What is ENS?
ENS is a decentralized naming protocol on the Ethereum blockchain governed by the ENS DAO
ENS is the Ethereum Name Service. ENS is a naming system that creates domains on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing you to link your wallet address to a human-readable ENS name.
ENS names are domains, NFTs, and usernames for your digital identity across the internet.
ENS was founded in 2017 by Nick Johnson (nick.eth), an alumni of the Ethereum Foundation and ex-Googler. In the past 5 years, over 2.7m .eth ENS names have been registered. Here are some ENS name users you might have heard of:
- vitalik.eth - Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum
- ahopkins.eth - Anthony Hopkins, actor
- puma.eth - Puma
Types of ENS names
There are two types of ENS names:
- .eth names, which are native to ENS and registered on the Ethereum blockchain; and
- DNS names (like .com, .xyz or .org) which are regular DNS domain names that can be integrated with ENS, to give regular DNS domains many of the features of native .eth names.
There are three main use cases for ENS names today. Each use case can be mapped to a different capability of your Ethereum account.
- Human-readable name for your Ethereum account
- Censorship-resistant domain name
- Portable web3 username
To better understand each of these use cases, keep reading. As technology and society evolve, it is likely that there will be additional use cases for ENS names in the future. For now, the three use cases mentioned are the most widespread.
The easiest way to understand ENS names, is with a comparison to DNS (Domain Name System).
DNS is a system that translates human-readable domain names (like google.com) to machine-readable IP records like 184.108.40.206. We use domain names every time we navigate the internet. The internet without domain names is not a very user-friendly place.
ENS is a system that maps human-readable domains names, (like nick.eth) to the address of your Ethereum account (like 0xb8c2c29ee19d8307cb7255e1cd9cbde883a267d5).
Having a human-readable name for your Ethereum account is important for usability and security. Ethereum accounts also act as a wallet that can store cryptocurrency tokens and NFTs.
It is much easier and safe for someone to send you cryptocurrency or transfer an NFT to you if you give them a human-readable name (like eminem.eth) rather than a hexadecimal address (like 0x5d752C35789BDfD1287971972091bA47aFD3ac93).
Censorship-resistant domain name
A .eth name, which is an ENS name registered on the Ethereum blockchain, can be used as a domain name to host a website.
Today, you can type a .eth name into a Brave browser, and it will resolve to a website if that .eth name has a content hash set.
If the browser you use doesn’t currently resolve .eth names, you can use gateway services, like eth.limo, to load .eth websites in ANY browser.
Add “.limo” to the end of any .eth domain to resolve the content hash in your browser.
→ Try vitalik.eth.limo in any browser to load the blog of Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum.
Portable web3 username
In web3, your Ethereum wallet can be used as an account for your digital identity. Your digital identity is the username and password that you use to represent your identity when you log into websites and apps. Popular forms of digital identity include your email or Facebook account.
→ Visit clarity.so to try logging in with your ENS name using Sign In With Ethereum (SIWE).