What is the Ethereum Name Service and what purpose does it serve?

Ethereum Name Service

Before clarifying what the Ethereum Name Service is, it would be prudent to define naming services in general. A naming service facilitates the identification of an actor in a network system using a common name rather than a numerical address. In the analog world, for instance, you could find a person’s phone number by looking for their name (and address) in a phone book.

Domain Name Service is the most prominent name service in the digital world, and you probably use it every day without even realizing it (DNS). Every domain (such as cryptotesters.com) has an IP address on the Internet. A browser requires an IP address to retrieve material from a website and deliver it to the user. Clearly, it would be a UX nightmare if users were required to remember the IP address of every website manually. For this purpose, the Domain Name Service was created.

Every time a user puts a website’s name into the browser’s search bar, the browser queries a DNS server for the IP address associated with that website. It then sends a request to the website’s servers and receives the material after receiving the IP address. You might think of the Domain Name Service as a telephone directory that lists all website names and their accompanying IP addresses.

Obviously, it is vital that the process for distributing domain names to applying organizations be smooth and equitable. This is why the ICANN was established. It assigns top-level-domains (TLDs) such as ‘.com’ or ‘.io’ to registrars, which are subsequently responsible for selling domain names within their namespace to interested businesses and people. Additionally, the ICANN and registrars are responsible for the operation and maintenance of DNS servers.

Hence, what is ENS?

The Ethereum Naming Service (ENS) supplements DNS by allowing Blockchain metadata to be mapped to domain names. Re-visiting the phone book analogy, ENS is the phone book of the Blockchain realm, storing cryptocurrency addresses instead of phone numbers. The ENS registry consists of an Ethereum Blockchain smart contract that maintains a list of all domains and their corresponding owners.

Wallets and other Blockchain apps can integrate ENS to facilitate the sending and receiving of funds by users. They can transmit to “alice.eth” instead of an address such as “0xF58D45805EC4880984765D6dAf6072F53A76d925.” Similarly, while receiving cash, a user can just provide their ENS username, such as ‘bob.eth’. The number of wallets and applications that support ENS continues to rise, making it easier and more secure to send someone money.

How do I receive an ENS name?

There are multiple methods to obtain an ENS name. The simplest method is to acquire a wallet such as Argent or Authereum, which allow you to select an ENS name during registration (mine is ‘litocoen.argent.xyz’). Because they hold the domain argent.xyz, they can assign as many subdomains as they like.

ENS incorporated into Argent

Alternately, you can acquire your own ‘.eth’ domain and link it to a custom wallet address. The foundation behind ENS holds the ‘.eth’ top-level domain and allows domain registration. Comparable to registering a ‘.com’ domain for a new website. After purchasing an ENS domain, you must configure the ENS records to direct your domain to the desired address. The finest explanation on how to do so is provided here.

If you hold a domain with a different TLD namespace, such as ‘.com’ or ‘.org,’ you can also link it to an Ethereum address, albeit the process is more complicated. If you opt to link your website to a bitcoin address, there are a number of really intriguing use cases. Imagine being able to donate to Unicef simply by entering “unicef.org” into your wallet!

It is not the case that ENS can only resolve Ethereum addresses because the smart contract containing the registration of all domains and addresses resides on the Ethereum blockchain. In fact, any bitcoin address can be stored in ENS records. This means you might theoretically get any coin at a single address! Obviously, this only works if the cryptocurrency wallet you use to hold Bitcoin and other assets can resolve ENS data.

Another great aspect of ENS native ‘.eth’ domains is that they are ERC-721 tokens, allowing you can easily transfer domain ownership or sell it on a marketplace such as Open sea.

Advantages of ENS vs DNS

Since the ENS is based on Ethereum smart contracts, it does not have the same security flaws as the DNS system, allowing names to function as intended. DNS records are stored on centralized servers, which can be compromised to reroute or stop traffic (Turkey famously DNS blocked Twitter). In contrast, ENS records are immutable and protected by the Ethereum Blockchain.

Additionally, the method of domain name distribution is more transparent. By engaging in an auction process controlled by the blockchain, anyone can register a ‘.eth’ domain name for themselves. Users are expected to wait for the domain name to become available before placing a bid and revealing it later. The highest bidder will win the domain name and will be allowed to add additional data, establish subdomains, lease, loan, or sell it, among other things.

We adore the ENS project and hope this rate of acceptance continues to make crypto more user-friendly!

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