As there are many terms to such a large project like Elastos and Cyber Republic, we’ve decided to build a growing glossary of terms that can help the less technically acquainted understand better what the tech means and the impact it could have. This week we’re focusing on Block Explorer.
Term: Block Explorer
“…an online block chain browser which displays the contents of individual blocks and transactions and the transaction histories and balances of addresses.
Each object is displayed in human-readable form, as a web page, and is given a URL. By using hyperlinks, it allows users to switch from seeing one piece of data to a related one, with a single click. Clicking on the hash of an object will move to the page that displays its data. This way, for instance, you can switch from looking at a transaction, to looking at the previous transaction which gave this transaction its inputs. All block data is visible, in human-readable or machine-readable forms, and even some information that is not actually part of blocks.“
A blockchain relies on the trustworthiness of its public ledger, and a block explorer is the ledger in a format that is legible to humans, which looks more like a bunch of confusing numbers and letters than anything. The amount of available information lends to transparency, and certain blockchains make it harder or easier to find information and pin it to an individual or a wallet.
That being said, when you are told what you are looking at, it really is quite easy.
On the left under “height,” you have an increasing number that is sort of like a measurement of time, but for the Elastos blockchain. However, unlike time, blockchains have some amount of randomness to how fast blocks are mined, so that’s why there’s a timestamp right beside the block height. The block production rate will average out to a certain rate, but there are always variations that can make it unpredictable. Since there are sidechains to Elastos’ architecture, this block explorer is showing the main chain. Sidechain blocks may be different and their block times may be much faster (or slower)
The transactions column represents how many transactions have occurred in that block since the last block finished.
The mined column is simple to show who got the reward for running the block calculations–this is the merged mining thing we keep talking about. Usually the organization or person getting the reward will be larger mining pools since they have more power than most and PoW is dependent on sheer power. DPoS, which is the other part of Elastos Consensus, significantly helps make things more fair. As you can see, our merged mining with Bitcoin is working very well, and at the time of writing we have more than 34% of Bitcoin’s hash power.
Size is how large the block was. Don’t worry about that if you’re a casual user.
You can click around on the block height, see what transactions occurred, what addresses sent the transactions, their amounts, transaction IDs called “transaction hash”, and some more confusing numbers flying about. If you get to an address, or enter one of your own (a single private key has several public addresses, and thus, it helps keep the privacy of the owner by hiding how much ELA a single owner might have in total), it will look like this:
(Sidenote: all these screencaptures were grabbed by randomly clicking about and are not associated with known wallets.)
It’s somewhat confusing, but you can see funds going in, and funds going out. This ultimately allows you to verify transactions, but at the same time, it is confusing enough that tracking every transaction related to a single person is a bit difficult. What is most useful to a user is if they have a transaction hash after sending or receiving funds, and they run a search for it in order to verify that transaction. Searching for all the data on a single address becomes less useful, which is helpful for privacy. That being said, it’s not impossible to track an address, and it’s not meant to be.
And that’s pretty much it. Elastos’ block explorer also includes a rank list, which is also commonly called the “rich list”. It is a list of addresses with how much ELA is held. Remember that because one private key is split up into many addresses, this list can be somewhat meaningless (in the author’s opinion). The largest of the rank list is comprised of Elastos Foundation and Cyber Republic committed funds.
Additionally, address number 6 is a burn wallet, which means that the funds are not accessible by anyone. This was used for any unsold ELA from angels and crowdsale.
Hopefully that clarifies what you are looking at. There is a lot more utility that can come out of these block explorers, but this general overview should get you started.