Giacomo Barbieri, Flarescan

Written by Jillian Godsil of

November 14, 2023

Flarescan - a story in transparency

Flare has teamed up with the Avascan team, and together they're bringing you Flarescan - a comprehensive guide to the Flare ecosystem, including Flare and Songbird mainnets, as well as the Coston and Coston2 testnets.

The goal is to make the experience very smooth and user-friendly on both and the Routescan block explorer platform. Whether you're a user or a developer, Flarescan's is easily accessible, offering key insights on everything happening on the C-Chain, including addresses, transactions, and the network's tokens.

In addition, Flarescan provides a window to the P-Chain, letting developers dive deep into blockchain activity connected to token staking and validation. It's designed to show off data in a visually appealing way, so devs can easily grasp what's going on in the Flare universe.

There are verification checkmarks, helping distinguish verified contracts from the rest, ensuring you're working with reliable data.

So, let’s find out how this happened and who are the people behind this project. We speak with Giacomo (Jaack) Barbieri to find out more - he is Operations Lead at Avascan and has been heavily involved in the development of Flarescan.

The story from the beginning:

Giacomo (Jaack) Barbieri is Italian and studied computer science in Rome. It actually took him seven years to complete his primary degree due to the fact that he worked his way through university which required him to take several sabbaticals. After six months in college, he and a couple of his fellow students tried their hand at writing a blog. This was in 2014 and it was very popular and very new – and it also fulfilled their cunning plan to get access to software and other new tech for free in return for reviews.

They could be termed the original tech influencers and the blog was called Tweaknology (now not available anymore). It turned out to be successful with more than 100,000 readers and led to Barbieri landing a job as a journalist/blogger with many major Italian media outlets, including eventually Repubblica and La Stampa. Shortly afterwards he was engaged with a Chinese company helping Italian companies outsource hardware manufacturing and from there he fell into event planning with Campus Party.

The events he helped organize were in Fintech and he had the opportunity to meet international names such as former US VP Al Gore, whistleblower Edward Snowden and iPhone hacker George Hotz.

After the pandemic however, everything changed. Barbieri was invited to become the first non-founding member of Avascan. The founders had seen an opportunity to create a block explorer for the Avalanche blockchain and just before launch, they recognized they needed marketing and communications help.

“I jumped at the chance and, in a few months, I managed to grow the community to several thousand. We also managed to receive a few million dollars in delegations on our validators. Avalanche could have many subnets (thousands potentially) and we knew we needed funds to cover our development - we were very lucky to get the grant to cover this cost.”

The funding gave them a two-year runway to manage the indexing of the subnets and conduct research and development, and to develop some core features on Avascan.

“All the time we were optimizing our indexing architecture.”

The core mission of Avascan is to index as many new subnets as possible. Many subnets did not have the finances to develop their own block explorers and so Avascan offered these indexing services at a very low cost.

“Upgrading to include EVM blockchains was pretty simple as Ethereum based blockchains are pretty much the same – and fall under C-Chain. The real work was to develop and maintain the indexing technology for X-Chain and P-Chain.”

X Chain is not compatible with DeFi or indeed with Metamask and is used to send and receive funds. P Chain, where P stands for platform, is concerned with staking AVAX.

During the two and half years since launch, Avascan has made three upgrades in total to its indexer. As they worked on providing indexing for the three Avalanche based blockchains, they realized they could offer this service for other chains.

They did research and found their indexing solution, called Norge, was both better and cheaper than industry favorites including Etherscan and Blockscout. The actual details on how Avascan can improve on both celebrity indexers are sadly top secret according to Barbieri.

The only thing they were missing was the easy to use, and familiar, interface offered by Etherscan. But when a new front-end developer joined the team, he fully dedicated himself to replicating the Etherscan interface as a trial to understand if the indexing technology could 100% match the data that Etherscan offered.

The Avascan team took their MVP to EthDenver where they met a lot of interest in November.

“We offered to build EVM compatible working block explorers in just 48 hours, where competitors were talking months. We had the same look and feel as Etherscan which really wowed visitors and it cost much less. After Denver some of the team went to Dubai where they met with Flare and were very impressed with their seriousness.”

Barbieri says his team were predisposed to like Flare – they had raised funding and were based on Avalanche – but it was their approach and ability to tackle data that really impressed them. Thereafter there was three months of a deep dive into the technology behind Flare.

“But it was humanity that stood out. There is a lot of euphoria in this space, often based on false foundations. People forget to sit still and to listen. As a leader, Flare’s CEO Hugo is very calm and quiet. It is his humanity that convinces me.”

Working with Flare, the team at Avascan have created Flarescan which is a unified data explorer. This is important and unique. Other scans, such Etherscan, are single chain experiences. To compare chains requires opening multiple explorers in different tabs at the same time. People following airdrops are hopping from chain to chain, so the team knew its first step was to build the infrastructure upon which to roll out applications.

“Users don’t want to know which blockchain they are using – they want to add a wallet and have a unified experience without knowing about the layer underneath – it’s like accessing a website from a mobile or a web browser, people don’t want to know about the connection point.”

Barbieri points out the same need for developers – they also need to debug, test and monitor decentralized applications without taking care of switching their DevX (developer experience) regarding block explorers, contract verification workflows and more.

As a block explorer and analytics platform for the Flare ecosystem, which includes the Flare and Songbird mainnets for the Unified Mainnet Explorer and the Coston and Coston2 testnets for the Unified Testnet Explorer, the fully integrated Flarescan allows users access to a wide range of data. The data includes all the activities on the C-Chain, the histories of addresses, the flow of transactions, and the tokens available in the network.

For developers, Flarescan would provide access to the C-Chain, the blockchain activity layer, and the P-Chain, the token staking layer. The platform is designed to visualize data, providing a graphical presentation of statistics of the whole Flare network or data on individual transactions.

When designing the block explorer for Flare, it was important to show the consensus layer so that now public staking has gone live, everyone on Flare can join the validator network and see how the money is distributed on the Flare network. Information on timing and price will be transparent.

Next up is the domain name system. All the .FLR domains will be indexed so people can trace transactions and money flows with better readable names. It is all about displaying transparency. These developments would make it easier for developers to build and deploy Flare-based applications while exploring the Flare ecosystem.