Back in the days when the Internet was not so common, one of the main problems faced by users was domain names not matching Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
This made them very hostile to the average Joe, who had to type in the IP address of the website he wanted to visit, as if to literally write the numbers.
Unlike traditional IP addresses, cryptocurrency addresses represent even longer strings of numbers and letters. If a user wants to send funds to another user through the Ethereum network, he will have to enter the address and make sure that each number and letter are spelled correctly.
It is also important to know that, in this sense, blockchain-based technology punishes a lot. This is because if you do not enter the address correctly and mistype a letter, the funds you send will be irreversibly lost. There is no central authority to contact to reverse or refund the transaction; that money is lost.
And just as Domain Name Services (DNS) came to life using the Internet, so did the Ethereum Name Service (ENS).
What is the Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?
Ethereum Name Service (ENS) takes exactly the same concept as Domain Name Service (DNS), but adjusts it to the needs of Ethereum users. At its core, the Ethereum Naming Service is an open, extensible, distributed naming system that operates on the Ethereum blockchain.
Its goal is to map human-readable names to machine-readable identifiers. In this case, the human-readable name might be something like “cactus.eth,” while the machine-readable identifier might be the Ethereum address (or other cryptocurrency addresses, for that matter).
In the image below, we have given an example of how it looks like. The address belongs to the Ethereum foundation. The ENS domain name we created is just an example for the purpose of this guide:
The standard Ethereum address is converted to human-readable text (foundation.eth). This means that users can send funds or interact with “foundation.eth” instead of the standard address. This obviously makes it much easier for regular users and also greatly reduces the chance of an error.
According to the ENS official documentationthe system “has similar goals to DNS, the Internet’s domain name service, but has a significantly different architecture due to the capabilities and restrictions provided by the Ethereum blockchain.”
Similar to DNS, ENS also operates on a system made up of dot-separated hierarchical names called domains. The owner of a domain also has full control over the subdomains.
How does ENS work?
There are two main components to the Ethereum Name Service. I mean, these are the Registration and the resolvers. The system architecture looks like this:
The registry is made up of a smart contract designed to keep a list of all domains and subdomains while also storing three essential pieces of information about each one. These pieces are:
- The domain owner
- The domain resolver
- The caching lifetime for all records that are under the domain
The purpose of the ENS record is very simple: it is to assign a name to the resolver responsible for it. Meanwhile, domain owners in the ENS registry are authorized to:
- Change ownership of subdomains
- Transfer ownership of your domain to another address
- Set the resolution and time to live (TTL) for the domain
Resolvers, on the other hand, are responsible for the process of translating names into addresses. Every contract that implements the required standards can be a resolver in the Ethereum Name Service. However, resolving a name in ENS is a two-step process.
The first is to ask the registry which resolver is responsible for that name. The second is to ask that particular resolver for the answer to the query. In terms of architecture, it looks like this:
The difference between DNS and ENS
The Domain Name Service (DNS) was created by Paul Mockapetris, a computer scientist from the US, in 1983. It followed the research of another American scientist, Elizabeth Feinler.
Put in simple terms, the purpose of DNS is to match Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to human-friendly domain names. This allows users to type in the name of the website instead of having to enter the literal numeric IP address.
In a similar but different way, the Ethereum Name Service tries to give people (as well as applications) an easier way to read and share cryptocurrency addresses.
How to register an Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain?
Registering an Ethereum Name Service domain is pretty straightforward, and all you need to do is have a hot wallet like MetaMask.
To go app.ens.domains (the official website for registering an ENS domain) and type in the domain name you want to register. This will check your availability.
Once you have selected your name, all you need to do is follow the instructions below:
Governance of the Ethereum Naming Service
The Ethereum Naming Service is governed through a few different arms, each of which has its own meaning.
ENS Token + Distribution
The ENS token is a standard token that uses the ERC-20 standard on the Ethereum blockchain. Its main purpose is to be used for system governance.
Token holders can submit proposals and cast their votes. The main place where community members can discuss ideas and have discussions related to governance is the forum. discuss.ens.domains.
The ENS token was airdropped to early adopters who had previously registered an ENS domain name. The claim process began on November 8, 2021, and users had until May 4, 2022 to claim their allocated tokens.
25% of the total supply was distributed through the airdrop, while the rest is designated as shown in the following pie chart:
In the spirit of decentralization, the Ethereum Name Service is operated by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The DAO itself is governed by ENS token holders, who can submit proposals and vote on them to determine the future development of the protocol.
The ENS DAO itself is represented by an existing Cayman Islands Foundation called the ENS Foundation.
It has a few purposes, including:
- To comply with tax requirements because without a legal entity, DAO participants may be responsible for a certain proportion of the DAO’s income, even if they do not have access to these funds.
- Enter into contracts with other companies.
- Provide limited liability to participants in the DAO for the actions of the DAO.
ENS is a pivotal advent in the field of cryptocurrencies and a step towards solving some of the pressing issues plaguing the industry, namely user experience.
Having to deal with long strings of random numbers and letters is often the reason for mistakes, and in the field of cryptography, mistakes are often very costly. Normalizing addresses and presenting them in a readable and friendly way is a step towards improving the overall user experience in the same way that DNS improved the UX for Internet users.
At the same time, however, DNS records for domains and names are typically stored on centralized servers, making them prone to attack. ENS, on the other hand, are protected by the Ethereum blockchain, which makes them multiple and more secure.
That being said, the Ethereum Naming Service is undoubtedly a very important invention and innovation that has quickly become widespread and used by thousands of people.
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