What is ENS, the Ethereum Name Service?

2021, Sep 10

What is ENS?

ENS helps to translate machine readable names into human readable addresses. It stands for Ethereum Name Service. It is a technology designed as a public goods utility protocol, and many believe it will be a part of the backbone essential to the decentralized web ("web3" as some may call it). ENS brands itself as "an open public utility that belongs to the community".

The Internet already uses machine readable names translated into human readable format in the traditional DNS model. In this model, names like Microsoft.com are translated by the DNS (Domain Name System) to an IP address like 104.215.148.63 . DNS is like a "phonebook" of the Internet to look up IP(Internet Protocol) addresses linked to a human readable name like in the case of website addresses. When we type in our browser a website name like a .com or .org, traditional DNS route that communication through a series of IP addresses to locate the proper Internet resources, ie. a web server, or an API endpoint that websites or mobile applications connect to.

On the otherhand, ENS uses the Ethereum blockchain to store and use human readable addresses that work across web3 and the blockchain. For example, a long public cryptographic address like: 0xb0728E38704fcC7aB3fC87d7aaFf434e6B4B6Ea8 is the public wallet and web3 identity belonging to KeithGrossman.eth (the president of TIME Magazine). ENS has grown rather quickly, with individuals and organizations quickly adopting this new naming protocol. It has helped make the crypto space less technical and less challenging for many people. It is a public good that is "a distributed, open, and extensible naming system". Check ENS out on twitter for the latest use cases and information: ENS Twitter | ENS DAO. They're worth following.

So What Can You Do with an ENS name?

  • People worldwide can send crypto payments or donations to yourname.eth. It supports hundreds of cryptos like bitcoin, ethereum, polygon and more.

  • The ability to create multiple subdomains connected to an ENS name. For instance, website.yourcompany.eth, or issue addresses for users like user7.someapp.eth.

  • ENS also works with DNS. This means .org or .com, as well as most traditional website names can be imported to use ENS. This allows DNS and ENS to operate in parallel in some respects.

  • Easily receive NFTs at yourname.eth. Some communities issue NFTs to allow for gated access to features or areas in blockchain apps.

  • Serves as a "nickname" for public crypto addresses. Your audience or users can transact directly just by knowing your ENS name.

  • Sign-in with Ethereum... Do you know entering passwords will be a thing of the past? Newer, modernly built apps will live on the blockchain and their login will be done through cryptographic wallet sign-ins. ENS is great for signing in with Ethereum.

  • Interact with dApps (decentralized apps like exchanges, gaming, or even metaverse) by using an ENS .ETH name.

  • Host a website on yourname.eth. The content can be saved on IPFS. It will be censor resistant, immutable, and with no bandwidth costs. The pricing for this kind of decentralized storage is a fraction of the cost for Amazon S3 IA. Think video streaming/on-demand hosting without concurrent user costs?

Deeper Learning About ENS

  • Early with ENS Podcast - nick.eth / Nick Johnson — on founding and building ENS - A Podcast on Spotify about how ENS started and why.

  • ENS App - The app where ENS names are registered.

  • ENS Documentation - Some technical and organizational documentation from ENS.

  • ENS - YouTube - Official ENS YouTube channel. There are some interesting Workshop videos, some are technical in nature.

  • OpenSea - ENS - If you did not register your name already, it might be registered and on a secondary market, unfortunately.

  • SHAQ.ETH - The twitter account of Shaquille O'Neal(Shaq), an American professional NBA basketball player who has begun using the blockchain for charitable use cases as well as new business ventures.