Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

IDN Variant TLDs

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What's New on the IDN Variant TLD Program?

3 March 2014: MSR Version 1 (MSR-1) Available for Public Comment
The Maximal Starting Repertoire is the first deliverable under the "Procedure to Develop and Maintain Label Generation Rules for the Root Zone With Respect to IDN Labels" [PDF, 772 KB]. We are seeking feedback from community members working on Internationalized Domain Names (IDN ccTLD and new gTLD applicants) and experts working on the development of Label Generation Rules

5 March 2014: New Version of Internet Draft for LGR Rules Toolset Project (P1) Published
In the context of the Label Generation Ruleset Tool Project (P1), ICANN staff has published a new version of the Internet Draft scoped to develop the specification to represent the IDN LGR.

13 February 2014: Generation Panel for Arabic Script Root Zone Label Generation Rules Seated
Following ICANN's approval of Arabic Script Generation Panel composition and work plan, the Panel has started its work on the Label Generation Rules.

20 November 2013: Root Zone LGR Project Workspace Available on ICANN Community Wiki
This workspace provides information on the Root Zone LGR Procedure, set up guidelines for the Integration and Generation Panels, work status updates, reports, panel memberships, contact information, etc.

11 July 2013: ICANN Calls for Generation Panels to Develop Root Zone Label Generation Rules
A successful IDN Root Zone LGR will include label generation rules for many of the world's scripts. These rules must be established by Generation Panels in accordance with the LGR Procedure [PDF, 772 KB]. ICANN is focusing on panel formation for the following scripts: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Georgian, Greek, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu and Thai. For further information on how to form a Generation Panel or to express individual or group statements of interest for the establishment of a Generation Panel, please refer to the Call for Generation Panels to Develop Root Zone Label Generation Rules.

What are IDN Variant TLDs?

Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, use character sets such as Chinese, Arabic, Cyrillic or any other characters outside US-ASCII. An IDN variant TLD can be defined as one that may look like or be considered exchangeable with another TLD by a user of the related writing system. For example, a string in traditional Chinese commonly has an equivalent simplified Chinese. A potential example is: 顶级域名 and 頂級域名.

The IDN Variant TLD Program

To support IDN variants in the root zone, the ICANN community, at the direction of the Board, undertook several projects to study and make recommendations on their viability, sustainability and delegation. Conducted in four phases spanning three years, these projects form the basis of an implementation plan that will be considered by ICANN's Board of Directors.

We are two years into the Program and have initiated the fourth and last phase of the IDN Variant TLD Program. With the completion of Projects 2.1 and 6, ICANN published two final reports on 21 March 2013: Project 2.1, the IDN Root Label Generation Rules (LGR) Procedure [PDF, 1.39 MB], and Project 6, the User Experience Study for Active Variant TLDs [PDF, 1.38 MB]. During the ICANN Beijing meeting, the IDN Variant team conducted a public session at the ICANN Beijing meeting on the IDN Variant TLD Program to explain the Procedure and the results from the Study. In the meantime, Program's work continues to ensure a secure and stable delegation of IDN variant TLDs and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014. The delegation of IDN Variant TLDs will then enable IDN TLD operators to fully utilize their IDN TLDs to meet their users expectations.

On 11 April 2013 the Board adopted a resolution directing staff to implement the Procedure to Develop and Maintain the Label Generation Rules for the Root Zone in Respect of IDNA Labels [PDF, 772 KB]. The Board also invited interested Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees to provide ICANN staff with any input and guidance they may have to be factored into implementation of the recommendations from the Report on User Experience Implications of Active Variant TLDs [PDF, 1.38 MB].

The Program, now in its final phase, consists of the following implementation projects, as initially planned in the IDN Variant TLD Program Plan [PDF, 576 KB]:

  • Implementation of the Label Generation Ruleset Procedure (Project 2.2), representing the actual development of the Label Generation Rules (LGR) for IDNA Labels for the Root Zone. ICANN's IDN Variant TLD Program moved forward with initiating the implementation of the IDN Root Zone LGR Procedure by publishing the Call for Subject Matter Experts for the IDN Root Zone LGR Integration Panel [PDF, 169 KB] and the Call for Advisors to the IDN Root Zone LGR Panels [PDF, 164 KB]. The work will be carried out as specified in the "Procedure to Develop and Maintain the Label Generation Rules for the Root Zone in Respect of IDNA Labels" [PDF, 1.39 MB] (Procedure) and involves an Integration Panel, a set of Advisors to all Panels and a set of Generation Panels (subject to a separate upcoming call). In keeping with the conservatism principle agreed upon in the LGR Procedure document, the IDN Variant TLD Program's goal is to establish the basis and ensure the creation of a conservative LGR.
  • Identification of updates needed to be implemented in ICANN processes and systems (Project 7) to incorporate the IDN LGR for the Root Zone in the applications evaluation and processing steps. Updates to impacted processes should also account for recommendations from the Report on User Experience Implications of Active Variant TLDs study. Per the ICANN Board resolution adopted in Beijing, the IDN Variant TLD Program team has invited Sponsoring Organizations and Advisory Committees to provide input and advice by 1 July 2013, on the best approach to implement the recommendations from the Report on User Experience Implications of Active Variant TLDs [PDF, 1.38 MB]. The Program team is currently accepting input from interested organizations and committees regarding the recommendations, with guidance as follows:

    • Which recommendations, if any, are pre-requisites to the delegation of any IDN variant TLDs (i.e., delegation of IDN Variant TLDs should not proceed until these recommendations are implemented)?
    • Which recommendations, if any, can be deferred until a later time?
    • Which recommendations, if any, require additional policy work by the ICANN community and should be referred to the relevant stakeholder group for further policy work?
    • Please note that gathering global consensus on the approach ICANN should adopt regarding the recommendations will take time and will impact the implementation steps of the Program.

  • Following the completion of Project 7, subsequent steps will focus on updating ICANN processes and systems (Project 8) to implement the changes required to support IDN variant TLDs. The Program's work continues to ensure a secure and stable delegation of IDN variant TLDs and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014.

As initially indicated by the 25 September 2010 Board resolution, IDN variant TLDs delegation requires that appropriate variant management solutions be developed and implemented. Therefore IDN Variant TLDs cannot be delegated unless Phase 4 work has been finalized and the first version of the root LGR has been published. ICANN is working on accelerating the last phase of the Program in order to provide, as quickly as possible, appropriate solutions to IDN Variant TLDs delegation without compromising the security and stability of the DNS. Per the output of the IDN Root LGR repertoire, it is important to note that there is no certainty that all applied-for IDN Variant TLDs will be delegated.


History of the Program

Designed to be a one-stop resource for IDN variants, this web page summarizes the different phases and activities and provides links to important documents.

Phase 1: Case studies

ICANN conducted case studies in Arabic, Chinese (Han script), Cyrillic, Devanagari, Greek, and Latin scripts, creating a commonly understood glossary of terms and identifying common challenges of linguistic accuracy, technical feasibility, and more.

Please visit the links below to read the individual reports:

Phase 2: Integrated Issues Report

Experts from each case study team collaborated on an Integrated Issues Report, summarizing issues, outlining areas for further study and making recommendations for potential solutions.

Please visit the link below to read the final Integrated Issues Report:

Phase 3: IDN Variant TLD Program

Following the recommendations identified within the Integrated Issues Report, the project team created a Program Plan for the next steps. Phase 3 was initially comprised of the three projects described below. Two of these projects (P2.1 and P6) were finalized on 21 March 2013 with the publication of corresponding final reports. These milestone publications concluded the third (out of four) phase of the Program while Project 1 continues its work during phase 4 to further develop the specifications for the Label Generation Ruleset Tool.

Phase 3 of the Program focused ICANN and community resources on the creation and maintenance of a label generation ruleset process for the root, which is on the critical path to a variant management process for the root zone. A basic assumption is that no variant TLDs can actually be implemented until the necessary community work on the code point repertoire and label generation rules for the root have been finalized.

Label Generation Ruleset Tool Project (P1)

The first project's scope is to develop a specification to represent the IDN LGR and to perform the actions that Registries require to process IDN Variants. ICANN staff leads this project and published, through the IETF technical standard body, a corresponding Internet Draft to gather input from interested parties: http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-davies-idntables. Input should be sent to vip@icann.org.

Procedure to Develop and Maintain the Label Generation Rules for the DNS Root Zone in Respect of IDNA Labels Project (P2.1)

The second project focuses on the development of the process for the creation and maintenance of the LGR. The Project Team consists of a number of consultant experts recruited by ICANN, supported by a team of Internet community experts from across the globe representing multiple scripts and languages. Following two face-to-face sessions, conference and mailing work discussions and numerous community input processes, the team produced the final procedure document entitled "Procedure to Develop and Maintain the Label Generation Rules for the DNS Root Zone in Respect of IDNA Labels" [PDF, 790 KB].

Examining the User Experience Implications of Active Variant TLDs Project (P6)

The third project is a study to understand the issues that end-users, software developers and application developers might face when dealing with IDN Variant TLDs. The team sought to establish a dialog with the community to refine draft proposed principles, impacts and recommendations through numerous public sessions, public webinar and public comment processes. Incorporating inputs received from the community, ICANN staff and expert consultants produced the report entitled "Examining the User Experience Implications of Active Variant TLDs" [PDF, 507 KB]. The output of this project will inform the later project work.

For more information on the IDN Variant TLD Program, please visit the ICANN Community Wiki.

Subscribe to the vip@icann.org public mailing list for discussions on issues related to the IDN Variant TLDs Program by filling out the form available at: https://mm.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/vip

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