Fostering IDN adoption and growth in India – New IDN features available soon

March is set to be an exciting month in the history of the .IN domain namespace. When the .IN Registry will transition fully to Neustar’s backend technology, a number of new features and improvements will begin to roll out – providing new opportunities for Registrars and end users. The teams at NIXI and Neustar are truly excited to usher in this new age of success for .IN as India’s online identity.

Internationalised Domain Names in India

One of the first updates to be implemented in the new .IN Registry Portal will be the way it handles Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs).

What is an IDN, you ask?

Put simply, an IDN is a domain name that contains characters in a language-specific script or alphabet. For example, domains that end in .भारत (.Bharat in Devanagari Script) or .ভারত (.Bharat in Bengali Script). If you want to know more about the IDN program in .IN, you can read this explainer from NIXI now.

From March onwards, the Neustar-backed .IN Registry will go live with all the seven migrated .Bharat IDN TLDs that currently offer 15 India language tables. In the near future all 22 official languages of India will be supported, once the Centre for Development and Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and NIXI complete the remaining 7 language tables (Kannada, Oriya, Assamese, Sanskrit, Santali, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Malayalam), which will be launched in the .Bharat IDN TLDs selected by NIXI.

The current .Bharat IDN TLDs and their supported Indian language tables are as follows:

Puny-what? IDNs, the old way

One of the major issues is that until now, you could only register and manage IDN domains using something called Punycode via the Registry web interface.

Essentially, Punycode transcribes domains in international languages into ASCII characters – the alphabet used for English and other languages online.

If you’re a real technophile (or if you have insomnia and need something to put you to sleep!), you can read about how Punycode works here.

But in short – Registry users shouldn’t have to learn Punycode to register an IDN.

If you want to register name.bharat in Devanagari, you should be able to enter नाम.भारत in Devanagari script – simple as that. But previously, you would have to find the Punycode transcription and enter xn--l2bm1c.xn--h2brj9c to register your domain via the Registry portal.

Our new Registry web portal allows Registrars to provide IDNs in their native script (no Punycode encoding required) from registration all the way to management and reporting of IDNs. The Registry handle the encoding of the IDN and will include the Punycode form of the IDN as well to ensure that there is no misunderstanding.

Improving the IDN experience

At our recent Registrar Seminar in Mumbai, this exact issue was raised by Ms Tejal Tiwary, Dy. Director at ERNET, India’s National Research and Education Network. ERNET is also the exclusive Registrar supporting the, and vidya.bharat academia domain name zones, as well as the research domain name zone.

Ms Tiwary lamented that this process has impacted ERNET’s ability to support IDNs, saying that “the challenge managing IDNs through the Registry portal currently means she must use an external puny-code converter to search, list and manage IDNs.”

To solve this problem, we’re happy to report that the new Neustar-backed .IN Registry will enable end-to-end Registry web Portal language support. No more Punycode transcriptions, just intuitive IDN registration in the chosen script.

We’re confident this important new feature will improve the experience for all Registrars, increasing diversity and strengthening .IN’s space in India’s digital ecosystem.

As Ms Tiwary explains, “It will be immensely helpful to ERNET and its academia customers to soon be able to search, register and manage their IDNs in the actual language-specific script or alphabet. This will indeed be a new age of success for India’s digital economy and internet users.”

Stay tuned for more on the improvements and updates to the .IN domain name Registry, coming soon.

This article originally appeared on the .IN Registry Transition Support blog here.