A blockchain explorer is a browser for the blockchain, similar to how we have browsers like Mozilla or Google Chrome for internet web pages.
All Bitcoin and altcoin users rely heavily on blockchain explorers to track their transactions.
But very few users really appreciate the full potential of these explorers. These browsers provide much more valuable information than just tracking of transactions.
Note: I will be using the terms “blockchain explorer” and “block explorer” interchangeably. They mean the same thing.
What Is A Block Explorer?
A block explorer allows you to explore the whole entire blockchain of the platform you are using.
But it needs to be noted that you can’t use a block explorer for a blockchain it wasn’t meant for. For example, you can’t track Litecoin transactions with a Bitcoin block explorer.
You’ll need a Litecoin block explorer for that… (like this one https://live.blockcypher.com/ltc/).
Now that we got that out of the way…
What Can You Do With A Block Explorer?
For the sake of explaining things, I will be talking about Bitcoin block explorers, but each blockchain interfaces and functions in the same way with its respective explorer.
1. Blocks Feed – Block explorers allow you to explore recently mined blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain. Typically all Bitcoin block explorers provide a live feed of all the blocks that are being added to the blockchain in real time.
2. Transaction Feed – Block explorers allow you to explore any transaction in any block that has already been mined and is currently attached to the Bitcoin blockchain.
3. Transaction History Of A Given Address – Using a Bitcoin block explorer, you can check the history of any public Bitcoin address and audit how many transactions it has received, its balance, etc.
4. Receiving Address & Change Address – Using a Bitcoin block explorer, you can see the Bitcoin receiving address and the Bitcoin change address.
6. Largest Transaction Of The Day – Some block explorers keep data for the largest Bitcoin transactions done in a day (like blockchain.info).
8. Double Spend Incidents – Some advanced block explorers also record how many double spend Bitcoin transactions were done in the last 10 minutes.
9. Orphaned Blocks – You can check the number of blocks that were orphaned and not attached to the Bitcoin blockchain.
10. Block Relayed By – You can check which mining pool found the block. For example, you can see this block was relayed by ViaBTC mining pool.
Example Of Exploring A Public Bitcoin Address
There are many different Bitcoin block explorers available in the market. A simple Google search will pop up many of them.
For this example, I will be using blockchain.info, one of the most popular Bitcoin block explorers out there. Let’s examine this public Bitcoin address –1Eu7LUP2Ht2gs46JYyxg6W125T1bgtaJgm.
#1 Go to blockchain.info and search for 1Eu7LUP2Ht2gs46JYyxg6W125T1bgtaJgm in the search bar.
#2 See total balance and BTC received on this public address in the below image.
#3 Exploring the transaction ID for this public address, you will find input and output amounts, fees charged for this transaction, and number of confirmations.
Using A Blockchain Explorer
As mentioned here, there are many reasons to use a block explorer.
They are an invaluable resource and one of the best ways to explore a blockchain.
Having open-source explorers like these are what makes all of these cryptocurrencies transparent and immutable. Giving the public access to the blockchain ledger allows for a decentralized honor system to take place.
That’s the beauty of blockchain tech.
So that’s all from my side in this exploration article of a block explorer. Stay tuned to basilpuglisi for more blockchain talk!
If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below.
And if you enjoyed this article and found it informative, do share it with your friends!
Here are a few hand-picked articles that you should read next: