Internet-Draft rdap-extensions February 2024
Newton, et al. Expires 30 August 2024 [Page]
Registration Protocols Extensions (regext)
7480, 9082, 9083 (if approved)
Intended Status:
Standards Track
A. Newton
J. Singh
T. Harrison

RDAP Extensions


This document describes and clarifies the usage of extensions in RDAP.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

This Internet-Draft will expire on 30 August 2024.

Table of Contents

1. Background

The Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) defines a uniform means to access data from Internet operations registries, specifically Domain Name Registries (DNRs) and Internet Number Registries (INRs). The queries for DNRs and INRs are defined in [RFC9082] and the responses for DNRs and INRs are defined in [RFC9083].

RDAP contains a means to define extensions for queries not found in [RFC9082] and responses not found in [RFC9083]. RDAP extensions are also described in [RFC7480]. This document uniformly describes RDAP extensions, clarifies their usage, and defines additional semantics that were previously undefined.

2. The RDAP Extension Identifier

Section 6 of [RFC7480] describes the identifier used to signify RDAP extensions and the IANA registry into which RDAP extensions are to be registered.

In brief, RDAP extensions identifiers start with an alphabetic character and may contain alphanumeric characters and "_" (underscore) characters. This formulation was explicitly chosen to allow compatibility with variable names in programming languages and transliteration with XML.

When in use in RDAP, extension identifiers are prepended to URL path segments, URL query parameters, and JSON object member names (herein further referred to as "JSON names"). In all cases, the extension identifier acts as a namespace preventing collisions between extension elements.

Additionally, implementers and operators can use the extension identifiers to find an extensions definition (via the IANA registry).

RDAP extension identifiers have no explicit structure and are opaque in that no inner-meaning can be "seen" in them. This document restricts the syntax of RDAP extension identifiers from containing two consecutive "_" (underscore) characters and reserves their use for the future definition of structure (such as to define a versioning scheme). That is, RDAP extensions MUST NOT define an identifier with two consecutive underscore characters ("__") unless explicitly adhering to an RFC describing such usage.

RDAP extensions MUST NOT define an extension identifier that when prepended to an underscore character may collide with an existing extension identifier. For example, if there were a pre-existing identifier of "foo_bar", another extension could not define the identifier "foo". Likewise, if there were a pre-existing identifier of "foo_bar", another extension could not define the identifier "foo_bar_buzz". However, an extension could define "foo" if "foobar" pre-existed and vice versa.

For this reason, usage of an underscore character in RDAP extension identifiers is NOT RECOMMENDED. Implementers should be aware that many existing extension identifiers do contain underscore characters.

3. Usage in Queries

Section 5 of [RFC9082] describes the use of extension identifiers in formulating URIs to query RDAP servers. The extension identifiers are to be prepended to the path segments they use. For example, if an extension uses the identifier foobar, then the path segments used in that extension are prepended with foobar_. If the foobar extension defines paths fizz and fazz, the URIs for this extension might take the following form:


Although [RFC9082] describes the use of URI query strings, it does not define their use with extensions. [RFC7480] instructs servers to ignore unknown query parameters. Therefore, the use of query parameters, prefixed or not with an extension identifier, is undefined as defined in [RFC9082] and [RFC7480].

Despite this, there are several extensions that do specify query parameters. This document updates [RFC9082] with regard to the use of RDAP extension identifiers in URL query parameters.

When an RDAP extension defines query parameters to be used with a URL path that is not defined by that RDAP extension, those query parameter names SHOULD be constructed in the same manner as URL path segments (that is, extensions ID + '_' + parameter name). See section Section 6 regarding when usage of an extension identifier is required.

When an RDAP extension defines query parameters to be used with a URL path defined by that RDAP extension, prefixing of query parameters is not required.

See Section 12 and Section 13 for other guidance on the use of query parameters.

4. Usage in JSON

Section 2 of [RFC9083] describes the use of extension identifiers in the JSON returned by RDAP servers. Just as in URIs, the extension identifier is prepended to JSON names to create a namespace so that the JSON name from one extension will not collide with the JSON name of another extension. And just as with URIs, clients are to ignore unknown JSON names.

The example given in [RFC9083] is as follows:

  "handle" : "ABC123",
  "lunarNIC_beforeOneSmallStep" : "TRUE THAT!",
  "remarks" :
      "description" :
        "She sells sea shells down by the sea shore.",
        "Originally written by Terry Sullivan."
  "lunarNIC_harshMistressNotes" :
    "In space,",
    "nobody can hear you scream."

In this example, the extension identified by lunarNIC is prepended to the names of both a JSON string and a JSON array.

4.1. Child JSON Values

Prefixing of the extension identifier is not required of children of a prefixed JSON object defined by an RDAP extension.

The following example shows this use with a JSON object.

  "handle" : "ABC123",
  "remarks" :
      "description" :
        "She sells sea shells down by the sea shore.",
        "Originally written by Terry Sullivan."
  "lunarNIC_author" :
    "firstInitial": "J",
    "lastName": "Heinlein"

Here the JSON name "lunarNic_author" will separate the JSON from other extensions that may have an "author" structure. But the JSON contained within "lunarNIC_author" need not be prepended as the extension collision is avoided by "lunarNIC_author".

4.2. Bare Extension Identifiers

Some RDAP extensions define only one JSON value and do not prefix it with their RDAP extension identifier instead using the extension identifier as the JSON name for that JSON value. That is, the extension identifier is used "bare" and not appended with an underscore character and subsequent names.

Consider the example in Section 4.1. Using the bare extension identifier pattern, that example could be written as:

  "handle" : "ABC123",
  "remarks" :
      "description" :
        "She sells sea shells down by the sea shore.",
        "Originally written by Terry Sullivan."
  "lunarNIC" :
    "firstInitial": "J",
    "lastName": "Heinlein"

Usage of a bare extension identifier contravenes the guidance in [RFC9083]. This document updates [RFC9083] to explicitly allow this pattern.

5. Camel Casing

The styling convention used in [RFC9083] for JSON names is often called "camel casing", in reference to the hump of a camel. In this style, the first letter of every word, except the first word, composing a name is capitalized. This convention was adopted to visually separate the namespace from the name, with an underscore between them.

Though there is no explicit guidance to use camel case names, extensions would be wise to continue the style.

6. Two Classes of Extensions

Though all RDAP extensions are to be registered in the IANA RDAP extensions registry, there is an implicit two-class system of extensions that comes from the inherit ownership of the RDAP specifications by the IETF: extensions created by the IETF and extensions not created by the IETF.

In the perspective of how extensions identifiers are used as namespace separators, extensions created by the IETF are not required to be prefixed with an extension identifier as the IETF can coordinate its own activities to avoid name collisions. In practice, most extensions owned by the IETF do use extension identifiers.

RDAP extensions not defined by the IETF MUST use the extension identifier as a prefix in accordance with this document, [RFC7480], [RFC9082], and [RFC9083]. And RDAP extensions defined by the IETF SHOULD use the extension identifier as a prefix or as a bare extension identifier (see Section 4.2) IETF defined RDAP extensions that do not follow this guidance MUST describe the necessity to do so.

7. Profile and Marker Extensions

Extensions are not required to extend the JSON or URL components of RDAP.

While the RDAP extension mechanism was created to extend RDAP queries and/or responses, extensions can also be used to signal server policy (for example, specifying the conditions of use for existing response structures). Extensions that are primarily about signalling server policy are often called "profiles".

Some extensions exist to denote the usage of values placed into an IANA registry, such as the IANA RDAP registries, or the usage of extensions to technologies used by RDAP such as extended vCard/jCard properties. Such extensions exist to "mark" these usages and are often called "marker" extensions.

Regardless of the category of these extensions, their usage may also leverage the appearance of their identifiers in the rdapConformance array. Clients may use the /help query as defined in [RFC9082] to discover the extensions available.

8. Extension Versioning

As stated in Section 2, RDAP extensions are opaque and they posses no explicit version despite the fact that some extension identifiers include trailing numbers. That is, RDAP extensions without an explicitly defined versioning scheme are opaquely versioned.

For example, fizzbuzz_1 may be the successor to fizzbuzz_0, but it may also be an extension for a completely separate purpose. Only consultation of the definition of fizzbuzz_1 will determine its relationship with fizzbuzz_0. Additionally, fizzbuzz_99 may be the predecessor of fizzbuzz_0.

If a future RFC defines a versioning scheme (such as using the mechanims defined in section Section 2), an RDAP extension definition MUST explicitly denote this compliance.

8.1. Backwards-Compatible Changes

If an RDAP extension author wants to publish a new version of an extension that is backwards-compatible with the previous version, then one option is for the new version of the extension to define a new identifier, as well as requiring that both the previous identifier and the new identifier be included in the "rdapConformance" array of responses. That way, clients relying on the previous version of the extension will continue to function as intended, while clients wanting to make use of the newer version of the extension can check for the new identifier in the response.

This approach can be used for an arbitrary number of new backwards-compatible versions of a given extension. For an extension with a large number of backwards-compatible successor versions, this may lead to a large number of identifiers being included in responses. An extension author may consider excluding older identifiers from the set required by new successor versions, based on data about client use/support or similar.

8.2. Backwards-Incompatible Changes

With the current extension model, an extension with a backwards-incompatible change is indistinguishable from a new, unrelated extension. Implementors of such changes should consider the following:

  • whether the new version of the extension can be provided alongside the old version of the extension, so that a service can simply support both during a transition period;
  • whether some sort of client signalling should be supported, so that clients can opt for the old or new version of the extension in responses that they receive (see [I-D.newton-regext-rdap-x-media-type] for an example of how this might work); and
  • whether the extension itself should define how versioning is handled within the extension documentation.

9. Extension Identifiers in a Response

Extension specifications have customarily defined only one extension identifier. However, there is no explicit limit on the number of extension identifiers that may be defined in a single extension specification. One example is [I-D.ietf-regext-rdap-rir-search].

Section 4.1 offers the following guidance on using the extension identifiers in RDAP responses:

A response to a "help" request will include identifiers for all of the specifications
supported by the server. A response to any other request will include only identifiers
for the specifications used in the construction of the response.

A strict interpretation of this wording where "construction of the response" only refers to the JSON syntax would rule out the usage of Section 7 extension IDs which are in common use in RDAP. This document updates the guidance. For responses to queries other than "help", a response MUST include in the rdapConformance array only those extension identifiers necessary for a client to deserialize the JSON and understand the semantic meaning of the content within the JSON, and all extensions identifiers MUST be free from conflict in both their syntactic and semantic meaning.

Note that this document does not update the guidance from Section 4.1 regarding "help" responses and the rdapConformance array.

When a server implementation supports multiple extensions, it is RECOMMENDED that the server also support and return versioning information as defined by [I-D.gould-regext-rdap-versioning].

10. Extension Definitions

Extensions must be documented in an RFC or in some other permanent and readily available reference, in sufficient detail that interoperability between independent implementations is possible.

Though RDAP gives each extension its own namespace, the definition of an extension may re-use definitions found in the base RDAP specification or in any other properly registered extension.

[RFC9083] notes that the extension identifiers provide a "hint" to the client as to how to interpret the response. This wording does not intentionally restrict the extension to defining only JSON values within the extensions namespace. Therefore, an extension may define the use of its own JSON values together with the use of JSON values from other extensions or RDAP specifications. As with the ICANN profile or NRO profile extensions, the extension may simply signal policy applied to already defined RDAP structures.

11. Existing Extension Registrations

The following extensions have been registered with IANA, but do not comply with the requirements set out in the base specifications, as clarified by this document:

Client authors should be aware that responses that make use of these extensions may require special handling on the part of the client. Also, while these extensions will be retained in the registry, future extensions that are similarly noncompliant will not be registered.

To avoid any confusion with the operation of the existing entries, an extension registration that attempts to use one of the RDAP conformance values given in this section as an extension identifier (and so as an RDAP conformance value also) will be rejected.

12. Redirects

[RFC7480] describes the use of redirects in RDAP. Redirects are prominent in the discovery of authoritative INR servers as the process outlined in [RFC9224], which uses IANA allocations, does not account for transfers of resources between INRs. Section 4.3 instructs servers to ignore unknown query parameters. As it relates to issuing URLs for redirects, servers MUST NOT blindly copy query parameters from a request to a redirect URL as query parameters may contain sensitive information, such as security credentials, not relevant to the target server of the URL. Following the advice in [RFC7480], servers SHOULD only place query parameters in redirect URLs when it is known by the origin server (the server issuing the redirect) that the target server (the server referenced by the redirect) can process the query parameter and the contents of the query parameter are appropriate to be received by the target.

As it is unlikely that every server in a cross-authority, redirect scenario will be upgraded to process every new extension, extensions should not solely rely on query parameters to convey information about a resource as query parameters are not guaranteed to survive a redirect.

This does not mean extensions are prohibited from using query parameters, but rather that the use of query parameters must be applied for the scenarios appropriate for the use of the extension. Therefore, extensions SHOULD NOT rely on query parameters when the extension is to be used in scenarios requiring clients to find authoritative servers, such as that described above, or other scenarios using redirects among servers of differing authorities.

Extensions MAY use query parameters in scenarios where the client has an a priori knowledge of the authoritative server to which queries are to be sent. Such scenarios are generally queries intended to yield multiple results, authentication or authorization, and other scenarios where the behavior of requests across multiple authorities is undefined.

In general, extension authors should be mindful of situations requiring clients to directly handle redirects at the RDAP layer. Some clients may not be utilizing HTTP libraries that provide such an option, and many HTTP client libraries that do provide the option do not provide it as a default behavior. Additionally, requiring clients to handle redirects at the RDAP layer adds complexity to the client in that additional logic must be implemented to handle redirect loops, parameter deconfliction, and URL encoding. The guidance given in Section 5.2 exists to simplify clients, especially those constructed with shell scripts and HTTP command-line utilities.

13. Referrals

It is common in the RDAP ecosystem to link from one RDAP resource to another, such as can be found in domain registrations in gTLD DNRs. These are typically conveyed in the link structure defined in Section 4.2 of [RFC9083] and use the "application/rdap+json" media type.

  "value" : "https://regy.example/domain/foo.example",
  "rel" : "related",
  "href" : "https://regr.example/domain/foo.example",
  "type" : "application/rdap+json"

Extensions MUST explicitly define any required behavioral changes to the processing of referrals, otherwise clients MUST assume the information provided by referrals requires no additional processing or modification to use in the dereferencing of the referral.

14. Acknowledgements

The following individuals have provided feedback and contributions to the content and direction of this document: James Gould, Daniel Keathley, and Ties de Kock.

15. References

15.1. Normative References

Gould, J., Keathley, D., and M. Loffredo, "Versioning in the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP)", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-gould-regext-rdap-versioning-02, , <>.
Newton, A. and J. Singh, "An RDAP With Extensions Media Type", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-newton-regext-rdap-x-media-type-01, , <>.
Newton, A., Ellacott, B., and N. Kong, "HTTP Usage in the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP)", STD 95, RFC 7480, DOI 10.17487/RFC7480, , <>.
Hollenbeck, S. and A. Newton, "Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) Query Format", STD 95, RFC 9082, DOI 10.17487/RFC9082, , <>.

15.2. Informative References

Harrison, T. and J. Singh, "RDAP RIR Search", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-regext-rdap-rir-search-07, , <>.
Hollenbeck, S. and A. Newton, "JSON Responses for the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP)", STD 95, RFC 9083, DOI 10.17487/RFC9083, , <>.
Blanchet, M., "Finding the Authoritative Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) Service", STD 95, RFC 9224, DOI 10.17487/RFC9224, , <>.

Authors' Addresses

Andy Newton
Jasdip Singh
Tom Harrison