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The concept of Domain Names In Web3 (ENS)

03 Aug 2022 By : Pankaj Gupta
Southeast Asia’s Lar

The World Wide Web has brought billions of people closer to each other. The centralized Web2 helped change the world and lifestyles of almost every human being, and the new generation of Web is expected to do the same.

The first version of the Web was in the mainstream till 2004, which was read-only, and the second version of Web2, which we are currently using, supports both reading and writing, meaning Web2 enables content creation by every consumer. But this gives rise to another problem of data ownership and monetization, which almost every informed individual and internet-based companies struggle with; hence Web3, which supports reading, writing, and ownership. 

The concept of blockchain, smart contracts, and NFTs support the idea of Web3, which is rapidly gaining support from both blockchain enthusiasts and daily internet users. Apart from ownership, Web3 also refers to the internet's upcoming legal, monetary and technical framework that will be supported by newer generations.

DNS or Domain Name System is one such feature that is the pillar of accessibility and convenience for every generation of the Web, and Web3 is not different. Domain Name Service lets users of Web3 create and own domains that can be personalized; these are highly decentralized and based purely on blockchain. 

What are Web3 domains exactly, though?

Just like the regular DNS, which is humanly readable, Web3 domain names are 64-bit addresses that point out the concerned party's wallet address. These domains are owned by individuals like you and me and could be used for a variety of different purposes. 

Owning a Web3 DNS is kind of like owning a chunk of the new internet. These addresses represent users' wallets and can be treated as NFTs and hence can be traded in NFT marketplaces.Web3 domain name extensions are.eth,.crypto,.dao etc.

The attractiveness of a blockchain domain is the ease of use; an example of a blockchain address is 0x483add48edbd2f53ff5db3249c7ed48c83f56992; it is hard for anyone to memorize and execute transactions with such addresses hindering accessibility and adoption. But imagine that the above-mentioned wallet has a domain as coingabbar.eth; it is much more accessible and feasible, promoting further adoption.

While theoretically possible, a crypto wallet cannot send or receive digital assets by simply typing in the domain. But this practice will change thanks to the rise of Ethereum Name Service(ENS), a blockchain-powered service that has registered millions of domain names.

ENS - the Web3 version of DNS

In simple words, ENS or Ethereum Name Service is a lookup service built on top of the Ethereum blockchain network that will allow users to translate machine-readable addresses to human readable. ENS acts as a moniker for public addresses present on the Ethereum blockchain, making crypto andWeb3 more accessible.  

DNS is actually partly a decentralized system that maintains a registry of all domain names and moves it from host to host. Web3-based ENS does all this, plus it provides complete ownership of your domain and the underlying data.

ENS utilized Ethereum's ability to host smart contracts to provide supplemental services, as mentioned above. Smart contracts also enable ENS to manage domain name registration and resolution. Imagine creating a single username for all the wallet addresses, DApps, and websites in a distributed ecosystem.

According to ENS documentation, it is a decentralized, open source, and extensible naming protocol. The decentralized nature of ENS makes it more secure and reliable than the centralized naming services we find in Web 2.0.

ENS essentially uses three types of smart contracts:

The registry

A registry is a top-level contract that is responsible for storing the domain names and the smart contracts affiliated with them. Registry also defines the regulations for setting up a .eth domain, including information like who can create one, the time period, and renewing policies.

The registrar

A registrar maintains domain names and permits to create subdomains per the contract's enforced criteria; essentially, a subdomain claims and manages .eth domains.

The resolver:

Resolver maps the Ethereum address and the .eth domain name. For example, when a user enters an ENS domain address in their browser, the resolver will redirect and return the Ethereum address. A resolver is a pipeline connecting the domain to the real addresses, meaning the resolver stores the name-to-record mapping.

Benefits of Web3 domains vs. DNS

  • It shifts power and control over the user's customized digital identity.

  • Relatively cheaper than DNS, they are essentially free.

  • The security that blockchain provides makes it virtually safer to store sensitive data in.

  • Blockchain and distributed system-based domains promote high privacy.

  • As the internet becomes more and more decentralized, these domains will grow in popularity.

How to register .eth ENS domain name

  1. Sign in to an Ethereum-enabled browser; it could be google chrome or brave on the desktop and Trustwallet or Metamusk mobile for mobile-based browsers.

  2. Connect your wallet. In some mobile apps and desktop browsers, wallets are to be connected manually.

  3. Go to app.ens.domains and find the search bar.

  4. Search for your desired domain names.

  5. If the desired domain is available, select the time period for which you want it.

  6. Register the domain and finish the process by paying the gas fees

Closing thoughts

ENS plays a significant role in bringing the world closer to the new internet; it promotes accessibility and accelerates adoption, which was obstructed by the technical complexities a blockchain network is built on.

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