What is the Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is a hugely important part of the Web3 ecosystem. Skytale recently announced ENS support, and the ENS website now lists us as a dApp in their ecosystem. Let’s take a closer look at how ENS actually works.

What is ENS?

Which is easier to remember: 0x39dbfdd63fd491a228a5b601e0662a4014540347 or beer.eth? ENS replaces the long hashes that make up addresses on the Ethereum blockchain with a human-readable alternative. This means that you can request money or even host a website using your .eth name.

Since the service launched in 2017, a trickle of interest has turned into a deluge. Individuals and companies registered 67,000 new .eth names in February 2022, taking the total to 739,000. Even legacy brands that are not Web3-native are getting in on the action. Last year, Budweiser bought the beer.eth name for 30ETH (approximately $95,000). 

Why do we need it?

If we imagine the development arc of Web3 tracking the development of Web2, we can see the need for naming services. In the very early days of the internet, the only way to get to a particular website was to type in the IP address directly. An IP address example is Imagine if you had to remember or keep a list of the IPs of all the websites you use. 

Luckily, we don’t have to do this. DNS (the Domain Name Service) arrived in 1983, and this means that we can immediately access websites via their human-memorable name.

ENS does the same thing for wallet addresses – it’s much easier to request a payment to vitalik.eth for example, than risk copy-pasting a wallet address. One important thing to remember, however, is to renew your ENS name. If you let it expire, then the new owner will receive any payments you requested earlier.

ENS also supports uncensorable websites. If you create a website on IPFS (the InterPlanetary File System), you can link the IPFS Content Identifier to your .eth name. This is massively powerful technology because unlike traditional DNS hosts, once you write this transaction to Ethereum, no one can change or remove it. 

You may be asking how you can navigate to an .eth domain in your browser. The easiest way is with Brave, which Brave browser already has an option to recognise .eth addresses. If you type the address, the browser will ask you if you want to enable ENS support. You only have to do this once. This means that if the Ethereum name resolves to a website, it will redirect you there. Otherwise it will take you to the ENS name showing the registrant and other details.

So, what else can you use it for other than wallet addresses, contracts or websites? Think of your ENS name as your Web3 username. Some writers have suggested that in future, people will use their Ethereum name in place of work references and resumes, to show off a summary of contracts they have deployed, NFTs they own or dApps they have interacted with. This idea is good in principle, but be aware that publicly linking your ENS name with the various high-value assets you own may not be good opsec in practice.

How do I register my ENS name?

The process is easy: visit ens.domains and search for the name you want. To avoid clashes with others who may be in the process of registering the same name, you need to sign two transactions. One transaction confirms that you want to buy the name, and the second actually registers the name to your wallet address. 

As with many Ethereum transactions, a significant proportion of the cost is the gas fees. Renewing a domain for 1 year costs only $5 but when gas fees are high, you may end up paying more than 20 times this cost in gas. For this reason, it is usually better to register your name for several years and pay gas fees only once.

What was the ENS airdrop?

ENS hit the news when they airdropped ENS tokens to anyone who had held an .eth domain before the snapshot on October 31 2021. The average airdrop value was around $15,000, although some holders of multiple names received six-figure sums. The token price has declined since, but token ownership is important as it allows holders to participate in DAO governance.

How do I connect my .eth name to Skytale?

This is super-easy – simply paste your domain into the input field where you would normally add your wallet address.

Where can I find out more?

ENS technical documentation is at https://docs.ens.domains/ and you can view the contract on Etherscan at https://etherscan.io/address/0x57f1887a8bf19b14fc0df6fd9b2acc9af147ea85. Additionally, because the names are simply ERC-721 tokens (aka NFTs), you can also view them at OpenSea.