We’re pleased to announce the launch of Blockstack Explorer, a service for looking up info on Blockstack domain names and their associated addresses and transaction histories.
With Blockstack Explorer, you get a global view of all activity happening on the Blockstack network. It makes ownership of domains transparent and makes it easy for anyone to see the history of all domain name operations.
Meanwhile, under the hood, Blockstack Explorer is a Bitcoin blockchain explorer and a Blockstack name resolver in one, and you can use it as a tool to help you better understand how Blockstack DNS and the underlying Bitcoin blockchain interact as you develop Blockstack apps.
With Blockstack Explorer, you can:
- Lookup data associated with a particular name
- Lookup all names owned by a particular address
- Lookup all names registered within a particular Bitcoin block
Lookups by Name
In Blockstack, names are associated with DNS routing information, which is included in a file called a zone file. The routing information in this file can be in the form of IP addresses, other domains, or full URIs.
If you want to lookup a name and get the routing information, you can use the name lookup endpoint.
In addition, this endpoint will give you the address that owns it and the history of name operations associated with it (including registrations, transfers, renewals, and zone file updates).
Lookups by Address
Blockstack names are digital assets that are completely owned and controlled by their owners—a particular name can only be updated and transferred by whomever owns the digital key associated with the name. No outside party, including Bitcoin miners and Blockstack developers, can confiscate a name from the rightful owner because the system does not allow it.
When you use Bitcoin, you get a set of private keys that let you authorize transactions. In addition, each private key comes with an associated public-facing “address” that lets you receive transactions. A private key is like a password and a public address is like an account number. Thus one can say that the key-address pair owns a particular name.
With Blockstack, names are owned by key-address pairs in the same way that Bitcoins are. You can receive a name by giving someone an address, and you can send a name to someone else by signing a transaction with your private key.
To see all the names associated with a given address, you can use the address lookup endpoint.
Lookups by Block
In Bitcoin, transactions representing transfers of money are included in each block (a bundle of transactions that represents a segment of time). And an interesting feature of Bitcoin transactions is they can carry additional data that can be used to ascribe additional meaning to each transaction.
In Blockstack, Bitcoin transactions that are tagged with name operation data are sent and processed on the Bitcoin network. Then, all Blockstack nodes pick up these transactions and process them to update their local copies of the globally-synchronized domain name database.
With Blockstack Explorer, it’s easy to visualize each block of the Bitcoin blockchain and specifically to focus on all of the Blockstack name operations.
To look up all of the Blockstack operations in a given Bitcoin block, use the block lookup endpoint.
Built on Bitcore
Blockstack Explorer is a fork of Bitcore’s Insight UI project that runs on top of a Bitcore Node (a Bitcoin Core full node with a few modifications). It pulls data about the Bitcoin blockchain from the Bitcore Node and overlays Blockstack data read from Blockstack nodes. Linking these pieces of software together resulted in a combined explorer that is extremely powerful for working with Blockstack.
We’re very excited to be able to launch Blockstack Explorer and we hope it makes it easier for you to work with the Blockstack domain names and develop decentralized applications.
As with all of our work here at Blockstack, Blockstack Explorer is an open source project. It’s in the early stages of development and we could use and would greatly appreciate your feedback and your contributions.
With this launch, name registration and resolution is more open and transparent and together we’re one step closer to decentralizing the internet.