Etherscan offers a user-friendly interface to look at activities on the blockchain, such as viewing transactions, interacting with smart contracts, tracking gas fees, and reviewing token approvals.
You can read and edit smart contracts using Etherscan's "Read" and "Write" contract features, which also gives you the option of minting NFTs from smart contracts when applicable.
When minting NFTs from smart contracts, double check the address and amounts, and ensure that you are using the correct functions as smart contracts are irreversible once executed.
Blockchains are open databases that are transparent, where anything that happens on-chain is published. That said, directly querying the blockchain is difficult. This is where blockchain explorers like Etherscan and BscScan abstract the complexity and provide a simple interface to look at activities on the blockchain.
What is Etherscan?
Etherscan is a blockchain explorer – a software for visualizing data within the blockchain network. It is an essential tool for blockchain research that is focused on the Ethereum chain. It’s also a way for people to track transactions that are recorded on the chain, which is handy if their transferred funds haven’t appeared in their wallets.
Anyone may use Etherscan to search for, confirm, and validate Ethereum transactions. This includes:
Searching for and view transactions and wallets
Interacting with smart contracts
Tracking gas fees
Reviewing and revoking your token approvals.
However, while you can find your Ethereum wallet and track your transactions on Etherscan, it is not a wallet. To use ETH or enter a transaction, you’ll need to use your crypto exchange or wallet.
If you’re looking to set up a crypto wallet, check out our Beginner’s guide to MetaMask.
Looking Up Transactions on Etherscan
Etherscan comes with many valuable features to surface activity on the blockchain. Anyone can search for transactions and verify that transactions have taken place. There are two ways to go about it. One is to enter a transaction hash, which is an identifier for that particular transaction. The other is to enter a wallet address and look for the transaction.
The search box is where you enter either an address or the transaction hash.
How to Read Etherscan Transactions
On the 27th September 2021, Rhino.fi (previously Deversifi) spent 1.7K ETH ($23m) in fees on a $100k transaction. It was a result of accidentally adjusting the tipping feature on the EIP-1559 gas feature. If someone would like to look at what happened in the case of Rhino.fi, they would just have to enter its transaction hash on Etherscan. The transaction details can be viewed here on Etherscan.
Using this transaction as an example, there are several pieces of information that a transaction provides.
‘Transaction hash’ is the transaction identifier attached to this transaction.
‘Status’ shows whether the transaction is successful, pending, or failed.
‘Timestamp’ is when the transaction was confirmed and mined.
‘From’ shows who sent the transaction.
‘Interacted with (To)’ shows who received the transaction.
‘Tokens transferred’ shows us what was being transferred along with the value of the tokens.
‘Transaction Fee’ shows the cost for the transaction.
‘Gas Price’ shows how much gas fee was paid and tells us about network conditions at that time.
Fortunately, the fee blunder of Rhino.fi has since been resolved, and the miner has refunded the amount.
Viewing a Wallet on Etherscan
Wallet addresses contain information about token holdings and transactions. As an example, below is the wallet address that houses Aave’s ecosystem reserve. We can see that it owns $136.9 million worth of assets on 18 different tokens at the time of writing. It has made a total of 7 separate transactions evident under the ‘Transactions’ list. We can also see that this address last made a transaction over 47 days ago.
The token section also categorizes tokens according to their respective standards. An NFT would fall into the ERC-721 category and show up under that.
Review and Revoke Your Token Approvals
Scams are abound in the cryptocurrency world. When you interact with a DeFi protocol, you have to approve smart contracts to spend your tokens. Usually, the default amount of token to approve is set to infinity. This is beneficial since it saves time and money on gas fees. However, this presents an opportunity for malicious actors to take advantage of users by draining tokens from their wallets. To avoid this terrifying hack, Etherscan provides a helpful tool to review and revoke tokens by giving users the option to adjust the amount of approved tokens.
To navigate to token approvals, head to ‘More’ on the menu bar, and under ‘Tools’, look for ‘Token Approvals’. This tool also shows the amount of risk that a wallet is exposed to. In this case, this particular wallet has ~$7k of tokens at risk. Click ‘revoke’ to adjust the number of tokens set for approval or revoke entirely.
Etherscan Gas Tracker
Gas prices inform us of current network conditions. As the demand for block space increases, gas prices rise due to users wanting transactions to confirm quicker. Etherscan shows an estimated amount of gas prices to set for transactions to be confirmed. It also provides a good overview of which contracts use the most gas, along with what the gas price was for the last 1000 blocks.
Interacting with Smart Contracts
Etherscan lets users read and edit smart contracts by using its “Read Contract” and “Write Contract” features. Reading smart contracts allows us to uncover what’s beneath the surface of transactions.
Another use case is minting NFTs from smart contracts. Contracts that feature a checkmark indicate that it is verified. If the contract is not verified, you may not be able to interact with it unless you have access to its application binary interface.
When you are minting NFTs from smart contracts, remember to confirm the address and amounts, and ensure that you are using the correct functions, as smart contracts are irreversible once executed.
How to Mint NFT from Smart Contracts
To mint NFTs from smart contracts, you need to refer to the “Write” portion of the smart contract, which is viewable on a block explorer like Etherscan.
Take ‘Realms (for Adventurers)’ NFT smart contract for example:
1. Copy the contract address (“0x7afe30cb3e53dba6801aa0ea647a0ecea7cbe18d”) into Etherscan’s search tab.
2. Head to the contract tab under “Write Contract” and connect your wallet by clicking “Connect to Web3”.
3. Check if the contract is open to the public or just Loot holders. If it’s the former, pay the cost of the derivative and enter an available “lootId”.
4. If the fees are too high, that means that the NFT has been claimed. Do try with another ID.
If the gas fees are exceedingly high, double check with current gas prices to know what you are expected to pay to mint the NFT.
Above are some of the main features that Etherscan offers. There are many more, such as allowing users to set alerts for addresses, looking into token supply and its holders, and for developers to build applications on its APIs. It also has a list where anyone can view the ERC-20 and ERC-721 token transfers taking place.
On the analytics side, they also provide statistics and charts on the markets, blockchains, and networks. One final thing of note is that although Etherscan is a centralized platform, it only gives a visualization of the current state of the blockchain such as transaction status, but has no control over any transactions. Without a doubt, Etherscan is an indispensable tool for anyone that uses the Ethereum network. Most importantly, all the features explained above are free to use!
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