In the world of cryptocurrencies, every time a transaction takes place it gets logged in to a blockchain — a distributed ledger that makes the information globally available on a real-time basis. That does not mean a user or investor gets an automatic update about each successful transaction. It’s more like the data is stored and updated on the digital ledger but anyone who wants to check details has to look for it. But how do you do that? That is done with the help of tools that work as a sort of “Google” for cryptocurrency.
What about cross-platform data? Meaning if a Bitcoin blockchain user wants to check the details of a transaction related to, say, the Ethereum blockchain, how to do it? That can also be done by the same process. These tools are called blockchain explorers. Most of them provide services for more than one blockchain.
What are blockchain explorers?
Simply put, a blockchain explorer is a type of software that pulls data from a blockchain and creates a database for users to search for particular information from the available resource. They allow users to see details related to various cryptocurrency transactions, including the amount transacted, the source and the destination of the transfers, and the status of transactions.
- A user can provide searchable terms and the explorer will throw up the results in a table form of all matching transactions.
- A blockchain explorer allows for the exploration of data of recently mined blocks or transactions. They also allow a user to do the following:
- Explore the transaction history of any wallet address, improving transparency on a blockchain.
- The latest transactions in a blockchain and the amounts transacted.
- Explore receiving addresses and change addresses. During a transaction, a specified amount is sent to the intended address and the remainder of the fund in the sending address is sent to a “change” address. The change is not available to spend until the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain network.
- Explore the largest transaction of the day. The Whale Alert [https://whale-alert.io/] website is an example of this.
- Explore mempool status. The mempool is where all the valid transactions wait to be confirmed by the network. This gives the details of unconfirmed transactions.
- Helps users see fees paid for transactions, blockchain difficulty, hash rate, and other data.
Why use a blockchain explorer?
A blockchain wallet provides some data but it is limited in details and reach. An explorer, on the other hand, can provide data related to transactions carried out on all wallets on a blockchain. A major benefit of using explorers is they help maintain transparency.
Explorers allow users to check balance and expenditure on smart contract addresses, for checking if a wallet address is valid to a blockchain before sending crypto coins to it. They also help in checking whether the transaction has reached the intended recipient and see what went wrong if the transaction has not gone through. Explorers also give information about the cost of a transaction. As research tools, explorers help users in making important decisions on transactions and investments.
Blockchain explorer examples
One of the earliest blockchain explorers are blockexplorer.com. Since then, several such tools have been developed. Some of them are blockchain.com — now blockchain.org — along with blockchair, tokenview, and etherscan. Most of the available blockchain explorers cover a majority of blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Cardano.