Individually identifiable digital representations of blockchain-based tangible or intangible objects called nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are not typically divided into smaller parts. Instead, structured metadata related to actual or virtual things is represented by NFTs. Often, the tokens are not connected to the objects and serve as distinct identifiers, advancing the interoperable commercialization of the physical or digital items, according to their proponents.
Hashes of files or other data were added to the Bitcoin blockchain in 2012 or 2013 to demonstrate their existence or legitimacy at a particular moment. This development served as the foundation for creating “Colored Coins,” uniquely identified tokens, which are recognized by adding metadata to Bitcoin transactions.
Related: Fungible vs nonfungible tokens: What is the difference?
So, what is this metadata, and how is it generated? In this article, we will explore these questions and also deep dive into how you can retrieve metadata of the NFT from the contract; how you read NFT files; and how you can view the metadata of any NFT.
What is NFT metadata?
An NFT’s name, description and any other details that its author deems significant are all described in its metadata, which is data that provides information about other data. In addition, the images and other “primary” digital assets that give an NFT its value are frequently linked to an NFT’s metadata.
The critical question that confuses people regarding NFT metadata is the exact location of NFTs that are stored off-chain — is it anything like Amazon Web Services or Google Drive? Also, who oversees the online storage of NFT metadata?
Therefore, metadata must be in a format that marketplaces can comprehend since NFT marketplaces employ metadata to display nonfungible tokens to buyers and sellers.
As a result, you should embrace an existing metadata standard and, if necessary, augment it to meet your particular needs to make your NFTs interoperable with as much of the ecosystem of marketplaces, wallets, etc., as possible.
How does NFT metadata work?
An essential component of nonfungible tokens that lets them operate is NFT metadata. NFTs can link to data outside their smart contract, enabling the network to refer to off-chain data. But, how is NFT metadata stored? Whether created following the ERC-721 or ERC-1155 standards, an NFT’s metadata is often saved in the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a peer-to-peer system for preserving multimedia files.
Because it doesn’t function the way most file systems do, IPFS is a special kind of file system. For example, a content ID (CID) is generated for each file saved on the IPFS network and dispersed among various independent storage providers.
But how can you identify the most reliable file storage providers, even with powerful content addressing? The structure for a reputation system and a means of communication with various storage providers are provided by Filecoin.
Additionally, NFT.Storage, which is entirely free and devoted to storing NFTs, was introduced by IPFS. If you’ve invested any money in a nonfungible token, you can quickly secure its long-term preservation by uploading the data related to it to IPFS and Filecoin using NFT.Storage.
The metadata stored on the IPFS network is then returned to the smart contract as a hash and pinned to the protocol. The resultant URL is recorded in a self-executing contract’s storage and linked to the ID of the relevant token.
The same URL resolves to a JSON object on the web with a clear structure and set of properties. It needs specific fields (ie, name, description and image) to show the content properly when integrated with the most well-known marketplaces, including OpenSea and Rarible.
How can you view the metadata of any NFT?
A random number generator will assign a set of characteristics to your NFT when an NFT project is made available for the minting, and you purchase it. This information is kept in the metadata. The metadata of the token is immutably recorded on the blockchain. This record contains details on the token’s meaning, current owner and transactional activity history. So, how do you generate NFT metadata?
Viewing an NFT’s metadata, confirming its ownership and tracing its transaction history are all possible using an NFT tracking and verification service through which you can verify that the token ID and contract address are connected to the legitimate owner of the content using a marketplace database.
If you select a service that complies with NFT’s coding standard, one of the many NFT verification tools available can search for you. An Ethereum blockchain explorer called Etherscan is a well-known tool for locating and confirming NFTs. The platform allows users to verify transaction histories, wallet addresses, metadata, smart contracts and other on-chain data. Similarly, you can access all the NFT metadata you require on the BNB Chain network by using a blockchain explorer like BscScan.
However, to retrieve the metadata of a nonfungible token from the smart contracts that control it, you’ll need to access the NFT’s smart contract. The metadata should be accessible for inspection and verification under the contract’s “Details” section. If the NFT complies with the current nonfungible token standard, the following details ought to be shown:
Once you have the token ID, you may look for the token owner’s address by searching the blockchain and marketplace archives. However, be informed that you cannot access other credentials of NFTs than the blockchain address of the account’s owner unless they have been made public.
Furthermore, it is vital to note that the main components of a centralized NFT are kept in a single location that the developer is unable to alter. On the contrary, the author is always free to substitute an editable NFT for the storage connection. Since frozen NFTs have been tagged as suspicious, they cannot be sold or transferred.
Now, if you are wondering how to view and download an NFT, the simple answer is that the token URI or Uniform Resource Identifier of a nonfungible token contains the location of the NFT’s image. There should be an image value in the JSON metadata output that links directly to the NFT image. After navigating to the image of your choice, right-click on it and save it to your computer, which will complete the downloading process.
How to view your NFT on OpenSea?
It’s simple to find NFTs on OpenSea; all you have to do is visit their website. Enter the URL https://opensea.io/, and you can choose to click Browse or scroll down. OpenSea will welcome you with a plethora of NFTs if you browse down the home page. Click on the item that grabs your attention and begin purchasing if you have ETH in your wallet.
Alternatively, go to the search tab to find the NFTs collection of your choice and then buy it if you own some ETH. If you want to make sure you have received your NFT after buying, simply select the OpenSea menu, then select Account, Profile and jump to the Collected tab. All of your NFTs that you have accumulated on your unique wallet address can be found here. Also, by utilizing Etherscan, you can validate your transaction on the blockchain.
Are NFTs a good investment?
All digital assets, including nonfungible tokens, are volatile in nature and prone to cyber threats. Therefore, before investing in NFTs, ensure that you understand the risks and returns of the investment. Also, consider your financial objectives before committing your hard-earned money to digital art, in-game items like avatars or domain names.
Related: A beginner’s guide on the legal risks and issues around NFTs
Additionally, ask yourself a simple question: Why do you want to buy NFTs? If you know the answer, you may proceed ahead. Otherwise, don’t risk your financial stability by putting your funds into something about which you are unsure.