Using the Domain Name System To Store Arbitrary String Attributes
RFC 1464

Document Type RFC - Experimental (May 1993; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                       R. Rosenbaum
Request for Comments: 1464                 Digital Equipment Corporation
                                                                May 1993

                     Using the Domain Name System
                  To Store Arbitrary String Attributes

Status of this Memo

   This memo defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet
   community.  Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested.
   Please refer to the current edition of the "IAB Official Protocol
   Standards" for the standardization state and status of this protocol.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

   While the Domain Name System (DNS) [2,3] is generally used to store
   predefined types of information (e.g., addresses of hosts), it is
   possible to use it to store information that has not been previously
   classified.

   This paper describes a simple means to associate arbitrary string
   information (ASCII text) with attributes that have not been defined
   by the DNS.  It uses DNS TXT resource records to store the
   information.  It requires no change to current DNS implementations.

1.  Introduction

   The Domain Name System is designed to store information that has both
   a predefined type and structure.  Examples include IP addresses of
   hosts and names of mail exchangers.  It would be useful to take
   advantage of the widespread use and scaleability of the DNS to store
   information that has not been previously defined.

   This paper proposes the use of the DNS TXT resource record (defined
   in STD 13, RFC 1035) to contain new types of information.  The
   principal advantage of such an approach is that it requires no change
   to most existing DNS servers.  It is not intended to replace the
   process by which new resource records are defined and implemented.

2.  Format of TXT record

   To store new types of information, the TXT record uses a structured
   format in its TXT-DATA field.  The format consists of the attribute
   name followed by the value of the attribute.  The name and value are
   separated by an equals sign (=).

Rosenbaum                                                       [Page 1]
RFC 1464          Storing Arbitrary Attributes in DNS           May 1993

   For example, the following TXT records contain attributes specified
   in this fashion:

        host.widgets.com   IN   TXT   "printer=lpr5"
        sam.widgets.com    IN   TXT   "favorite drink=orange juice"

   The general syntax is:

        <owner> <class> <ttl> TXT "<attribute name>=<attribute value>"

   Attribute Names

   Any printable ASCII character is permitted for the attribute name.
   If an equals sign is embedded in the attribute name, it must be
   quoted with a preceding grave accent (or backquote: "`").  A
   backquote must also be quoted with an additional "`".

   Attribute Name Matching Rules

   The attribute name is considered case-insensitive.  For example, a
   lookup of the attribute "Favorite Drink" would match a TXT record
   containing "favorite drink=Earl Grey tea".

   During lookups, TXT records that do not contain an unquoted "=" are
   ignored.  TXT records that seem to contain a null attribute name,
   that is, the TXT-DATA starts with the character "=", are also
   ignored.

   Leading and trailing whitespace (spaces and tabs) in the attribute
   name are ignored unless they are quoted (with a "`").  For example,
   "abc" matches " abc<tab>" but does not match "` abc".

   Note that most DNS server implementations require a backslash (\) or
   double quote (") in a text string to be quoted with a preceding
   backslash.  Accent grave ("`") was chosen as a quoting character in
   this syntax to avoid confusion with "\" (and remove the need for
   confusing strings that include sequences like "\\\\").

   Attribute Values

   All printable ASCII characters are permitted in the attribute value.
   No characters need to be quoted with a "`".  In other words, the
   first unquoted equals sign in the TXT record is the name/value
   delimiter.  All subsequent characters are part of the value.

   Once again, note that in most implementations the backslash character
   is an active quoting character (and must, itself, be quoted).

Rosenbaum                                                       [Page 2]
RFC 1464          Storing Arbitrary Attributes in DNS           May 1993

   All whitespace in the attribute value is returned to the requestor
   (it is up to the application to decide if it is significant.)
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