Using the .tel TLD for Managing Contacts


Henri Asseily

This week's Technometria podcast is with Henri Asseily, the CTO of Telnic. Telnic is the registry for the .tel top-level domain.

The .tel domain is a little different than most domains you might run across. For one, you can't point it at a Web site (although you can get email through it using MX records). The registry controls the A records for the domain and they all point to a contact page. For example, here's my .tel domain: windley.tel.

Screenshot of windley.tel on Mar 2, 2010

I, of course, control all this data using a Web page that they provide for that purpose. The nifty thing is how it's stored. There's no database behind this, rather the data is all stored in the DNS records for the domain. For example, the system uses NAPTR records (yeah, I didn't know what they were either before this) to store the

pjw:Downloads pjw$ dig windley.tel -tNAPTR
;; ANSWER SECTION:
windley.tel. 60 IN NAPTR 100 100 "u" "E2U+web:http" "!^.*$!http://www.windley.com!" .
windley.tel. 60 IN NAPTR 100 101 "u" "E2U+web:http" "!^.*$!http://xri.net/=windley!" .
windley.tel. 60 IN NAPTR 100 103 "u" "E2U+x-voice:skype" "!^.*$!skype:windley!" .
windley.tel. 60 IN NAPTR 100 102 "u" "E2U+voice:tel+x-work" "!^.*$!tel:+18016494601!" .

You can see that some of the data in the page is available in these records. The textual data is in the TXT records:

pjw:Downloads pjw$ dig windley.tel -tTXT
;; ANSWER SECTION:
windley.tel. 59\tIN TXT ".tlb" "1" "100" "100" "Technometria
windley.tel. 59\tIN TXT ".tlb" "1" "100" "101" "Contact form"
windley.tel. 59\tIN TXT ".tlb" "1" "100" "102" "Phone number at Kynetx"
windley.tel. 59\tIN TXT ".tlb" "1" "100" "103" "My Skype address"

Note that the numbers in the text records are being used to link this data to the data in the NAPTR records.

This is pretty cool because it means that anything that can speak DNS (pretty much everything) could have programmatic access to this data. If you can make DNS queries, you can grab my contact data.

The system allows for me to create profiles and then make different profiles available based on where I am and what I'm doing. I could update my telephone number, preferred method of contact, and so on just by choosing a different profile. Eventually this would be done automatically for you depending on various events in your life. This is where Kynetx comes in, but that's the subject of another post once.