developers can leverage blockchain explorers to access:
- A blockchain file size
- Confirmed transactions and pending ones
- Mempool size/status
- Block difficulty
- Network hash rate
- Largest transactions for the day
- Failed transactions
- The genesis block of the network
- Wallet balance
- Wallet addresses
- Double-spend incidents
- Network fees
- Transaction volume
Furthermore, market experts can utilize blockchain explorers to view the wallet addresses of crypto whales to access market sentiments and shifts.
How to Use a Blockchain Explorer
Blockchain explorers operate uniformly, employing the same search mechanism to acquire pertinent transaction data. This makes it easy for users conversant with one explorer to easily garner the required information on another.
Below, we provide a general idea of how to use a blockchain explorer.
– Search for Specific Wallet Address Activity
The most ubiquitous feature among blockchain explorers is the search field, which is boldly visible on their home pages. With this search field, users can generate any number of data on a specific crypto wallet address. They can access their current asset holdings, transaction history, and status.
They can also view the transactions sent to the wallet address and the outgoings. For instance, to carry this out on ethereum (ETC)’s explorer Etherscan, users only need to input the wallet address into the search field and click on the ‘Enter’ or ‘Search’ button (as the case may be) to get the full run-down on the wallet address.
This method proves invaluable for tracking token balances, gas fees and identifying any airdrops received from blockchain projects.
– Search for Blockchain Transactions
Generally, a block is made up of thousands of approved transactions. Blockchain explorers extend their functionality by enabling users to enter a block and examine its transactions and the miners or validators responsible for their verification.
Searching for a specific block resembles the copy-and-paste method for locating wallet addresses. To do this, users must paste the transaction hash into the search field and click the search button. Once completed, the block number, timestamp, amount transferred, input and output address, and the fee will be shown.
Here are some of the top network terms users encounter while browsing with a blockchain explorer:
- Pending: The highlighted transaction is yet to be validated or confirmed.
- Failed: This means the transaction was not successfully posted or validated and has been kicked off the network.
- Confirmed: The transaction has been verified by the network’s validators or miners (as the case may be) and given the green signal for inclusion in the blockchain.
- Complete: It has been successfully added to a block on the blockchain and is now irreversible and irretrievable.
Examples of Blockchain Explorers
There are thousands of cryptocurrencies, but only a limited number of explorers. This is because only a few layer-1 blockchain protocols exist in the nascent ecosystem. The most popular blockchain explorers are:
- Etherscan and Ethplorer, which enable data analysis for ethereum and its entire ecosystem.
- Blockchain.com, Blockchair, and Tokenview are popular bitcoin network explorers.
- Solscan is the de facto search engine for network-related activities for the solana blockchain.
- Coinmarketcap Explorer caters to the BNB smart chain network.
- Other layer-1 blockchain explorers are Cardanoscan and the Cardano Explorer.
Blockchain explorers are gateways into a network’s activities. With these tools, individuals can track and monitor their transactions.
Market and blockchain analysts can also use it to evaluate a network’s hash rate, block height, and block difficulty. This allows them to make projections on possible market movements and gauge sentiments.