Web3 URLs — enabled with the launch of ERC-4804 — have made it onto Ethereum, allowing internet users to access Ethereum apps and NFTs without worrying about centralized censorship.
The new Ethereum standard, titled “Web3 URL to EVM Call Message Translation,” was first proposed on Feb. 14, 2022, and was co-authored by ETHStorage founder Qi Zhou, Ethereum researcher Sam Wilson and Chao Pi.
It described the proposal as an “HTTP-style” URL to directly access on-chain Web3 content, such as decentralized apps (DApps) front-ends and NFTs. More than a year later, ERC-4804 was approved and finalized on the mainnet on March 1.
1/n, I am delighted to announce that the first web access protocol for ETH ERC4804: Web3 URL is approved by EIP editors and finalized!
web3:// (https://t.co/uXpTGdXirF) is decentralized http://. It allow users to directly browse the rich web content on EVM, pages/images/songs!
— Qi Zhou (@qc_qizhou) March 1, 2023
Anthurine Xiang, a spokesperson for layer-2 storage protocol ETHStorage, explained that in many cases, the ecosystem is still reliant on centralized web servers to provide access to “decentralized” apps.
“Right now, all the DApps like Uniswap […] claim to be decentralized apps,” Xiang explained, adding: “But how [do] we get on the webpage? You have to go through the DNS. You have to go through GoDaddy. […] All those are centralized servers.”
Today, most users access the internet via “Hypertext Transfer Protocol,” widely known as HTTP.
When an internet user clicks a link or types in a website address, the computer uses HTTP to ask another computer to retrieve the information, such as a website or pictures.
Under ERC-4804, internet users have the option to type in web3:// (as opposed to http://) in their browsers to directly bring up DApps such as Uniswap or on-chain NFTs. This is because the standard allows users to directly run a query to an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Entire websites can also theoretically be accessed by these means as long as their content is stored on the Ethereum blockchain or a compatible layer-2 protocol. However, the costs of doing this are still very prohibitive, according to ETHStorage founder Qi Zhou.
“The critical issue here is that the storage cost on Ethereum is super, super expensive on mainnet,” Zhou said in a…
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