A couple of months ago, we discussed a significant step forward taken by the Ethereum community — the introduction of the Ethereum Name Service (ENS). It was perceived as an important piece of the puzzle towards achieving mass adoption of Ethereum (and blockchain in general).
Significant progress has been made in this area lately. But before we take a look at the latest breakthrough dubbed EthDNS, let’s make a quick recap of DNS and ENS.
Reminder: What Was DNS All About?
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It is a service that stores all addresses on the web, such as mvpworksho.co, bbc.co.uk, ethereum.org — anything you access on your browser.
Every site on the web has its own unique IP address that consists of several numbers. Just as humans use addresses to locate each other’s homes, computers use IP addresses to find websites. However, it’s not practical to memorize and type random numbers every time you want to visit a site, so DNS replaced them with names.
Therefore, instead of typing 188.8.131.52, you can just type google.com and arrive at your web destination.
With the introduction of Ethereum addresses, we faced a similar problem. However, the addresses were much longer this time and were a combination of both characters and numbers.
ENS: Solution to Long Ethereum Addresses
Just like DNS facilitated our access to various online sites, ENS facilitates our access to various Ethereum addresses. Essentially, it lets you choose a suitable name for your address that will replace the randomly generated string of characters a typical Ethereum address consists of.
Therefore, instead of typing a regular address, you can just type a name the owner chooses to use that, by default, ends with .eth.
This is just a surface level you get to see. However, choosing a name in the ENS is a process you should pay attention to. If you want to find out more about ENS, make sure to read our full guide on how to choose and register your Ethereum address.
There’s a Problem with ENS and Mass Adoption
The problem with ENS is that a regular web user cannot access .eth sites from default browsers such as Chrome or Firefox.
Try going to any address that ends with .eth. Have you managed to access it? Probably not. In order to be able to browse the distributed web, you need to download widgets such as Metamask or use a browser that supports .eth sites.
Simply put, .eth is not a top-level domain registered in DNS. Therefore, it cannot be loaded. If you try to load, for example, almonit.eth in your browser, you’ll get the following message: “This site can’t be reached.”
Luckily, there’s a solution in sight!
ENS and Protocol Labs Solve the Problem
EthDNS now allows you to access Ethereum sites that end with .eth from DNS. In other words, instead of installing special add-ons for accessing .eth sites, you can access them from your DNS by adding .link to them.
However, this is only available for decentralized sites and dapps backed by IPFS. Try it now by visiting almonit.eth.link. Make sure to check out the list of all addresses you can access this way on this link (yes, it’s an eth.link page).
Finally, if you want to read more about this integration and the mechanism behind it, make sure to read this official ENS blog post.