Archive for the 'echIDNA' Category

EchIDNA Speaks Korean

Monday, August 20th, 2007

안녕하세요! There are two pieces of great news I’d like to report, both of which relate to the Korean Internet users community.

First of all, EchIDNA is now localized to Korean thanks to Jaeyoun Kim (www.김재연.kr) who took the initiative that triggered a collaboration between us where he translated the EchIDNA user interface into Korean and I added localization support to the code. While I have long been thinking about localizing EchIDNA, I never did get around to doing it so I’m really glad that it’s finally out.

Here’s a screenshot of it in action:

EchIDNA Korean UI screenshot

This move was largely motivated by the disheartening news that Verisign discontinued its IDN Web Navigation system on July 25th 2007. A bit of explanation of the so-called IDN Web Navigation System is in order. Basically, every IDN registered in the com and net TLD gets one or more A records inserted into the zone that points to a Verisign web server(s). These are not punycode domain names but binary representation of the IDN in local code pages where it is likely used, plus maybe some IE-specific behavior. The latter refers to an IE5/6 quirk that will encode the individual bytes of the domain name in the system code page to UTF-8 by treating them as ISO8859-1 characters. By doing so, users who are using non-IDN aware browsers will be redirected to Verisign’s web service which will then offer them the ability to download its i-Nav plug-in, and at the same time select the correct IDN domain to navigate to. Since the A records are binary representations, there is a possibility of collision which explains why the users have to select. It’s not hard to imagine that the general Internet users may mistake i-Nav to be the Web Navigation system that they were using, and since it works why bother downloading anything? So my guess is that many users simply ignored the i-Nav download part and click through to the site they wanted to go to. When the service was discontinued these users were lost. It didn’t take long for the domain owners to notice and complaints started flooding into the registrars and hosting providers. Some of these complaints also made it to NIDA which had an agreement with Verisign to distribute the i-Nav plug-in (and since users confuse i-Nav with the IDN web navigation system, it just looked like “i-Nav stopped working”.)

While I agree that this is really a hack and that the service cannot run forever, it is simply too soon as IE7 is not even one year old in Korea. Even though there is technically nothing wrong with discontinuing a hack, I can’t help but question the ethical validity of the decision, given the obscene amount of cash made from these TLDs. I wonder if the transition could be made smoother by first disabling the navigation feature and explaining to the users that they really need to be using an IDN-aware browser or download a plug-in.

Many ccTLD registries (CN, DK, JP, KR, TW to name a few) that offer IDN registration also run a similar web navigation system for their TLD, and AFAIK are still running it.

So, back to EchIDNA. The localized version was released on August 15th, 2007 and is available on http://idn.isc.org/