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NFTs are a game-changing technology, provide ownership of digital assets and serving as certificates for the holders or access keys for the underlying content, which can be music, movies, art, real estate and many other things. However, what makes non-fungible tokens (NFT) useful in real terms is metadata. It might not exactly be a buzzword, but it ensures that the user is able to understand what NFT is all about.

Metadata is information about the content represented by an NFT. As large files cannot be stored on the blockchain for the simple reason that they are getting too expensive, NFTs, most of the time, just point to files stored outside the blockchain. That said, only one few NFT artworks are stored on the chain.

This article explains NFT metadata, what makes putting content on the blockchain inconvenient and how to find NFT metadata on Opensea and Rarible. Let’s start by understanding what NFT metadata really is.

What is non-fungible token metadata (NFT)?

An NFT refers to a specific digital asset which can be in the form of a JPEG, GIF or MP4 file. Although the token itself is hosted on the blockchain, the file underneath is stored off-chain. NFT metadata indicates the specifications for this stored data. It can include information such as NFT name, NFT description, transaction history, link to hosted image, traits and more.

As for the benefits of NFT metadata, it helps solution architects put aside technical issues when hosting large files on a chain. The preferred practice is to upload the content link to the blockchain while storing the content on an HTTP URL on the current Internet or Interplanetary File System (IPFS).

IPFS is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing network for storing and sharing data in a distributed file. The metadata serves as input to the NFT smart contract to be deployed on the blockchain network.

Metadata is specified in a standardized JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format. Inside of smart contract, although the information is stored as a URI (Universal Resource Identifier), because storing as JSON is too resource-intensive. However, users can download NFT metadata and go.

Why is off-chain data metadata needed?

The large size of images, audio and video content makes uploading them to the blockchain very expensive. For example, if someone wanted shop a gigabyte of data on the Ethereum blockchain would cost around the equivalent of $35 million. If a 160-odd-minute film is stored on a blockchain, it could cost more than the film’s expenditure of $237 million.

The URI string, as mentioned above, indicates a location where the JSON description of the token can be found. The relevant metadata remains a permanent record on the blockchain, describing what the token represents.

What are Opensea and Rarible adding to the NFT ecosystem?

The huge demand for NFTs has led to the need for marketplaces where users can create, transfer and monetize their assets. Marketplaces provide the tools for these activities, so crucial to sustaining the NFT movement. At the top of the ranking are Opensea and Raribletwo open platforms where anyone can mint and trade NFTs.

OpenSea is the world’s first and largest marketplace for NFTs, allowing users to deploy their own collections of NFTs for sale on the platform. By simplifying the complex processes needed to manage and monetize NFTs, OpenSea provides the infrastructure for minting, listing and trading NFTs. Originally designed to support CryptoKitties, OpenSea has become the go-to marketplace for NFT participants.

Rarible is also a peer-to-peer (P2P) gateway to the NFT market, offering easy typing and trading functionality. Unlike OpenSea, Rarible deploys its native token, RARI, to govern the platform and allow RARI holders to vote on critical decisions.

How to view NFT metadata on OpenSea?

Any seasoned trader will want to see NFT metadata on OpenSea to know what NFT is all about. Checking metadata on OpenSea is quite simple. For ease of understanding, let’s focus on finding Ethereum-based NFT metadata.

The process is as follows:

1. Open the NFT for which they want to get metadata.

An NFT on OpenSea

2. Scroll down and click on the “Details” tab and click on the link next to the contract address.

NFT details

3. In the Etherscan link that appears on the screen, then copy the contract address.

Contract

4. The user now types api.opensea.io/asset/ in the URL text box and pastes the copied contract address after a slash at the end of the URL, followed by the asset ID token mentioned in the contract details.

Get metadata from an NFT

Metadata in JSON format is displayed on the screen. To find the metadata of NFTs hosted on other blockchains, we use a relevant blockchain explorer to get the contract address. For example, if the NFT is hosted on the Solana blockchain, clicking the link next to “Contact address” in the “Details” tab brings one to the Solana explorer Solscan.io. One can then use the appropriate API to obtain the metadata.

How to find NFT metadata on Rarible?

Like OpenSea, Rarible also offers a way to find metadata information. To understand the process, let’s use a popular NFT based on the Ethereum blockchain called EXIO, the pilot that enters the atmosphere of a planet controlled by psychedelic consciousness.

Here is the process to find NFT metadata for EXIO on Rarible:

1. On Rarible, the user opens the respective page of the NFT, like EXIO, as shown in the image below.

EXIO, the pilot, looking around the planet

2. Scroll down the screen. Under the Details tab, click Show on Etherscan.

Details of NFT on Etherscan

3. From the screen, click on the token identification number in blue.

Transactional action

4. The user will then be directed to a new page.

5. Copy the contract address.

Etherscan information

6. To find metadata, plug in the following link in the given format.

https://api.rarible.org/v0.1/items/ETHEREUM:Contract address: token identifier

For the indicated contract address, the link will be

https://api.rarible.org/v0.1/items/ETHEREUM:0x3D34D2A719C2666e603650858ac159D12e623B77:10029

The metadata will appear on the screen.

Metadata

To find metadata for NFTs hosted on blockchains other than Ethereum on Rarible, simply replace Ethereum with another blockchain of your choice. In some cases, there is no token ID. Below are examples for each particular blockchain represented on Rarible:

Okay Bear hosted on the Solana blockchain

Metal 12 hosted on the Tezos blockchain

1984 CNN project hosted on the Flow blockchain

DeRace Opie 999 hosted on the Polygon blockchain

Consider metadata when trading on OpenSea and Rarible

Metadata helps users focus on the ownership and negotiability of NFTs, thus making the tokens applicable in a range of use cases like art, real estate, music, fashion, games, chain supplies, luxury goods, ticket sales and more. Immediate access to this important data improves the efficiency of real-world NFT technology implementations. The active use of metadata by users will promote the stability of the ecosystem, adding considerable value to it.

A large portion of traders on platforms like OpenSea and Rarible tend to view metadata as technical stuff and don’t bother to check it. However, any experienced trader would know how important it is to know all possible information about the NFTs they are going to buy. Both platforms offer users easy ways to find metadata on specific NFTs and ensure that the tokens they are buying are worth it.

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