Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are an essential topic in the crypto- and blockchain-related spheres, and with good reason. Use cases and functionality arising from the implementation of smart contracts may be used for a wide range of everyday activities.
There is also a feature known as metadata behind each NFT token, which serves as a container and certifier for the multimedia information the NFT contains. This metadata is like data that describes the attributes of the data contained in a database.
So, where is NFT metadata stored, and how does metadata work? What is the standard by which they are defined? To answer these questions, we must first understand what NFTs are and how they work, and what NFT metadata is. So, in this post, we’ll look at the subtleties of NFTs before delving into NFT metadata and where it’s stored.
What are NFTs?
Non-Fungible Tokens are essentially digital representations of digital and real-world assets. These tokens can be proven to be one of a kind and cannot be swapped with anything else. As a result, they can’t be traded like cryptocurrencies.
Music, digital art, films, vintage wine, and even real estate can all be represented by NFTs. To connect real-world objects and their NFT representations, you need to make a “smart contract” that deals with how token ownership and transferability work.
To better understand smart contracts, let’s take a closer look.
What are smart contracts?
Smart contracts are software stored on the blockchain that runs when certain prerequisites are satisfied. It is common to automate the execution of an agreement so that all parties may be sure of the results instantly, without the participation of an intermediary or the waste of valuable time.
If a condition is satisfied, the next action can be initiated by using workflow automation.
The Ethereum ERC721 standard is now used by the majority of NFT smart contracts. As such, each smart contract’s code is permanently saved on the blockchain. Some people ask if Ethereum Classic is compatible with NFTs, which we discuss here.
In the meantime, the data linked with the smart contract is kept in a different location.
Suppose you recently purchased a Bored Ape NFT. The Ethereum smart contract proves that you own it. This smart contract will remain on the blockchain, allowing everyone to see precisely when and where the digital material was created.
However, your Bored Ape cartoon, which is linked to the smart contract, can be downloaded by anyone on the internet.
What is NFT metadata?
An NFT is a token that uniquely identifies a digital asset, such as a JPEG, GIF, or MP4 file. The NFT content itself cannot be housed on the Ethereum blockchain; thus, it is hosted off-chain outside the blockchain.
The visual or auditory asset and other details, such as transactional history, are all included in the NFT metadata, which describes what material is being referenced by the document.
Using NFT metadata, Ethereum, and other blockchain systems can avoid the technical and cost calamity of storing huge files directly on-chain.
High-quality, full-length movies can be as large as 2 to 4 GB, while high-quality photos can be as little as 2 to 20 MB each. These files can’t be stored on the Ethereum blockchain because doing so would be a strain on its storage capacity. It will also be data-intensive for the Ethereum network.
This article details how large NFTs can be on the major NFT marketplaces.
Using NFT metadata is the answer to this problem. It’s a delicate balancing act between making use of the blockchain and not overburdening it.
NFT metadata exists off-chain, but this raises a few additional difficulties, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Where is NFT metadata stored and how does it work?
We’ll go a bit technical to discuss this. Brace yourself. Also, we’ll stick to the traditional Ethereum ERC-721 token standard.
The non-fungible token is defined by a metadata string in each ERC-721 description. This metadata can, for example, point to a particular piece of NFT art. However, a CryptoPunk portrait and a Bored Ape NFT both take up about the same amount of storage space. However, their value can be drastically different.
NFT metadata confuses many individuals since they don’t understand where files are kept off-chain. Is it some form of Google Drive? Is it a file storage service provided by Amazon? Who is in charge of the online storage of NFT metadata?
Metadata Storage Issues
Each NFT links to a visual or audio asset that may be found online. It sends a request to a specified address and receives the requested material back in the form of images or sounds.
In the vast majority of cases, NFTs point to either an InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) hash or an HTTP URL on the web.
An immutable record of the token’s metadata exists on the blockchain. This record includes information on what the token represents and the token’s current owner, and its transactional activity history.
In addition to the file name, caption, and URL, the JSON file may also include additional specific metadata, such as:
- the project’s overall resources.
- the type of encryption that is used.
- a unique signature.
However, NFTs have several drawbacks. Let’s discuss some of them. In most cases, this JSON metadata just specifies the asset and does not give any further information beyond the basics.
Other smart contracts cannot read or search the data, which is a flaw in the Ethereum network that several groups are working to fix.
Token minters, who control the NFT contract, are the ones who produce the metadata. The difficulty, though, is that users can’t change the data, which can have many negative consequences.
As the Internet’s ever-changing ecology has demonstrated, links can and do become flawed or broken. NFT metadata leads you to a different location to view the art; thus, when that link expires or breaks, you’ll be redirected to a 404 page. Neither the JSON data nor the links can be changed by users.
Fundamentally, and on the other hand, the NFT’s intrinsic value might be jeopardized if the data can be updated. Think about how the market would react if, for example, a hostile third party discovered an exploit that allowed them to replace all of the Bored Ape Yacht Club portrait information with images of real-world apes obtained on Google.
How to view the metadata of an NFT, authenticate its ownership, and track transaction history
An NFT tracking and verification service can be used to view an NFT metadata, verify its ownership and track transaction history.
Using a marketplace database, you may check that the token ID and contract address are linked to the real owner of the content. Many NFT verification tools are available that can perform the search for you, provided you choose a service that is compliant with NFT’s coding standard.
Even if you’ve never written any code before, most verification services will work with most authentic NFTs. It is one of the fastest and easiest ways to check NFT metadata and validate ownership.
Etherscan is an Ethereum blockchain explorer. It’s also a well-known tool for tracking and verifying NFTs. Wallet addresses, smart contracts, metadata, transactions history, and other on-chain data can all be checked on the platform.
However, there are some additional ways to access the NFT’s metadata and verify its ownership and transaction history. Some of these solutions don’t even require any knowledge of blockchain technology to implement.
Check the smart contract to view the metadata and more
The unique ID and metadata of NFTs are stored in the smart contracts that control them. It can also assist you in locating the NFT’s original creator and owner. You can also confirm any claims of ownership by checking the transaction history.
You must access the NFT’s smart contract to obtain this data. You should be able to examine and validate the metadata under the contract’s “Details” section. The following information should be displayed if the NFT is compliant with the current NFT standard:
- Token ID for the NFT
- The collection’s contract address.
- The blockchain on which the NFT is stored.
- The NFT metadata status.
- The NFT’s encoding protocol like ERC-721.
After getting the token ID, you may search the blockchain and marketplace archives for the token’s owner address.
The status of an NFT can either be “centralized” or “edible.” A centralized NFT’s core material is stored in a single location that the developer cannot change. The storage connection can be replaced with an editable NFT at any time by the author. Frozen NFTs cannot be sold or transferred since they have been marked as suspicious.
Please keep in mind that the metadata only provides you with the blockchain address of the account’s owner. A full name or other credentials won’t be made public unless the particular market allows it.
Use digital certificates to confirm the ownership of NFTs
Some NFTs include a digital certificate that confirms their legitimacy. Like conventional certificates of authenticity that come with collectibles, digital certificates may be used to verify the validity of digital content.
In addition to the manufacturer’s and owner’s names, manufacturing dates, and programming details, these certificates also provide information on the NFT’s status, serial number, and token ID. The owner’s digital signature should also be present.
If your NFT has a digital certificate, it will be included in the blockchain’s metadata. However, some valid NFTs, on the other hand, don’t have digital certificates.
Additionally, not all NFT certifications are genuine. The data can be fraudulent or corrupted. As a result, the certificate should never serve as your sole means of verifying ownership. As an alternative, combine it with other approaches.
Other blockchains (aside from Ethereum) that support NFTs
Blockchain networks are the actual game-changers in the crypto sector, and they are mostly responsible for the wide range of developments in the digital universe.
The use of blockchain technology is a must for the growth of any cryptocurrency project. And NFTs are in the same boat. To mint your NFT artwork or content, there are some blockchains you may choose from. Some of them include:
Binance Smart Chain
The Binance Smart Chain (BSC) is distinct from the Binance Chain, which is intended for the Binance decentralized exchange. The BSC was made available in September 2020, and it is powered by the BNB token.
The BSC’s cheap costs and rapid transactions have made it a popular choice due to its interoperability with the Ethereum virtual engine.
Some of the BCS’s youth-related difficulties, such as inadequate smart contract security, are worth mentioning. Investors may be reluctant to employ the chain’s services for their NFT projects because of some platform breaches that have occurred as a result.
However, the dynamic development team has worked to resolve these issues, and it appears that the BSC will have a promising future in the NFT market.
With the help of a blockchain explorer such as BscScan, you can easily locate all the NFT metadata you need on the Binance Smart Chain network.
Developed by the same group as Etherscan, BscScan is also a blockchain explorer. Aside from the fact that it provides an analytics platform for the Binance Smart Chain, there are other more intriguing aspects of BscScan.
NFT metadata and associated smart contracts may be readily accessed on BSC in the same way as any other digital asset. BSC’s most popular NFT standards are BEP-721 and BEP-1155 tokens.
Cardano has risen to the top five cryptocurrencies since its 2017 introduction. Cardano, in contrast to the other blockchains on this list, does not have an official whitepaper.
Instead, it was subjected to a rigorous review process overseen by some of the most knowledgeable individuals in the blockchain sector.
The blockchain has seen some changes over the years, including the introduction of smart contracts. The Cardano blockchain started supporting smart contracts on the 21st of September, 2021.
NFTs can now be created thanks to this release. A growing number of Cardano users are likely to take advantage of this trend.
Using Cardano Explorer, you may view transactions on the Cardano blockchain quickly and easily. Non-transactional data such as the following is also shown.
- Smart contracts and their interactions.
- NFT metadata and more.
NFTs have a unique identifier that separates each token from the rest. For each unique NFT, the ERC-721 tokenization standard makes use of Ethereum smart contracts to track transfers and ownership changes. As a result, NFT trading and minting typically incur greater gas expenses than merely transmitting ETH over the network.
Incorporating NFT metadata is also an essential part of the NFT architecture. This allows NFTs to link to data outside of their smart contract, thereby allowing the network to reference data that resides outside of the blockchain. In turn, the computational expenses of operating NFTs on a network like Ethereum are lower than they otherwise would be.
As such, the Non-Fungible Token that identifies an asset’s authenticity is stored on the blockchain while the asset itself is often stored off-chain.
If you’re looking for more popular posts to increase your knowledge of the ever-expanding NFT universe, then check out these articles:
- How to Transfer Your NFTs Without Paying Gas Fees
- How To Buy NFTs When They Drop in 3 Steps
- How to Attach an NFT to Digital Art (7 Easy Steps)