Is BNS (Blockchain Name Service) necessary

What are DNS and BNS

The announcement of MMX’s partnership with Ethereum prompted a sensation in early August, and the recent announcement of supporting the .xyz domain on the ENS (Ethereum Name Service) caused the public’s attention to be casted onto the domain names once again. ENS lead developer, Nick Johnson, mentioned in his statement expressively:

“We’re very excited to be helping the advance in integration between existing DNS-based name services and the Ethereum Name Service, improving usability for blockchain applications and users.”

It reads blockchain domain names are enabling users to easily remember the identifiers associated with their assets, wallets, and services, in a hope to reach mass adoption for blockchain services.

So what are DNS and BNS

Let’s talk about DNS first. Domain Name System (DNS) is one of the foundations of the internet. It maps human readable texts (domain) to numbers (IP address) that computers use to communicate with each other. So when we are visiting a website in a browser, the computer actually will use the DNS we typed in, such as “facebook.com”, to retrieve a long string of numbers that are known as IP address. Without DNS, people will be visiting websites by typing complicated and meaningless IP addresses.

But most people probably don’t even realize they are using DNS on a daily basis to do their jobs, check their emails or simply browsing the internet. This is simply because names mean more than numbers, and it allows a mass user adoption within a short period, shaping the internet we are using today without people’s awareness.

How DNS works

DNS has been working for years and the mechanism behind includes several processes. The initial request for the IP address is made to a recursive resolver that is usually operated by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or other third-party providers. It will provide proper information back if it has the IP address in its cache. If not, this search query the root name servers (ICANN), which knows all the information about top-level domains, such as “.com”, “.org”, “.io”. Once it finished looking at the first part of the request, it goes to a top-level domain server (TLD) for the second-level domain information, which are the names that come before the TLD, such as “google”, “facebook”, “youtube”. The request then moves on to the Domain Name Server that can analyze an incoming DNS query and return a response of the site and its IP address. This whole process takes only milliseconds to complete.

Due to the convenience DNS brings, people started to participate and made Web 2.0 into an interactive and global sharing period. However, security wasn’t the biggest concern when building this name system, opening up a huge room for authorities and hackers to take full control of our internet. For instance, governments like China has been macro-controlling their network by blocking specific IPs while Turkey’s government has banned Twitter completely. These situations illustrate that we are depending heavily on a centralized services.

On the other hand, BNS (Blockchain Name Service) functions similarly to DNS, but on a decentralized network known as blockchain.

What is BNS (Blockchain Name Service)

DNS and BNS work in a similar way. The former allows people to connect any website with a comprehensible text address, while the latter replaces the default complicated hash used in blockchain into human readable names to interact with the decentralized network. However, due to the architectural difference behind the centralized and decentralized network, BNS does have some other functions that distinct itself from DNS, including enabling users to send cryptocurrencies, interact with smart contacts, and visit dApps.

What happens in the decentralized network like blockchain is that it uses a lot of unreadable “hash” to store its contents and resources. Take crypto wallet as an example, we will see that its public key (wallet address) and its private key (password) are a long combination of random numbers and alphabet, something like “0xA5e1DA5eE7E…”. As a result, cryptocurrency users often are prone to make mistake when transferring these digital assets.

Another scenario we could look into is the decentralized file storage, where users can store various contents and host their DWebs (decentralized websites). IPFS, also known as InterPlanetary File Storage, is a protocol and network designed to create content-addressable, peer to peer method of storing and sharing hypermedia in a distributed file system. Similar to how cryptocurrency wallet works, it uses a blockchain based hash table to store files in a decentralized network, by taking the core of BitTorrent and forming a merkle directed acyclic graph (DAG). So in order to access any decentralized content hosted on IPFS, users are required to remember the hash (comes after the TLD) in order to retrieve its interrelated contents, something like “https://ipfs.infura.io/ipfs/QmV1dgc34EUC3cmx…”, which is merely impossible.

As mentioned briefly above, BNS provides a viable solution for this kind of complexity and frustration that users encounter when using the decentralized solution. With BNS, users can transfer digital assets at human readable text address at “mywallet.eth” instead of the default address. Same could be applied in accessing DWebs with simple names like “mydwebs.eth” instead of the ipfs hash.

How BNS works

BNS could be designed in several ways, but the core principle behind are composed with three unique smart contracts: registry, registrar, and resolver. “Registry” is an uncompounded contract mapping registered names to owners and resolvers. “Registrar” owns domains in the registry and allocates subdomains. “Resolver” maps a name to the corresponding resource such as multi-hash, wallet address, and so on.

On security perspective, BNS is more secure, free of hack and temper proof compared to the existing seemingly perfect network. The upcoming web 3.0 evolution is trying to clear the threat of losing privacy and freedom in the overly centralized web 2.0 through utilizing peer to peer protocols such as distributed storage, computing and networking resources, in the hope of giving the rights of personal data and privacy back to each individual.

On user perspective, BNS solves the identity problem in this new internet that involves many meaningless hash. By empowering users to have human readable names, BNS plays an important role that closes the gap between users and the technology, therefore, is often considered as the solution that will foster the rise of dApps, wallets, platforms and cryptocurrency. The effort of integrating DNS (.luxe and .xyz) into ENS may sounds complicated but definitely promising, and the idea of “your webpage becomes your bank account” is going to be an essential milestone towards the modern token economy.

DNS / BNS comparison

Apart from this, BNS brings breakthrough transitions to the next-generation with its multifaceted use features. In fact, starting with Namecoin, more and more projects are participating in the development of BNS applications.

Namecoin

“Bitcoin frees money - Namecoin frees DNS, identities, and other technologies.”

Namecoin is considered Bitcoin’s first innovation altcoin. In other words, this is the very first application of on the Bitcoin blockchain. Compared to other cryptocurrencies, it has a higher ideal to establish a decentralized DNS. It offers the solution to Zooko’s Triangle by providing a naming system that is simultaneously secure and human-meaningful. Based on the blockchain technology, BNS records are ensured not to be tampered with, and synchronizes the changing information more efficiently across the network.

Handshake

The goal for Handshake is to become ICANN but in a decentralized manner.The consensus protocol based on Bitcoin blockchain allows root zone file maintained distributed and permissionless. Instead of having a central server to manage and update DNS like ICANN, every node of Handshake is a root server integrates all BNS top-level domains information. It also replaces the CA entities we have today by giving the owner of the name a cryptographic key. Besides, users can purchase a top-level domain now in a transparent auction process through its collaboration with Namebase.

Blockstack

Blockstack is the new decentralized internet where users can fully control data and applications. A Blockstack ID is a BNS that represents a user’s identity and password and users’ personal data and storage are built around it. While Blockstack is established on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, it offers a cross-chain transaction that supports ETH.

ENS

Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is an identifier of Ethereum addresses, content hashes, and metadata. Basically, ENS domains eliminate the need to copy and paste long arbitrary addresses and the potential for human errors when making transactions. It proposes a readable text that can be pointed to related resources. Corresponding applications are developed on Ethereum blockchain to trade and manage domains such as to create subdomains for any other usages. The members of the Ethereum development community own the ENS root by a multi-signature. If they decide to join the TLD market someday, they will become the biggest competitor to Handshake / Namebase.

IOV

IOV empowers end-users to take advantages of the blockchain by making the exchange of values a simple and easy process. It binds the easy-to-remember domain name with the crypto wallet to avoid human errors while transferring tokens. Cross-chain solution is provided in one wallet as long as chains implement the IOV specification. The vision is to have a directory of all active blockchains, tokens, bootstrap nodes, and eventually become a universal wallet.

Portal Network

Portal Network solves the problem of user adoption, complexity, human error and lack of interoperability by deploying BNS standard across multiple blockchain protocols, such as WNS (Wanchain Name Service) for Wanchain, INS (ICONick Name Service). They work closely with each protocols to maintain and manage them. This approach allows Portal Network and each protocols share resources and users base across multiple blockchain. Portal Network’s BNS standard also explores potential implementation on other blockchain projects, such as Cryptokitties. BNS empowers each project to have uniquely identifiable domain name that can be easily interact with. They also provide other BNS related services for both technical and non-technical users.

BNS Projects Comparison

Shortcomings of BNS

BNS, though promising, still has some serious difficulties to overcome before the forthcoming widespread adoption, partly because this is a cutting-edge technology, and partly because the system is complicated and we lack education or streamlines tutorials to drive the public awareness. After all, people who accept crypto as a payment method are not the majority at present. Nevertheless, cashless future is not far away, and cryptocurrency surely reserves a huge part in it. By that time, BNS will shape the token economy just like how DNS has shaped the current internet.

Thank you for reading.


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