Internet registries for both number resources and names have historically maintained a lookup service to permit public access to some portion of the registry database. Most registries offer the service via WHOIS (RFC 3912), with additional services being offered via world wide web pages, bulk downloads, and other services, such as RPSL (RFC 2622).
WHOIS has never been internationalized. In the absence of formal specification, ad hoc solutions to signal internationalized registration data have been adopted and deployed. Providing a standards-based solution that scales well could minimize further proliferation of ad hoc solutions.
WHOIS also has no data model: replies are basically just free-form text. This means that processing of WHOIS output amounts to "screen scraping", with specialized handlers for every service. While many of the domain name registries share a basic common output format, the addition of data elements changes the output and causes problems for parsers of the data.
The WHOIS protocol does not offer any differential service; it cannot differentiate among clients to offer different subsets of information or to allow different access rates to it.
Various attempts to solve the limitations of WHOIS have met with mixed success. The most recent of these was IRIS (RFC 3981). IRIS has not been a successful replacement for WHOIS. The primary technical reason for this appears to be the complexity of IRIS, the fact that it builds upon many available technologies that in the aggregate form a complex system. There may also exist non-technical reasons, but they lie in areas upon which the IETF does not pass judgement.
In recent years, ARIN and RIPE NCC have fielded production RESTful web services to serve WHOIS data, and each has met with success. It is widely believed that this simpler re-use of Web technologies familiar to modern web developers has enabled this success. The purpose of this working group is to broaden the use of RESTful web services by achieving simple and common URI patterns and responses amenable to all number resource and domain name registries.
This Working Group shall determine the general needs of such a service, and standardize a single data framework. That framework shall be used to encapsulate objects that could form part of an answer. The framework shall be for data to be delivered via a RESTful data service using HTTP (optionally using TLS), and may use standard features of HTTP to support differential service levels to different classes of user. The data shall have one mandatory format, though the working group may consider other optional formats. The overall effort will be broadly aligned with a subset of the Cross Registry Internet Service Protocol (CRISP) Requirements (RFC 3707), but with the explicit additional goals of producing a simple, easy-to-implement protocol, supporting internationalized registration data and, specifically for name registries, capturing the needs of internationalized domain names in the data model.
As the number registries have more experience with these services and have found common ground, with their dissimilarities resulting in more complete working group input documents, the goals of the working group are to produce standards-track specifications for both number and name registries using the fashion and pattern of the number registry input documents, draft-newton-et-al-weirds-rir-query and draft-newton-et-al-weirds-rir-json-response, as an initial basis.
Work to specify the query for domain name registration data will be based on draft-sheng-weirds-icann-rws-dnrd.
The Working Group shall determine the general requirements of such a service, using draft-kucherawy-weirds-requirements as an input document, and standardize a single data framework. The working group will likely not seek publication of this draft.
Should the Working Group reach a point where it determines that the problem of producing a grand unified specification for both numbers and names appears to be intractable, it will be permitted to divide the problem into separate tasks and amend its milestones accordingly.