Coming Soon: All Of Your E-mail Address and Web Site Fields Will Fail

ICANN is going to allow Web domains to use different alphabet sets:

Web sites written in Russian, Korean and other non-ASCII characters soon will be able to have their addresses displayed in the same language.

Testing on 11 pilot sites with internationalized domain names (IDN) could be completed by the end of the year, according to Kim Davies, spokesman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The URLs being tested in Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Japanese, Russian and a handful of other major world languages don’t cover all possible character sets, but broadly represent most countries, Davies told The Standard. Only http://, which is automatically added by browsers, is displayed in English.

Swell.  That means you need to handle Web site addresses like this in your Web applications wherever you let users enter them as parts of profiles or whatnot:

That will be a valid URL as far as I can tell.
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Additionally, you might need to store and send e-mail to addresses like this:

Those are also valid e-mail addresses.  Or street signs warning you not to take photographs of the facilities.

I don’t want to make too big a deal of it, but this fundamentally will alter the way your applications handle e-mail addresses and URLs, so you’d better start thinking about this now and plan for whether your organization is going to explicitly limit data entry to Latin characters or if you’re going to re-engineer your applications and maybe even your databases to accommodate the new standard.

For example, say you’re forced to register at FT.com to read this story about the new change.  Try to enter an address in a foreign language, and bonk:

You see how prevalent this might be.
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Because if you don’t think about it now, eight weeks after the new standard is in place, your C*O is going to be freshly returned from some international conference and will discover his nice counterpart from China cannot enter his e-mail address to receive your company’s newsletter, and you need to fix it now.

You can find  out more about this change at ICANN’s wiki on it.

Good luck, and may your antacid be with you.

4 Responses to “Coming Soon: All Of Your E-mail Address and Web Site Fields Will Fail”

  1. Internationalization was only the beginning… « MGilly’s QA Blog Says:

    […] post to share a terrific post on QA Hates You about the upcoming changes to web domains. Here is the post. Go read it. Go ahead, I’ll wait […]

  2. Twitter Trackbacks for QA Hates You » Blog Archive » Coming Soon: All Of Your E-mail Address and Web Site Fields Will Fail [qahatesyou.com] on Topsy.com Says:

    […] QA Hates You » Blog Archive » Coming Soon: All Of Your E-mail Address and Web Site Fields Will Fai… qahatesyou.com/wordpress/2009/11/02/coming-soon-all-of-your-e-mail-address-and-web-site-fields-will-fail – view page – cached Web sites written in Russian, Korean and other non-ASCII characters soon will be able to have their addresses displayed in the same language. — From the page […]

  3. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by QAHatesYou: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing antacid. http://bit.ly/1DYg63

  4. scarytester Says:

    As Dewi says (see your trackback above), the change to enable foreign characters in URLs itself is not new (I’d put a link here but your blog is telling me off for having a “word” greater than 50 chars, even if it’s a URL), but the change to allow them as country code top level domains (.uk, .au, .jp etc) is.

    In any case, this post has highlighted that it’s even more important to check this kind of validation in applications, because it has been established for some time now and there’s a good chance that it’s not being dealt with.


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