Perhaps you’ve heard the term “block explorer” or “Blockchain browser” before but didn’t understand what it means.
A block explorer allows you to search and navigate through the block chain. Using a block explorer you can check the balance of different Bitcoin public addresses, track coin transfer histories watch how many confirmations a transaction has and get a wide variety of statistics about the network such as the current hash rate and more.
For each block chain there is a different block explorer – so for example you won’t be able to user a Bitcoin block explorer in order to examine Litecoin’s blockchain.
What can you do with a block explorer ?
Usually the block explorer software will supply some or more of the following:
- a list of a chain’s recent blocks
- transactions in a given block
- links to the previous and next transaction involving each input and output
- a list of all transactions involving a given address
- current and historical address balances
- a way to search for blocks, transactions, and addresses
Here’s an example of how to examine a public Bitcoin address using the most popular block explorer today blockchain.info.
I just paste the public address into the block explorer and now I can see how many Bitcoins this wallet holds and its recent transactions.
If I click on a specific transaction a can see details about this transaction such as when it was received, the number of confirmations it has or when it is estimated to be confirmed, the inputs and outputs of this transaction and how many Bitcoins were transferred.
A list of 8 different Bitcoin block explorers
Blockchain.info – The most popular Bitcoin block explorer today. The company also provides a very popular (and recommended) Bitcoin wallet.
Blockexplorer.com – Perhaps not as well designed as the others but definitely the longest existing block explorer. The website supplies the basic information for all Bitcoin transactions and wallets.
Insight.is – The Insight REST API provides a convenient, powerful and simple way to read data from the bitcoin network and build your own services with it.