JEP-0156: A DNS TXT Resource Record Format for XMPP Connection Methods

This document defines a DNS TXT Resource Record format for use in specifying methods of connecting to an XMPP server.

WARNING: This Standards-Track JEP is Experimental. Publication as a Jabber Enhancement Proposal does not imply approval of this proposal by the Jabber Software Foundation. Implementation of the protocol described herein is encouraged in exploratory implementations, but production systems should not deploy implementations of this protocol until it advances to a status of Draft.

JEP Information

Status: Experimental
Type: Standards Track
Number: 0156
Version: 0.2
Last Updated: 2005-12-05
JIG: Standards JIG
Approving Body: Jabber Council
Dependencies: XMPP Core, RFC 1464
Supersedes: None
Superseded By: None
Short Name: N/A
Wiki Page: < DNS TXT Resource Record Format for XMPP Connection Methods (JEP-0156)>

Author Information

Joe Hildebrand


Peter Saint-Andre


Legal Notice

This Jabber Enhancement Proposal is copyright 1999 - 2005 by the Jabber Software Foundation (JSF) and is in full conformance with the JSF's Intellectual Property Rights Policy <>. This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Creative Commons Attribution License (<>).

Discussion Venue

The preferred venue for discussion of this document is the Standards-JIG discussion list: <>.

Given that this JEP normatively references IETF technologies, discussion on the JSF-IETF list may also be appropriate (see <> for details).

Relation to XMPP

The Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is defined in the XMPP Core (RFC 3920) and XMPP IM (RFC 3921) specifications contributed by the Jabber Software Foundation to the Internet Standards Process, which is managed by the Internet Engineering Task Force in accordance with RFC 2026. Any protocol defined in this JEP has been developed outside the Internet Standards Process and is to be understood as an extension to XMPP rather than as an evolution, development, or modification of XMPP itself.

Conformance Terms

The keywords "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Record Format
3. Business Rules
4. Examples
5. Security Considerations
6. IANA Considerations
7. Jabber Registrar Considerations
7.1. DNS TXT Records Registry
7.1.1. Process
7.1.2. Initial Registration
Revision History

1. Introduction

Although RFC 3920 [1] specifies the use of TCP as the method of connecting to an XMPP server, other connection methods are possible. These include the older Jabber HTTP Polling [2] method, the more recent HTTP Binding [3] method, and less common methods such as Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) [4]. For some of these methods, it is necessary to discover further parameters before connecting, such as the HTTP URL of an alternative connection manager. Currently, if a client application needs to discover connection methods before connecting to an XMPP service, the relevant information must be provided manually by a human user, which is cumbersome and error-prone. Thankfully, there are several potential ways to complete this pre-connection service discovery in an automated fashion:

  1. Specify a WSDL [5] definition (or other XML file format) and a canonical URL for that definition at a domain that offers XMPP services. Unfortunately, this approach requires access to the HTTP server for the domain (and quite possibly to the root directory thereof), which may be difficult for XMPP server administrators to arrange. In addition, it requires a client to retrieve the relevant file via HTTP before performing DNS lookups and XMPP connection; it would be more efficient to use recognized DNS methods since DNS lookups are already required by RFC 3920.

  2. Specify a way to define the required service discovery information as part of the existing DNS SRV records (see RFC 2782 [6]) for a domain that offers XMPP services. While this approach sounds promising, it is not feasible since the DNS SRV Target field can be used only to specify domain names and cannot be used to specify full URIs (such as the URL for an HTTP connection manager).

  3. Specify a way to define the required service discovery using the "straightforward NAPTR" (S-NAPTR) profile of the Dynamic Delegation Discovery System (see RFC 3958 [7] and RFC 3401 [8]). Unfortunately, S-NAPTR also does not allow inclusion of full URIs, and thus does meet the requirements for discovery of XMPP connection methods.

  4. Specify a way to define the required service discovery using a new profile of the Dynamic Delegation Discovery System, which would be nearly identical to S-NAPTR except that it would specify only one app-service (most likely "xmpp") and allow inclusion of the DDDS "U" flag (see RFC 3404 [9]), so that the output of a DDDS rule could be a URI. While this is a valid approach that is worth pursuing, the authors are concerned about the deployability of such an approach, especially for client-side applications (the main focus of this specification).

  5. Specify a way to define the required service discovery information via properly-formatted DNS TXT records (see RFC 1464 [10]). While this approach requires an update to the DNS records for the server domain, that is usually necessary in order to establish XMPP services in the first place. Furthermore, although there are some perils to be avoided in the use of DNS TXT records (e.g., wildcards), the technology is well understood and widely deployed (e.g., it is used by the SPF and SenderID systems).

Therefore this document defines a way to encapsulate information about XMPP connection methods in DNS TXT resource records.

2. Record Format

The following format for DNS TXT resource records is specified in RFC 1464:

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

This document specifies that the following additional rules apply for DNS TXT resource records used to specify XMPP connection methods:

  1. It is RECOMMENDED for the owner to be "_xmppconnect".
  2. The class field SHOULD be IN.
  3. The ttl field is OPTIONAL.
  4. The attribute name SHOULD begin with the string "_xmpp-client-" or "_xmpp-server-" and SHOULD be registered as described in the Jabber Registrar Considerations section of this document.
  5. If the txt-data field contains only an attribute name (i.e., no unquoted "=" character followed by additional characters), the receiving application SHOULD interpret it as indicating the presence of the attribute or feature with no defined value.
  6. If the txt-data field contains an unquoted "=" character, it MUST also contain an attribute value.

3. Business Rules

The following business rules apply:

  1. A domain SHOULD NOT present information in DNS TXT records that is available via the DNS SRV records defined in RFC 3920.
  2. The order of DNS TXT records SHOULD NOT be interpreted as significant by the presenting domain or the receiving client.

4. Examples

The following examples show three DNS TXT resource records: the first indicates support for the httpbind connection method defined in JEP-0124 including the appropriate URL, the second indicates support for the httppoll connection method defined in JEP-0025 including the appropriate URL, and the third indicates support for WAP connections including the appropriate URL.

Example 1. TXT Resource Records

_xmppconnect IN TXT "_xmpp-client-httpbind="
_xmppconnect IN TXT "_xmpp-client-httppoll="
_xmppconnect IN TXT "_xmpp-client-wap="

5. Security Considerations

It is possible that advertisement of connection methods other than the standard TCP connection method may introduce security vulnerabilities, since a connecting entity (usually a client) might deliberately seek to connect using the method with the weakest security mechanisms (e.g., no channel encryption or relatively weak authentication). Care must be taken in determining which connection methods are appropriate to advertise.

6. IANA Considerations

This JEP requires no interaction with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) [11].

7. Jabber Registrar Considerations

7.1 DNS TXT Records Registry

The Jabber Registrar shall maintain a registry of attributes for use in DNS TXT resource records that advertise XMPP connection methods.

7.1.1 Process

In order to submit new values to this registry, the registrant must define an XML fragment of the following form and either include it in the relevant Jabber Enhancement Proposal or send it to the email address <>:

  <name>the name of the attribute</name>
  <desc>a natural-language description of the connection method</desc>
  <value>the syntax or datatype of the attribute value</value>
  <doc>the document in which the connection method is specified</doc>

The registrant may register more than one attribute at a time, each contained in a separate <attribute/> element.

7.1.2 Initial Registration

  <desc>the HTTP Binding connection method</desc>
  <value>the http: or https: URL at which to contact the HTTP Binding connection manager or proxy</value>

  <desc>the HTTP Polling connection method</desc>
  <value>the http: or https: URL at which to contact the HTTP Polling connection manager or proxy</value>



1. RFC 3920: Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP): Core <>.

2. JEP-0025: Jabber HTTP Polling <>.

3. JEP-0124: HTTP Binding <>.

4. Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) <>.

5. WSDL 1.1 Specification <>.

6. RFC 2782: A DNS RR for specifying the location of services (DNS SRV) <>.

7. RFC 3958: Domain-Based Application Service Location Using SRV RRs and the Dynamic Delegation Discovery Service (DDDS) <>.

8. RFC 3401: Dynamic Delegation Discovery System (DDDS) Part One: The Comprehensive DDDS <>.

9. RFC 3404: Dynamic Delegation Discovery System (DDDS) Part Four: The Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI) Resolution Application <>.

10. RFC 1464: Using the Domain Name System To Store Arbitrary String Attributes <>.

11. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the central coordinator for the assignment of unique parameter values for Internet protocols, such as port numbers and URI schemes. For further information, see <>.

Revision History

Version 0.2 (2005-12-05)

Removed _xmpp-client-tcp from TXT records (belongs in SRV records only). (psa)

Version 0.1 (2005-09-08)

Initial JEP version. (psa)

Version 0.0.3 (2005-09-07)

More fully specified the rationale for using DNS TXT records. (psa)

Version 0.0.2 (2005-08-27)

Added security considerations and registrar considerations. (psa)

Version 0.0.1 (2005-08-23)

First draft. (psa/jh)