Progress with Email Address Internationalisation

Progress with Email Address Internationalisation

2018-09-07T08:15:52+00:00September 6th, 2018|Announcements|

By Don Hollander

The Universal Acceptance Steering Group is focused on getting all applications to accept all domain names and all email addresses. We’re doing that through raising awareness, encouraging developers to fix their code, providing good documentation and getting common building blocks – Open Source Programming Language Libraries – working properly. In this post, we’ll outline some of the recent progress of our efforts as well as those of the industry.

Since 2010, email standards have allowed for non-English characters in both the domain name as well as the mailbox name. These new standards have required email software and service providers to make some changes to their applications. And while these EAI standards are fairly straightforward, because email addresses are used everywhere as unique identifiers, developers have had to look quite thoroughly through their systems to find every place where email addresses or domain names might live. And once found, each instance will have to be tested and, if necessary, updated to support a much broader set of characters. For some developers with large and complex environments (think Microsoft or IBM), this may take some time.

But we are beginning to see fruits from these labours. Microsoft and Google’s cloud-based email services are both able to send to and receive from all valid email addresses. PostFix and Exim, two very popular Open Source Mail Transport Agents (MTAs), are also said to be ready. Courier, an open source email suite, says that its latest Beta version is EAI-ready. And we are seeing rumours of even more providers planning for support during the next 12 months.

The UASG has developed some good resources for email system developers. We’ve recently launched UASG012, an Introduction to EAI, and we’ve updated both our UASG013 – Quick Guide to EAI and UASG019B – a tutorial slide deck that can be used to teach EAI.

We’re also proud to share that we’ve developed a widget (https://uasg.tech/eai-check) that mere mortals can use to see if an email address’ software supports EAI.

There are still just a handful of public email service providers that host non-English email addresses.  But they are growing their supported languages, with Korean recently being added by XgenPlus out of India.

With a growing set of tools and good documentation, now is the time for organisations to work to get their own systems EAI ready, so that they can continue to communicate uninterrupted as people choose domain names and email addresses that best suit their sense of identity.