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I want to know when a new block is discovered, I am watching debug.log to see if it has changed, I know there is a new block if the line contains "UpdateTip: new best". Is there a better way to do this?

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bitcoind offers a zmq hook which you can use to receive notifications on new blocks and transactions.

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You can use blocknotify option, Execute command when the best block changes, read more here https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Running_Bitcoin

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