A Beginner’s Guide to the NNS Front-end Dapp and Wallet

Oluwatobi Oluyede
Oluwatobi Oluyede
A Beginner’s Guide to the NNS Front-end Dapp and Wallet
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Dubbed the ‘brain’ of the Internet Computer, the NNS controls many aspects of the Internet Computer, from protocol upgrades to onboarding independent data centers and node machines built on DFINITY’s proprietary technology.

The Network Nervous System (NNS) is the autonomous governance protocol at the core of the Internet Computer blockchain. The NNS architecture is based on the concept of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

The decision-making process is put to a consensus vote, with voting carried out directly on the IC blockchain. The NNS holds over 150,000 unique participants (neurons), making it one of the world’s largest DAOs.

In short, the NNS is an on-chain, permissionless system designed to maintain and upgrade the Internet Computer continuously. Through collective decision-making, ICP token holders stake their token holdings and vote to adopt or reject proposals.

How It Works

Dubbed the ‘brain’ of the Internet Computer, the NNS controls many aspects of the Internet Computer, from protocol upgrades to onboarding independent data centers and node machines built on DFINITY’s proprietary technology.

The NNS enables the Internet Computer network to be governed in an open, decentralized, and secure manner. Anyone can participate in Internet Computer governance by staking their ICP tokens.

Most blockchains require a fork to make changes at the protocol level, and major decisions are usually made by select ecosystem participants, such as miners and core developers.

However, the Internet Computer doesn’t require complicated forks to upgrade its capacity. Once you create a neuron, you can submit proposals and cast votes to modify the protocol. Once a proposal is approved by ICP token holders, the change is automatically deployed by the NNS.

To access the NNS dapp, you’ll need to login with your II (Internet Identity). You’ll have to create one at identity.ic0.app if you have not already. II is an innovative blockchain authentication system that employs advanced cryptography to secure your online identity.

II allows users to sign in to supported dapps using various devices, like YubiKeys or biometric options such as Apple's Face ID. II is designed to silo your sessions with each dapps, preventing you from being tracked across applications.

The NNS front-end dapp is hosted on the Internet Computer at nns.ic0.app. From there you can manage your ICP accounts, neurons, voting proposals, and nodes if you’re a node provider.

The NNS also doubles as a hot wallet for managing your ICP tokens, commonly referred to as the "ledger". You can leave it in the ledger or stake your holdings in neurons for some moolah! (I’m all for ‘grabbing’ the bag, though.)

Here’s a quick guide to navigating the NNS front-end dapp and its main features. The NNS dapp currently provides four key functions:

  1. ICP token management (dapp “hot” wallet)
  2. Neuron staking for voting rewards
  3. Voting on active proposals
  4. Creating and managing canister smart contracts

NNS Dapp Wallet

The My Tokens tab of the NNS front-end dapp allows you to create accounts and perform transactions like sending and receiving Internet Computer utility tokens (currently it's ICP and SNS-1).

Once you login to the NNS dapp with your Internet Identity, the dapp will automatically create a wallet for your ICP, which will be your Main Account. However, you can create more accounts if you so choose.

To generate additional accounts, simply select ICP in My Tokens and click Add Account. You can add a new account linked to the main account. You can also attach a hardware wallet to your dapp account by signing in with a compatible device.

Transferring ICP to the NNS dapp wallet allows you to access the full functionality of the NNS. You can do this easily, just send your tokens to your NNS wallet address like you would with any crypto transfer.

Neuron Staking

In addition to working as a wallet, the NNS dapp allows you to “lock up” your ICP tokens in neurons and earn rewards.

Neurons are voting entities for governance participation. The My Neuron Staking tab enables you to create and manage neurons to contribute to stewardship of the Internet Computer.

There are various attributes you should expect to come across when creating neurons, such as maturity, recent votes, age, and state. However, this article focuses on the NNS front-end dapp, not specifically on neurons, so I won’t cover them all here.

You can check out this detailed guide for more information on neurons and their role in decentralized governance of the Internet Computer.

That said, one attribute I’d like to highlight is the neuron’s dissolve delay. The dissolve delay is a timer that determines if a neuron is eligible to vote. Neurons need a dissolve delay of six months minimum to vote and earn voting rewards. The dissolve delay maxes out at eight years.

When a neuron is in the DISSOLVING state, the staked ICP is ready to be unlocked and the dissolve delay timer counts down. Once the dissolve delay reaches zero, the controlling principal can withdraw the ICP token balance locked in the neuron.

Finally, you can “spawn” a new neuron once the maturity reaches a certain threshold. This spawning action creates another neuron with a new locked balance of ICP tokens on the ledger.

Also, you can assign a new principal to the new neuron or retain the parent neuron’s principal. (For the curious, the principal is like the ledger account that has controlling rights to a neuron's functions.) Once a new neuron spawns, the parent neuron’s maturity resets to zero.

Voting on Active Proposals

In the Vote on Proposals tab, you can vote to either adopt or reject pending proposals submitted to the NNS. You can view details like type, topic, status, proposer, and creation date on each available proposal. This can help you know what the proposal’s about and how other neurons are voting.

You can also configure your neuron to vote automatically on proposals that belong to specific topics. Topics available in the NNS include NeuronManagement, ExchangeRate, NetworkEconomics, Governance, NodeAdmin, ParticipantManagement, SubnetManagement, NetworkCanisterManagement, KYC, and NodeProviderRewards.

Furthermore, the NNS governance system employs a liquid democracy model whereby you can follow other neurons’ votes. This will prove helpful when you either don’t have the time or technical expertise to evaluate new proposals.

I’ll be covering NNS proposals and proposal topics in more detail in a later article.

Canister Smart Contracts

The My Canisters tab in the NNS front-end dapp allows you to create and manage your canister smart contracts from anywhere. You can also top up existing canisters with cycles from this tab.

Software canisters are a breakthrough in smart contract technology. Canisters contain compiled code (aka dapps), and dapps consume resources like bandwidth, CPU cycles, and memory. Canisters hold a balance to pay for these resources consumed, expressed in units of cycles.

💡Cycles are like utility “gas” powering computational tasks on the Internet Computer. They’re created by converting ICP tokens into cycles.

The cost of cycles is fixed at 1 trillion (1T) cycles per SDR. SDR, short for Special Drawing Right, is an international reserve asset created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a unit of accounts.

The current ICP/SDR exchange rate is set through #ExchangeRate proposals in the NNS. For example, if the current rate between ICP and SDR is 1 to 420, then 0.1 ICP yields 42T cycles.

Closing Thoughts

The NNS front-end dapp remains one of the most popular dapps on the Internet Computer. The NNS dapp promotes a memorable experience for inclusive governance of the Internet Computer blockchain.

With a diverse ecosystem of thousands of participants, the NNS itself is currently one of the largest DAOs. Through the dapp interface, you can access various functions, from a non-custodial wallet and staking to voting on proposals.

ICP token holders, node operators, dapp developers, and other key stakeholders all contribute to making the Internet Computer a welcoming landscape for building robust web3 services and decentralized applications.

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  • Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original author and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the CoinHustle staff and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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