2020 was a big year for the Ethereum Name Service (ENS)! We fixed a bug in one of our core smart-contracts, expanded the features of ENS names, and saw massive growth in adoption. Here’s a summary:
2020 started with a bang for ENS: we publicly announced that Sam Sun had found a bug in the ENS registry smart-contract. All names were safe, and as far as we could tell the bug had never been exploited. Nonetheless, it took our team three months of stressful work to get it all fixed. We published a full post-mortem in March. We were fortunately able to use it as an opportunity to add new functionality to ENS, streamlining the process of registering and setting up a .ETH name.
A naming system is only as useful as the number of apps that use it. We started 2020 with around 86 integrations, which itself was up from less than 30 integrations in June 2019. We hit 150 integrations in July 2020, and as of this writing we have 172 integrations. We appreciate all of the community support!
You can see a full list of integrations in the “ENS Ecosystem” section of our website. These integrations include wallets like Coinbase, Trust Wallet, and My Crypto; dapps like Uniswap, Tornado Cash, and The Graph; and browsers like Brave, Opera, and the MetaMask extension.
We had our annual ENS workshop in September. Previously, we’ve held it in London (twice) and Osaka, but this year it was virtual. We had a great turnout, with around 40 participants total representing top projects in the blockchain industry and even people from the DNS world. Vitalik presented a proposal for scaling ENS, which later evolved into our current layer 2 plan. You can watch videos of the discussion and read a summary of what happened here.
Growth of the Decentralized Web
The first search engine / directory for ENS + IPFS websites, called Almonit, launched in January 2020. You can visit it at almonit.eth (or almonit.eth.link) and browse their directory of decentralized websites on their Discover page.
Browser support is going well! You can now visit ENS + IPFS websites in Brave, Opera, Status, MetaMask Mobile, any browser with the MetaMask extension, and more. The IPFS daemon also now comes with ENS support.
In April, the ethereum.org team made it also available on ENS + IPFS at ethereum.eth (or ethereum.eth.link).
The Great Renewal
In May 2019, .ETH names switched from an auction and deposit-and-return model to an instant registration and annual spent fee model. All .ETH names that existed before that received their first year free, which meant that they would expire in May 2020. There’s a built-in 90 day grace period in which the original owner can still renew, after which the name is finally released for others to register, which meant that names that weren’t renewed would be released in August 2020.
To help people with this transition, we made it easier to renew .ETH names, including in bulk, and added opt-in email and calendar reminders. We created a widget that dapps could embed that would remind users to renew their ENS name and even worked with dapps like OpenSea and imToken to send out renewal reminder emails to their users.
Around 280k .ETH names were released in August 2020. To prevent a mad rush and “gas fee auction” (whoever pays the highest gas wins the registration; and gas fees were already high), we added a decaying price premium for newly released names.
Vitalik proposed a way for parts of ENS to scale with L2s, and presented about it at our annual workshop. We had some community meetings to discuss. And our lead dev Nick Johnson then proposed a plan based on these discussions that we hope to implement before the end of 2021.
Other new features
We now have a dedicated tool for reclaiming deposits for .ETH names registered with the pre-May 2019 system.
The Manager app now supports custom text records, which means users or projects can use ENS to store any arbitrary data.
We greatly expanded the number of blockchains supported in our address encoding library to over 110. We now consider our multi-coin support to be deep enough to encompass nearly all blockchain assets that the vast majority of users would want to receive with their ENS name.
We expanded the number of ways users can connect their wallet to our Manager app beyond injected providers like MetaMask to now include WalletConnect, Portis, Torus, Authereum, and MEW wallet.
We released version 2 of our JS library ensjs. ENS is supported in 12 of the top libraries, but not all libraries have support for the full range of ENS features. Our library supports a majority of operations.
Users can now set multiple records in one transaction in the Manager app.
Other noteworthy things
We did a complete refresh of the ENS homepage.
We started an email newsletter. Subscribing is a great way to keep up with ENS with periodic updates.
We held an ENS-theme NFT art contest with MakersPlace.
We presented at ETHVR0, a VR-based conference.
Rocket LP DAO issued the world’s first ENS name-backed loan.
The DNS TLD .KRED launched deep DNS-ENS integration.
We supported the launch of ETH2 by making depositcontract.eth point to both the ETH2 deposit contract and to the web UI.
We renewed our Blue Membership in DNS-OARC (and presented at their last in-person workshop OARC 32 in February before COVID-19 shutdowns).
We explained why ENS uses Ethereum and ETH and not a bespoke blockchain and token.
Since we’re publishing our 2020 retrospective here at the end of January 2021, I’ll mention some updates from this month, too.
We partnered with Cloudflare to take over management of the backend of our eth.link ENS + IPFS gateway service, which will not only provide better uptime and scalability but all sites accessed through the service will now have HTTPS.
And our expanded DNS namespace integration is now on the Ropsten testnet. We’re grateful to Ethereum Classic Labs for sponsoring our work on that feature with a grant. We hope to deploy to mainnet soon, so stay tuned.
A major project for us in 2021 will be implementing our L2 plan, which will enable users to put records and subdomains on the L2 of their choice, greatly reducing gas costs for those operations. We also plan to improve the functionality of subdomains, the Manager app, and of course support continued growth in integrations.
You can read and discuss our 2021 roadmap on our forum. ENS has always been an open source and community-driven project. We really appreciate all the help, suggestions, and contributions we get from all of you!