Archive for the 'idnoss' 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

IDN in the News

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

In the past week or so, we have seen a few pieces of news worth mentioning here:

September 30RFC4690Review and Recommendations for Internationalized Domain Names was published. Here’s the abstract from the document:

This note describes issues raised by the deployment and use of Internationalized Domain Names. It describes problems both at the time of registration and for use of those names in the DNS. It recommends that IETF should update the RFCs relating to IDNs and a framework to be followed in doing so, as well as summarizing and identifying some work that is required outside the IETF. In particular, it proposes that some changes be investigated for the Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA) standard and its supporting tables, based on experience gained since those standards were completed.

Yes, you heard right – it is a proposal to update the IDNA standard. The story is this: IDNA is based on Unicode version 3.2 which means that many newly added characters (especially many African scripts) will not be usable as domain names. Unicode is at version 5.0 now and is continually being updated. The fact that IDNA has no versioning feature is a massive headaches for the standards bodies and implementors alike.

October 18 – The much anticipated IE7 was officially released. Internet Explorer is the last but largest major browser to support IDN, making this the most important event for the world of IDN.

October 23 – Afilias announces new scripts (Polish, Swedish, Danish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian and Korean) for IDN in .INFO (Press Release).

More IDN news to follow, stay tuned.

EchIDNA 1.1 Released

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Just released version 1.1 of EchIDNA which includes confusable characters detection and bulk punycode conversion tool. It has been 16 months since the last release in April 2005, and I’m glad I finally managed to dedicate some time on it. Head over to to download it.

Here’s a shot of it in action:

EchIDNA 1.1 screen shot

ICANN IDN Workshop Presentation

Sunday, December 12th, 2004

Returned from the my first ICANN meeting in Cape Town, where I gave a presentation on James Seng’s brainchild—IDN-OSS, in which I am taking a technical role to develop an open source plug-in to enable IDN functionality in Internet Explorer. Presentation slides are available here.

I was also lucky enough to present on behalf of Darin Fisher (netwerk God at Mozilla) the status of Mozilla’s IDN support.

Also on the same panel was Michel Suignard from Microsoft, who talked about the challenges of implementing IDN in Internet Explorer from a security perspective. From what I gathered, don’t expect IDN support in IE for at least a year from now.

IDN-OSS new release

Monday, March 1st, 2004

We just released the new IDN-OSS plugin for IE (still alpha), featuring a taskbar icon (wheeee!) and on-the-fly enable/disable. Head over to to get it!


Saturday, February 28th, 2004

I’ve been working on IDN-OSS for a few months now. Although we have yet to produce a usable product suitable for the general audience, we have just released an alpha-quality plugin for Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 2000/XP. There is also a simple IDN conversion tool for Windows.

There is still a lot of work to be done, so I will continue to work on the client for the next couple of weeks to bring it to the masses. Stay tuned!