Ethereum name service (ENS) is a lookup system that links information to a name. However, it is not exclusively a naming service for Ethereum. Instead, ENS is a name service that is built on Ethereum. ENS provides a secure and decentralized way to address resources with the help of human-readable names.
During the early years of the internet era, you will need to type in the IP address of a website before accessing the site. An IP address is a series of complicated numbers to remember and almost impossible to guess. Later, there were human-readable names to make it easier for people to surf the web. For example, instead of having something like 134.33.136, we now have DNS. Today, cryptocurrency is still in the IP address phase, and users need long and difficult to remember addresses to gain access to the services they need.
This is where the Ethereum name service (ENS) comes in. ENS wants to make using crypto as easy as surfing the web. This post will explore how ENS works and how anybody can secure a domain name on it.
What is Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?
Ethereum Name Service is a special system created to provide shorter and more friendly names in place of long addresses. This is more like the Ethereum addresses or the Swarm hashes often used in the Ethereum ecosystem. In other words, ENS is an Ethereum-based dApp that is built on smart contracts.
It allows you to register a domain name for your wallet address, thus allowing the transfer of funds. This means that someone can transfer funds directly to a name instead of an address. ENS is built on Ethereum smart contracts, and these smart contracts are completely decentralized. Therefore, the ENS doesn't suffer from the same lack of security as the Domain Name System (DNS). You can register for a ".eth" domain name by taking part in an auction process on the blockchain.
Users will have to wait for the name to become available before they can submit their bid. A user with the highest bid will win the name, and the auctioned ETH locked in a smart contract. The name will be locked in the smart contract for one year. During this period, the user will be able to add extra data, create sub-domains, lease, loan, or sell it.
It is important to note that these ENS names are sold to the highest bidder or leased by any party or entity. Although claiming a name involves locking or burning funds, it is created to discourage spamming. This will ensure that names are only claimed by users who will make use of them. Every ether spent on the process will either be sent to a burn address or a miner or will be given back to the bidder after some time.
How Does the Process Our Work?
The process of claiming a name on the Ethereum Name Service takes five days. It requires multiple transactions that are very time-sensitive, and most times, it is irreversible. Therefore, it is essential that you have a good understanding of the process, so you don't lose your money.
You start the process by opening a public auction for the name you want. An alert will be sent immediately to everyone watching the blockchain for that particular name. Once the auction has been opened, bidders who know how to spell that name can bid on it in the next five days. These bidders do this by sending a transaction with the maximum amount they are willing to pay for that name.
The network will continue accepting bids until 72 hours after the initial auction opens. Next comes the "reveal phase" that will last for 48 hours. During this phase, bidders must reveal their bids.
Domains like “.eth” are executed by smart contracts. Architecture of the ENS has two main components:
- The registry.
The backbone of the service is the ENS registry smart contract, which maintains a list of all domains and subdomains which map representations of domain names to ENS resolvers’ smart contracts. Those, in turn, target Ethereum address to map. Looking at the diagram, if an application wanted to resolve the ENS address alice.metamask.eth, it would first query the ENS Registry for the corresponding ENS Resolver and then ask the resolver for the mapping Ethereum address which would respond with 0x890AB…
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Three Possible Outcomes for Bidders
- Once a bidder requests a name, a period of 72 hours is allowed for anyone to put in a sealed bid with the necessary funds. The minimum amount is 0.01 ether. The 72 hours are later followed by another 48 hours called the "reveal period." During the reveal period, bidders must reveal their bids or risk losing the funds.
- Once bids have been revealed, the highest bidder wins the auction. A deposit that is equivalent to the value of the second-highest request will be used in your name. Once this is done, the remainder of the funds will be returned to you.
- If you are the highest bidder, your entire deposit will be returned to you without the 0.5% fee that is burned in the process. However, if you fail to reveal your bid during the "reveal period," your entire fund will be burned.
What Names Are Valid For The Ethereum Name Service
During the auction process, names are hashed to increase privacy. You can own any name, string, or file through the auction process. Currently, names that are shorter than seven characters are reserved until when the network mature. If you go ahead to register such a name, it can be invalidated, thus leading to irreversible loss of funds.
Names that are not within the alphanumeric, hyphen, and the underscore may be valid, but they are not guaranteed to be resolved by the wallet or client software. On the ENS network, anyone can invalidate a name. Once a name is invalidated, 50% of the deposit will go to the person doing invalidation. The remaining 50% goes back to the bidder.
Ethereum Name Service Is Not A Domain System
Unlike the internet domains, which ICANN manages, ENS is not a domain system. However, it can be used in fashion apps that replicate browser functionality like Mist or Metamask. Also, you need to note that ENS does not grant a trademark or any kind of ownership claim. Registering an Ethereum Name Service is an entirely automated process. It is not a proof of ownership or any kind of trademark, copyright, or any type of intellectual property.
The Ethereum Name Service is not just for ".eth," which is only a top-level domain. ENS plans to integrate the entire DNS namespace (more than 1,300) top-level domains. This will enable the owners of these DNS sites to claim the use of that name on ENS. The implication is that realodili.org can be linked to "realodili.eth" and visitors can view content and send money to the same location. The future potential of ENS is undoubtedly promising.
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