The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) has grown immensely in the last year and a half. Services with ENS integrated have grown from around 30 to 187 (as of this writing), including 45 wallets, around 130 dapps, Cloudflare is running a gateway service, and even major browsers like Brave and Opera have integrated ENS. Concurrently, there’s been massive growth in the blockchain industry in general and recently in NFTs in particular (and ENS makes domain names NFTs).
We’re regularly contacted by the owners of TLDs in DNS about how they can get involved. Glad to have your interest! We’re happy to chat anytime, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
This blog post will lay out some of the basics and what your options are.
The Goal of ENS
ENS is the leading open source blockchain-based naming protocol. It has more integrations than several multiples of all other blockchain-based naming projects combined. ENS is managed by a non-profit, and we view ENS as a public good and basic infrastructure. And by running on the Ethereum blockchain, ENS can interoperate with everything else happening on Ethereum, taking advantage of things like NFTs, DAOs, ENS name-backed loans, ETH liquidity, et al.
As it relates to DNS, ENS aims to complement and expand the usefulness of DNS, rather than directly compete with it.
This is born out in three ways:
First, while ENS can store any arbitrary information, we’re focused mostly on use cases not currently done with DNS, namely cryptocurrency payments and decentralized websites.
Second, we’ve been working with the existing DNS community, attending conferences, presenting, and building relationships. For example, we’re a Blue member of DNS-OARC.
Lastly, and most relevant to TLD owners, we’re integrating the existing DNS namespace with the same owners for use on ENS. We aren’t creating lots of new TLDs that will conflict with DNS now or in the future; we aren’t an alternative root project. And later this year we’ll be making all ENS names, including DNS names on ENS, ERC721-compatible NFTs.
If you want to get involved in blockchain-based naming and NFTs with your TLD namespace, ENS is the place to be.
Our Default DNS Namespace Integration
First, you should understand how our default DNS namespace integration works.
By default, we’re making it so that DNS 2LD owners can claim their same 2LD on ENS. For example, I own brantly.xyz on DNS, so I have claimed brantly.xyz on ENS. As a result, brantly.xyz works (mostly) everywhere that any other ENS name works (feel free to open up Coinbase Wallet and send brantly.xys some dogecoin!). These DNS names on ENS can do most of what an ENS-native .ETH name can do, except that the ownership always follows the DNS side, which restricts how such names are traded on Ethereum.
The way this works is a user turns on DNSSEC for their domain name, they create a TXT record with their Ethereum address, then they use our Manager App to create a DNSSEC proof to claim ownership of their name on ENS. Note that this works even if the TLD owner hasn’t claimed their TLD on ENS and without any involvement of the TLD owner.
This only works for names that have DNSSEC available. And this currently only works with .XYZ names (read more here). But we’re getting ready to roll this out to all DNS names with the necessary DNSSEC soon (it’s currently on testnet if you want to try it). Stay tuned for developments on this front.
Options for TLD owners
The default DNS integration above applies to 2LD owners. But what if a TLD owner wants to get involved with ENS? Awesome! There are lots of things you can do.
Here are some of your options:
1) Make sure you have DNSSEC set up
The easiest way to make your names available for use on ENS is to make sure you have the proper DNSSEC set up. The default integration described above will then apply to your users, who will be able to use DNSSEC to claim their name on ENS. You won’t have to do anything else.
If you’d like to help make the process of users claiming their DNS 2LD on ENS easier, feel free to help us work with registrars or resellers to add tools to automate the process of claiming 2LDs on ENS for users.
2) Claim your TLD, then allow 2LD owners to claim their names
But maybe you want to go further. If you’d like, you can claim control of your TLD on ENS. This process is manual but fairly simple. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get this going for you.
Once you’ve claimed it, you have two options:
a) Allow users to simply use the default DNSSEC process for claiming their DNS 2LD on ENS. In this case, you claiming your TLD on ENS is mostly performative (since your users would have had the default DNSSEC process available to them without you claiming your TLD on ENS), but hey it’s a start for dipping your toes into the blockchain world! And you can always decide to change the process or do more later. Plus you’ll get an NFT to hold on to!
b) Or you can create your own bespoke process for letting DNS 2LD owners claim their corresponding ENS name. The TLD .LUXE has been the pioneer on this. Other DNS TLDs that have been claimed on ENS include .ART, .KRED, .CEO, and others.
3) The Radical Plan: Claim your TLD, make ENS primary
This idea might not be for everyone, but it’s something to be aware of.
In this scenario, you claim your TLD to ENS and then allow users to register names directly on ENS first. You could then make a process for users to claim their corresponding 2LD on DNS if they already own the ENS version. Or you could even just let your names be ENS-only and just ensure no corresponding name is registered on DNS to prevent name collisions.
In other words, while in the earlier examples DNS is the canonical source of truth for ownership of 2LDs that is mirrored into ENS, in this case ENS is the canonical source of truth for ownership of 2LDs that is then mirrored into DNS. The TLD .KRED is the pioneer here.
If you did this, your names could enjoy the full benefits of being blockchain-native. For example, since ENS is the source of truth for ownership, your users could take advantage of the efficiencies in trading names on the Ethereum blockchain as NFTs (if a name is DNS-first, the blockchain version is limited by the constraints of DNS domain name transfers).
4) Something we haven’t thought of
Do you have an idea of something you’d like to do with your DNS TLD on ENS not mentioned here? Great! As far as we’re concerned, if you own a domain on DNS, you own it on ENS and can use it however you’d like. Reach out to us at email@example.com, and we’d love to help you make it happen.
We’d love to hear from you
Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can help you understand your options!