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  • Claudia Campisano

What is a blockchain explorer?

A blockchain explorer is a search engine for cryptocurrencies and blockchains.


To make an understandable comparison, even better, a similarity, Google provides information for web 2.0 as the blockchain explorers for web 3.0.


Blockchain explorer (also known as block explorer) is one of the most important analysis tools in the crypto industry. Everyone should use them, businesses, miners, validators, liquidity providers, traders, and simple enthusiasts, because it enables search information and essential data on particular blockchains.


"What is a blockchain explorer?" article's cover

If you have yet to use this tool, you should start immediately.

Let’s find out together all the features!


 

What can you do with a blockchain explorer?


It’s almost impossible to deal with blockchain without ever fiddling with a block explorer.


This helpful tool allows users to access different details related to different blockchain data, such as transactions on specific wallet addresses, the amount transacted, sources and destinations of funds, the status of the transactions, and much more.


Magnifyng glass on top of blockchain

In a few words, a block explorer is like a magnifying glass: software that uses API -short for Application Programming Interface- a set of rules, protocols, and tools for building and integrating complex and powerful application software systems for visualizing essential blockchain’s and transactions metrics to the user, in a searchable and easy way.


Using an explorer (taking into account the differences between the explorer for a PoW or a PoS blockchain), you can find a lot of essential information and data, including


  • Audit any wallet address and explore the transaction history with all transactions sent to and from that address;

  • Value of assets held in a wallet;

  • Receiving addresses of a wallet’s transactions;

  • Data about recently mined blocks or technical info like block difficulty, height, hash rate, transaction volumes, gas fees, etc.;

  • Market data such as the circulating supply, maximum supply, and market cap;

  • Genesis block (the first block ever mined on that chain) or stale blocks, which are not attached to the blockchain;

  • Number of eventual double-spending transactions;

  • Transaction status (pending, confirmed, complete and failed).


 

History and functioning of blockchain explorer


The concept of block explorer was born in conjunction with the spread of blockchain technology because there was a need to have information on the status of made transactions.

Initially, only skilled developers could access related transaction information from blockchains using command-line interfaces.


The first blockchain explorer was born in November 2010 for the Bitcoin blockchain with limited functions.


To better understand the proper functioning of these tools, it’s crucial to know three main concepts based on the development of an explorer.


In fact, for what concern technology, an explorer may use:

  • A relational database provides data storage in a table structured in pieces of data.

  • SQL database, which stands for Structured Query language. It is a protocol for giving a query, creating a table in a database, inserting records, and presenting them on a web page.

  • API is the protocol that allows users to communicate with computers through software, defining criteria for sending and receiving responses.


Only after understanding these basic concepts can you get the point.


A blockchain explorer uses APIs, rational databases, and SQL databases alongside a blockchain node to retrieve information from a network.


The software collects and organizes information into a database and shows them in a searchable format. Then, it can perform searches through an organized table in response to user demands through a simple user interface (UI), allowing people to do their own research. After that, the explorer server creates a web page to interact with users, and an API allows the explorer to interface with other computers. The user’s requests are sent to the backend server, which responds to the user interface. In the end, the user interface and API send web pages in HTML format to the user’s browser so the results can be read easily.


 

Top 10 blockchain explorer


Every single blockchain has its data and block explorer. The most important known are

This useful CMC block explorer could be the best tool to start and learn how to use the block explorer effectively.


Screenshot of a blockchain explorer

Taking your first steps will be easy thanks to this digital guide born to help new users to understand the purpose of a block explorer and how to reach data and information.

Although each blockchain has its own block explorer reference, some tools allow you to use the explorer you need by simply entering the network of interest, such as Tokenview.io, which allows you to explore more than 120 blockchains.


 

Conclusion

Using a blockchain explorer is essential for any crypto savvy. These tools provide insights and helpful data, starting from basics like ID addresses.

Once you understand their functioning, with the addition of your personal experience, you will find any information you need, giving your crypto journey the required transparency.



Have you ever used a block explorer? What information do you look for most?


Share your experience with the Yanda community on Telegram and Discord!


 

Further readings

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