How frustrating do you find it to have to go searching for your NEO wallet address anytime someone wants to send you some GAS?

And what about the painstaking process of adding a script hash to your Neon wallet so you can get a cute little Hash Puppy token for your girlfriend? Why can’t we save NEO addresses like simplified contacts in messaging apps, or like website URLs?

Now we can!

You may already know about the Ethereum Name Service and how it allows users to create simplified, domain name like addresses with the .eth domain.

Now NEO is adding its own name service that will allow you to convert your long NEO addresses like AR4QmqYENiZAD6oXe7ftm6eDcwtHk7rVTT to something easy to read and remember like simple.neo or easy.gas

What is Neo Name Service?

Think about all the websites you visit on a daily basis. When you access these pages your computer or smart phone needs to connect to the websites servers. It does this using the servers IP address, which is a long string of numbers. But you don’t need to remember the long string of numbers.

Instead, you get to use easy to remember words and names when you type a URL into a browser. That’s all thanks to the Domain Name System, or DNS, which automatically converts the words in URLs to the correct IP address for your browser to connect to the web server.

Overview of the NNS
Neo Name Service use cases. Source: NNS Website

The Neo Name System (NNS) is doing the same thing as DNS, but for the NEO blockchain. It’s a perfect use, since NEO address and script hashes are even longer and more difficult to remember than IP addresses. And these long, difficult to remember addresses also make it easy to make mistakes when typing or even pasting an address.

NNS will be a decentralized domain-name service that maps NEO addresses and smart contracts to easy to remember aliases. This will greatly simplify the process of using NEO addresses and smart contracts, while also making it safer and more secure.

Some people have said that the NNS is a trivial addition to the NEO blockchain, but they aren’t understanding that this change will help bring NEO to the masses. There are also those who ask if the NNS is necessary, given that Ethereum has already created the Ethereum Name Service.

Of course it is if we want NEO to be as easily accessible as Ethereum promises to be. The blockchain is the next generation of the internet, and things like aliasing for addresses are going to be a necessity to grow blockchain usage significantly and rapidly.

Neo Name Service Architecture

The NNS uses the same convention as the DNS, with alias names being represented as hierarchical names separated by dots, with the trailing portion representing the top level domain. In the case of the NNS smart contracts are the owners of the top level domain names, such as .neo and .gas. These smart contracts are known as registers and they also hold the rules relating to the allocation of subdomains.

Neo Name Service Features
Features of the Neo Name Service

The NNS architecture consists of 4 components:

  • Top level domain name contract : This is where all of the information regarding the root domain name is stored. This information includes the domain owner name, the registrar name, the resolver name, and the time-to-live (TTL) of the domain name.
  • Owner: The owner of any domain can be either a smart contract or an address. The owner has the ability to transfer the domain to another address or smart contract, to change the resolver, or to modify the registrar.
  • Registrar:  A NEO smart contract that performs two functions. It will specify the sub-domain of a domain to other domain owners, and it also checks and verifies that the owners of sub-domain names are legal.
  • Resolver:  This is another NEO smart contract which functions to map aliases into addresses, using an algorithm called NameHash.

NNS Economic Model

The NNS ecosystem uses 2 different tokens, the NNC and the SGAS.

NNC functions in a similar manner to the Neo token within the NNS ecosystem. Root domain name voting is begun by NNC holders by one of two methods. The first method has the administrator begin the voting process, and the domain name is activated if at least 70% of votes are for it by the end of three days.

The second method can be started by any NNC holder, with the domain name being confirmed if at least 50% of the votes are in favor at the end of three days. One interesting feature is the distribution of charges collected during the auction process to NNC holders based on the proportion of NNC they hold, sort of like a dividend for holding NNC. The total supply of NNC has been set at 1 billion.

SGAS is an NEP5 token that is bound to Neo GAS in a 1:1 ratio. This means it can be converted to GAS at anytime. It is also used during domain name auctions as a method for paying auction fees. When domain name auctions are conducted, the winner is charged the bid fund as a fee, and the bid losers are charged 5% of the bid fund as a fee.

In addition, NEO smart contracts will be able to use SGAS to conduct intra-contract GAS operations. The total supply of SGAS has been set at 100 million.

The NNS Team

The founder of NNS is Liu Yongxin, who is also a co-founder of NEL, a Chinese NEO developer community. The co-founder and CTO of NNS is Li Jianying, who is also associated with the NEL project.

Neo Name Service Team Members
Some of the Neo Name Service Team Members

There are two core developers identified, and they are Liu Quinming and Yin Wei, while Vincent Zhao works as the senior web developer for the project. Unfortunately the NNS website is the only source of information regarding team members, as there is little other information to be found on LinkedIn or elsewhere online.

Neo Name Service Roadmap

After running a testnet for quite some time the NNS mainnet went live on October 9, 2018 and users are now able to bid on and win their own domains with the .neo decentralized domain name.

Bidding has been quite active in the first weeks of the mainnet release as Neo is awarding winning bidders with free NNC based on the amount of GAS they spend on their winning bid. This domain mining reward is effective through October 23, 2018 or until 100 million NNC has been awarded.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that domain name services will improve the usability of blockchains, and increase user adoption rates. Making blockchain technology easy and accessible to the masses is one of the near term goals for the ecosystem, and this feature is a step in the right direction.

In the coming months the NNS team will be working with clients in the NEO ecosystem to ensure that all wallets will support the transfer of tokens via aliases. They are also working closely with the Hash Puppies team to allow users to name their pets using NNS.

In short, the NNS team is doing all they can to ensure that they will grow and expand, and that the NEO ecosystem and user base will also grow and expand.

Featured Image via NNS

Posted by Steve Walters

Steve has been writing for the financial markets for the past 7 years and during that time has developed a growing passion for cryptocurrencies.