Blockchain explorers are an essential part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem because they allow users to check wallet balances and verify transaction history without requiring excessive technical know-how. While there are many blockchain explorers, Blockchair is one of my favorite explorers because it supports 16 different blockchains and is incredibly easy to use. In today's article, I'd like to share a brief overview of Blockchair's features, its strengths, and some of its minor weaknesses.
One of the fundamental principles of cryptocurrency is the notion of a distributed public ledger. The distributed public ledger is important because it allows people to verify transactions and check wallet balances. To put this in practical terms, consider that I have agreed to pay my friend 100 BAT for helping me design a new logo for my website. After I put the new logo on my website, my friend claims that I never paid him. With traditional cash, there is zero way of proving this. But since BAT runs on the Ethereum blockchain, I could easily verify that I had paid my friend by entering my wallet address in Etherscan (or any other ETH compatible explorer). The explorer would show all the transactions in and out of my wallet as well as the address that they were sent to. This provides an easy way of resolving disputes and verifying that people have been paid for their services.
I want to be clear that virtually all blockchain explorers will provide this same level of functionality. The transaction history displayed by Etherscan will agree with the transaction history displayed by Blockchair. However, each blockchain explorer is usually designed to analyze a specific blockchain. For example, I would need to use one explorer to verify an ETH transaction, another for Tezos, and still another to verify a Bitcoin transaction. Blockchair improves upon traditional explorers by giving users the ability so seamlessly view transactions on multiple blockchains without having to use a separate explorer for each chain.
Blockchair is a "smart" explorer and all a user has to do is enter a transaction id or address, and Blockchair will automatically detect the proper blockchain for the transaction. In the first example, I simply copied the public key from the address that Publish0x used to send my last payout. As you can see, Blockchair detected that this was an Ethereum address, searched the Ethereum blockchain, and displayed the balance of the wallet as well as recent transactions.
In the second example, I copied my public key from my read.cash address. Blockchair was able to detect that it needed to search the Bitcoin Cash blockchain and automatically displayed the correct results.
Blockchair is incredibly useful and easy to use, however, there are some instances where using a dedicated blockchain explorer is better. Blockchair seems to struggle with displaying SLP wallet addresses and transaction history. When I searched for my SLP wallet address in Blockchair, I found very little information, but when I searched on the Bitcoin specific explorer, I received correct wallet balances and transaction history.
Although the Bitcoin specific explorer was clearly more useful in this case, I do want to make a few points. First, Blockchair did not display the wrong information. It simply was unable to retrieve SLP specific token information. Second, this is somewhat of an extreme case. The SLP tokens issued on the BCH blockchain can be quite obscure, and even though they run on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain, they require a special SLP-compatible Bitcoin Cash wallet to hold them. The point I am trying to make is that even within the Bitcoin Cash community, support for SLP tokens is still in development, so it makes sense that a generic block explorer would struggle to support those SLP tokens. In my mind, Blockchair's lack of SLP support shouldn't be held against it, but rather, it should demonstrate that using a chain specific explorer can still be necessary on occasion.
I have found Blockchair to be one of my favorite blockchain explorers for verifying transactions and wallet balances. Its key advantages are simplicity and convenience. Blockchair gives users the ability to search for transaction history and wallet information on 16 different blockchains without having to search for the appropriate chain-specific explorer. Every now and then, it may be necessary (SLP transactions) or more convenient (Etherscan is integrated in MetaMask) to view transactions with a chain-specific explorer. That being said, Blockchair is incredibly easy to use and fulfills the vast majority of my transaction queries without issue. It's well worth checking out.
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