Tuesday, May 20, 2008

.tel's record types

In this post I'll talk about how .tel works but I won't get into the exact details and specifications. The full specs, policies, documents, howto's, etc... will be available on the telnic.org website in time for the ICANN meeting in Paris, France on June 23rd. Of course I'll post here the links as soon as the info is up on the official site. In the meantime, I'll write articles in this blog from the point of view of .tel owners, users and developers.

On to how .tel works:

From a technical perspective, the DNS specifications allow storing a staggering amount of different types of data in DNS zones. Traditional TLDs such as .com or even .name use in general the following types:
  • A : the standard name -> IP translation (give a name, return an IP)
  • CNAME: a name that points to another name (so you can have name -> name -> IP)
  • MX: "mail exchange", i.e. an email server for the zone
  • PTR: the opposite of A  (IP -> name)
Those are the main "meat and potatoes" types of records that traditional TLDs use. Taken together, their main goal is to translate back and forth computer names to IP addresses.

.tel on the other hand focuses exclusively on three types of records:
  • NAPTR: your basic key/value pair, where the key is an Enumservice specification
  • TXT: text records, where you store keywords and other freeform text
  • LOC: location records comprised of latitude, longitude and altitude.
That's it. A .tel owner can only work with the above three types of records, but in this case less is more.
If you are proficient in UNIX command-line usage, you can look at my henri.tel domain's info for all three types of records using the following commands:
dig henri.tel NAPTR +bufsize=4000
dig henri.tel TXT
dig henri.tel LOC
Alternatively, use the following links to see the information: NAPTR, TXT, LOC
That's pretty much all there is to a .tel. Remember though that NAPTR records can accept any type of Enumservice, such as voice:tel, web:http or even extensions such as im:x-skype. In addition, NAPTRs can point to any other .tel domain or subdomain, which means that I can point from henri.tel to social.henri.tel.

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