August 21, 2020

The block explorer: The Google of the Blockchain

A block explorer is a graphic tool that allows you to visualize and analyze data from a blockchain network, from its first block or also called Genesis block. It acts as a search engine or browser where users can find detailed information about individual blocks, wallets and transactions associated with a specific cryptocurrency.

Block explorers can also provide realtime market statistics and graphs, data on pending trades, confirmations, network hash rate, block validators, orphaned blocks, and much more information and tools.

It should be noted that there are almost as many block explorers as there are cryptocurrencies on the market. Each cryptocurrency has its own blockchain where all the information is stored, except for example the ERC-20 tokens, which are not considered cryptocurrencies because they do not have their own blockchain, since they are fed by the Ethereum network to work through their smart contracts.

Common characteristics of block explorers:

On the home page of almost every explorer, there is a real-time table showing the last blocks created, as is the case with the Bitcoin explorer blockchain.com or Ethereum in Etherscan.io

Block explorer table

As we can see in the previous images, each row represents a block, as soon as it is included in the chain you can consult the information that it contains, nevertheless, without making click we can already see information of each specific block that in the case of blockchain.com and Etherscan.io offer the following data:

  • Block Height: Sequence number of the block, that is, all the blocks are correlative, starting from the Genesis block (block 0) until the current one, therefore, we can see in the previous image of the Bitcoin explorer that 643,235 blocks have been generated at the time of taking the capture.

  • Block Age: The time elapsed since the block was included in the blockchain.

  • Miner: Name of the miner or group of miners who solved the block and included it in the blockchain.

  • Txns: Number of transactions confirmed and included in the block.

All explorers must display the new blocks immediately after they are mined. If we access a particular block, it will give us absolutely all the information contained in that block, of which we can highlight the following:

  • Hash: Unique identifier calculated by a confirmation algorithm, and linked to the hash of the previous block.

  • Transaction Fee/Gas used: Total amount of commissions that have been paid for all transactions contained in the block.

  • Transaction Hashes: Unique identifier for each of the individual transactions that have been confirmed within the block.

Therefore, blockchain is a type of distributed general ledger, formed by unalterable digital data recorded in the blocks, it contains a historical record of all the transactions that have taken place since its origin, and the block explorer allows, to track, monitor and analyze absolutely all the data.