IDNs Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) improve the accessibility and functionality of the Internet by enabling domain names in non-ASCII characters.
Most domain names are registered in ASCII characters (A to Z, 0 to 9, and the hyphen “-“). However, non-English words that require diacritics (such as words in Spanish and French and other languages that use non-Latin scripts, such as Kanji and Arabic) cannot be rendered in ASCII. As a result, millions of Internet users struggle to find their way online using non-native scripts and languages. IDNs enable domain names in non-ASCII characters.
A domain name is a unique word or phrase in a particular format that allows people to find information on the Internet. The Domain Name System (DNS) maps domain names to servers where the corresponding content resides, based on each server’s Internet Protocol (IP) address (for example, 220.127.116.11 or 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334). When a user enters a domain name into a Web browser or sends an email, the application looks up the domain name to find the IP address. The resolution process uses the data in the DNS to determine which IP addresses correspond to a particular domain name. Computer users around the world use different keyboards or Input Method Editors (IMEs), including soft keyboards, and have operating systems that facilitate using their native-language scripts for input. IDNs use the Unicode universal character set to simplify native-language navigation.
A registrant requests an IDN from a registrar that supports IDNs. The registrar converts the local-language characters into a sequence of supported letters using an ASCII-compatible encoding (ACE). The registrar submits the ACE string to the FreeYourID® Shared Registration System (SRS) where it is validated. The IDN is added to the .com and .net TLD zone files and propagated across the Internet.
When a user enters an IDN using native scripts into a Web browser or follows a link, IDN-enabled applications encode the characters into an ACE string that the DNS understands. The DNS processes the request and returns the information to the application. Although the process sounds simple, IDN-enabled application and the DNS support of different languages and scripts has required significant research and development.