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What is Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?

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  • Difficulty Level : Hard
  • Last Updated : 26 Nov, 2022
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Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is a distributed, open, and extensible naming system based on the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum addresses are harder than IP. Long hex addresses are almost impossible to remember. So the Ethereum name service was created. The job of ENS is to convert human-readable addresses like yourname.eth to machine-readable addresses like veryverylongname.hash.you… that have IP hashes, wallets, smart contracts, etc. The native name suffix is .eth. ENS Ecosystem has wallets like coin base wallets and mycrypto, apps like OpenSea and Etherscan, and browsers like Beacon and EthDNS. The goal is to make easy access to Ethereum-based web for humans similar to DNS.

Features:

  1. Decentralized and user-owned: The major characteristic of an ENS system is that it is decentralized and owned by the specific user rather than being run in a centralized fashion.
  2. Hierarchy: It provides the hierarchy of the domains separated by dot and owners have full domain control.
  3. No of users: Over 2 million Ethereum names are registered till now. Before DNS (domain name system), there have been simple IP addresses, but after DNS we can access the site using the domain name without having to remember the IP address.
  4. Speed & deliverability: Emergency communication are top priority in ENS. Idol system can send emergency updates to all its recipients in minutes. It provides rapid deployment along with multiple delivery systems.
  5. Message customization: ENS platform offers flexibility to customize the message, be it email, push notification, or text message. It also allows any organization to create pre-set templates.
  6. Reporting and analysis: To make ENS reliable and reach its intended audience, the ENS provider informs about message delivery, read recipients, and another matrix
  7. Censorship resistant and Immutable: ENS system has a specific major selling point due to its immutability. Once written, they cannot be modified, erased, or updated in the blockchain. This immutability provides them resistance to censorship.

ENS vs DNS

Both are designed to find the correct website using the names and not the IP address or numbers. DNS works complementary to ENS and is not meant to replace it. Also, the hierarchy of ENS works similarly to DNS in that domain control to its owner that possesses all rights to create subdomains. Both work similarly to phonebook and convert the address into a human-readable string. DNS names can be imported and utilized in ENS.

Below are the differences between ENS and DNS:

Parameters  

ENS

DNS

Address Reference Ethereum name system refers to the wallet address. Domain name system points to IP address.
Purchase process Require a bid along with a deposit and transaction fee. Can be bought instantly.
Users ENS is utilized by service providers and users both. DNS is utilized by service providers only for their websites.
TLD  Only 1 TLD (.eth). more than 1500 top-level domain exists(TLD) ex .com .org .net.
Service type ENS services are decentralized. DNS is centralized.
Resources Has multiple computers verifying ENS. Has very limited resources, ex: godaddy.com.
Security More secure since it uses smart contracts. Can be easily hacked due to the lack of such technology.
Censorship Resistant to censorship due to smart contracts. Non-resistant.
Community  Ethereum community. ICANN.
Ownership Transfer Can be easily transferred from one account to another by NFT. Can only be done if the TXT record name of DNS is changed to a new Ethereum address.
Naming transfer power  No admin power exists to take away users.ETH name Whosoever owns the name in DNS can claim on ENS as well so admin power does exist for DNS name on ENS.

Web 2 works seamlessly with DNS whereas ENS shares crypto address and makes web 3 easier. ENS records cannot be hacked since it is protected by Blockchain algorithms. ENS data cannot be deleted since it is not stored on a centralized server like DNS.

ENS Architecture

ENS Architecture

 

The above figure demonstrates the ENS architecture. There are two principal components:

1. Registry: The registry is a single smart contract that maintains hashes of the domains and subdomains and information about them, viz owner and resolver. 

  • Since the registrar owns a domain, if any user is setting up a domain, it is the registrar to be contacted first. 
  • Also, there is a variety of domains available, for .eth domain, there is a special registrar who should be interacted with. 
  • ENS registry maps a domain name to the resolver. Owners of the domain can set the resolver and TTL for the domain, transfer ownership to another address,es or even can change the ownership.
  • Along with the list of domains and subdomains, It also maintains owner records, resolvers, and caches TTL (time-to-live)So that the domain owner can modify that data as and when required.

2. Resolver: A resolver is a small contract that translates names to addresses. ENS name resolution is a two-step process. 

  • Initially, the registry checks the resolver who is responsible for the name, and then the resolver answers the given query. The resolver converts the domain name into the respective hash. the record type can be a hash value, cryptocurrency address, or any valid data. Depending on the record type and implementation a method, the resolver gets the correct output.
  • The NameHash, which is human-readable and understandable cannot be interpreted by the backend applications directly.
  • To overcome this, the NameHash process converts the domain names to fixed-length cryptographic hash with a length of 256-bit. The NameHash process derives the hash from the domain name in a recursive manner. 
  • Since it is hierarchical, if a parent domain is known, the hash of the subdomain can be easily derived  

How ENS Works?

ENS is built on multiple contracts. We can see the main contracts on ether scan with all its functions. Each record type like wallets and file hashes implement its own resolver contract.

Step 1: To register in the ENS: ENS registry is the first smart contract. The first smart contract is the ENS registry. It maintains a record of all the registered domains on ENS and stores three critical pieces of information about each domain: 

  1. Domain owner.
  2. Domain resolver.
  3. record caching time.

Step 2: To resolve smart contract(convert domain to machine address and vice-versa): The second smart contract is the resolver. The main task is to translate the domain names to machine-readable addresses or to map machine addresses to human-readable names. Mapping the domain to the user, address or any website is the main task of the second smart contract.

Given below is one such dummy example of an address mapped to the ENS domain.

Ethereum address = 0xdeB09Fdg890md42GK6F

ENS domain= foundation.eth

Resolving an ENS name is a two-step process where you first ask the registry for the correct resolver contract and then ask the resolver to return the correct address.

ENS supports reverse resolution, which supports canonical names with Ethereum addresses or metadata like interface descriptions.

ENS Token

ENS token follows the ERC-20 standard on the Ethereum blockchain. It is used for the governance of the system. Those who hold the token can submit proposals and cast their votes. All the token holders govern the decentralized autonomous organization.

  • ENS tokens are tradable for USD  and other cryptocurrencies on crypto exchanges.
  • It provides financial asset to the developers. They participate in pricing and protocol changing as well as managing funds just like company stakeholders.
  • Since it is decentralized, it is not managed in a traditional hierarchical way. 
  • It is managed by DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). 
  • Token has a maximum supply of 100 million coins and among it, 1/4th (25%) was airdropped to ETH holders, while half (50%) was allocated to DAO, rest went to ENS contributors.
  • Developers distributed tokens to the ENS domain wallet. 
  • It is based on the time length of the owner holds the domain ownership.

Costing to Register ENS

The domain names should be 3+ characters long and there are different pricing for 3, 4, 5 plus character names. ENS supports subdomains that we have full control of. One can transfer subdomains to others and even create registrars of our domains.

  • One can create decentralized websites with the interplanetary file systems, viz IPFS. The files are stored there and can be accessed from the ENS name.
  • By following the rules set by the register contracts, anyone can get domain ownership for their use. 
  • If one owns a domain at one level, subdomains can be easily configured. 
  • For example, if one owns bob.eth, then they can create pay.bob.eth and configure as per their choice.

What makes ENS Standout?

  1. Open Source: Ethereum is open source, distributed,  extensible naming system project that makes it truly unique.
  2. Secure: It is secure since the transaction is validated by a set of decentralized nodes. The proof of work consensus mechanism requires miners to mine new Ether. This mechanism secures the ENS.
  3. Prone to failure: It doesn’t have a single point of failure due to blockchain technology and cannot be hacked.
  4. Easy to use: ENS system eliminates the major obstacle of blockchain technology that is, accessibility and ease of use.
  5. Enhanced UI: Users directly receive a crypto token or NFT instead of machine-readable code. This makes the technology simpler and enhances user experience.

ENS in crypto Industry

  1. User Friendly and accessible: Since the crypto field is highly technical, it discourages users to explore in the beginning. But ENS overcomes this issue by making it more secure, private, accessible, and user-friendly. This can be a road to overcome the barriers of the crypto industry.
  2. Popularity in Web 3.0: After airdropping 1/4th of the total token supply, significant interest has been observed in the protocol. Only a little time was needed after its launch, and ENS gained popularity among investors. It has emerged as a significant backbone of web 3.0 and the crypto ecosystem.
  3. Roadmap as a parallel extension to DNS: ENS is emerging to integrate with DNS. Owners of internet domain claim them on ENS. Web 3 usernames will be available for cross-platform access, thereby making them accessible.

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