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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.  But that was shortly before ICANN launched its flood of new generic top-level domains.

We quietly put it on the shelf.

The prototype makes 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.

Characteristics:

- 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- the original prototype is outdated and deprecated but the concept was demonstrated, which was the objective
- a test suite of 'johnson*[number].com' sites remains active.

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.

A proper standards document must be written.  Or 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 November 2, 2019
W. Kenneth Ryan