What is a Blockchain Explorer?

A Blockchain Explorer (or Block Explorer) is an essential tool for the savvy cryptocurrency user. This technology can often be daunting for new users to comprehend and utilize effectively. In this article, we’ll delve into what a blockchain explorer is, why you should be using them, and some tips on how to use this essential tool. 

The Ultimate Transparency Tool

One of the strengths of blockchain technology is its data transparency. Blockchain Explorers act as an interface for users to track the wide range of information stored within a blockchain. This tool enables users to search for real-time and historical information about a specific blockchain. Explorers can retrieve data about transactions, wallet addresses, blocks, fees, epochs, and much much more. 

Each explorer is tailored to their particular blockchain, and the range of information presented can vary between blockchains. An example of a chain-specific Blockchain explorer is Etherscan which solely covers Ethereum transactions. Blockchain aggregators are websites that cover more than one blockchain, such as Blockchain.com, which covers Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash.

FtmScan is the Blockchain Explorer for the Fantom network

Why use a Blockchain Explorer?

Block explorers can be used by traders, miners, validators, businesses, and curious users for various reasons. Think of them as the search engine for a blockchain.

Traders and businesses can use them to check the status of their transactions, transactional history, the total value of their holdings within their wallet, the total amount of crypto sent and received from any address, and many other data points. Another widespread use is monitoring the activities of ‘whale’ accounts or other individuals with known blockchain addresses. 

Miners are able blockchain explorers to check if they’ve successfully mined a block, check block difficulty, hash rates, block heights, transaction fees, transaction volume, mining rewards, and many more metrics regarding the inner workings of the blockchain. 

It is important to note that the information a block explorer contains may vary depending on the blockchain’s architecture. For example, a block explorer for a Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchain will display data about miners. In contrast, a block explorer for a Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) blockchain will display information about block producers. See the below examples:

BNB Smart Chain Explorer
NEAR blockchain explorer

How Do I Use A Blockchain Explorer?

Most blockchain explorers will have a search bar visible on their homepage. This search bar enables users to retrieve specific types of information from a provided blockchain address, transaction hash, block, or token address. These search parameters can vary by explorer and blockchain but will generally cover the types of information mentioned above. 

Search bar for FTMScan

For easy access, many blockchain explorers will have token prices, transactions per second, gas prices, and market capitalization on their landing page.

Network dashboard for FTMScan

To view data related to a particular transaction, copy the transaction hash into the search bar. This transaction hash will be provided to you by your wallet software when you initiate a transaction. Hot wallets will store transaction activity and provide links to view transactions on blockchain explorers. The explorer will display all available information regarding the transaction, including the transaction status, time, the addresses that interacted, and the transaction fee. This process can also be done with wallet addresses.

Transaction hash information
From and Interacted with addresses
Gas price and Transaction Fee

These useful tools provide valuable information and insight into every aspect of blockchain functionality and are essential in navigating the blockchain ecosystem.

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