Nicolas Williams Nicolas.Williams at oracle.com
Wed Jun 23 01:39:12 CEST 2010

On Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 01:08:02AM +0200, Stéphane Lancel wrote:
> Nicolas,
> Jean-Michel only explained you our Internet User position. The MUSTs you
> refer to are actually "IS/ARE". They document the way the existing DNS IS
> behaving. IF you want it to work properly you MUST do this, because this is
> the way the Internet IS.

I'm afraid we're failing to communicate even though we might actually be
saying the same thing.  See below.

> 2010/6/22 Nicolas Williams <Nicolas.Williams at oracle.com>
> > And by my reading these are very strong normative requirements.  That
> > very first one requirement that I quote above is the most important one.
> > It captures the essense of IDNA.
> There a major difference between "normative" (the way normality is) and
> standardizing (the way things must be). This is a global difficulty borne
> from the size of the systems we consider. This is what IDNA2008 addresses.
> Four us, this is the RFC195/RFC3439/IDNA2008 Internet architecture.

I'm afraid you're confused as to what "normative" and "informative" mean
in English.  "Normative" means "this is how things should be"; it does
not mean "normal".  "Informative" means "this is how things are".  In
fact, Webster's dictionary says:

Function: adjective
Etymology: French normatif, from norme norm, from Latin norma
Date: 1878

1 : of, relating to, or determining norms or standards <normative tests>
2 : conforming to or based on norms <normative behavior> <normative judgments>
3 : prescribing norms <normative rules of ethics> <normative grammar>

Whereas the definition of "informative" is:

Main Entry: in-for-ma-tive
Function: adjective
: imparting knowledge : instructive

IDNA2008 has plenty of normative language.

> > Now, what isn't specified in as much detail is: just what is an
> > "IDN-unaware domain name slot".  Yes, a definition is given in
> > draft-ietf-idnabis-defs-13, but there is no exhaustive list.
> This IS the key point.

OK, so perhaps we are saying more or less the same thing.

> > If anyone
> > is going to complain about lack of normative language in IDNA2008, they
> > should complain about the lack of an exhaustive list of IDN-aware and
> > -unaware domainname slots.
> Here is the IDNA2008 break through. It is not a lack but an architectural
> dramatic progress. IDNA2008 confirms the way domainname slots ARE on the
> Internet (i.e. use of ASCII DNS). It _decided_ NOT to decide about the way
> domainname slots MUST be on the user side. This belong to the Internet use.

I'm not sure I follow.  What is "the user side"?  The user interface?
The user interface should definitely use Unicode (converted to the
user's locale's codeset, if it's not Unicode).  Isn't this patently

> > For example, in the NFSv4 WG we're discussing what to do about NFSv4's
> > domainname slots.  First we need to establish how they are handled by
> > existing implementations.  For at least some, if not all
> > implementations, NFSv4's domainname slots are handled in an IDN-unaware
> > fashion right now.  But that's not entirely dispositive: we could
> > consider a) the cost and likelihood of fixing the deployed base, and b)
> > interoperability options when "legacy" deployments exist, and we could
> > conclude that we'd rather have these slots be declared IDN-aware in
> > spite of their current treatment.  (We're still working this out in the
> > NFSv4 WG; we've not made any decisions yet.)
> You are in the situation of every protocol designer having to use IDNs. This
> is why there is a missing IAB guidance, so we speak of the same thing
> (currently we do not). There is no definition given so far of what an IDN
> is. The one we use is "Internet Domain Name", because  they are supported by

Sure there is: "IDN" == Internationalized Domain Name.  See
draft-ietf-idnabis-defs, section

> the Internet. But there are many other kind of names in use that are or
> could be used on the Internet and interoperably outside of the Internet.
> IDNA2008 has documented that/how the Internet supports IDNs under their
> A-label "xn--" form. Thats all. The "Mapping" document went further, outside
> of the WG/IETF existing scope (making the internet work better). Here we
> discuss making the Internet used better.
> > I have initiated the workon at idna2010.org mailing list to discuss that
> > > "MUST"s and their relations with IDNA2008 "IS/ARE"s, and we reserved
> >
> > Your claims regarding IDNA2008 and lack of normative language in it are
> > clearly incorrect. Your invitation to join yet-another mailing list
> > isn't exactly winning me over.
> No one is interested in discussing the issue (being already on that list or
> not) before IAB says where the standardizing language you/we call for is to
> be discussed and how.

It's absolutely clear to me where to standardize the treatment of the
Internet's many domainname slots: in the fora that are appropriate for
each protocol.  So, to standardize the IDNA handling of NFSv4's
domainname slots you must go to the NFSv4 WG.  For many protocols there
is no currently open WG; for those individual submission I-Ds is the way
to go.


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