A block explorer for Blockstack
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Latest commit c2fa809 Feb 26, 2018


Blockstack Explorer

A Blockstack data explorer based on Insight UI (a Bitcoin blockchain explorer web application service for Bitcore Node) that uses the Insight API.

Installation instructions

Start with a clean install of Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS. You'll need a significant amount of disk space to hold the bitcore-indexed Bitcoin blockchain. (~215gb as of block 440500).

Set up your bitcore node

As root:

apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade -y

apt-get install python-pip python-dev libzmq3-dev -y

Install Node

curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_7.x | sudo -E bash -

apt-get install -y nodejs

Create a directory to hold your installation:

mkdir /data

npm install -g bitcore-node

Create your bitcore node:

bitcore-node create /data/blockstack-bitcore

Install insight-api and blockstack-explorer:

cd /data/blockstack-bitcore/

./node_modules/.bin/bitcore-node install insight-api

./node_modules/.bin/bitcore-node install git+https://github.com/blockstack/blockstack-explorer.git#master

Start bitcore & wait a long time while your bitcore-indexed Bitcoin node is created:

./node_modules/.bin/bitcore-node start

Depending on your disk speed and machine speed, this process can take days.

Making this setup production ready

In production, we've had difficulty with bitcore-node occasionally dying. In this section, we'll discuss how to make sure the explorer processes get restarted if they die.

In the default configuration described above, starting your bitcore-node also starts a bitcoind node. When this happens, bitcoind usually lives on and restarting bitcore-node fails since it can't start another bitcoind process on the same port.

The solution is to start bitcoind externally.

To do this, modify /data/blockstack-bitcore/bitcore-node.json as follows:

  "network": "livenet",
  "port": 3001,
  "services": [
  "servicesConfig": {
    "bitcoind": {
      "connect": [
		"rpcuser": "bitcoin",
		"rpcpassword": "local321",
		"zmqpubrawtx": "tcp://"

Now, when you start your bitcore-node, it will expect to find a bitcoind process already available on localhost with the default ports.

We use pm2 to keep an eye on our explorer processes and make sure they start at boot and restart if there's a problem.

To install pm2:

sudo npm install pm2 -g

Move the 3 scripts found in tools/deployment in this repo to /data/blockstack-bitcore

Run the following to start the explorer processes and set them to start on boot:

pm2 start start_bitcoin.sh --name="bitcoind"
pm2 start start_bitcore.sh --name="bitcore"
pm2 start start_blockstack.sh --name="blockstack-server"
pm2 save
pm2 startup

If you're not running the explorer as root, the command pm2 startup will fail and provide you a command to run as with sudo that will make sure pm2 and the explorer proceses start at boot.

Setup a local copy of explorer api

Once your node is synced, you'll need to run a local copy of the explorer api script.

You'll first need a working installation of blockstack-cli.

This can be found in this repository in tools/runserver.py

You should run this in the same virtualenv as your blockstack-cli installation. You'll need to install a couple additional packages:

pip install --upgrade Flask

pip install --upgrade flask-crossdomain

Run the explorer api as follows:

cd tools/


This will start the explorer api on port 5000.

Point your bitcore node to a local copies of explorer codebase:

If you want to use your local copy of the explorer api, you'll need to need to point your bitcore-node to a local copy of this repository. You'll also need to do this if you're looking to do development on the explorer.

To point your bitcore-node to a local explorer repository, you'll need to make a symlink to the local copy:

cd /data/blockstack-bitcore/

./node_modules/.bin/bitcore-node stop

rm -Rf ./node_modules/insight-ui

ln -s <path-to-checkout-out-blockstack-explore-repo> ./node_modules/insight-ui

Next, you'll need to edit public/index.html so that the web app knows the path to your local explorer api by setting window.blockstackApiPrefix to the right url.

In <head> there should be a tag similar to the following:

<script language="javascript">window.blockstackApiPrefix = 'http://localhost:5000';</script>

Finally, start your bitcore-node again:

./node_modules/.bin/bitcore-node start

To make sure changes to css and javascript are reflected without having to restart the bitcore-node, run grunt watch in the root directory of the repository.