How do blockchain explorers work?

January 21, 2019
Darya Karatkevich

A blockchain explorer, or block explorer, is a tool used to display both past and live data of a certain blockchain. It is public and can be accessed by anyone to view various aspects of a blockchain’s information. Essentially, it is a blockchain-oriented search engine.

Most major cryptocurrencies have an associated blockchain explorer. Block explorers are usually created by an official source, but many can be developed by a community or individual organization. Blockchain explorers are tied to a specific network, like Ethereum’s Etherscan, Bitcoin’s BlockExplorer or BitShares’ BitShareScan. That said, BlockExplorer does not give access to the information on BitShares’ blockchain, and vice versa.

What’s the purpose?

blockchain explorer

The main purpose would be to present blockchain data in a format suitable for human comprehension. The science behind blockchain can be extremely complex, to the point where it would take a valuable amount of time to completely grasp it. So block explorers present transaction data, newly mined blocks, and various actions occurring on a blockchain in a readable format to be utilized by miners and investors.

Recent blocks and transaction fees

For example, block explorers instantly display the most recent blocks of a blockchain. From newly found blocks, miners can determine the income the miners of the block received for discovering it, thereby evaluating the live value of blocks mined at that moment. Transaction fees can also be determined from the new transactions performed on a recently mined block.

If you need to explore more information, some services allow drilling down into more details. You can do it by clicking on the block feed link or by inserting a block height number in your chosen block explorer search tab.

What this means for crypto owners

While it is miners who primarily benefit from the use of block explorers, crypto owners can gain insight as to how a particular blockchain functions and operates in real time. Through block explorers, you can:

  • check the balance of public addresses
  • track coin transfer histories
  • get a wide variety of statistics about cryptocurrency networks

A well of knowledge for new users

If you’re just getting into cryptocurrencies, the information above may have gone completely over your head. Luckily for you, this information isn’t essential to new investors.

Cryptocurrency transactions can easily be managed without having to revert to the information posted here. However, by learning this information you’re essentially getting a leg up on the competition. Block explorers are the tools which can be used to build a further understanding of the elements of blockchain, of how they are created, and what effects newly discovered blocks are having on the chain.

Post written by Darya Karatkevich
Darya is a blockchain market observer with 5+ years of experience as an author and editor for major tech blogging platforms. Her fortes are blockchain technologies and solutions, cryptocurrencies and crypto-related regulations.

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