The dawn of a new URL

ICANN announced today that its first full-length IDN has gone live.

Here it is: http://وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر

Give it a test drive.

I just did (on the Mac) and Firefox, Safari, and Chrome all worked fine. Here is Safari:

Safari is unique in that it left the URL as is instead of converting it into its “punycode” equivalent shown below:

Firefox, Chrome, and Safari all manage and display IDNs a little bit differently. I have my two cents on how they “should” handle IDNs and I’ll be writing about that shortly.

In the meantime, I’m just thrilled to see a real live full-length IDN.

This is the beginning of the end of the last two roadblocks to a truly multilingual Internet.

A few updates:

Here’s the BBC take.

And as “F Wolff” noted in his comment, this URL above is not the first full-length IDN ever; ICANN has been testing full-length IDNs for some time here. But my point here is that IDNs are now publicly available — in Egypt at least — with many more to come.

And, to clarify, partial IDNs have also been around for years. It was the supporting of IDNs at the top level that has finally enabled the creation of fully non-Latin domains.

So here is Egypt’s IDN:

If you look at the first browser screen grab above, you’ll notice that this string is on the far  left, not on the right, as it is a bidirectional script. But when a bidirectional script gets displayed as punycode, in the second sreen grab, the entire text string is flipped back to left-to-right order.

I find it interesting that the first batch of IDNs to go live also happen to be among the most challenging to support — not just in browser windows but across so many other software applications. But for those working in software globalization, these are exciting challenges!

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

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