If you are familiar with Corda or any blockchain platform for that matter, you know that an explorer is a great tool to visualize what’s happening in your blockchain network. With Corda, it's a little different because you can't really see what’s happening in the entire network as Corda has a ‘mind your own business’ design. Privacy sits in the center of everything that happens within a Corda network. However, the Corda node explorer lets you visualize whatever your node can see.
Because the existing older version of the explorer only worked with the Corda-Finance CorDapp, when you tried to connect the node-explorer to a node having a custom CorDapp you were presented with an error window.
That's because the node explorer was basically developed to demo the design of Corda. For that, it was enough for it to work with the finance CorDapp. It served the purpose.
However, as the Corda ecosystem grew and more use-cases presented themselves, developers wanted to use it with custom CorDapps. If you are one of them, I have some good news for you.
The new node explorer
The beta release of the new node explorer is now available. It comes as a standalone application and allows you to connect to a Corda node running locally/remotely. And guess what, it supports custom CorDapps. Now you are able to connect to your Corda node running on any custom CorDapp, and visualize transactions, run flows, view the vault and more.
So let us take a look at the interface it offers:
Login using the RPC credentials to connect to the node. You can either connect to a local node or to a remote node using ssh. Just use the ‘Use SSH’ option and you will be asked for the SSH credentials.
The dashboard has two simple widgets currently. However, we plan to add more in upcoming releases. The widgets currently present certain useful information:
- The flavor (open source or enterprise) and version of Corda running on the node.
- Some information about the CorDapps installed on the node.
- Information about the currently available network-parameters.
The network is pretty similar to the previous node explorer in that it plots the node’s location on the map based on their X500 data. It provides a great visualization of the entire network including the notaries and peers.
The transaction tab allows you to visualize all transactions known to the node. It displays a tabular view containing the transaction Id, input and output types and the command type, which can be expanded for a more detailed look into the transaction.
You also have the ability to trigger flow installed on the node using the New Transaction button. The parameters of the flow are auto-generated dynamically.
The vault table provides a visual representation of the node’s vault. It also has some filters to filter down the data in the vault to the one you are particularly interested in.
Finally the Setting tab— the most important thing here is the “Path to Your Cordapp Folder”. It allows the explorer to load the required classes to dynamically generate the flow parameters and run flows. Make sure to put the correct path here for the custom CorDapps to be loaded.
Watch the demo of the new explorer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn2lhS8pjRs
Grab a copy of the Node Explorer here: https://github.com/corda/node-explorer/releases.
Thanks for reading!
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— Ashutosh Meher is a Developer Evangelist at R3, an enterprise blockchain software firm working with a global ecosystem of more than 350 participants across multiple industries from both the private and public sectors to develop on Corda, its open-source blockchain platform, and Corda Enterprise, a commercial version of Corda for enterprise usage.
Follow Ashutosh on Twitter here.