Prototyping a Coda Blockchain Explorer

This article is published on Medium.

A block explorer is a tool typically used to visualise the current and historical state of a blockchain including all transaction information. Coda, a succinct blockchain, presents some interesting challenges in this regard as this prior state information is not required to be stored by end-users or even block producers, but rather the protocol relies on cryptographic proofs to prove the current chain state (and thus everything preceding it).

Coda currently provides an option for users to run an archive node that persists block data. This data is then exportable via the GraphQL API and it is this data that has been used to produce a prototype block explorer to help users become better acquainted with the testnet and Coda’s functionality.

Prototyping a Coda Blockchain Explorer

First steps with the Coda GraphQL API

Coda is a cryptocurrency that uses a succinct blockchain that is enabled through the recursive composition of zk-SNARKs. For clients, this means they can verify the chain with only a few kB of data which opens up exciting opportunities for scalable blockchain applications.

Coda recently launched their public testnet and encourages users who want to help develop the protocol to join the testnet and complete various weekly challenges. While Coda has a traditional command-line interface (CLI) that will be familiar to anyone running a full node implementation, e.g. Bitcoin Core, it also exposes a GraphQL API that we will explore in this article.

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Zcash Insight Blockchain Explorer

With the launch of 2.0.7, zcashd now includes full support for the Insight blockchain explorer. The Insight explorer, which will be familiar to those who have used one of the many popular block explorers it powers, was developed by Bitpay as part of its bitcore suite of tools. The tool, released under a permissive open-source license (MIT), contains many development tools to “build bitcoin and blockchain applications” but we will concentrate on installing the explorer portion for this article which has been ported to support Zcash.

The Insight block explorer on Zcash testnet

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Zcash Shielded Transactions on the Raspberry Pi

If you are running a home node, then a single-board computer is an excellent choice due to its low power draw and the fact you can dedicate the low-cost machine to a single purpose. The Raspberry Pi, in particular, has been popularised for cryptocurrency nodes by the likes of the Casa Node and RaspiBlitz which constitute full Bitcoin/Litecoin and Lightning nodes.

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