Help develop the DNS Data Dictionary

By on 2 Dec 2021

Category: Tech matters

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The Internet today is a large and dynamic ecosystem that still relies on tools and processes, such as whois, that were designed for a simpler environment.

While there have been many attempts to adjust the whois system, there has never been a fresh approach to examine the system from first principles.

Project Jake is intended to provide a new foundation for Internet-based data collection and disclosure policies related to Domain Name System (DNS) registration. The project is developing a framework for specifying data collection, labelling, and access control rules for Registration Data Directory Services (RDDS).

As we’ve worked on the framework, it has become apparent that the many applications related to the DNS use their own lists of data elements. No single, unified, public list exists to document these elements, nor is there an organized and independent change control process. The end result is quite a bit of reinventing the wheel; new protocols will continue to create their own definitions and terms rather than normalize on what already exists.

To assist with understanding this, we started developing a DNS Data Dictionary to map what is in existing relevant protocols and prevent divergence in new protocols. Some of the terms we’ve captured include ‘registration creation date’, ‘nexus’, ‘transaction history’, as well as various contact-related elements.

With a common dictionary available, protocols can develop their own schema to dictate the syntax and formatting required for their specific needs. While existing documents like RFC 8499, ‘DNS Terminology’, and RFC 9022, ‘Domain Name Registration Data (DNRD) Objects Mapping’, offer some guidance, there is very little overlap in the terms being defined, possibly because of the different goals for the documents.

Get involved

While this is currently defined as a DNS dictionary, we would be very interested in understanding additional use cases where registry data elements would benefit from a common dictionary. 

We hope to have more input from interested individuals to guide the expansion of the DNS Data Dictionary while it is in draft stage. If and when it is approved as an RFC, further changes will go through the usual IETF expert review process (see RFC 8126/BCP 26 if you need a refresher on the expert review process).

The next steps for this draft will be to request the Registration Protocols Extensions (regext) working group adopt the document as a work item. At that point, it becomes the product of the working group and, eventually, a product of the IETF. If you are interested in following — or, better yet, participating in the work to further develop the DNS Data Dictionary — please join the regext working group.

Steve Crocker is an Internet pioneer who helped develop the protocols for the Arpanet and created the RFC Series that documents Internet protocols.

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