Block explorer – definition and examples

A block explorer is a tool that people use to view all cryptocurrency transactions online. Specifically, to view all current and past transactions on the blockchain. It gives the user information on the blockchain’s hash rate. It also tells us the rate of transaction growth and provides other useful information.

In other words, a block explorer is an online blockchain browser which reveals the data of individual blocks and transactions. With the tool, we can monitor transaction histories and balances of addresses.

Bitcoin wiki says the following regarding Bitcoin block explorers:

“Bitcoin Block Explorer is an online block chain browser which displays the contents of individual Bitcoin blocks and transactions and the transaction histories and balances of addresses.”

“It was originally written by theymos, but it is now operated by Liraz Siri.”

Block explorers exist for Bitcoin and also for specific altcoins. Altcoins are all the other cryptocurrencies apart from Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the oldest and most common cryptocurrency in the world.

Block explorer
Block explorers give you a list of recent blocks, transactions in each block, and the inputs and outputs of transactions. They also show the transactions for a given address.

Block explorer – packed with data

Most block explorers are so full of data that the display can be confusing at first. They can be especially confusing if you are new to cryptocurrencies.

You will see loads of data on the screen and initially make little sense of it all. However, as soon as you gain a better understanding of what everything means, it all starts to make sense.

A block explorer shows the blockchain’s latest blocks. If miners discover a new Bitcoin block, for example, the explorer will list it as soon as it emerges on the network.

If you click on a specific block, you will get more information about its transactions and size.

Regarding current block explorers, The Merkle website says:

There is much more to the block explorers we are using today, though. Looking at a specific block also provides the hash of every block.”

“This hash is quite complicated to generate and becomes more difficult as time progresses.”

The block explorer will also show a link to previous blocks. Each bloc has a unique hash and also a set of transactions.

In most cases, you need a block explorer that is specific for a cryptocurrency or blockchain. You cannot, for example, track Bitcoin transactions with a Litecoin explorer. You need a Bitcoin explorer for that.

Block explorer – many uses

With a block explorer, you can explore recently-mined blocks and transactions in any block that has attached itself to the blockchain.

You can also check the history of any public cryptocurrency address. This means you can audit the numbers of transactions it received, check its balance, etc.

Some block explorers contain data on the biggest cryptocurrency transactions of the day. You can also find out which mining pool found the block.

The tool can also show you a blockchain’s first block, i.e., its genesis block.

Regarding this tool, says:

“A block explorer allows you to explore the whole entire blockchain of the platform you are using.”

Video – block explorer

This 99 Bitcoins video explains what a block explorer is. Specifically a Bitcoin block explorer.