What Is Explorer
A quick overview of a blockchain explorer and how to use it.
A blockchain explorer, also known as a block explorer, is often compared to a blockchain browser or a search engine. On command, an explorer finds and displays a piece of information from the blockchain. You can also think of it as a tool through which a user communicates with the blockchain code and requests information.
Official network explorers are blockchain-specific. For example, Polygonscan, the Polygon network explorer, only shows blockchain transactions within its own network. The same is the case with Avascan, the Avalanche network explorer.
By entering a transaction ID (transaction hash) into the search, you will be able to see:
- transaction ID, a.k.a. transaction hash,
- a transaction status (e.g. "Success" if the transaction was confirmed),
- the time it occurs,
- the block number where transaction data is stored,
- tokens transferred,
- sender's and receiver's wallet addresses,
- paid gas fees and gas prices.
These contracts involve multiple interactions between a blockchain and a contract. Known as contract calls, these operations record changes to a contract state and have payable gas fees. Generally, they are processed as other blockchain transactions, and are visible in the explorer.
Unlike a regular transaction, a smart contract is found by the contract address, instead of transaction ID. Depending on the network and explorer used, the results may look slightly different.
Usually, the contract information is divided into three separate blocks:
- a contract overview,
- more information (not every explorer has this section),
- contract activity.
Like the regular transaction results, an overview part displays the contract address, its balance, and value in both USD and tokens.
The more information section typically contains a crypto wallet address of a contract creator. Oftentimes, the ID of the first transaction that initiates a contract, a.i. the deployment transaction, also shows up here.
The third, contract activity, section shows the history of all transactions within a certain contract, a.i. contract calls.
Besides all transaction IDs (hash) an explorer displays the blocks that store them, the time they occurred, each transaction value, and fees. "From" and "To" show the sender's and receiver's wallet addresses.
All transaction IDs are clickable and can be further explored as regular transactions.
Contract activity will also list all internal transactions (transactions from the contract address) and any public comments left by the viewers.
There are also columns like "Contract", "Events", and "Analytics" for the developers to view and interact with the source code.