MyEtherWallet, a well-known Ethereum wallet app, is releasing a feature named “Host Your Own Site” that provides an easy interface for its users to upload a website to the InterPlanetary File System, or IPFS.
IPFS-based websites are tied to Ethereum-based domain name services, such as ENS and Unstoppable Domains, which feature either “.eth” or “.crypto” suffixes.
The websites are hosted on a decentralized network of peer-to-peer computers, which makes them resilient to most censorship tools available for the traditional web.
The integration on MyEtherWallet automates the process of uploading a website to the IPFS. As Kosala Hemachandra, the CEO of MyEtherWallet, explained to Cointelegraph, users provide a .zip file containing the website’s files, while the dedicated app takes care of uploading it to IPFS and associating it with a blockchain domain.
It’s worth noting that the technology is still in a relatively crude state. As Hemachandra explained, the websites can only have static pages. When asked if a content management system like WordPress could be installed on IPFS, he replied:
“In order for something like WordPress to work you have to have a backend server. Because of that — there are no servers in the distributed world — so there is no way to run the full WordPress instance.”
Websites built on WordPress can still be uploaded to IPFS, but they need to be exported as fully static snapshots through third-party plugins.
This, he added, is due to “fundamental limitations on creating something like a distributed server.” The issue is unlikely to be solved soon, but he emphasized that “nothing is impossible.”
This doesn’t mean that IPFS websites are completely static, however. Many decentralized finance frontends are also hosted on the network, as they are purely client-side apps that directly interface with the blockchain.
Another present issue of IPFS-based websites is the difficulty in accessing them. Natively, only the Opera browser supports blockchain domains. On all others, special extensions like MetaMask are necessary to view them. Hemachandra also noted that some of these websites are available through proxies with a “.link” domain on the normal web.
Familiarizing users with crypto domains
Hemachandra noted that many people who purchased crypto domains “didn’t know what to do with that.” The initial use case was to associate the long Ethereum hexadecimal address to a human-readable domain, but “that’s not the end of it,” Hemachandra said. Hosting a website is thus a way for the company to expose people to some of the more advanced uses of blockchain domains.
“And at the same time, we want to enable free speech,” added Hemachandra. He noted that in the cryptocurrency world many platforms still rely on the traditional web, which is inconsistent with the overall vision of the ecosystem.
In Hemachandra’s view, gradually familiarizing users with the experience of using a decentralized website is key to adoption, instead of immediately making a complex and confusing system. He concluded:
“[We are] slowly taking the first step towards a fully decentralized future, and that’s pretty much our goal.”