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Crypto Education: What is a blockchain explorer?

Before diving in, it is good to appreciate that every tool currently in existence within the crypto and blockchain space was innovated from scratch.

In the early days of Bitcoin and crypto, it was virtually impossible to track or monitor transactions. The need to monitor or map out transactions rose as crypto began gaining traction as a means of settlement.

The question is: How then do you track a transaction?

Suppose you purchased Bitcoin from your favorite exchange. How would you know its status? Have miners confirmed it in a Mempool? Will you have to wait for longer?

To determine the status of a crypto transaction, you use a tool that queries that specific blockchain—remember, a blockchain is nothing more than a public ledger. 

This software will use a blockchain node and an API to draw various data from the public ledger. Out of this, data can be sifted, arranged, and presented to the end-user in a searchable format.

Generally, a blockchain explorer will reveal the associated addresses of that transaction. Additionally, the user will access the amount transacted, the destination address, the time of broadcasting, and the transaction's status.

Besides tracking transactions, traders can use a blockchain explorer to gauge activity levels. The more active a blockchain is, the more hashes generated, and therefore a reliable metric to relay.

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