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What is a Blockchain Explorer?

Well, even that is possible. Use an apt block explorer and you are well on your way.

Don’t you think about how we can traverse through blocks in a blockchain?

An online tool, block explorer is designed and devised to view all the information associated with blocks, addresses, and past and current transactions on a blockchain. These online tools generally provide useful information such as network hash rate and transaction growth indexes.

blockchain explorer

Many people, even those who are familiar with cryptocurrencies, do not essentially understand the value which is inherent in a blockchain explorer or a block explorer. There are many things, however, that can be done and found when we leverage the capabilities of a blockchain explorer.

The first transaction in any block within a blockchain is the income which is earned by respective miners. Other transaction details shed light on where the Bitcoin has been sent or received and whether there are any associated network fees. These insights might be useful for computing and analyzing the network fees that you have paid. Several block explorers also report unconfirmed transactions and whether mining difficulty is increasing or decreasing. These details may be leveraged to prognosticate network congestion and the possibility of rising fees.

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While the term ‘block explorer’ indicates that tools of this are only useful for looking at block information, there is a lot more to them. Block explorers can be used to search for specific transaction IDs or wallet addresses, demonstrating their efficacy in investigating personal transactions when there is a need. Furthermore, there exist other block explorers who possess tools for reporting on network statistics and providing visualization charts for instruction optimization.

PS: You need a block explorer which is specific for a cryptocurrency or blockchain. You cannot, for instance, track Bitcoin transactions with a Litecoin explorer. You need a Bitcoin explorer for doing so.

What can you do with block explorers on a blockchain ecosystem?

On the surface, general block explorers seem to generate a myriad of confusing data when someone is relatively new to cryptocurrency. A lot of data that is provided on the screen by the block explorer does not make sense at first, but eventually when a user gets a better understanding of how to read those data sets things quickly start to fall in place, and the block explorer becomes their personal assistant in the world of blockchains and cryptocurrency.

homepage of a basic block explorer

For instance, when a new bitcoin block is discovered by miners, each block explorer would list it the very moment it gets added to the network. By clicking on a specific network block, users can garner insights on the size of the block, its discovery information, and most importantly the transactions that the block contains.

A block explorer may also turn out to be a tool of great value when a user wants to see how current block rewards are distributed to miners who helped in solving the block’s hash code. Although this information may not be vital to everyone, it is an optimal way to see how bitcoins are generated by mining and the way in which they are distributed. Depending on the type of block explorer one uses, additional features also pop up. Blockchain.info, for example, has become much more than just a block explorer. It provides statistics and charts pertaining to the bitcoin network.

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With an efficient blockchain explorer, you can essentially:

  • Explore recently mined blocks on the blockchain
  • Explore any transaction in any block that has already been mined
  • Check the history of any public bitcoin address
  • See the bitcoin receiving address and the bitcoin change address
  • See the status of a Mempool, where you can find the total number of unconfirmed transactions in a day
  • Record how many ‘double-spend’ bitcoin transactions were done in the last 10 minutes
  • Check how many blocks are ‘orphaned’ and not attached to the blockchain
  • Check which mining pool has found which block
  • See the genesis block or the first block of the blockchain

Let us now try to discern a real-time use case of block explorers.

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How can you explore a public bitcoin address using a block explorer?

While there are many bitcoin explorers that are easily available in the marketplace today, we shall be focusing on the most popular of them, Blockchain.info.

Consider a random bitcoin address: 1Eu7LUP2Ht2gs46JYyxg6W125T1bgtaJgm.

If we want to explore a public bitcoin address using Blockchain.info, we need to open it first and search the address in the search bar.

block feed and search bar

This way, we can see the total balance and BTC received on this public address.

searching bitcoin address

Moreover, we can get information about input and output amounts, total fees that was charged for the transaction, and the total number of confirmations using the block explorer, Blockchain.info.

transaction details

Although block explorers are quite beneficial, many challenges have evolved around them. The first and foremost is that they are packed with volumetric data.

Several block explorers are so ingested with data that may take a toll on user experience at first. It will be confusing, if the user is new to the world of cryptocurrencies. Seeing loads of data on the screen, new users won’t be able to make any sense of it all. However, as soon as they gain a better understanding of what those data sets denote, it all will start to make sense.

In the context of current block explorers, The Merkle website published: “There is much more to the block explorers that we are using today … Looking at a specific block also provides the hash of every block. This hash is quite complicated to generate and becomes more difficult as time progresses.”

Considering the value proposition of block explorers, it won’t be wrong to assume that a lot of research and development (R&D) is done to completely revolutionize these online tools. In due course of time, more advanced and intuitive block explorers will invade the marketplace.

Later, you can check out our offers for Blockchain training to achieve certification. It will help to excel your career. Also, Intellipaat is providing free Blockchain interview questions & answers listed by the experts to prepare for the interviews.

 

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