Read an important announcement about Bitcoin from Bitcoin.com.
One of the very first things you may encounter when you begin using Bitcoin Cash (BCH) or Bitcoin Core (BTC) is a block explorer. This article will help you understand what it is, how to use the Bitcoin.com block explorer, and provide you with other helpful tips and information to get you going down the path of discovering and understanding Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Core and the blockchain.
(Update: Bitcoin Core is less usable as money due to much higher fees and delayed transaction times. The Core team has also expressed an interest in keeping these fees high since they view BTC as a “store-of-value” and not something to be transacted on a daily basis. In contrast, Bitcoin Cash’s transaction fees cost pennies and payments can be validated even with zero confirmations. These facts make BCH the ideal cryptocurrency for sending and receiving money anywhere in the world.)
Learning the Basics
To start off, you may be wondering what is a block explorer? As the name implies, it allows anyone to search or explore the BCH and BTC blockchain using an application in order to navigate all the block data found within the blockchain. You may want to search the blockchain for several reasons, such as checking a BCH or BTC address or balance, viewing transaction history, seeing recent blocks, and more. Think of a block explorer as a search engine but made specifically for the Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Core blockchain. If you aren’t familiar yet with what a blockchain is, you may want read this. For other helpful terms and definitions, please see the Bitcoin Glossary.
Using the Bitcoin Explorer
When you first begin to use our block explorer, you may get to it from another source and end up on an unfamiliar page. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will walk you through it from the main home page. On the main home page, it may resemble a search engine as described above. You will see a search field to search by addresses, transactions or even block hashes. You will also see all and latest block information and transactions. Pictured below is the block explorer with black areas highlighting some of the key points of interest.
In the image starting from the top left,
- You can toggle to-and-from different blockchains such as Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Core. You can do this throughout the site at anytime to switch blockchains.
- On the top right, there are a few options such as a QR scanner to read QR codes, Settings menu and a link to view all blocks. In the Settings menu you can change the currency display, select language and switch from Cash Address to Legacy one (available only for Bitcoin Cash explorer).
- Directly in the middle of the page is the search tool. Here you will begin typically by copying and pasting a Bitcoin address or transaction id to the field to begin searching.
- The bottom lower section you will be able to see all and recent blocks and transaction data and if you click into any of the links you can see more details.
To provide another example, if you click into any of the recent transactions by clicking view details, you will see a page that is similar to this one below.
There are essentially two main sections when viewing transaction details using the block explorer.
- The left section will show you a summary with important information such as what block contains this transaction, what is the transaction fee, when the transaction was made, how many confirmations it has and the transaction size.
- The right section will show you the number of inputs and outputs for this transaction along with its value in BCH or BTC and selected currency for display.
- On the very top you can see and copy transaction ID and also see its status: broadcasted or confirmed
Other Helpful Tips
Here are some pro-tips to get you going and becoming a blockchain explorer master.
- When viewing transaction details like in the example provided above, you can always see where the transaction is coming from by looking from the top to the bottom. The transaction sender is on the top, and the receiver [address] is on the bottom. The change address is below the receiver address, placed on the bottom right of each transaction.
- For more advanced users, when viewing transaction details, if you hover over the addresses in the bottom section you will see an information-icon; click on it to view the transaction OPcodes and scripts.