A Block Explorer is the perfect example of how much transparency a Blockchain provides.  Each Blockchain will likely have a website dedicated to showing all of the transactions taking place on it.  We will go over the basic functionality provided by a Block Explorer below!

 

Typical Homepage

The homepage of a Block Explorer will vary from one to the next.  However, they generally have the same type of information front and center.  This is similar to banks and online banking.  Layouts and some features may be unique to that bank, but overall they will be very similar.  Let’s look at some of the sections you may find on a typical Block Explorer’s homepage.

Current transactions –  This section will show the amount, addresses involved, and how long ago the transaction took place.

Blocks – This section shows the most recent Blocks that have been mined.  The details for these will be sparse unless you click on them and open it up.  You will likely see the number of transactions, who mined it, and what the reward was.  A future post will break this section out in technical detail!

Search Field – Looking for your Wallet’s transactions?  Use this handy little box and just plug in the Wallet address.  You can sometimes use this to search for Block number or specific tokens as well.  This is another feature that may vary a lot between Block Explorers.

Overall Blockchain Statistics –   The last Block number mined, hash rate of the network, total transactions, total Token supply, network difficulty, and current exchange rate.  There may even be a pretty chart showing total transactions over the past X amount of days/weeks/months/etc.  This is where you will likely see the most variation between Block Explorers.

An example of Block Explorer homepages are below.  Etherscan will show Ethereum Blockchain activity and Bitcoin Block Explorer will show Bitcoin Blockchain activity.


Account Transactions Page

Do you currently use online banking?  If yes, this should look very familiar.  If not, don’t worry, it is pretty straight forward.  A Block Explorer will likely have a search box that you plug a Wallet address into, and it pulls up this page.  It will show a list of transactions that have been made from the Wallet address you entered.

Parts of the entries in the transaction list may be easy to understand.  You will likely see a date field, or age field, of the transaction.  A value field with the number and name of the asset transferred.  For example, an Ethereum Block Explorer would likely show 10 Ether, and a Bitcoin Block Explorer would show 10 Bitcoin.  A ‘To’ and ‘From’ field should show the address that received the transfer and the address that sent it.

The other parts may not be as easy to understand.  There will likely be a transaction hash, which looks like a jumble of characters.  The Block number will also be listed, which represents the Block on the Blockchain the transaction was placed in.  A future post will go over all of this in more detail!

Here are two examples of account transaction pages from the same Block Explorers mentioned earlier:

Summary

Block Explorers are awesome because they allow you to see an overview of the whole network.  This would be like going to your banks website and checking out how many transactions they processed today, and the amount that was processed.  It also makes it extremely easy for you to check out your account details because there is no need to register to these sites.  Simply type in your Wallet address and hit search!  Don’t have a Wallet yet?  See how easy it is to get one using MyEtherWallet in this post!