What is a blockchain explorer?
A blockchain explorer is like a search engine for a blockchain that allows users to search for specific details that would be stored within a blockchain network.
It is typically a piece of software that will accumulate and collect data from all the nodes in the blockchain.
The data that it might collect could include details such as transaction information, wallet addresses, where the transaction originated from, where the transaction ended, and the actual amount that ended up being transacted.
Essentially, any type of data that is stored on the blockchain ledger will be information that a blockchain explorer can pull which can even include things like hidden messages and rich lists.
The most common use cases that people use them for are for tracking transaction histories and confirming whether a transaction is confirmed or unconfirmed on the network.
Other additional use cases include checking the number of orphaned blocks, identifying who has able to successfully mine a particular block, and observing what were the fees that were charged in order to perform a successful transaction on the network.
In addition, a user will also be able to use a blockchain explorer in order to examine a live feed of blocks that are getting mined on the blockchain and what data each block stores.
Blockchain explorers are ultimately an extremely helpful tool for users to learn more about a blockchain network and are referred to as the “Google” of the blockchain world due to their impressive data collection/search capabilities.
In the article we will cover the following:
- How does a blockchain explorer work?
- How do you read a blockchain explorer?
- What are the best blockchain explorers used today?
- Who would find using a blockchain explorer helpful?
- Why should you use a blockchain explorer?
How does a blockchain explorer work?
A blockchain explorer is typically a piece of software that gathers all the collectable data from a blockchain by extracting data from a node interface.
Once it collects this data, the blockchain explorer will usually utilize a database to hold the information in a table format that is used for organization purposes.
By storing the data in a table format, it allows for the tool to be able to arrange the data in a way that is easily searchable by the user by specific categories that he or she may want to focus on.
Some example categories that may be used in a search query within a blockchain explorer could include wallet addresses, transaction IDs, transaction amounts, and more.
All of the above types of data are collected from each and every node of the blockchain as a blockchain is essentially a network comprised of many different nodes.
Once the data is all organized in a table format, the user will be able to make very fast searches through large amounts of data.
Most blockchain explorers will also have a user-friendly interface that the user can use in order to easily make searches.
How do you read a blockchain explorer?
Reading from a blockchain explorer is fairly easy as most blockchain explorers will provide an intuitive user interface that will present all the blockchain information in an easy-to-read format.
In most blockchain explorers, common interfaces will include a search bar where a user will be able to search for either a block, a transaction, or a particular wallet address.
In order to do such searches though, you will need to have certain key pieces of information.
For example, if you want to search for a particular transaction, you may want to enter the transaction hash of the transaction that you want more details about.
Once you enter a transaction hash into the search bar and perform the search, the blockchain explorer will present a table of information of all the data that it has collected on that transaction.
In many explorer tools, there will be a summary table where data like the size, the fee rate of the blockchain network, when the transaction was received, when the transaction was actually mined, and potentially even more data depending on the specific tool that you use.
In any case, the data is all in a neatly organized table which is pretty self-explanatory for most users to read from.
Some tools will also allow users to curate a specific list of data that they want to collect every time they do a search using a blockchain explorer.
This way, the user will only get the details that they are interested in once they perform a search and will not see any irrelevant data.
The table format for other types of data such as blocks or wallet addresses is also pretty similar to the transaction data.
Each blockchain explorer tool is unique in how it may specifically present information so referring to your specific tool’s user manual will be your best bet in understanding how to read information from a blockchain explorer.
What are the best blockchain explorers used today?
There is a wide selection of different blockchain explorers that are available on the market today that may make finding the right one difficult for someone who has never used one.
Some blockchain explorers may have additional features that others do not have despite having the same core functionalities.
Deciding which features are important and which are optional can be quite a headache especially when a new user may not know what he or she even needs.
To help out with this difficult task, we can recommend a few highly reliable options for someone new to start out with which will help one gain exposure to this type of tool while satisfying any need that one might have.
One of the most popular blockchain explorers used today is Blockchain.com which is at the top of most lists.
This tool has an easy-to-use interface making it extremely beginner-friendly and it allows the user to search for a very comprehensive list of data.
Blockchain.com is also one of the earliest blockchain explorer tools that were released and has a reputation of being stable and reliable.
Another popular option is BlockCypher which happens to be an open-source blockchain explorer which also has an easy to use interface that allows you to search for most categories of data.
One of the main reasons why BlockCypher has been extremely popular is due to its real-time feed capability which allows you to see the current status of the blockchain and its components without any lag time.
The tool supports the search of four different blockchains which include Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and Dash.
Lastly, a third recommendation is the Tokenview blockchain explorer which is jam-packed with features and is actually one of the newest additions to the market.
This tool has the widest range of support for different blockchains as it supports over 100 different blockchains which include the majority of the most popular cryptocurrencies.
Among the features that Tokenview has includes capabilities such as being able to see the blockchain’s block winners, transaction volumes, and active wallet addresses.
Tokenview is one of the best choices for acquiring a comprehensive list of data with fast search times.
Who would find using a blockchain explorer helpful?
Anybody can find a blockchain explorer extremely helpful and should certainly utilize it for its long list of benefits.
If you are going to interact or research a particular blockchain, knowing everything you can about the network is always going to be essential whether you are a new user or a veteran.
In addition, blockchain technology is specifically designed with transparency in mind so that anybody can look at all the history and details of a blockchain.
Users being equipped with a blockchain explorer is what makes the system always honest and free of manipulation.
Why should you use a blockchain explorer?
The many benefits of a blockchain explorer can make it essential to be used by many people for both personal and business reasons.
From a personal perspective, you want to make sure that there has been no tampering with the data within the blockchain and that your digital assets (if you have any) are fully secure.
Given that there is no expertise or training required to use it, it should be a no-brainer to utilize its capabilities.
In addition, blockchain explorer tools can be critical tools for businesses as well because they can provide a business with data that will be critical for making financial decisions regarding blockchain projects.
People in more technical roles will also require the information if they need better input on how to design the architecture for a blockchain project or how to implement it.
Finally, many of these explorers are provided free of charge so you can experiment with as many as you would like.
Understanding how to use one or at least being familiar with it will be super helpful should you want to pursue a blockchain career in the future one day.