Context and Goals for Common Name Resolution
RFC 2972

Document Type RFC - Informational (October 2000; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                            N. Popp
Request for Comments: 2972                         RealNames Corporation
Category: Informational                                      M. Mealling
                                                       Network Solutions
                                                             L. Masinter
                                                               AT&T Labs
                                                              K. Sollins
                                                            October 2000

              Context and Goals for Common Name Resolution

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document establishes the context and goals for a Common Name
   Resolution Protocol.  It defines the terminology used concerning a
   "Common Name" and how one might be "resolved", and establishes the
   distinction between "resolution" and more elaborate search
   mechanisms.  It establishes some expected contexts for use of Common
   Name Resolution, and the criteria for evaluating a successful
   protocol.  It also analyzes the various motivations that would cause
   services to provide Common Name resolution for both public, private
   and commercial use.

   This document is intended as input to the formation of a Common Name
   Resolution Protocol working group.  Please send any comments to  To review the mail archives, see

1. Introduction

   People often refer to things in the real world by a common name or
   phrase, e.g., a trade name, company name, or a book title.  These
   names are sometimes easier for people to remember and enter than
   URLs; many people consider URLs hard to remember or type.
   Furthermore, because of the limited syntax of URLs, companies and
   individuals are finding that the ones that might be most reasonable

Popp, et al.                 Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 2972       Context & Goals for Common Name Resolution   October 2000

   for their resources are already being used elsewhere and therefore
   unavailable.  Common names are not URIs (Uniform Resource
   Identifiers) in that they lack the syntactic structure imposed by
   URIs; furthermore, unlike URNs, there is no requirement of uniqueness
   or persistence of the association between a common name and a
   resource.  These common names are expected to be used primarily by
   humans (as opposed to machine agents).

   Common name "resolution" is a process of mapping from common names to
   Internet resources; a Common Name Resolution Protocol (CNRP) is a
   network protocol used in such a process.

   A useful analogy for understanding the purpose and scope of common
   names, and CNRP, are everyday (human language) dictionaries.  These
   cover a given language (namespace) -- perhaps a spoken language, or
   some specific subset (e.g., technical terms, etc).  Some dictionaries
   give definitions, others give translations (e.g., to other
   languages).  Different entities publish dictionaries that cover the
   same language -- e.g., Larousse and Collins can both publish French-
   language dictionaries.  Thus, the dictionary publisher is the analog
   to the resolution service provider -- the service can provide a
   value-add and build up name recognition for itself, but does not
   impede other entities from providing definitions for precisely the
   same strings in the language.

   Services are arising that offer a mapping from common names to
   Internet resources (e.g., as identified by a URI).  These services
   often resolve common name categories such as company names, trade
   names, or common keywords.  Thus, such a resolution service may
   operate in one or a small number of categories or domains, or may
   expect the client to limit the resolution scope to a limited number
   of categories or domains.  For example, the phrase "Internet
   Engineering Task Force" is a common name in the "organization"
   category, as is "Moby Dick" in the book category.  A single common
   name may be associated with different data records, and more than one
   resolution service is expected to exist.  Any common name may be used
   in any resolution service.

   Two classes of clients of such services are being built: browser
   improvements and web accessible front-end services. Browser
   enhancements modify the "open" or "address" field of a browser so
   that a common name can be entered instead of a URL.  Internet search
   sites integrate common name resolution services as a complement to
   search. In both cases, these may be clients of back-end resolution
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