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dns

A domain name on the blockchains – from DNS to ENS

When you visit a website on the internet, you use a DNS. This is a system that ensures that when you enter a website address, the browser displays the correct website. This is less easy than you might think. There is a lot going on behind the scenes to bring out the right website.

Today we also know the blockchain . Here we can also visit various websites and applications. However, they do not work with a DNS. Instead, there is a special ENS that allows one to navigate between applications that are on the blockchain. In this article we explain what ENS is, how it works and how you can apply for an ENS domain name yourself.

But before we tell you all about ENS, let’s first tell you what DNS actually is

What is DNS? 

DNS stands for Domain Name System and was invented in 1983 by Jon Postel and Paul Mockapetris. Nowadays it is indispensable in the world of the internet. Each ISP has its own DNS servers, with IP addresses often in the form of a sequence of numbers (194.158.122.10, for example).

The DNS server is a service whose main function is to translate a domain name into an IP address. In simple terms, the DNS server acts as a directory that a computer consults when it accesses another computer over a network.

In other words, the DNS server is the service that makes it possible to link an IP address to a website (or a connected computer or server), in the same way that a phone book makes it possible to link a phone number to a name.

A domain name (such as ‘bitcoinusd.com’) is registered with a so-called ‘registrar’, an intermediary organization between applicants (or holders) of domain names and the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). This is the non-profit organization responsible for the worldwide assignment of IP addresses through the domain name system.

Domain name resolution

The Domain Name System was created to make it easier to identify different websites: it is a system of translation of IP addresses into addresses that are uniquely assigned to each machine connected to the Internet (IP addresses are in kind of like phone numbers).

The translation operation is called the ‘domain name resolution’ and must be perfectly mastered (just as a telephone number must result in the establishment of the correct communication). It is the job of ICANN to ensure that name conversions run smoothly.

What is the difference between gTLDs and ccTLDs? 

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a distributed directory based on a hierarchical name structure. The top of the hierarchy is the so-called ‘root domain’ (managed by ICANN), from which branches arise which are the so-called ‘top level domains’ (TLDs). Examples of TLDs are .nl, .com, .net, .be, etc .

A distinction is made between gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains: .com, .org, .net, .biz, .info, etc.) and ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains: national suffixes such as .nl, .be, .es , .id, .th, etc.) New branches arise from the TLDs, the so-called “lower level domains” (for example: godaddy.com).

Change of registration

Once a domain name is registered with a registrar, you may want to transfer the registration to another registrar. During this procedure, the information related to the domain name IP address translation is preserved during the transmission, thus avoiding any risk of service interruption.

Change of host

You will want to change hosts more often, and you will not have to transfer the domain name registration, but the destinations of requests to that domain name. If we own a domain name, we will be listed as the administrative contact for this domain name registered with the registrar.

Namecoin for Bitcoin (x.bit)

One of the first crypto projects that focused on creating domain names for blockchains was Namecoin. All the miners that were active for Bitcoin ‘s blockchain were also active for Namecoin. So no extra miners needed to be added to keep Namecoin active. This makes it quite a sustainable project.

Namecoin consists of two important parts. This is NameID and Dot-Bit DNS. NameID combines a name with the OpenID. This is a protocol for authentication, and can be compared to the blockchain version of a login window. Here you also need to enter a username and password, which must be linked.

Dot-Bit DNS can be seen as the decentralized version of the phone book. Still, using Namecoin is a lot trickier than how ICANN has it arranged at the moment.

We will not delve deeper into Bitcoin in this article. Instead, we’re going to tell you more about Ethereum Name Service, abbreviated ENS.

What is the Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?

Ethereum Name Service (ENS) was originally a simpler Ethereum address standard, in the form of, for example, ‘bitcoinusd.eth’. The goal was to be able to use these addresses in various Ethereum applications, the idea being that they could then be accepted and read by the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine ). But public addresses aren’t the only data types that can be made more readable. Smart contract addresses, smart contract ABI codes and other data can also be managed by ENS.

Ethereum Name Service aims to become the DNS (Domain Name Service) of the Internet 3.0. It is this DNS, for example, that gives you access to BitcoinUSD by typing ‘BitcoinUSD.com’ into your browser instead of 192.168.293.202.

How does ENS work?

ENS works with domains, such as the domain names of current websites. These domains are linked to an Ethereum smart contract, and the owner of the domain is the administrator of the subdomains. They can therefore manage them, create new ones or resell them. The main domains like .eth or .test are special cases. The latter has established rules that allow the purchase of sub domains. It is with these smart contracts that you must interact in order to obtain ownership of the domain of your choice.

ENS relies on a large registry to record the status of all domains it manages. This is technically a central smart contract that maintains a list of all domains and affiliates. This register will contain three important pieces of information:

  • The owner of the domain. It can be an Ethereum user, but also another smart contract that redistributes the affiliated sub-domains;
  • What the domain is about (ethereum address, smart contract…);
  • The registration of the past and current status of the domain.

Once you own a domain, you have access to a number of rights over that domain. For example, you can specify the address that the domain will point to, such as an Ethereum address. You can also transfer ownership (sale, gift…) to another user or a smart contract. Finally, you can use the subdomains of your property, and thus specify owners for them.

What is the name hash?

Using a domain like ‘bitcoinusd.eth’ is very simple for the human eye, but for smart contracts it is much less so. For this reason and to optimize resource management on the EVM, ENS only works with 256-bit hashes. This makes it possible to know in advance how many characters the smart contract has to process.

Namehash is a recursive process that generates a unique hash for each domain that is considered valid. For example, ENS will treat the domain name bitcoinusd.eth as:

0x787192d109add0eefc5dfdedbf26b24e8d78e40378cc32aa956a2c1a012c3dec

What is the use of an ENS domain name?

The main use of an ENS domain name is that it makes it easier to use an application, but also to transfer money to a particular wallet .

If you now want to send crypto coins to a wallet, you will need to have the wallet address of the recipient. In most cases, this is an address that consists of many characters and numbers. This is an address that no one would be able to remember simply because it is way too long.

It is therefore a lot more convenient if the wallet address is an address that everyone can remember. Imagine that your wallet address is your first and last name, plus year of birth? You can share this much easier with someone who wants to send cryptocurrencies to you.

It will also be a relief for developers of decentralized applications (dApps) when they can use ENS domain names. It will mean that they can be found much more easily by users of these applications. Now they often still have to get to these applications via a detour.

For example, consider a platform such as Uniswap , which you can still access via a normal browser. This is of course not the original idea of ​​dApps. In combination with the emerging dApp browsers, ENS domain names are therefore a major advance for blockchain technology.

How can you buy an ENS domain name yourself?

To buy an ENS domain, you have to participate in a special auction. Below is a step-by-step explanation of how this works.

  1. If a user wants to buy a domain and the domain is available, he has to start an auction. The auction lasts for three days, during which time each user is free to place a bid. The bids are confidential, and therefore blind to your potential competitors.
  2. Once the three-day period is over, the bidding process begins. The participants have two days to declare their bets, otherwise they lose. If your bet is not the best it will be returned to you minus the 0.5% fee.
  3. At the end of the second period, the winner is the one who bid the highest bet. However, the winner will only have to pay the value of the second highest bid. He will then have to make a special transaction to take ownership of the domain, and receive the difference between his bid and the price to be paid.

Once you own the domain name, you can use it for as long as you want. When you have owned a domain for at least a year, you can pass it on to other users. It is therefore not possible to buy domain names and resell them directly as a trade. ENS has done this for a reason.

Buy short ENS domain names

It is important to note that this system covers domain names over 7 characters. Shorter domain names are rarer and more in demand, and are therefore given special treatment. These domain names are subject to special, longer and fixed bids. Take the time to find out when domains are auctioned based on their size. This can change at any time.

It is also important to remember that these types of short domain names are often a lot more expensive than the long domain names. After all, short names are filled more often, because they consist of fewer characters. That is why there is a lot of demand for these domain names, which causes the price to rise. It can be a good decision to register a domain name now, before more people want to do so, and the price will rise as a result.

Where can I buy an ENS domain name?

You now know how it works to buy an ENS domain name. We have not yet explained where you could do this. There are several ways to buy an ENS domain name, which are explained below.

Registrar domain

With the special decentralized application called ‘registrar-domain’, you can easily manage your auctions and access the catalogs of available domains. You will first need to connect through a provider such as Metamask to be able to use this feature. Here you can read how you can set up Metamask yourself [ LINK ].

The application of the ENS domains

Via the website ‘www.ens.domains’ you can search for the domain of your choice and become the owner of it. If your domain is available, the site will show you the rental price for the desired duration. You then pay with Ether, after which you become the owner of the domain name of your choice.

What does the ENS roadmap look like?

ENS plans to continue its development and offer more and more services to its users. They do this primarily by expanding the panel of wallets compatible with their address naming system, which currently has about twenty partners. But they also want to do this by offering more different domains.

They also want to extend their currently available ‘text record’ with features so that you can create a profile linked to an Ethereum smart contract address. This allows you to use a kind of virtual business card on the Ethereum network. This feature has been around for a few months, but a simpler tool for managing your profile was recently unveiled. Ultimately, ENS wants to implement the Gravatar of the Internet 3.0.

It won’t just be with these updates. ENS’s goal is to take Web 3.0 to the next level, and they’re going to do a lot for it. You can therefore assume that there will still be many adjustments to be made with ENS in order to further improve this protocol. It will also become easier to navigate on blockchains such as Ethereum.

There is also a good chance that other blockchains will come up with such applications and protocols in the near future. They also understand that it is important to ensure good user-friendliness. Users of blockchains and cryptocurrencies are becoming more and more picky, and only want to use a blockchain once it is user-friendly. They naturally also care about processing time and transaction costs, but also about how easy it is to navigate within the blockchain.

Bonfida for Solana (x.sol)

Solana is a blockchain that is often mentioned together with Ethereum. This is because Solana supports smart contracts, just like Ethereum. This allows developers to program their own application on Solana, which they can then run within the ecosystem.

Recently, the popularity and use of Solana has been increasing. This is because many people see Solana as a blockchain that can go far. Solana, for example, has a low processing time, which means that transactions can be performed at lightning speed. The transaction costs are very low, so people do not have to spend a lot of money to perform a transaction on the Solana blockchain.

One application that has recently started running on Solana is Bonfida. This is the same service as ESN, but for the Solana blockchain. This application lets users create a domain name for the Solana blockchain. This is very easy via the platform developed by Bonfida.

The operation of Bonfida is approximately the same as that of ESN, except that all protocols and techniques are set up for Solana. Both blockchains use different techniques, so that such applications cannot simply be copied to other blockchains.

Why are domain names important to blockchains?

You may be wondering why these kinds of domain names are necessary. At first glance it only seems like a nice addition to the blockchain, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is very important that blockchains get their own DNS systems, so that it is possible to assign a domain name to a wallet or smart contract. We will explain to you exactly how that works.

If we want blockchains, cryptocurrencies and dApps to be used more and more, it is necessary that these products are user-friendly. This means that they should be as easy as possible to use. For example, it should not take long to execute a transaction, nor should it cost too much money. But users also need to be able to easily navigate over the blockchain. And that is possible with domain names.

If a blockchain is not user-friendly, this will hinder the adoption of blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Ultimately, the prices of cryptocurrencies will also lag behind, because the number of users does not grow with the intended growth that everyone would have liked to see happen.

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0

An important part is Web 3.0. Also referred to as the new generation of the Internet, it stems from Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Before we explain the connection between Web 3.0 and the domain names, let’s dive a little deeper into these concepts.

Web 1.0 is the first form of the internet, and it really only consists of simple websites on which information is displayed. These types of websites are built with HTML and CSS, and users cannot interact with them. Of course they can click through to other pages, but that’s about it. These are of course not the websites you still come across today.

Today we are in the middle of Web 2.0. This is a form of the internet where people can communicate with each other on the web. For example, think of websites such as Facebook , Google and Twitter. These websites are a lot more advanced than Web 1.0 websites, which means that much more is possible.

Internet banking, for example, is also an important part of Web 2.0. And how about taking out insurance, or joining a poker table through an online gambling website. These are all websites that work a lot more complex, and also have a major impact on our economy. Without Web 2.0, human civilization wouldn’t look like it does today.

Web 3.0

In recent years we have seen a new form of the internet. This is Web 3.0, and includes the blockchain technology. Blockchains are decentralized, which means that the data is not stored with a central party. Instead, it is kept on the thousands of computers connected to the blockchain’s network.

Users are therefore much more in control of their own data. There is no longer a central party that can sell their data unseen to other companies, in order to earn money from it. Instead, only the owners of the data can access their data because everything is secured with cryptography.

If we want Web 3.0 to actually become as big as Web 2.0 is now, then user-friendliness is extremely important. If this is not good, people will mainly stick to Web 2.0.

Especially because many people are still afraid of blockchains and cryptocurrencies, it is extra important that the user-friendliness is in order. This can be a convincing reason for such people to start using blockchain technology, which also benefits cryptocurrencies.

Domain names are a lot easier and seem more secure than wallet addresses that no one can remember. That is why it is good progress that blockchains are in the process of introducing domain names, in order to make it easier and more user-friendly for all people who want to use the blockchain and its applications on it.

Conclusion

That was it for this article about Ethereum Name Service, which allows you to name your Ethereum wallet or smart contract with your own Ethereum domain names. Is this a step towards Internet 3.0, or is it more of a nice touch? Either way, it can improve the user experience in transactions. Other alternatives to ENS offer this kind of service.

Bitcoin already has Namecoin, with which it is possible to give a wallet address a domain name. The same goes for Solana, which has Bonfida. We think it is a good step that these blockchains get these kinds of applications, because the user experience is a lot better, so that blockchains can be used much better and easier.

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