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IPFS Websites

Author: Some web developer

Thu Apr 25 2024

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BLOCKCHAIN - This story probably should have been written a long time ago.  Because I've actually been aware of, and partially using, this particular thing for well over a year now.  The thing in question being blockchain domains.  The idea of a domain living on the blockchain is an interesting concept in theory.  How useful it is, is still open to speculation because the technology is still very new.  But one thing I found that is very useful is the ability to make a fully functional website, albeit a static website, that resides entirely on the blockchain with no host.

The method utilized here is IPFS, or "InterPlanetary File System".  Aside from being among the most amusing acronyms on the internet, it is actually a really cool idea.  It functions as a decentralize or distributed file system.  You are already familiar with this system, most likely.  NFTs, for instance, are stored using the IPFS protocol.  That, among a gazillion other things of which you are likely unaware, because it's all in the background most of the time.

Now that we've covered that...
Let us talk about Unstoppable Domains.  They are, by their own statement, the largest provider of IPFS domains, and provide a pretty decent control panel to users that own one of those domains.  They list out the things that you can do with the domain once you own it.  It really boils down to 2 things: 

1) You can send crypto currency to your domain, and it will be routed to the associated wallet.  Honestly, I've tried this, and not had much success with this.  Like I pointed out before, this technology is still very new.

2) You can create a website.

When people tout the virtues of Web3 taking over and replacing the current internet protocols, they are talking about THIS stuff.  And we just aren't there yet.

What we are talking about today is point #2 - making your own site that runs on your IPFS domain.
This is a real thing.  And it really does do what they say it does.  Cutting right to the chase check this out:
Here is a single page site for metal-crypto.nft.

That page was designed and built on my local machine, then simply uploaded through their control panel.  Now that page will be served up from that domain.

It's a static site.  Meaning that it cannot get information from the server like most sites do.  You are pretty much relegated to using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  Basically all stuff that runs in the browser.  But all things considered, that is not bad.  Especially since the support for JavaScript is the same as always.  So it's entirely possible to write fully functional pages the same as you would otherwise.  Which is making me think that I should really include an example of that before I finish writing this article.  I'll just leave that there as a reminder for myself.

Ok - I've done that now.  As part of my research for this article, I got this domain cheap from OpenSea:  rareoslo404.nft 
I made that entire page last night after dinner.  It really has no design.  It's just some information and some examples of JavaScript.  However, the examples provided are pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

As a side note, that I will only mention briefly because it's not what this story is about, you don't even need to design a full site.  You can set up a redirect to point to another "real" site.  That is what I did with one of my domains.

Clicking on durbnpoisn.nft redirects to my primary site's subdomain for NFTs.

About the domain and your browser
You may notice that these links are pointing to a URL that is NOT the domain name.  It's a link that points to "ipfs.io" to resolve the name.  This is because your browser, like most browsers in general, does not know what to do with the IPFS protocol.  They know how to handle all the Web2 protocols like HTTPS, and FTP, and all the rest of that common stuff.  But browsers don't include support for the IPFS protocol.  You would need to add that with an extension.  Chrome and Brave both provide extensions for this.  And if you run one of those, you can just put the domain name into the location line and it will work.

For the purposes of this article, and to keep things simple, I have provided a URL that resolves that IPFS protocol for you.

If you look at the link provided, the last part is a string of characters like "QmTDJpiAtJvW4Gh8N53vqY...".  That is the unique identifier for the address on the blockchain that contains the site.  Each time I publish a new version of the site, the old version drops from use, and a new string is created for the new version of the site.

The old version never goes away.  As you can see, here is a previous version of the site I linked up before.  It's still there.  It's just not useful anymore.

How do you acquire one of these domains?
I'm glad you asked.  The domain exists in the form of a NFT.  Owning that NFT proves your ownership of the domain.  With that, you can sign on to the Unstoppable Domain control panel and start setting things up.

You can acquire one of these NFTs a few different ways.  The first two that I got, I got for free as a promotion through Twitter.  They created a domain with a .nft extension based on my Twitter username.  The other day, while do research for this article, I tried a couple of other methods.  I purchased one from their site for $2.  And then, as I mentioned above, I went through my Phantom wallet and purchased one from their OpenSea list for 0.5 MATIC.

It's pretty convenient to be able to purchase these things for so cheap.  But this is only because I'm aiming for the cheap ones.  If you want really good domains with real words that will actually be useful, they can cost MUCH more.  The average for a typical useful domain is in the $20-40 area.  But for really good, premium domains, the costs goes well into the $1000s.

People are using these things.  And that is why premium ownership, just like anything else, costs money.

What really cracks me up about this is the sheer number of domains that are available for so cheap.  Who are these people that are buying up tons of domains just to flip them for super cheap?  Dunno.  That is the nature of this business though.  That sort of thing doesn't surprise me anymore.

What can you do with one of these static sites?
That really is entirely up to you.  You could create a storefront to point to your NFTs.  You could create an information site about your business.  You could create a list of links to other sites that you find interesting.  You could create a page that is nothing but a clown fish following the mouse cursor.

What you have is a domain that you own for as long as the blockchain exists.  No fees.  No need to renew.  No need to worry about it expiring.  You own it.  You control it.

One more thing...  Much has been said about how the ownership of these kinds of sites is decentralized, meaning that it's completely unregulated.  So you can put content on your site without having to worry about violating someone's terms, or pissing someone off.  You can make of that what you will.  But to use one example, let's just say you are a citizen of a country that controls all media information, and you want to criticize the government and don't want to get arrested for it.  You could create an IPFS site, and no one could stop you from writing whatever you want.  They couldn't even trace it back to you.  And yes, a whole lot of people are doing just that.

In conclusion...
If you are interested in learning how to do this for yourself, follow the link to Unstoppable Domains.  There is more than enough information there to get you going.

You too can have one of these...

Domain preview
https://ud.me/durbnpoisn.nft

If not, I hope you enjoyed my little story about this.  I am by far the nerdiest person I know.  This is the only chance I get to talk about this stuff.

 


#bitcoin #cryptocurrency #NFT #IPFS #unstoppable #domain @unstoppableweb

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