What Is the Ethereum Name Service? How It Works and What It’s Used For?

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What Is the Ethereum Name Service? How It Works and What It’s Used For?

During the early days of the Web, one of the major problems faced by Internet users was the unfriendly nature of domain names and internet protocol addresses. To access a website, one had to type the full IP address of the site they wanted to visit. And since IP addresses were a long string of numbers and dots, e.g., 54.235.191.191, they were difficult to remember.  

It was not until 1983 that an American computer scientist developed the Domain Name System (DNS) by building on past research by Elizabeth Feinler. DNS allows for a better web browsing experience by matching websites’ IP addresses with their domain names, which are easier to remember and key in on the search bar. Thanks to DNS, rather than typing the website’s IP address, you can type the website’s name in the search bar and be directed to the website. 

If you’ve ever sent cryptos to addresses, you must have noticed that the crypto space still uses the ancient IP addresses setup. To send someone some cryptos or even to make a crypto payment, you’ll need to key in a lengthy public wallet address composed of a string of digits and letters of the alphabet that appear gabble. 

It would be much more straightforward to use human-friendly names rather than complicated addresses which are difficult to key in, let alone remember. Thus the introduction of Ethereum Name Service (ENS). Read on to learn about ENS and how it makes crypto addresses easily readable and shareable.

What Is the Ethereum Name Service?  

Ethereum Name Service is a decentralized, open, and extensible Ethereum-based naming system for crypto wallets, websites, and more. Crypto addresses are long strings of numbers and letters similar to binary language. These long crypto addresses have often led to confusion and even loss of funds when transacting cryptos. 

ENS essentially functions to map user-friendly names such as ‘ben. eth’ to machine-readable identifiers such as crypto addresses, content hashes, and metadata. With ENS, a cumbersome Ethereum address such as “0xDC25EF3F5B8A186998338A2ADA83795FBA2D695E” becomes a simple and memorable name like “Ben.eth.” It’s also possible to integrate crypto addresses with metadata as  ENS facilitates ‘reverse resolution’,.

Think of ENS as a fully distributed domain-name provider built on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing persons to buy human-readable names in the form of domains. ENS shares a common goal with DNS, facilitating a seamless user experience. Just like DNS simplifies the Web2 making it more user-friendly, so does ENS simplifies Web3 to fast-track the mass adoption of blockchain technology. 

However, it’s important to note that ENS has a different architecture and functioning to DNS owing to the unique design of the Ethereum blockchain. The text below will further discuss the difference between ENS and DNS. 

How Does ENS Work?

ENS is built on Ethereum’s smart contracts, which marks the basis of its functioning. It constitutes two Ethereum smart contracts, i.e., the ENS registry and the Resolver. The ENS registry’s role is to record domain names and also holds data about all the names of domains that have been registered under ENS, Resolver for the domain, and catching time for all records under the specific domain. The Resolver’s role is to translate domain names to machine-readable addresses and vice-versa. It’s a smart contract that matches the domain name to a website, individual, or address.  

Similar to DNS, ENS functions based on dot-separated hierarchical names known as domains, with the owner of a domain having full authority over subdomains. To put this in context, if a person by the name Alex owns the “alex. eth” domain, he can create other desired configurations such as “pay.alex.eth” depending on his specific needs. These subdomain configurations can either be for the original domain owner or other persons, providing a high degree of flexibility among domain owners. 

High-ranking domain names such as ‘.eth’ and ‘.test’ are owned by smart contracts referred to as registrars. These registrars specify rules governing the allocation of their subdomains. Anyone can obtain these subdomains for personal use by following the regulations imposed by the registrar contracts. 

ENS is built on the Ethereum blockchain and several test networks making it fully decentralized and resistant to security breaches. ENS also supports common Web2 domain names such as com, .org, .io, .app, and more since it’s possible to import DNS domain names to be used on ENS. Also, note that ENS only works with particular browsers, including Opera, Brave, Puma, MetaMask Mobile (mobile), and Status (mobile). It doesn’t function on Safari and Chrome. 

ENS vs DNS 

As mentioned earlier, ENS and DNS share similar roles in different Internet generations. They aim to make the Internet more user-friendly on Web 3 and 2, respectively. DNS converts an IP address of the website into a human-readable string known as a URL. In contrast, ENS converts cumbersome and unreadable combinations of numbers and letters in the name of Ethereum address to readable names or IDs that can be used across decentralized blockchain platforms, including crypto wallets, websites, smart contracts, metadata, content hashes, and more.     

Unlike DNS, which is stored in a centralized server and therefore prone to hacks, ENS is fully decentralized and doesn’t suffer from security issues faced by DNS systems. Also, since ENS is decentralized, it’s impossible to destroy ENS records with more transparency in operations. 

How to Get Your Own ENS Domain

Getting your own ENS domain is pretty straightforward. To create your custom ENS domain and replace your cumbersome crypto address, you must first have an Ethereum wallet such as MetaMask. Next, visit the ENS domains web app or manager.ens.domains. Start by first searching for available domain names. Once you’ve found your preferred domain name, the system will walk you through the registration process. The process includes confirming two transactions from your wallet and paying a yearly fee of $5 per year (paid in ETH) for names longer than five characters. 

Once you’ve purchased the domain name, you can link it to your crypto wallets and websites or even create multiple custom subdomains connected under the same ENS domain.   

What Can You Do With ENS Domain? 

Currently, the primary undertaking you can do with ENS is to replace your cumbersome, unmemorable Ethereum address with a friendly, memorable ETH address of your choice. As such, you won’t have to struggle to memorize or copy and paste your long, public crypto address. 

The other thing you can do with ENS domains is to integrate your crypto address in websites with domain names such as .com, .org, or .edu. This will allow you to receive crypto payments directly from site visitors who view content or purchase products. For instance, if you own realestate.com, you can link it directly to realestate.eth so that you can receive direct crypto payments in case of purchases.    

Currently, the principal use case of ENS is to offer crypto users an easier way of reading, memorizing, and sharing crypto addresses. However, with the continuous development of Web3, we’re likely to see more use cases similar to DNS in Web2. 

In Summary

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is an open and decentralized naming service and domain name protocol developed on the Ethereum blockchain. ENS shares a similar goal with DNS in Web2, allowing crypto users to create simple, human-friendly usernames for all their crypto wallet addresses across various platforms, including digital wallets, decentralized websites, smart contracts, metadata, and content hashes, and more. 

ENS aims to simplify decentralized crypto transactions without putting users through the challenges of remembering long-winding, machine-readable crypto addresses. Aside from making crypto transactions more human-friendly, ENS comes in handy when typing, copying, and pasting addresses. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the purpose of the ENS?

The ENS aims to simplify the long and complicated public addresses into a more straightforward name to master. It is an excellent option to improve the experiences of new entries into the crypto industry. Additionally, users can depend on one ENS domain for all their addresses instead of saving several complex addresses. Anyone can use the ENS domain names for web 3.0 in other blockchains and dApps. Lastly, unlike the DNS, ENS is decentralized and stored on the Ethereum blockchain, ensuring the safety and immutability of your domain name.

What is the difference between the ENS registry and resolvers?

The registry acts as a record for the names and data of all domain names under the ENS. Also, it stores the domain’s resolver and registers the time for a particular domain’s records. On the other hand, the resolver converts domain names to machine-readable addresses and vice versa.

How can I acquire an ENS Domain?

Utilize an Ethereum-linked wallet to browse available domain names here. There will be a guide on how to register and the confirmation of two wallet transfers. You also need to decide on the years you want to rent the domain at a $5.00 yearly fee. Configure your domain o whatever specifications that suit your needs, including creating subdomains.