ENS progress update, mid 2018

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) received a $1 million Ethereum Foundation (EF) grant in May. Since then, we’ve renewed our efforts to build an organisation able to solve the challenges required to develop a robust, trustworthy distributed naming system. Now that our efforts are producing tangible results, here’s an update on our progress so far, as well as future plans.

Incorporation & Hiring

ENS is now incorporated as a nonprofit company based in Singapore. The company’s name is True Names Limited. True Names LTD will oversee and fund ENS development and standardisation. Our goal is for True Names to function as a standardisation organisation similar to the IETF, in addition to funding development on ENS.

This won’t change how ENS is governed. True Names is a separate entity, independent from the seven ENS keyholders. Since the launch of ENS only the keyholders can authorise updates to the ENS root. This has not changed. This means that if True Names develops improvements or updates to ENS, they will only be deployed with the permission of the ENS root keyholders.

Initially, the EF grant will fund True Names LTD. We’ll also be looking for grants and sponsorship from other organisations to fund ongoing development.

In the long run, it’s also possible that usage fees may make fund a portion of True Names LTD’s operating budget. As a non-profit organisation, all of True Names LTD’s income must be directed back to operating expenses such as R&D.

We’ve hired a number of talented individuals. Many of them have contributed previously to ENS in a voluntary capacity:

  • Beltran Berrocal, UX designer, presently working on an improved user-experience for ENS
  • Chris Remus, our project manager
  • Dean Eigenmann, Solidity developer and researcher, presently working on dispute resolution
  • Jeff Lau, Javascript & frontend developer, presently working on a new UI for ENS
  • Leonard Tan, Developer Evangelist, who is helping us improve the experience for DApp developers
  • Makoto Inoue, JS & Solidity developer, presently working on DNSSEC integration
  • Rebecca Liebert, graphic designer, working on a new UI for ENS
  • Virgil Griffith, who is acting as interim Executive Director for True Names

New Logo & Website

As the first part of their design work together, Jeff and Rebecca have been working on a new design for the information site at ens.domains. We’re happy to be able to launch this today, both in its own right and as a preview of what’s to come.

They’ve worked with talented graphic designer Chris McRobbie to produce a new logo that we think better represents ENS and its goals.

Workshop & Hackathon

We are also announcing a second ENS workshop, to be held August 10th 2018 at King’s College London. This will be followed on the 11th and 12th by a two day ENS hackathon.

The workshop will be focused on reviewing ENS improvement proposals, and discussing the way forward for ENS in the next year. A major topic of discussion is expected to be the design of the permanent registrar for the .eth namespace.

The workshop and hackathon are made possible by the contributions of our three sponsors, Aragon, Infura, and Status.im.

Those interested in either the workshop or the hackathon can learn more and sign up on the hackathon page.

Roadmap

Now that the initial organisational hurdles are largely resolved, the ENS team is focused on the next steps for the service. Here’s what you can expect from ENS in the near future.

Integrated ENS DApp

Our largest project is initiating a complete rewrite of existing ENS applications to improve usability and integration.

Today, there are several official ENS interfaces for different tasks: the (deprecated) registrar, which handles domain registrations, the manager, which handles day to day domain management, and ENSNow, which permits quick registration of subdomains.

The rewrite’s top priority is to build a new DApp that covers all common ENS-related tasks, with an intuitive and easy to use user interface. To that end, Beltran Berrocal, our User Experience designer, is working with Becca Liebert, Graphic Designer and Jeff Lau, our Frontend/JS developer, to build a world class app for interacting with ENS. We also expect to improve and expand our ENS libraries in Javascript. This will allow other projects to integrate ENS functionality more easily.

DNS integration

Since we announced trial support for claiming .xyz DNS domains on ENS in November, we’ve been completing and publishing this functionality. We’re almost finished. Only auditing and some cleanup is required to launch this on mainnet.

Once mainnet launch is complete, we anticipate expanding this to cover many more top level domains shortly thereafter. This will make it possible for owners of most internet domain names to claim the DNS names they own inside ENS.

Initially the process of claiming a name is likely to remain somewhat manual. We anticipate integrating this into the new ENS DApp as one of its earliest features.

Dispute Resolution

One significant avenue of research identified at the first ENS workshop in August 2017, was dispute resolution, i.e. how best to handle competing claims to a name, and how to handle instances where names are used for abusive or illegal purposes.

The workshop participants concluded this is best developed as a second-layer solution. Doing this will provide an optional layer for users to choose that excludes known scammer domains and other abusive uses of ENS. This will permit anyone to run a blacklist, following whatever rules they wish.

Our software developer and researcher Dean Eigenmann is working on this. Stay tuned for future updates!

Permanent Registrar

The biggest outstanding question in ENS is the exact design of the “permanent registrar”. The permanent registrar is the smart contract that will replace the current auction-based registrar for registering .eth domain names.

Research work on this is ongoing, and the discussion can be seen — and contributed to — on the ENS discussion forums. Nick Johnson is heading up this effort.

Developer Outreach

Last but very much not least, we are working hard to improve the developer experience for DApp and smart contract developers wanting to use ENS. We want interacting with ENS to be as easy and seamless as possible. To that end, we are working to improve libraries, documentation, and other functionality, as well as working directly with teams developing tools and applications that interact with ENS.

Leonard Tan is heading up this effort.

Conclusion

Thanks to the support of the Ethereum Foundation, our amazing community and the hard work of the dedicated individuals who have joined us, ENS is set to live up to its potential as a major asset in the Ethereum ecosystem. We hope you’ll join us as, we work to improve the usability and safety of the Ethereum ecosystem for everyone.


Follow our progress on Twitter, or join in at the ENS discussion forum.