What Is a Block Explorer in Crypto?

Published Jun 29, 2023 at 12:21 PM
Last updated Feb 21, 2024 at 3:53 PM

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A block explorer is a tool that allows users to search and navigate through the blockchain network.
  • Block explorers are designed to make the blockchain more transparent and accessible to users.
  • It provides a user-friendly interface to access information about transactions, blocks, addresses, and other relevant data stored on the blockchain.
  • Block explorers are available for most major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dash.

Since it is based on ever-evolving technology, the cryptocurrency world is full of new terms and notions. Knowing and understanding them all may seem challenging, especially if you’ve just started exploring this exciting space. For example, blockchain explorer is one of the most essential tools in the crypto market, and not many people even know about it. It allows users to explore and navigate a blockchain network.

This guide will dig deeper into the blockchain explorer world, including key features, why you should use a blockchain explorer, how it works, its history, and some interesting examples.
 
 

Blockchain Explorer, Explained

A block explorer is a simple web application or tool that features different data from a particular blockchain. Users may quickly search and examine different aspects of the blockchain, such as blocks, transactions, addresses, and other associated information because the data is often stored in a database. 

This information is shown in the block explorer's user-friendly interface, making it simpler for users to investigate and examine the blockchain's activity.

User inputs are often arranged in a table database style by a block explorer. You can get details about recent blockchain transactions, including transaction amounts, sender and recipient addresses, and timestamps, by conducting a search. 

You can also look at information on recently mined blocks, such as the size, height, and list of transactions that each block contains. A block explorer may also include a live block feed, which shows information and updates on the blocks that are being added to the blockchain in real time.
 
 

History of Blockchain Explorers

The growth and adoption of blockchain technology have been significantly influenced by blockchain explorers. Since their inception, they have been embraced by numerous other cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks. They first appeared alongside the first blockchain, Bitcoin. Here is a synopsis of blockchain explorer history:
 

Bitcoin Block Explorer

In 2010, the anonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto released the first blockchain explorer for the digital currency. Users could search and study transaction data on the Bitcoin blockchain using this straightforward online tool. The first Bitcoin block explorer was created by Bitcointalk user "theymos" and was dubbed "Block Explorer."
 

Blockchain.info

The well-known block explorer Blockchain.info, currently known as Blockchain.com, was introduced in 2011. It quickly rose to prominence as one of the most popular and well-known blockchain explorers, offering users a simple user interface and in-depth information on Bitcoin transactions and blocks. Blockchain.info was essential in opening up blockchain data to a larger audience and fostering the development of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
 

Expansion To Other Cryptocurrencies

Blockchain explorers were created to support additional networks as cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin emerged. In order to allow users to investigate Ethereum transactions, smart contracts, and other network data, Ethereum, for instance, released its own blockchain explorer called Etherscan in 2015. The dedicated blockchain explorers for other cryptocurrencies like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Solana, and Ripple are also available.
 

Enhancements to Features and Functionality

As the industry has progressed, blockchain explorers now provide more sophisticated features and capabilities. In addition to transaction hashes, input and output addresses, transaction fees, and confirmations, they now offer extensive information about specific transactions. Additionally, some explorers include graphs of transactions, mempool statistics, network metrics, and historical charts.
 

Open-Source Blockchain Explorers

Open-source blockchain explorers have grown in popularity in addition to specialized block explorers created by cryptocurrency businesses or organizations. These explorers let anyone create their own block explorer for a given blockchain, enabling transparency and customization options. Examples are Insight (for Bitcoin) and Blockchair (for several cryptocurrencies).
 

Integration with Wallets and Exchanges

To give consumers easy access to transaction information and real-time updates, many cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges have integrated blockchain explorers into their platforms. By enabling consumers to follow their transactions and check the movement of their money on the blockchain, this integration improves the user experience.
 
 

How Do Blockchain Explorers Work?

Before you start using blockchain explorer, you should know how it works in practice. An explorer is a blockchain search tool. You can use it to search for different information regarding the blockchain. It sorts out details of crypto wallets and all related transactions.

Let’s see the key components of the block explorer:

How Blockchain Explorer Works
 

User Interface

The block explorer's user interface is its front-end element, allowing users to engage with its features and functionalities. For accessing, browsing, and analyzing blockchain data, it offers an easy and user-friendly interface.
 

Relational Database

A relational database is used by a block explorer to store data in tables. You can see the relationships between various sorts of data thanks to this database structure. 

Based on its kinds and relationships, the data is organized and connected rather than being all contained in one big block.
 

Structured Query Language (SQL)

Relational databases can be interacted with using the SQL language. It offers a standardized method for accessing, modifying, and managing the database's data. 

You can make tables, input pertinent records, conduct computations, search for particular terms, and more with SQL. It enables versatile and effective data modification and retrieval. 
 

Search and Query Engine

Based on user requests, the search and query engine is in charge of retrieving and processing data from the database. Users can get pertinent data from the blockchain by searching for particular transactions, wallet addresses, block heights, or other criteria. 

To deliver quick and precise results, the search engine makes use of search algorithms and improved query protocols. 
 

Data Parser

The data parser is a part of the blockchain network that extracts and analyses data. It establishes a connection to the blockchain network, downloads the most recent blockchain data, and then transforms it into a format that can be saved and searched for in the database.

The blockchain explorer presents users with current and reliable data thanks to the data parser.
 

Application Programming Interface (API)

In this context, an API serves as a link between a blockchain explorer's UI and the blockchain network. It offers a collection of protocols and resources that let consumers or developers connect with the blockchain data.

You can submit requests to the blockchain network using the API to get specific information or carry out tasks like getting transaction information, wallet balances, block information, and more. The API specifies the protocols and procedures for data transmission and communication between the blockchain explorer and the blockchain.
 

Block and Transaction Viewer

The blockchain explorer's block and transaction viewer provides extensive information about specific blocks and transactions. Users have access to transaction details like sender, recipient, and transaction amount, as well as block details like block hash, date, and miner rewards. 

This viewer aids users in visualizing and comprehending the blockchain's structure and contents.
 

Analytics and Statistics

Numerous blockchain explorers offer extra tools for processing and displaying statistical information about the blockchain network. Charts, graphs, and other visual representations of network activity, transaction volume, mining difficulty, and other pertinent information may be among these elements.

Users can acquire insights into the behavior and patterns of the blockchain network with the aid of analytics and statistical tools.
 
 

Who Can Use A Block Explorer?

A block explorer is intended for use by various people and organizations associated with the blockchain ecosystem. Block explorers are used by miners to keep track of their mining operations. Miners are essential to the process of validating transactions and adding them to the blockchain. They can monitor their mining earnings, gain access to details about recently discovered blocks, and assess the hash rate of the entire network to better manage their mining operations.

Block explorers are used by blockchain developers to programmatically access blockchain data via APIs. As a result, they may confirm transactions, incorporate real-time data into their apps, and create decentralized applications (dApps) on top of already-established blockchain networks.

Block explorers can be used by merchants and companies that accept cryptocurrency to validate customer transactions. They can guarantee the timely completion of transactions and increase the efficiency and dependability of their payment operations by keeping an eye on incoming payments and transaction statuses.

For data collection, blockchain and cryptocurrency researchers and analysts mainly rely on block explorers. They have access to transaction data, network activity, wallet addresses, and other pertinent data thanks to block explorers. With the help of this data, researchers may carry out in-depth analyses, market studies, and statistical modeling that help them better understand the blockchain sector.

Block explorers can be used by regulatory authorities, auditors, and compliance teams to enforce legal standards inside the blockchain ecosystem. They may keep an eye on transactions, look into questionable activity, and guarantee that anti-fraud and anti-money laundering policies are being followed, increasing accountability and transparency.

Block explorers help the general public comprehend and study the inner workings of the blockchain. Block explorers increase understanding of cryptocurrencies and the transactions that go along with them by revealing the openness and decentralization of blockchain technology.
 
 

How to Read Blockchain Explorer?

Anyone interested in comprehending and examining blockchain transactions can benefit from learning how to read a blockchain explorer. Here is a detailed explanation of how to use a blockchain explorer:

Reading Block Explorer

  • Select a blockchain explorer from the available options: There are several blockchain explorers for different blockchain networks. Choose the blockchain explorer that is appropriate for the particular blockchain you want to explore.
  • Enter the transaction or block details: A search bar is normally available on the blockchain explorer's website. Enter the block number or transaction hash that you want to investigate. The block number indicates the sequence in which the block was added to the blockchain, whilst the transaction hash serves as a unique identifier for each transaction.
  • View transaction details: The blockchain explorer will show information about that specific transaction as soon as you enter the transaction details. This comprises the transaction amount, transaction fees, timestamp, sender and recipient addresses, and confirmation status. Additionally, you can view information like the transaction ID, block height, and confirmation count.
  • Navigate through blocks: As you examine a block, the blockchain explorer will give you information about the transactions that are included in that block. Usually, the transaction hashes, involved addresses, and transmitted amounts are all visible. The block's size, timestamp, miner incentives, and the previous and following blocks are also available.
  • View address information: Blockchain explorers enable you to look up specific wallet addresses and retrieve data about their previous transactions. You can type a wallet address into the search field to retrieve information on the transactions connected to that address, including balances, transaction histories, incoming and outgoing transactions, and more.
  • Examine extra features: Some blockchain explorers include extra features, including graphs, charts, and charts of transaction flows and data of the network. You can visualize and comprehend the activity and patterns inside the blockchain network with the aid of these capabilities.
  • Understanding confirmation status: It is important since blockchain explorers frequently show transaction confirmation status. After the block containing the transaction, the number of confirmations indicates how many new blocks were added to the network. A greater number of confirmations signifies a transaction that is more secure and complete.

  

Examples of Blockchain Explorers

Various blockchain explorers that are available include:

  • Blockchain.org: A well-known Bitcoin block explorer allowing you to search blockchain by address, transaction, and block. Many users have already tested the platform to check their transactions.  
  • Blockchair: An advanced tool allowing customers to search different chains. You can use it to search Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Bitcoin Cash chains. Some of the features you can check are nodes, words, mining difficulty, and more.
  • Tokenview: A platform optimized for searching more than 20 chains. It has been in operation since 2018.
  • Etherscan: A leading explorer for the Ethereum network, with the possibility to search for addresses, balances, smart contracts, and transactions.

 

What Use A Blockchain Explorer?

Using blockchain explorer makes sense if you are looking for valuable information about crypto transactions. It allows customers to track details about mined blocks, network capacity, transaction history, and many other things. Below you will find the most common things you can do with a block explorer:

  • Track the source of crypto: Users can follow and keep an eye on any cryptocurrency address they like using a blockchain explorer. Users can acquire in-depth information on a certain address by simply typing it into the explorer's search field. The total number of transactions linked to the address, the total quantity of cryptocurrencies received and transmitted from that address, and the address's current balance are some examples of this data.
  • Track your transaction: Blockchain explorer provides insight into pending and closed transactions alongside the number of confirmations on the network. By typing the ID of your transfer, you can easily check its status.
  • Check the number of circulating coins: Apart from checking details on a specific transaction, block explorer also includes important charts about the network difficulty, approximate block size, and total crypto in circulation. 
  • Check transaction fees: Making transactions with BTC or ETH does not involve a fixed charge. To know what to expect and how much you need to pay, you can now check the fee charts.

While these are the main functionalities of blockchain explorer, you can also use it to explore double-spending incidents, orphaned and stale blocks, the largest daily transaction, genesis blocks, and much more.
 
 

How Do I Check Transaction Status on a Blockchain Explorer?

Checking the status of your transaction on a blockchain explorer is one of the best features of the tool. You can start using the solution by visiting the page blockchain.com/explorer. From the front page, you’ll be able to see different information for networks such as Bitcoin and the USD price of certain cryptos. 

To keep track of your transactions, you should continue with the following steps:

  • Copy and paste the transfer hash into the search bar
  • See the summary of your transactions (both the amount received and spent)
  • Scroll down to find the details of transactions (current status, time of receiving funds, etc.)

As for the status of your transaction, it can be pending, confirmed, complete, or failed. The pending transaction could still be in the process because of network clogging. Or, for instance, the confirmed transaction could have been successfully processed but still requires miners’ confirmations.

If your transaction is complete, it's final and irreversible. Finally, a failed transfer means that it has encountered some errors. Possible reasons are lack of funds for processing or reverting your transaction.  
  
 

Conclusion 

To sum up, blockchain explorer is a groundbreaking tool for everyone involved in the blockchain ecosystem. It opens new opportunities in the crypto ecosystem, with clear and understandable features and functionalities. Using the explorer improves the transparency of transactions and keeps users informed. That’s why you have countless reasons to investigate it and educate yourself about blockchain technology and its core elements.