Guest contribution by Murph from Noderators Supernode

This article will serve as a guide for the average user on how to use the Elastos Block Explorer. Most of what you will learn will also be applicable to block explorers of other blockchains as well. Knowing how to use a blockchain explorer can be extremely valuable. 

As we all know, blockchains are made to be transparent public ledgers on which every transaction is recorded and open for everyone to see. While this is true, most people do not have the knowledge necessary to extract this data from the blockchain directly. This is where block explorers come in. Each block explorer is updated in real-time and reflects the status of the blockchain, its blocks, and its transactions.

A few examples of why you’d want to look on the block explorer: 

What if I don’t want to put my private key at risk every time I want to check my balance in my wallet? You can check the balance of your wallet address at any given time by looking up your public address in the block explorer. 

My wallet or the exchange wallet is behaving strangely.  Did my transaction go through or not? The block explorer will show you any information that’s been broadcasted. 

Where can I find my transaction history if it’s missing from the wallet? The block explorer records everything. 

I’m not sure I trust what Cyber Republic, the Elastos Foundation, or certain individuals are doing with their ELA.  Where can I see their activities? You can monitor their addresses if they are known to you, and you can track the ELA they send from address to address. 

How much ELA has a certain mining pool or DPoS node earned already, and how much have they paid out? All this info can be easily found on the block explorer.

Blockchain technology is about transparency and it enables you to look these things up yourself. This is what gives users the power to make decisions and ask questions based on the hard proof provided by the blockchain without having to trust the word of another individual or entity. 

Let’s get this tutorial started. 

Note: The blocks, addresses, and transaction IDs used in this guide are random examples. There is nothing special about them, nor do I have any idea whose they are unless mentioned otherwise.

Homepage

In the header, which is present on every page of the block explorer, you will find:

  • Rank List: Page with the top 100 addresses containing the most ELA.
  • Blocks: Page with all the Blocks in the blockchain categorized chronologically.
  • Status: Page with the status of the full node the explorer is connected to.
  • Search Bar: Used to search for a specific block, address, or transaction ID.
  • Height: Height of the latest block, which reflects the length of the blockchain.
  • Wallet: Link to the web wallet.
  • Languages: Allows you to choose English or Chinese as the language for the explorer.

On the homepage, you will find the latest blocks and some basic info about them such as:

  • Block Height: Reflects the position of the block in the Elastos Blockchain.
  • Timestamp: Date and Time the block was added.
  • Transactions: Number of transactions stored in the block.
  • Mined By: The individual or entity who found that block.
  • Size: The size of the block in bytes.

Rank List

The rank list contains the top 100 wallet addresses by balance. It displays the rank, the address, its balance, and the percentage of the total supply stored in the address. A few of these addresses are known to be related to the Elastos Foundation and Cyber Republic:

  • Rank 1: 8KNrJAyF4M67HT5tma7ZE4Rx9N9YzaUbtm–Cyber Republic funds to be used when the first community elected council and the Cyber Republic Consensus (CRC) go live.
  • Rank 2: 8VYXVxKKSAxkmRrfmGpQR2Kc66XhG6m3ta–Elastos Foundation mining rewards donated to the Cyber Republic plus the current 30% of the yearly inflation for ecosystem development. This ELA is currently used to fund approved Cyber Republic proposals.
  • Rank 3: 8S7jTjYjqBhJpS9DxaZEbBLfAhvvyGypKx–Elastos Foundation funds.
  • Rank 6: ELANULLXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXYvs3rr–Burn address. ELA burned at the 1 year anniversary. This means any ELA sent to this address can never be retrieved and are considered burned.
  • 8ZZLWQUDSbjWUn8sEdxEFJsZiRFpzg53rJ–Elastos Foundation’s Daily Operations wallet.

The addresses starting with an 8 instead of an E are multi-signature wallets. These type of wallets were initially only used by the Elastos Foundation, but now they can be used by any group of people. Multi-signature wallets cannot participate in DPoS consensus; they currently cannot register a node, nor can they vote on existing nodes.

Other addresses that are known and may appear in the top 100 are the public addresses of the different mining pools (Ranks are at the time of writing and may vary greatly):

  • Rank 8: BTC.COM EMWsru8XhpQxJ7CvDzgAea1WroJqskPmqd
  • Rank 54: F2P pool ENqof4f3bvpLLZVXMALUL4b8hDAJHAVxU6
  • Rank 63: BTC.TOP EJERhHYJHx3w87TZ6jVbF5vtF1JQ3yMDPh
  • Huobi pool: EVXNSmx1KzT6Pxzcup3QGh1vCKZckz8XDD
  • ViaBTC: Eeguj3LmsTnTSyFuvM8DXLmjYNBqa6XK4c
  • Antpool: EMRKTXN183vwcGbCetvKuUPHMyQScRjx6F
  • OKPOOL.TOP: Ec2qPyGmzqiwwcRNbYbFeMP92SiC6DE85z

Exchange wallets addresses are often present in the top 10 or top 100, but the same wallet address never stays there long as the funds are moved around regularly. The Huobi and Kucoin wallets are easy to recognize, though, with their distinctive fees of 0.005 ELA and 0.1 ELA, large number of transactions, and high throughput of ELA.

The addresses belonging to the different DPoS nodes are also publicly available. There are too many of them to list here, but you can find them on the Noderators site, and on elanodes.com, which is maintained by the Starfish Supernode team.

 Blocks

The Blocks page is similar to the homepage, but here you will find all the blocks added to the blockchain in chronological order, starting from the most recent addition. The information given about each block is exactly the same as on the homepage:

  • Block Height: Reflects the position of the block in the Elastos Blockchain.
  • Timestamp: Date and Time the block was added to the chain.
  • Transactions: Number of transactions stored in the block.
  • Mined By: The individual or entity who found that block.
  • Size: The size of the block in bytes, reflecting the amount of information stored in the block.

You can browse through the blocks by scrolling down and by using the two blue buttons on the left that allow you to go to the blocks added to the blockchain the previous or the following day. You can also click on the small calendar icon next to today’s date to view the blocks of a specific date. Additionally, you can look up a specific block by searching for the block height in the search bar (numbers 1-417871 at moment of writing).

This is where the fun part begins. When you click on the height of the block (e.g. 417852) you want to inspect, you get more specific info about the block itself and all the transactions recorded in that block.

The first thing you see is the BlockHash and a summary of different characteristics of that block, very similar to what you already knew but with some extra characteristics:

  • BlockHash: “Reference number” for the block, obtained by hashing the block header twice using the SHA-256 algorithm.
  • Number Of Transactions: Number of transactions stored in the block.
  • Height: Reflects the position of the block in the Elastos Blockchain.
  • Block Reward: Currency of the reward earned by the finder of the block.
  • Timestamp: Date and Time the block was added to the chain.
  • Mined by: The individual or entity who found that block.
  • Merkle Root: The hash of all the hashes of all the transactions that are part of the block, hashed together in a tree-like structure (explanation here).
  • Previous Block: Previous block in the blockchain.
  • Difficulty: Difficulty at which the block was mined. This is a relative measure of how difficult it was to find that block and reflects on the change in hashing power of the network. E.g. Block #1 in the network had Difficulty 1, Block #1000 Difficulty 4, Block # 100000 Difficulty 25
  • Bits: A packed representation for the actual hexadecimal target of the difficulty of the block (More info here).
  • Size (bytes): The size of the block in bytes, reflecting the amount of information stored in the block.
  • Nonce: The unique number miners have to find to mine the block (explanation here).

Transactions

Important: Elastos follows the UTXO (Unspent Transaction Output) model to record ownership on its blockchain, just like Bitcoin. If you are not familiar with how this works, I advise you to read this beginners article on UTXO’s. Don’t worry, it is very easy to understand, and it will help you greatly in interpreting the information provided by the block explorer.

Underneath the summary you will find all the transactions recorded in that block.

The first transaction in each block is always the coinbase transaction (not the company), which distributes the newly minted coins from the block reward to their respective owners. Each block that is mined creates 5 ELA as part of the yearly inflation. Of this 5 ELA, 30% goes to the ecosystem development fund managed by Cyber Republic, 35% to the miner who found the block, and 35% to the DPoS nodes. 

What is a coinbase transaction?

Both addresses seen here are known and have been discussed earlier. The first one belongs to the current Ecosystem Development fund managed by CR (previously Elastos Foundation mining rewards), the second one belongs to Huobi pool, the miner of this particular block, and they receive 30% and 35% of the 5 ELA block reward respectively. You may notice that there is 35% of the 5 ELA missing in this transaction.  This part belongs to the DPoS consensus. This is because it is only distributed every 36 Blocks, as you can see in the picture below.

The other transactions in the block are normal transactions on the network.

You are provided with some info on every transaction:

  • Transaction ID: Unique ID of the transaction.
  • Timestamp: Date and Time the transaction was added to the mined block.
  • Transaction Type: Type of transaction.
  • Transaction Fee: Depends on the type of transaction and amount of info stored in the transaction (per kb).
  • Input: The transaction input, with both the address(es) and the amount each address holds.
  • Output: The transaction output, with both the address(es) and the amount each address receives.
  • Confirmations: Number of confirmations for this transaction. Each confirmation corresponds with a block added to the chain after this block and reflects the security of the transaction against double spending attacks.

You can click on the Transaction ID which will open a page dedicated to the transaction (ab9c3616555da1d5c53e52ab91dc42f89c1d4edf7ac7c7fc98ab7a6ee98ca18c). You can also look up a specific transaction by using its Transaction ID in the search bar.

The additional information provided is:

  • Transaction ID
  • Size: Size of the transaction in bytes.
  • Fee Rate: How the fee of the transaction is calculated.
  • Received Time: Date and Time the transaction has been received by the network and included in the block.
  • Mined Time: Date and Time the block the transaction was recorded in was mined.
  • Included in Block: BlockHash of the block the transaction was included in; clicking on the BlockHash will take you that specific block’s page.

Addresses

You can click on the addresses in each transaction to view the transaction history of that address. You can also look up the transaction history of a certain address using the search bar. In this example we will have a look at the address that sends the 25.76 ELA (EJm3BJT3jX5hSxAhyLKemPn6tU41NrYUbA).

We are provided with the following info:

  • Address.
  • Total Received: Total amount of ELA received since its creation.
  • Total Sent: Total amount of ELA sent since its creation.
  • Final Balance: Amount of ELA stored on the address at that moment.
  • No. Transactions: Number of transactions that were performed involving this address (receiving and sending of ELA).

After the summary, the whole transaction history is shown in chronological order starting from the most recent transaction. Each transaction is displayed in the same way as discussed above.

While having a quick look through its transaction history, the majority of the transactions for this address appear to be coming from the 35% inflation for DPoS nodes. This address appears to be the address of one of the DPoS nodes. Looking at the list of DPoS nodes on the Noderators site, this address indeed belongs to the Wild Strawberries Calypso Supernode, currently number 12 in rank.

Now let’s go back to the transaction we were looking at earlier. They sent 26 ELA to the following address: EJZXU5DpXzNorKhasrRkfh2GHHPx9h2Jet. When we click on this receiving address in the transaction, or look up this address by copy pasting it in the search bar, we find by browsing through its transaction history that this address is distributing small amounts of ELA to hundreds of addresses in a single transaction.

With some prior knowledge about how DPoS nodes work and how they operate in Elastos, we can deduce that the transaction we used for our example is a payment of the Wild Strawberry Calypso node to their Elabank account to be ready for distribution to their voters. Indeed, when going to Elabank and looking up the Shareholder Deposits from the Wild Strawberry Calypso node, this specific transaction is listed there.

Status

This last page is the Status page. This page simply shows the status of the block explorer and gives information about the node it is connected to. 

Sync Status:

  • Sync Progress: Shows the progression of the synchronization process of the block explorer with the blockchain node.
  • Current Sync Status: Shows the status of the synchronization process.
  • Start Date: Starting date and time of the synchronization process.
  • Initial Block Chain Height: Block Height of the blockchain after finishing synchronization.
  • Synced Blocks: Amount of blocks that were synchronized.
  • Sync Type: How the block explorer has been synchronized.

Elastos node information shows the information about the blockchain node the block explorer is connected to:

  • Blocks: Block height of the blockchain stored in the node.
  • Time Offset: The time offset in number of blocks the explorer is behind compared to the actual blockchain.
  • Connections to other nodes: How many other blockchain nodes this node is connected to.
  • Mining Difficulty: Difficulty at which blocks are mined. This is a relative measure of how difficult it is to find a block and it reflects the change in hashing power of the network.
  • Network: Type of network this node belongs to.

Search Bar

Finally, I will highlight how to use the search bar, as it will be the feature you will be using the most. There are three things you can look up with the search bar:

  • Blocks: You can look for a specific block by searching for its Block Height. This will be a number between 1 and the height of the latest block in the blockchain displayed in the header.
  • Transactions: You can look up any transaction by copy pasting its Transaction ID in the search bar. Every time you perform a transaction, you are provided with a transaction ID you can use to look up that transaction. Transactions mentioned publicly are usually accompanied with a Transaction ID, so you can look them up easily on the block explorer.
  • Addresses: Copy and paste any Elastos address in the search bar to look up its transaction history. One important thing to note is that a newly created address will not show up on the block explorer until a transaction involving the address has been made.

 

I hope this article has been informative and gets you one step closer to being a well-informed, autonomous blockchain user!

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