Web3 URLs — enabled when ERC-4804 was launched — now run on Ethereum, allowing internet users to access Ethereum and NFT applications without fear of centralized censorship.
The new Ethereum standard, “Web3 to URL” EVM call message translation“, first proposed on February 14, 2022, co-authored by ETHStorage founder Qi Zhou, Ethereum researcher Sam Wilson, and Chao Pi.
The proposal is described as “HTTP-style” URLs for direct access to on-chain Web3 content, such as user interfaces for decentralized applications (DApps) and NFTs. More than a year later, ERC-4804 was approved and finalized on mainnet on March 1.
Qi Zhouyou share On Twitter:
“Very pleased to announce that the first web access protocol of ETH ERC4804: Web3 URL has passed the review of the EIP editorial board and is finally completed!
web3:// (http://web3url.io) is authorized instead of http://. It allows users to search rich web content, pages/images/songs directly on the EVM! “
Anthurine Xiang, a spokesperson for layer-2 storage protocol ETHStorage, explained that in many cases, ecosystems still rely on centralized web servers to access “decentralized” applications.
“Right now, all the DApps like Uniswap claim to be decentralized applications. But how do we access the site? You have to go through DNS. You have to go through GoDaddy…all are centralized servers.”
New Model Contrast Network 2. Source: w3eth.io
Today, most users access the Internet through the “Hypertext Transfer Protocol” (commonly known as HTTP).
When an Internet user clicks a link or enters a website address, a computer uses HTTP to ask another computer to retrieve information, such as a web page or an image.
According to ERC-4804, Internet users can choose to enter “web3://” (instead of “http://”) in the browser to directly display DApps such as Uniswap or NFT on the chain. This is because the standard allows users to run queries directly against the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
How the Web3 URL standard works with Uniswap. Source: w3eth.io
In theory, entire websites could be accessed through these means as long as their content is stored on the Ethereum blockchain or a compatible layer 2 protocol. However, according to Zhou Qi, the founder of ETHStorage, the cost of doing so is still very high.
“The key issue here is that hosting on ethereum is very expensive,” Zhou said in a recent talk at ETHDenver.
“For example, 1 GB of on-chain data will cost around $10 million…which is unacceptable for many Web2 applications and even many NFTs,” Zhou added, noting that layer-2 storage solutions can help reduce certain costs.
In terms of cost, the new URL standard only makes sense for certain applications, Xiang said.
“Not everything needs to be decentralized. If you’re running a decent Web2 business and you don’t have to worry too much about centralized censorship…you just keep using it.”
On the other hand, the new standard will be useful for DApps or websites at risk of censorshipsuch as Tornado Cash.
“For example, with Tornado Cash, a lot of people couldn’t access them through their website because of censorship.
If you’re a DApp and you’re decentralized, why are you still using a centralized website for people to visit you? “
The website can be accessed through a web3:// URL. Source: w3eth.io
Asked whether the new standard would be used by criminals to infiltrate and operate illegally, Xiang said:
“It’s really hard to say that Bitcoin was created the same way. I don’t think Bitcoin was made for evil, but from the beginning when people were doing black things like Silk Road, they used Bitcoin.”
Instead, Xiang argues that, like bitcoin, issuers are simply giving people decentralized options they might not have.
Xiang noted that the new ethereum standard is the first blockchain standard, although it is not the first decentralized web hosting solution.
The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is an example of a network that works in a decentralized manner, which is currently provided by centralized cloud servers. However, Xiang pointed out that IPFS URLs can only link to static content and cannot be modified or changed.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin also complain About IPFS on Twitter:
“I *use* IPFS to host my blog and have had serious UX issues (my last update took about 1 hour to go live). It should be much easier to stick with an on-chain blog.
Unfortunately for blogs this is too expensive, but for short text records the logic can be applied. “
Xiang explained that ERC-4804 will enable “dynamic data,” such as allowing people to leave likes, comments, and interact with content on the site. Xiang added that the standard is also expected to make interoperability with other blockchains easier.
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As reported by Cointelegraph