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Domain names were initially restricted to the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, the ten digits, and the hyphen. In mid-2003, it became possible to use a large number of additional characters, supporting a wide range of languages. This is done by using the established Latin letters, digits and hyphen, to encode the extended repertoire of new characters. Software that understands this system displays these characters as a user expects to see them, transparently encoding and decoding them as required. This is necessary, for example, when an IDN is entered into the address line of a Web browser. Recent versions of many Web browsers can perform the requisite conversions, and plug-ins are readily available for others. Support for IDN in other applications, such as e-mail programs, is at an earlier stage of development.
Although the formal documentation of IDN support in .museum may seem complex, it is only necessary to understand a few basic principles in order to register and use IDNs.
Latest update: 2005-12-30