The Ethereum blockchain powers its native crypto token (ETH) and its flexibility also allows for the creation of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), unique digital tokens on the blockchain used to record proof of authenticity as well as proof of ownership.
One project that has been making waves in the past few months is Ethereum Name Service (ENS). So, what is ENS? And why has it become the talk of the town lately?
In this article we breakdown exactly how it works and what it’s all about.
What is ENS and How Does it Work?
ENS is a naming service for public addresses (wallet addresses), hashes and many other machine-readable identifiers. It works like the conventional Domain Name System (DNS) used in centralized websites and seamlessly connects hard-to-read data strings with easily readable addresses for human users. ENS allows users to create a simple web-styled address that is easier to read and remember for their Ethereum wallet address.
Like how DNS works in a centralized web where websites are hosted on a respective IP address like 2001:4860:4860::8844, but nobody uses addresses like this to search for a page on their browser; instead, we use names like Google.com. Such names are called DNS, but on blockchain networks, ENS replaces DNS and does more than just a name for an address.
Imagine you want to send the crypto token to a friend; you’ll need the friend’s public key, a string of alphanumeric characters. Extra caution is usually taken to ensure no character is missing or misplaced from these characters to avoid sending funds to an irretrievable address.
Instead of the hassles attached to all these, the ENS can replace an Ethereum public key with a concise and readable address. Like changing 0x58Bdb34b3096c2c4f7B0a9902f1722feaeF0341A to Brad.eth which will be easier to remember and share.
Since the Ethereum blockchain powers ENS, the naming protocol is open, decentralized, and compatible with web3, unlike the DNS in web2. With this protocol, each name has .eth attached to its end, and that single name can be connected to multiple public addresses, transaction hashes, and metadata.
ENS and DNS might have similarities even when on different ecosystems, but ENS has a different architecture than DNS. The ENS has a remarkable architecture such that users can import their existing DNS domain to ENS, like Google.com to Google.eth.
Furthermore, domain owners can control and configure subdomains to any length. For instance, if Brad owns the “brad.eth” domain, he can also create “gov.brad.eth” and modify his whims. This remarkable framework gives owners a high level of freedom, allowing them to dish out domains freely.
The ENS protocol has two main components in its architecture:
1. The Registry
The registry is a component of the ENS that uses a smart contract to register all domains and subdomains. It registers them by storing essential information of each domain and subdomain. This essential information includes:
- The domain owner, can be a smart contract or a user (external account).
- The domain resolver.
- The caching TTL for all records under a domain. The caching TTL (Time-To-Live) refers to how long a record stays cached or stored.
As previously stated, a domain owner can be a smart contract or an external account. Top-level domains like “.eth” and “.test” belongs to smart contracts (often called registrars). The function of these registrars is to outline the rules and regulations that dictate the distribution of subdomains. To obtain your domain, you have to follow the registrars’ guidelines meaning the registrar or a domain owner can do the following:
- Change the ownership of subdomains
- Transfer the ownership of a domain to another user
- Dictate the domain’s resolver and Time-To-Live
So what is a resolver?
2. The Resolvers
The resolvers are the elements of ENS responsible for converting names into addresses. Identifiers like IPFS content hashes, wallet addresses, etc., define the applicable methods of their respective resolver.
Defining new identifier types is also possible since it stays within the bounds of the registry; this can be done using the EPI standardization process.
Resolving or matching a name with an address takes two steps:
- The first step is to ask the registry which resolver is responsible for a particular name.
- The second step is to ask that resolver for the answer to your query.
How to Buy an ENS Domain
Getting your own ENS domain is straightforward with only three steps:
- Get a crypto wallet. The naming protocol currently supports MetaMask, Trust wallet, Rainbow, Coinbase wallet, and other 55 wallets.
- Buy or send ETH to the wallet to pay for your preferred name and offset gas fees. The amount of ETH needed depends on the length of your chosen name.
- Choose your ENS domain. To do this, you must connect your wallet here first; then, you can input your preferred name to the search field provided to check if it’s available.
Why Do People Buy ENS Domains?
ENS has become a sort of identity in web3 where users are now be addressed by their identities instead of their public keys or addresses. This explains the flexibility of integrating DNS names like .com, .io, .org, .app, .art, and .xyz to ENS to make them .eth.
ENS also serves as an investment tool with sizeable ROI. Since each name has no replica, ENS is regarded as NFTs. This is why many users are registering big brands’ names on ENS so that they can sell them to them at higher prices, like domain flipping. These sales are taking place on notable NFT marketplaces.
ENS, like other NFTs, gets its value from rarity; for instance, only 900 of 3-digit ENS will exist; this also applies to 4 and 5-digits ENS, which have their respective number that’ll be in circulation. Below is an excerpt from OpenSea.io where they are listed for sale.
ENS is Making Waves
ENS is a widely used blockchain naming standard that serves as a decentralized identity for users and doubles as an NFT that can be flipped. It is a decentralized naming protocol for wallets, brands, websites, etc., and it currently has over 2 million names and 541,000 owners.
Like traditional domains where hosting fees are paid, ENS names also have an expiration which can be renewed at the end of their rental durations. But with ENS, single names like crypto.eth can be connected to multiple addresses to receive digital assets like NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
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Technical writer, an enthusiast for everything blockchain and decentralized world.
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