Need help understanding Bitcoin DeFi?
Need help understanding Bitcoin DeFi?
Need help understanding Bitcoin DeFi?
Need help understanding Bitcoin DeFi?
Need help understanding Bitcoin DeFi?

BRC-20 Support Live in Hiro’s Ordinals API and Ordinals Explorer

You can now get reliable BRC-20 and recursive inscription data via Hiro’s Ordinals API and Ordinals Explorer, and it works regardless of forks and reorgs.

Product update
September 12, 2023
Staff Engineer
Head of Engineering
BRC-20 support

In just a few months, inscribing data on Bitcoin via ordinals has captured Web3 by storm. There have been 27M inscriptions to date, and the number of ordinal inscriptions shows no sign of slowing down.

Recent months have introduced new ordinal types such as BRC-20 tokens (fungible tokens created through ordinals inscriptions) and recursive inscriptions (ordinals that reference other ordinals), which have pushed the popularity even higher. In fact, BRC-20 tokens account for 90% of ordinals activity on Bitcoin, and of those 27M total inscriptions, 22M are BRC-20 tokens.

Today, minting new BRC-20 tokens accounts for 90% of ordinals activity on Bitcoin.

We are excited to announce support for both BRC-20 tokens and recursive inscriptions in Hiro’s Ordinals API and the Ordinals Explorer.

If you need a primer on ordinals, first check out our blog post on ordinals 101 as well as our free ebook A Developer’s Guide to Bitcoin Ordinals as this post is focused on integrating these new innovations into our tools. Let’s dive in.

BRC-20 Support [Beta]

BRC-20 is a variation on Bitcoin ordinals that largely uses the same implementation as ordinals but allows for a way to inscribe semi-fungible data on Bitcoin. Memecoins on Bitcoin? Swaps, DEXes and staking on Bitcoin? Developers are testing the limits and pushing the envelope with this experimental inscription type.

However, it’s hard to parse through BRC-20 data. For example, how many of each ticker are getting minted per day? By how many addresses? We built a BRC-20 indexer and API endpoints to give developers an easy way to answer those questions and more.

This indexer, called Ordhook, is built using Chainhook, and is more reliable and performant than other indexers on the market today. Importantly, Hiro’s indexer is reorg-aware and monitors all Bitcoin chaintips and will automatically roll back invalid transactions in our database in the event of a reorg or fork.

The new BRC-20 endpoints in the Ordinals API enable wallets to show BRC-20 balances, marketplaces to show details about a particular BRC-20 ticker, and more. Those endpoints include:

  • BRC-20 Tokens <code-rich-text>/ordinals/brc-20/tokens<code-rich-text>: Retrieves paginated token information (including ticker, max, limit, supply)
  • BRC-20 Token Details <code-rich-text>/ordinals/brc-20/tokens/:ticker<code-rich-text>: Retrieves token info for a BRC-20 token (all details + total holders)
  • BRC-20 Token Holders <code-rich-text>/ordinals/brc-20/tokens/{ticker}/holders<code-rich-text>: Retrieves a list of holders and their balances for a BRC-20 token
  • BRC-20 <code-rich-text>/ordinals/brc-20/tokens/:ticker/events<code-rich-text>: Return event history for a single ticker
  • BRC-20 Balances <code-rich-text>/ordinals/brc-20/balances/{:address}<code-rich-text>: Retrieves BRC-20 token balances for a Bitcoin address (optionally filtered by 1 or more tickers), giving available balance, transferrable balance, and overall balance

We also made BRC-20 enhancements in our Ordinals Explorer, including a dedicated BRC-20 page. Anyone can see a full or partial list of BRC-20 tokens, with additional details such as total supply, circulating supply, and token name. We added a BRC tag to all BRC-20 tokens, and users can see the associated metadata by clicking the brackets next to the tag. 

A screenshot of the Ordinals Explorer
A screenshot of the BRC-20 page

Check out BRC-20 enhancements in the Explorer and learn more about the Ordinals API endpoints in our docs.

Recursive Inscriptions

Recursive inscriptions were introduced in mid-June. In essence, recursive inscriptions allow one inscription to access the content of other inscriptions by requesting <code-rich-text>/content/<INSCRIPTION_ID><code-rich-text>. What does that mean in plain English? Recursive inscriptions enable a) more efficient data storage and b) composable ordinals that reference and build off each other.

For example, rather than individually inscribing 10,000 images of an NFT collection, you could inscribe all of the traits of the collection. Then you inscribe 10,000 sats with code that fetches combinations of those traits and renders the image. A smaller data footprint on Bitcoin, same result.

But the possibilities are much broader than just more efficient image inscriptions. Sure, you can create generative art (and that’s cool!), but recursive ordinals also allow you to create more complex applications. For example, imagine inscribing snippets of code as ordinals, and those snippets can all interact and form a greater whole. People have already inscribed entire video games and websites on Bitcoin. What can they do now that ordinals can fetch data from each other?

Check out this thread from LeonidasNFT for an in depth explainer on recursive inscriptions as well as the Ordinals Handbook for the technical definition. 

We support recursive inscriptions in the Explorer, so keep an eye out for unique ordinals like this one that leverage this new capability. The Ordinals API also supports recursive inscriptions, and you can find our docs here.

Performance Improvements

As part of our continued effort to improve our API performance, we optimized the DB writes to be 10 times faster, and we decoupled the inscription ingestion from the BRC-20 scan, which allows us to detect any discrepancies and recover swiftly. 

We are also adding new endpoints for BRC-20 market activity and building a JS SDK that will improve the indexing speed further.  


Hiro tools are free to use, and that includes both our Ordinals Explorer and Ordinals API. Today, our API offers 500 RPM, and if you need a higher limit, you can apply for an API Key here.

Ordinals keep Bitcoin weird, and we can’t wait to see what you build with ordinals using our free tools. If you need to get a hold of our team, you can always find us on the HIRO-PUBLIC channels on Discord here.

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