What is Ethereum Name Service? – Overview of ENS

What is Ethereum Name Service? – Overview of ENS

One of the things that repel new users of Web3 is the cumbersome addresses for Web3 wallets that are actually intended for machines and not humans to memorize. Each and every inconvenience in use results in a slowdown in the progress of Web3 progress and popularization. Such inconveniences should be addressed and eliminated to attract new users. In this article, we are going to explore and explain everything you need to know about Ethereum Name Service (ENS), a protocol aimed to improve user experience by solving the problem of long crypto wallet addresses.

We will delve into the topic of ENS, talk about the service’s principle of work and its importance. For this, we will consider in detail the two essential components of the system – registry and resolvers. Then, we will move on to explore governance tokens within the framework of ENS’s decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). And as a final touch, we will provide you with a tutorial on how to get your own Web3 domain through ENS.

What is Ethereum Name Service? – Explaining ENS

To further explore the possibilities and benefits of ENS, first, we need to answer the question, “what is Ethereum Name Service?” ENS was initiated in 2017 as a part of the Ethereum Foundation. But since 2018, it has become an independent service managed by the non-profit organization called “True Names LTD.” But what is Ethereum Name Service right now?

Ethereum Name Service is a distributed, open, and extendible naming system working on the Ethereum chain. The goal of ENS is to map or link short and easy-to-remember names, for example, “jack.eth,” to the cumbersome machine-readable IDs like crypto wallet addresses like MetaMask, Ethereum, and others. If you have a crypto wallet, you know how its address looks – it is a long string of numbers and letters that is impossible to remember. The purpose of ENS is to link those addresses like “0xb73F47…” to shorter, human-readable, and easy-to-remember addresses. Through ENS, metadata like interface descriptions or canonical names can be associated with Ethereum addresses.

Just like the “domain name system” (DNS) for Web2, ENS simplifies the user experience with Web3. Yes, it basically acts as DNS on Web2 but on Web3, making the blockchain realm more accessible and less scary for new users.

Nevertheless, these two systems are very different in terms of structure and architecture due to the unique capabilities and limitations of the Ethereum blockchain. First of all, being a decentralized protocol, ENS is much more secure and resistant to censorship since it doesn’t have a single point of failure.

Now that we’ve explained what ENS is, we can now move on to the question, “how does Ethereum Name Service work?”

How Does Ethereum Name Service Work?

We have already said that ENS acts for Web3 as DNS for Web2. Both of them use a structure of “dot-separated” hierarchical names – “domains.”

There are top-level domains on ENS, for example, “.eth” or “.test.” They are controlled by smart contracts called “registrars.” They set the rules and govern the subdomains’ distribution. To obtain your own domain, you need to follow the rules of the registrar’s smart contract. Moreover, if you already have a DNS account, you can import it into ENS.

The hierarchy of ENS domains ensures that an owner of a domain has full control over format of subdomains at any level. This means, for example, that an owner of “jack.eth” is able to create a subdomain “pay.jack.eth” or register any other subdomains for the main domain. The owner has the right to distribute subdomains freely to other users.

Currently, ENS works on the Ethereum mainnet and its testnets, meaning that if a user utilizes the ENS.js JavaScript library or other end-user application, the network a user is interacting with will be autonomously detected. This ensures that ENS deployment is made on a certain chain.

To better understand how ENS works, we will further delve deeper into ENS architecture and its essential components – registry and resolvers.

ENS Architecture: Registry

The registry of the ENS is a smart contract that contains a list of all domains and subdomains. To monitor domains, the smart contract stores three types of essential data on each domain:

  • Domain owner
  • Domain resolver
  • Caching (time-to-live) for all domain records

A domain can be owned by a smart contract or a user. The smart contract that initially owns the domain is the registrar we are talking about in this section of our article. The registrar can issue subdomains if the rules of a smart contract are followed. This enables the owner of the domain to:

  • Specify the domain’s resolver and TTL.
  • Hand over the ownership of a domain to another user.
  • Hand over ownership of subdomains to other users.

In general, the registrar’s smart contracts are pretty simple. Their only purpose is to connect a name to the certain resolver responsible for the domain.

Now let’s move on to the topic of resolvers.

ENS Architecture: Resolvers

The component of ENS responsible for turning the crypto addresses into human-readable domains is called a resolver. They are also smart contracts complying with certain standards that set and regulate the process. Each identifier, for example, crypto address, IPFS content hashes, and others, define what methods must be applied by a resolver to provide relevant records. To the already existing identifier types, new identifiers can be added at any time through the EPI standardization process.

The EMS names resolving occurs in two steps:

1. A user makes a query to the registry for the resolver responsible for a certain name.

2. A user requests an answer for the query from the resolver. Here is how the process looks:

To find out more details about how this process works, we advise you to check out the official ENS documentation.

What is Ethereum Name Service? Understanding Governance Tokens and DAO

We said before in our article that when answering the question “what is Ethereum Name Service?” we are also going to talk about ENS’ governance token and ENS’ decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The governance tokens make a holder a member of ENS’ DAO and give them certain rights in the framework of the ENS community.

A DAO is a governing body for a specific project or protocol, and the members of the organization cast vote on crucial decisions affecting the protocol’s future. This implies that DAO participants can convey desired changes to ENS using their tokens.

The members of the Dao can vote on three types of proposals:

1. Social Proposals that are represented by off-network proposals to the DAO members. For instance, it can be amendments to the ENS’ secondary market’s royalty rate on OpenSea. To be reviewed, a suggestion needs a quorum of 1%, to pass – a 50% approval rate.

2. Constitutional Amendments are also kind of social proposals, but they are about the alterations to the constitution of the ENS protocol. For instance, these can be suggestions to change how ENS implements its mission. To be reviewed, the suggested changes require a quorum of 1%, to pass – approval of two-thirds.

3. Executable Proposals are suggestions that require certain smart contract operations to be executed by an account controlled by DAO. For instance, these can be arbitrary smart contract calls. To be reviewed, a suggestion needs a quorum of 1%, to pass – a 50% approval rate.

How to Purchase an ENS Domain?

After all of the information provided above, you may wonder how to purchase an ENS domain. Further, we will explain the process, and you will see that it’s quite simple. It is divided into three steps:

1. Getting a Crypto Wallet

2. Purchasing ETH

3. Choosing an ENS Domain

Getting a Crypto Wallet

The first step on the way to buying an ENS domain is getting a crypto wallet. It is needed for two purposes: you need a wallet to keep your ETH that you’ll use to pay for the domain, and the wallet address is where the domain will point. There are different supported wallets, but for our example, we have chosen MetaMask.

Purchasing ETH

Once you’ve got your crypto, you need to buy ETH to pay for the domain. You can buy it through a centralized exchange like Coinbase or a decentralized exchange like Uniswap. How much ETH do you need? It depends on the length of the domain name and gas price. To be sure that you have sufficient funds, make sure to monitor Ethereum gas fees that can greatly vary.

Choosing an ENS Domain

Now you have to choose your domain name. For this, you have to connect your MetaMask or another wallet to the ENS dapp. To do so, just click the button “Connect” located in the left upper corner of the ENS interface.

Once you are connected, you can start the search for the domain name you want to register to see if it’s available. If it is, you will intuitively know how to get it by following the steps provided by the dapp. But we have to stress out again – make sure to track gas price at the moment of purchase. The gas price makes up the major part of the total cost, which is why you have to double-check it before you make a purchase.

What is Ethereum Name Service? – Roundup

One of the major obstacles for Web3 on the way to attracting new users is poor usability. Regular Web2 users are repelled by the long, machine-oriented crypto addresses that are impossible to remember. In this article, we explored a solution – Ethereum Name Service. We explained what ENS is, how it is similar to traditional domain service DNS, and what are the differences and benefits. In short, with ENS, you can translate a cumbersome crypto address to a human-readable domain name, for example, “jack.eth.”

We explained the essential components that ensure the service operation – registry and resolvers. In short, the registry maps names to resolvers, and resolvers translate the names into readable addresses.

Then, we briefly explained how to purchase your ENS domain through three steps:getting a crypto wallet, purchasing ETH and choosing an ENS domain.

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