Even if you are just a casual follower of the crypto industry, you must have heard of Ethereum. Most people have the misconception that it is also a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. However, Ethereum is more than that.
While Ethereum does have a cryptocurrency called Ether(ETH), it is more of a decentralized blockchain platform than merely a digital token. In other words, it is an open-source blockchain or public ledger where anyone can view and verify the transactions recorded.
However, while anyone can view the transactions, it is not necessary that they understand it too. Blockchain data in its raw form is not always easy to read and understand. This sort of defeats the purpose of transparency and equitable access to data that proponents of blockchain technology espouse.
Therefore, block explorers were created to solve this problem. A block explorer functions in a similar manner as a search engine simplifying the process of searching and browsing data on a blockchain. They can be used to look up smart contracts on a blockchain, track gas fees, view information about a transaction such as its hash and timestamp, and check the crypto assets associated with a public wallet address.
Coming to Ethereum, block explorers like Etherscan help users find data about the thousands of ERC-20 tokens developed on the blockchain. While there are other Ethereum block explorers such as Etherchain, Blockscout, and Blockchair, Etherscan remains the most popular option among all these.
What is Etherscan?
Etherscan is a block explorer developed specifically for Ethereum. It is a tool for navigating and searching through the public data available on Ethereum. This usually includes data such as transaction data, smart contracts, and wallet addresses.
It is sort of like a search engine that can be used to find information on Ethereum. In fact, you can consider it as the Google of Ethereum. It is a free tool that can be used to find details about the status of a transaction on Ethereum. Etherscan is not a crypto wallet but you can connect a wallet such as Metamask or Trust Wallet to the app to check that wallet’s transaction history and track other activities.
You should note here that Etherscan is not funded or administered by Ethereum. It is an independently developed project meant to be a search, API, and analytics platform for Ethereum. Launched in 2015, it is one of the earliest Ethereum block explorers. Etherscan is a key part of making Ethereum and its public data more accessible for users.
What is the Use of Etherscan?
Now, the fundamental question is- why Etherscan? Why would anyone go through the effort of developing a search engine for Ethereum? What exactly is Etherscan used for? Well, turns out that just having access to data isn’t enough. You need to sift through it to find relevant information and then verify what you’re looking for.
Etherscan makes this process easy. You just have to enter a relevant Ethereum address in the search box to find information about a public wallet address. Other than that, Etherscan has several other uses such as:
Keeping Track of Transactions
With Etherscan, you can keep track of any transaction on the Ethereum blockchain. This includes not just settled transactions but failed and pending transitions as well. Etherscan also enables you to view the progress of an incoming transfer with its hash key.
Remember that only information that is publicly available on Ethereum can be viewed on Etherscan. This means that you cannot, for example, look up a user’s private keys.
Apart from providing transaction data, Etherscan also functions as an analytics platform. It can assist you in analyzing on-chain metrics to better understand the position of a cryptocurrency and subsequently make a well-informed investment decision.
For example, you can use Etherscan to keep track of Ethereum’s gas fees, analyze changes to ETH prices, or keep track of your portfolio and monitor your transaction activities.
How to View Transactions and Wallets on Etherscan
Etherscan is most widely used for searching transactions on Ethereum. All you need is a transaction ID(TxID) to confirm its status or a wallet address to check the transactions associated with the said wallet.
For this, first, you need to go to the Etherscan website. Copy the TxID in the search bar on the top of the page and click on the search icon. All the details about that transaction will be displayed on your screen.
You can see more details such as the gas limit, the usage by the transaction, and gas fees by clicking on the “Click to See More” option.
To see the transaction history of a wallet, you need to enter a public wallet address in the search bar. Press on the Search icon and you will be able to see all of that wallet’s public information such as its ETH balance and its value in USD.
Under the “Transactions” tab, you can also see a list of the wallet’s ETH transactions. You will be able to see specific details such as the TxID, block height, transaction fees, sender and recipient addresses, and the confirmation timestamp.
If you go to the “Analytics” tab, you will be able to see the analytics related to that wallet. Here, you can find a wallet’s entire history and see how the balance in the wallet has changed over time.
How to View Smart Contracts on Etherscan
Ethereum and smart contracts are synonymous with each other. The Ethereum network has played a key role in the development of smart contract technology. Therefore, it is no wonder that most of the DApp smart contracts are built on Ethereum.
Along with wallet and transaction history, you can also look up smart contracts on Etherscan and directly interact with them. And if you regularly use DApps that use these smart contracts, it is perhaps a good idea to learn how to view a smart contract via Etherscan.
For this, you need to first know a token’s smart contract address. You can find it at a data-aggregating platform like CoinMarketCap or at Etherscan itself. After finding the ERC-20 token address, put it in the Etherscan search bar and click on the Search icon.
Now, you can see general information about the smart contract and the associated token. You can also view the ETH balance and check the list of transactions displayed on the screen.
In the “Contract” tab, you can view the said smart contract’s code and view information related to the contract in “Read Contract.” For example, you can check the token’s total supply, and the balance of specific accounts and delegates here.
Under the “Write Contract” tab, you can directly interact with the smart contract without needing to use the project’s API. Further, by clicking on “Connect to Web3”, you can connect a Web3 wallet like Metamask or Coinbase wallet to interact with the smart contract.
However, note here that this feature is still in its beta version. It is provided on an “as available” basis and Etherscan clearly states that does not give any warranty for the same and is not liable for any loss caused due to the feature.
How to Find Gas Prices on Etherscan
Ethereum users have to pay a fee for executing transactions on the blockchain. This is known as gas fees and it can vary depending on the network demand and the complexity of the transaction. Ethereum gas fee is notorious for being prohibitively expensive during times of network congestion.
It can, therefore, be useful to keep track of the difference in gas prices at various times. This can help you predict the level of network congestion and the amount of gas fee that you may need to carry out a transaction.
Etherscan can be a useful tool for keeping an eye on Ethereum gas prices. Its gas tracker functions more as a gas calculator and shows you the gas prices at various time intervals, estimates the level of network congestion and the number of pending transactions on the blockchain to give a rough estimate regarding the gas fee to the user.
This can help you seamlessly execute transactions on Ethereum while saving on transaction costs.
Etherscan Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Etherscan Located?
Etherscan’s headquarters is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Digital Currency Group and Coinbase Ventures are significant investors in Etherscan. It is an entity independent of Ethereum and is meant to function as a search engine and analytics platform for Ethereum.
Is Etherscan Legit?
Etherscan is a trusted blockchain explorer to view and investigate data available on Ethereum. It is the most famous explorer for the Ethereum network with which you can look up any transaction, smart contract, and its status on Ethereum. It has been operating since 2015 and provides valuable information related to Ethereum.
Who Controls Etherscan?
Etherscan was launched in 2015 as an independent block explorer and analytics platform to help provide equitable access to blockchain data. It was founded by Matthew Tan who is also the CEO of the platform. Tan had earlier developed the token-based blockchain explorer Blockscan for Counterparty.
Etherscan is a popular tool for accessing and analyzing information available on the Ethereum blockchain. It is completely free and you don’t necessarily have to create an account to use it. This is keeping in line with Etherscan’s goal of enabling equitable access to blockchain data. It is quite easy to use and you can get the hang of the basic functions.
Whether you want to keep an eye on the changes in Ethereum gas prices, track a wallet’s activities, or interact with a smart contract, Etherscan has you covered on all these fronts. It is a great tool to use if you want to explore Ethereum’s functionalities in-depth and get better at deciphering and analyzing blockchain data.