Internationalized Domain Names for Beginners
What is a web address?
Every web site has an address. For example, the address of the popular search engine Yahoo is http://www.yahoo.com. Web site addresses are also known as URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators.
Components of a web address
In general, URLs adhere to a standard order, starting with name of server, followed by name of organization, and ending with type of organization.
URLs are, in essence, directions for your Internet browser. For example, examine the following URL:
- http, which stands for hyper text transfer protocol, is the standard used for Internet communications. When you type "http" into your browser, you are instructing it to link you to the Internet.
- www stands for World Wide Web, the popular online information archive that is an application that runs on the Internet.
- In the example above, "yahoo.com" is a domain name, which is defined as "a network name associated with an organization."
Domain names have a hierarchy. Each portion of a domain name separated by a period or dot is a domain.
- So, using the "yahoo.com" example again, the ".com" within "yahoo.com" is the top-level domain (TLD). The "Yahoo" within the "Yahoo.com" is the second-level domain (SLD).
- Besides .com (commercial), other accepted TLDs include .edu (U.S. educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), .mil (U.S. military), and .net (network provider.)
All of the URLs below include these standard TLDs:
- In other countries, the top-level domain often is the country code. For example, the address for Oxford University is http://www.ox.ac.uk, Yahoo!'s China and Singapore site are http://www.yahoo.com.cn and http://www.yahoo.com.sg respectively.
After the user types the web address on the URL bar, the web address/URL converts into an IP (Internet Protocol) address. IP address is a purely numerical location code (separated by dots e.g. http://18.104.22.168) that connects users to web servers.
Unlike telephone numbers, IP addresses are not stored in any directory. Therefore, without any method of reference or association, most people do not know and cannot remember the purely numeric IP addresses of the web sites they visit. Most people would prefer typing in an alphanumeric web address. The alphanumeric web addresses are then automatically pointed to the corresponding IP addresses, and users are connected to the web sites they want to visit.
For example, if someone wants to visit Yahoo, he/she will type in http://www.yahoo.com instead of the IP address http://22.214.171.124, even though they will arrive at the same web site.
Domain Name, a component of a web address
As illustrated above, domain name refers to the latter part of the URL. It is the alphanumeric name given to IP addresses so that users can easily remember Web site addresses. For example, i-DNS.net is the domain name for our Web site. Domain names are separated into several levels of hierarchies, each separated by periods.
Problems with Current Domain Name System
The technology through which the Internet was developed was based on Roman-alphanumeric text codes (or ASCII characters) because it was targeted at English-speaking users. English quickly became the dominant language used on the Internet.
For example, until a year ago, the current Domain Name System (DNS) only accepts web addresses in Roman-alphanumeric characters. As a result, only web addresses with Roman-alphabet characters can automatically be converted to numerical IP addresses.
What does all this mean? It means that non-English speaking people from across the world are excluded from accessing the Internet. Even if they attempt to access the Internet, most will encounter great difficulties navigating through the Internet as they are not familiar with Roman characters. Either they turn to typing in the numerical IP addresses or they have to struggle to memorize the Roman characters of the web addresses.
For example, Chinese Internet users who want to visit Yahoo! will have to type in the IP address of 126.96.36.199 because typing in http://www.yahoo.com is tedious or even impossible.
What are Internationalized Domain Names?
Recent technological advances have enabled the registration of domain names that contain non-Roman characters (or non-ASCII characters). Non-English speakers are now empowered to navigate the web in their own languages.
i-DNS.net, the leading provider of such technology, allows the registration of domain names in almost every languages used across the globe. Just like your browser maps http://www.yahoo.com into http://188.8.131.52, i-DNS.net converts a domain name comprising non-Roman characters into Roman character strings and subsequently maps the combined strings into IP addresses.
For example, Chinese Internet users can now access www.njstar.com by keying in () on the web address bar.
i-DNS.net's goal is to continue to find multilingual solutions for non-English speakers and help them to surmount the challenges imposed by language barriers on the Internet. i-DNS.net seeks to open the Internet up as a truly multilingual venue for global communication.
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