Name Services on Chia - Part 2

Name Services on Chia - Part 2
Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

Chia Name Service ("CNS") launches!

CNS has finally launched their ".xch" vanity name service for xch addresses, joining Namesdao who has already been live on mainnet since last year.

For whatever reason, a large part of the community was unaware that "name collisions", where two different people own the same ".xch" name on different services, were going to be a problem.

We raised this issue ~6 months ago in this post when Namedao launched, as even before then, both Namesdao and Chia Name Service had telegraphed their intention to utilize the ".xch" extension for their respective services. Neither service nor the community took action to mitigate the issue and both services continued to develop and ulitmately begin issuing ".xch" names.

Hopefully this post can answer some of the community's questions on what options the community has moving forward, as well as a what Chia Network Inc.'s official stance on the issue is.

I highly doubt this will be the last post XCHcentral makes on Chia Name Services and don't expect the name collision issue to be solved in the immediate future.

Chia Network Inc. ("CNI") official response

Might as well start with the question I think of the community would be most interested in, where does Chia Network Inc. fall on the issue?

I had the opportunity to have a brief email exchange with J Eckert, VP of Ecosystem Operations for Chia Network Inc. Below are excerpts / Q&A from that conversation.

JM - I fully understand CNI's position (not just on this issue) of striving to be more of a hands-off "custodian" for the ecosystem whenever they can, but the fact remains that at this early stage of community development, many farmers take the approach of "I'll wait until CNI blesses a service before I use it". I believe it would be great for the community to have an official response on a few points to give a general sense of direction for action CNI may take in the future and calm some of the tension/anxiety.

J Eckert - Happy to help here where I can. You are right overall in that CNI would prefer to remain hands off on this. We want the ecosystem to let it's own market determine what the collective consensus is on what provider should be the "source of truth" of the .xch domain in particular, and once there is a clear outcome we will support that one. Until then we have no desire to "put our thumb on the scale", as it were.

JM - What is CNI's plan for implementing name servies into the official client?

J Eckert - We have no immediate plans to implement any one service here and now into the client, simply because our roadmap for the next handful of releases is already stuffed to the gills vs our capabilities. Long term our plan is to adopt services that have bubbled up to the surface within the ecosystem and have established a clear standardization by consensus of the community and are obvious market leaders.

JM - Is it fair to assume that a CHIP would be required for any Name Service that wishes to be implemented into the official client?

J Eckert - No. We would not require that for adoption. In this case, Namesdao was given the advice that proposing a standard via a CHIP was the fastest way to get global consensus and adoption by multiple wallet developers, which would in theory lead to a standard that not only they develop on but other providers might as well for universal compatibility, which would then inevitably lead to us then adopting it also. However, that is not a hard requirement for us to adopt something. That said we are going to be far more likely to adopt something well defined in a CHIP with clear documentation than we would a bespoke system only one wallet uses (unless that example is an industry leader by a large margin, in which case it would be far more likely).

JM - Would CNI implement multiple Name Services using different implementations and different CHIPs? Or are CNS (or any other hopeful that wishes to start a Name Service) that wish to be in the official client forced to work on amending the CHIP-0009 standard now that it has been moved to final?

J Eckert - Once we get to the point where we can slot these things into the wallet, we would gladly adopt more than one format so long as it made sense to do so and there is compatibility within the wallet and the name resolutions were not in conflict with each other. IE we would not adopt two services that have the same .abc extension and we would prefer to wait for one to be the market leader, or for two different systems that caused technological conflicts under the hood in other ways.

JM - Also, just want to confirm that Chia Name Services does have a license to the Chia trademark as they have indicated.

J Eckert - They do, yes.

JM - Finally, any other commentary on this matter, or really anything else that you'd like to put out an official response on!

J Eckert - In a more ideal world, we would like to get to the state where our reference wallet has a plugin system and we don't have to incorporate any of these things by hand, and users can just drop in extensions from the service provider of their choice for not just DNS but also things like default explorers and NFT sites. We're a long way from that state however as there are higher priority things we are focusing on in the near term, and truth be told in a few years from now we expect our wallet to be one of the least-used options out there as folks gravitate towards others... much as we see in other crypto ecosystems. All that being said, it IS open source and we always welcome pull requests from community contributors!

Thank you again J for taking the time to answer these questions on a Friday afternoon!

How we got here

A quick timeline of certain development events for both projects:

Both services began / announced at similar times:

  • Chia Name Service (CNS)

    • July 2022 - Twitter account created
    • 2022-10-29 - Testing begins
    • 2023-02-07 - CNS mainnet server launched. Final testing before public registration begins
    • 2023-02-14 - ".xch" names available to register on mainnet / name resolution integrated with the team's Pawket mobile wallet, open source reference code available
  • Namesdao

    • August 2022 - Twitter account created
    • 2022-08-08 - Namesdao allows for registration of "triple underscore .xch names"
    • 2022-10-12 - Namesdao begins registration of "no underscore .xch names"
    • 2022-10-18 - Namesdao makes the first commit for CHIP-0009
    • 2023-02-16 - CHIP-0009 moved to final status

Honestly, if you look at the timeline of events, the development for both services is rather similar, just with two very different approaches.

Both projects announced within weeks of eachother.

The CNS team began testing of their functional service ~2 weeks after Namesdao opened registration for "no underscore .xch names".

However, you'll notice from the above timeline, when Namesdao had opened registration, they had yet to push forward with their formal CHIP that would provide a standard for implementation for ecosystem wallets and projects.

While Namesdao was pushing their standard forward in public, CNS was conducting testing and refining their standard in private.

The end result? Both services are ready to be implemented by ecosystem projects within days of echother. Those that wish to implement Namesdao have CHIP-0009 to follow, and those that wish to implement CNS have the reference code from the Pawket wallet / talking with the CNS dev team.

So what now?

Where we go from here and which service ends up being viewed as the issuer of the "true" .xch names is ultimately up to you, the community. If you've read the above, you understand that CNI is purposefully not supporting one service over the other.

I'd like to be clear, that at this point in time, much like Chia Netowrk Inc., the XCHcentral team does not support either team's claim to the .xch extention over the other. The situation has some nuance to it and is developing daily.

Namesdao pushing forward

Currently, I believe it is undeniable that the Namesdao team has been pressing their first mover advantage by being quite present in the community with giveaways, bounties, and awarding their own "innovation grants".

However, it's worth pointing out, that CHIP-0009 has just been finalized and at this time, there are no ecosystem wallets that support sending funds to a Namesdao .xch name other than the "Namesdao .xch Wallet", which is a fork of official Chia Wallet by the Namesdao team, and the Goby browser extension wallet using Namesdao's developed Dapp.[1]

Namesdao has indicated that now that CHIP-0009 has been finalized, it's been communicated by a few ecosystem wallet developers that they will be moving to integrate Namesdao name resolution quickly, although no announcements are ready at the time of this post.

Chia Name Service's Plan

I was able to receive comment from Chia Name Service team on their current plans.

Hiya - We intend to propose a CHIP, but we have our own schedule and pace. We don't want external factors to hinder our progress. We take the writing of CHIPs very seriously and adhere to rigorous standards. We will propose the CHIP when the time is right.

In addition, it's worth noting that the majority of CNS's code has already been open-sourced and integrated into the code for Pawket. The design logic and structure can be gleaned from the code itself. However, we recognize the need for a more user-friendly document that is easily understandable for non-technical users. We're actively working on this, but it will take some time to complete.

We have chosen to build on the Chia blockchain because we value its decentralized and secure nature. This kind of chain has a strong ability to endure, which makes it possible to build long-lasting services on it. Therefore, our focus is not on competing with other teams to see who can release .xch or CHIP faster, but rather on who can maintain their services for a longer period of time.

Honestly, I don't think the CNS team is too far behind (at least on the tech side of things) given they are live on mainnet and integrated with their own Pawket mobile wallet (which is definitely "a" leading, if not "the" leading mobile wallet at this time), with reference code for others to use.

Conclusions (for now)

While being first isn't everything, the fact remains that Namesdao has been putting in work with the community and working to attract 3rd party devs.

Much like CNI has indicated they would not integrate multiple services using the same extension (in this case .xch), I would likely assume that ecosystem devs would similarily choose to only integrate one solution per extension[2].

If Namesdao can push forward 3rd party wallet adoption quickly now that CHIP-0009 is final, it's tough to see how the community would choose Chia Name Service as the preferred ".xch" issuer.

However, Chia Name Service isn't out of it yet. If CNS can come out with their own CHIP or at least detailed integration documentation for 3rd party wallets soon, as in - not soon™, but this should be a top priority for the team NOW, and drive adoption, then the community has some things to consider.

Either way, both services are likely here to stay, but eventually, one will likely need to cede the .xch name to the other.[3] Then, whoever wins gets to look forward to the next fight for ".xch", which will occur when Chia Network Inc. pushes forward .xch as an ICANN TLD, but that's an issue for another day.

Hopefully this post will serve its purpose as a jumping off point for additional discussions within the community on the technical and social merits of both projects. I'm sure it will not be our last post on the matter.

Also, let's keep it civil. Both teams deserve your respect. They ship code and are working to better the Chia ecosystem.

If you feel like supporting XCHcentral's writing like this, donations of XCH/NFTs can be sent to: xch1dwm59nranz0khzfzmv0j9g4tpwe4fx7ven0ptr9hufs2c0kgesxq8r7mws

  1. Yes, there's the "Frodo wallet", which ironically is a fork of the Pawket mobile wallet developed by the same team as Chia Name Service. There's been some discussion about whether or not certain licenses were respected, which I haven't had time to investigate yet, so I chose to leave it out of the body of blog post at this time ↩︎

  2. although there definitely are UI friendly ways to integrate both services... this post is already too long, maybe we explore them in additional posts ↩︎

  3. Personally, I see nothing wrong with "name.ndao and name.cns", but I understand the prestige of ".xch" ↩︎