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For Developers

Proof of concept - the Asterisk (or Splat) browser
(Splat is an old COBOL programmer term for the asterisk - because it looks like a splat)

An undergraduate Computer Science student once wrote a 'proof of concept' prototype browser we named Asterisk, based on open-source Mozilla Firefox code.  It worked very nicely, but that was shortly before ICANN launched its flood of new generic top-level domains.

We quietly put it on the shelf.

We wonder if something like ChatGPT could be used today to generate the software equivalent of our old prototype.

The prototype made domain name translations completely invisible to the user.  Any name*number.tld address is translated into the corresponding native format for domain name resolution, and any domain name registered in the native format is presented to the user as a convenient 'name*number.tld' web address.


- the Asterisk prototype was based on Mozilla Firefox 2.0 (yeah, that long ago).
- it was written for and first tested on a PC running Windows XP; it has run successfully under Vista and continues to run under Windows 7; it has not been tested on more recent Windows versions, or any other OS.
- changes/additions to the Firefox code allow an asterisk (*) to be input and displayed in domain names
- the browser resolves domain names containing the asterisk which are requested from the address line, links and favorites/bookmarks
- the * addressing token is used for convenience, the second level names were registered in a 'mlx--[name]--[number]' format
- the native registration format could use mux--, the standard abbreviation for multiplexing, or one of IETF's restricted 'nn--' name prefixes
- the prototype was a 'proof of concept' and has run successfully over the public Internet for more than a decade
- the original prototype is outdated and deprecated but the concept was demonstrated, which was our objective
- a test suite of 'johnson*[number].com' sites remains active, but will soon go away

Our goal was not Yet Another Web Browser - the demonstrated function could be added to any browser, just as all modern browsers handle IDNA addresses.

Basic requirements are simple - case must be handled according to IETF rules, a name*0 instance must point to the original (non-multiplexed) instance of the name, the asterisk in names must be case neutral (like the hyphen), proper abbreviation MUX should be used instead of MLX in names, etc.

If you're interested in a challenge, try meshing Internationalized names with Multiplexed names to create Universalized Domain Names.

Get in touch if you have any questions, but please read the FAQ list first.

Full disclosure: we have no financial interest in .com or any other TLD.  Multiplexed domain names are covered by US patent.

Last updated March 1, 2023
W. Kenneth Ryan