Polkadot-JS is a collection of tools that interfaces with the Polkadot blockchain in a granular way.
Polkadot-JS as a term has multiple moving parts that are worth mentioning.
The Polkadot-JS UI is a hosted application that loads in your browser. The UI has a standard DNS hosted version, which always has the latest features, and an IPFS version that is less frequently updated but is more decentralized. This is also often referred to as Polkadot-JS Apps, or the Apps UI.
Polkadot-JS Apps has many capabilities that go beyond basic wallet functions such as account creation and sending or receiving transactions.
The extension is a simple tool for managing accounts in a browser extension and allowing the signing of extrinsics using these accounts. The Polkadot-JS extension is not made for users to interact with on-chain functions as one would find through a wallet app. The extension acts as a robust key-store and thus acts as an account manager for Substrate-based accounts.
However, it also provides a simple interface for interacting with extension-compliant dApps.
Ensure that the Polkadot-JS Extension installed is updated with the latest metadata of the chain. You would notice these updates under Settings > Metadata. Click on Update metadata and approve the update.
The phishing list website is a community-driven curation of less-than-honest operators. The Polkadot-JS extension uses this list to warn a user about suspicious URLs and addresses that are part of the list, and automatically blocks the account address.
Polkadot-JS Apps is the native Polkadot/Kusama/Substrate UI for interacting with a node, allowing access to all features available on Substrate chains. Polkadot-JS Apps also allows developers to to interface with a local node.
Note that the UI may not precisely align with the functionality of individual parachains.
Among other things, Polkadot-JS Apps allows a user to:
- Query chain metadata
- Query on-chain data using RPC calls
- Call extrinsics using your account
A developer can utilize Polkadot-JS Apps to test your code's functionality. Interacting with the Polkadot-JS comes down to either querying on-chain data or issuing an extrinsic.
Querying on-chain data
Let's see how we can query on-chain data with Polkadot JS Apps on Polkadot network with an example. To find out the current value for existential deposit, navigate to Developer > Chain state > Constants and query the balances pallet for existential deposit as shown in the snapshot below. You need to click on the plus button to execute the query. The value displayed is in plancks
Issuing an extrinsic
Extrinsics are pieces of information that come from outside the chain and are included in a block. Extrinsics can be one of three types: inherents, signed, and unsigned transactions.
Most extrinsics displayed on Polkadot-JS Apps are signed transactions. Inherits are non-signed and non-gossiped pieces of information included in blocks by the block author, such as timestamps, which are “true” because a sufficient number of validators have agreed about validity.
Unsigned transactions are information that does not require a signature but will require some sort of spam prevention, whereas signed transactions are issued by the originator account of a transaction which contains a signature of that account, which will be subject to a fee to include it on the chain.
For more user-friendly wallets, check out the supported and treasury-funded wallets on the Wallets Page