Introducing idnx

I’ve just published the first version of idnx to Rubygems. idnx is a ruby gem which converts Internationalized Domain Names into Punycode. The gist of it is:

require "idnx"

Idnx.to_punycode("bü") #=> ""

That’s it! That’s the announcement!

Why yet another idn gem?

Let me spare you the work: here’s the ruby toolbox link. Yes, there have been many IDN-related gems over the years. Why yet another one?

While researching on how to better support IDN domain names for httpx, I asked myself, “what does cURL do?”. After a session of “look at the source”, I found out that cURL uses libidn2 in Unix environments, while it uses the winAPI IdnToAscii on Windows.

After that, I searched for a ruby library that would support at least one of the above. To my surprise, I didn’t find any. In fact, I found out that most of the idn-related gems from that ruby toolbox list haven’t received much attention for years, and most of them use libidn, the predecessor of libidn2, which does not support IDNA 2008 Punycode protocol. Also, none of them supports Windows.

So I decided to roll my own, the cURL way: provide bindings for libidn2, while using Windows APIs for Windows, all via FFI, so that it’d transparently works with JRuby.

Why no punycode-to-idn translation?

The short answer is: because I don’t need it. If you do though, I’ll welcome a Pull Request introducing it.

Why doesn’t ruby provide this?

I’ve previously discussed in the ruby bugs board about the lack of support for punycode, and that breaking the “principle of least astonishment” when using standard library APIs like uri or resolv. I understand that doing so would require ruby to be dependent on libidn2 (at least in Linux/BSD systems), and the core team has been pretty resistant when it comes to had more dependencies to the runtime. I understand that this’ll never happen, unless someone makes a convincing argument that satisfies the core team.

Until then, you can use this gem, which, in case the day will come, can hopefully work as a template.

Will I need idnx to use httpx?

No. idnx will be a “weak” dependency, i.e. you’ll have to install it yourself, and httpx will hook on it if available. It’ll otherwise fallback to a pure ruby punycode implementation imported from another ruby gem (it doesn’t support IDNA2008 however, so make sure to use idnx if you require it).

That’s it. Happy hacking!