*Home > For Developers

For Developers

Proof of concept - the Asterisk (or splat) browser

An undergraduate CS 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 TLDS.

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/Splat 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- the original prototype is outdated and deprecated, but the concept was demonstrated - which was the objective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 you expect any browser to handle IDNA addresses.

A proper standards document should be written.  Or if you're interested in a challenge, try nesting Multiplexed names within Internationalized 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 23, 2018
W. Kenneth Ryan