nonstic Random snippets of mac and rails goodness

15 January 2010 @ 2pm

The Internet

IDNs, or “How To Register a Domain Name With Funny-Looking Characters”

My buddy John Gruber1 recently started using a vanity URL-shortener with the domain name “✪”.

“Wow” I said to myself. “How the heck did he get a domain name with a non-alphanumeric character in it?”

Any registrar that i’ve familiar with cheerfully informs you that only letters (a-z) and numbers (0-9) are allowed in domain names. The only non-alphanumeric character allowed is a hyphen (-).

After some thrashing around, I discovered that our good old Internet Domain Name System does support Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs. As far as I can tell, pretty much any unicode character can be used. Which means you can open up the “Special Characters” palette on your Mac (charmap on Windows), and make up whatever “symbolized” domain name you like.

Registering an Internationalized Domain Name

  1. Find an Internationalized Domain Name that you want. (I don’t know this for sure, but I imagine you can use pretty much any character(s) you want from the “Special Characters” palette on you Mac.)

  2. Convert the unicode domain name to “punycode” (no, i’m not making this up). This converts Unicode characters into an ASCII representation. You can use an on online conversion tool, such as the one offered by Verisign or there is a Mac app called “PunyCode” that will do the conversion.

  3. Find a registrar which supports IDN domain names.

  4. Use their IDN search tool to see if your domain name is available. You must use the punycode representation of your domain to search. Register away!

  5. Profit!

  1. And by “buddy”, I mean, I follow him on Twitter. 

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