AS112 Project Website Improvements
2022 ARIN Community Grant Program Recipient Report
The DNS Operations, Analysis, and Research Center (OARC) received an ARIN Community Grant in 2022 to improve access to information on the AS112 project. AS112 is a community-operated Autonomous System that announces anycast service addresses for authoritative DNS servers. The service covers the RFC 1918 reverse tree and other non-globally unique domain names, and it is instrumental in keeping “junk” DNS queries from reaching the root or the in-addr.arpa servers operated by ARIN and other Regional Internet Registries.
The work funded by this grant focused on rebuilding the project website — as112.net — and public documentation on the project. Originally just a jumbled collection of notes, links, and lists compiled for the benefit of a handful of volunteers, the site was difficult to navigate and provided limited benefit to new participants in the project or to general Internet users looking for information.
Virtually all of the content of the AS112 Project website has been reorganized and rewritten to make it easier to find the desired information. New content has been added to provide a non-technical introduction to the project for any non-engineers who are sent to, or stumble upon, the project, along with improved documentation and organization for network operators looking to understand how their network interacts with AS112 or those who wish to join the project.
The listing of AS112 operators and their instances was converted from a hand-edited HTML table to structured data, and a new listing of AS112 nodes present at Internet Exchange Points was added, based on data pulled regularly from the PeeringDB.net API. The new structured data for these listings allows it to properly handle operators with more than one AS112 instance, and it will help improve the project’s ability to keep the list updated and accurate and make it easier for non-participants to find accurate information about AS112 instances their networks may be interacting with.
Notably, the web site structure has also been improved to properly support assistive technology like screen readers for visually impaired visitors. This includes features such as HTML hints to identify navigation elements and replacing important iconography with text equivalents.
Benefits to the ARIN Region
In addition to making the AS112 project easier to understand and interact with — for both those participating and those relying on the service it provides — this work has the added benefit of making future work and enhancements of the project easier to accomplish. Even though the new website has so far only been revealed to project participants, we already have positive feedback and suggestions for future work that would not have been possible without this redesign.
Many of the contacts we receive from non-participants about the AS112 project are from network operators who have found that they are directing DNS queries to an AS112 instance, but do not know what it is. In some cases, the traffic has only come to the operator’s attention because the instance they are reaching is experiencing a problem of some kind. For these network operators, significant improvements to the documentation mean quicker and clearer answers without needing to wait for us to respond to email. This information includes steps they can take to identify the operator of the AS112 instance they are interacting with, as well as steps they can take to reduce or eliminate their network’s need to rely on the project.
For non-engineers in this situation (such as residential network owners), clearer plain-language descriptions of what AS112 does, and why it exists, will make it easier for them to understand the behavior of their network, its interaction with AS112, and what they can do to limit information leakage (in the form of DNS queries unnecessarily reaching the public Internet), should they wish to take action in that regard. Although at present information for non-technical audiences is limited to a general description of the project and why they might be directing DNS traffic toward it, specific “how-to” type instructions for this audience could now be fit into the site and made much more easily discoverable by this audience.
We will soon publish on the OARC blog and social media channels to announce the production release of the new site. Underneath all of the publicly visible changes, the site has been reimplemented as a simple web application using more modern development techniques, which will enable us to more easily expand on other improvements in the future. Since launching a beta version of the new site visible to project participants, we have already received some suggestions about enhancements the newly structured data could enable.
With the goal of making information about this important resource accessible to a wider audience, the site has also been built translation-ready with internationalization and localization in mind, using standard localized message catalogues. If the resources or volunteers to make translations arise, we can easily install and immediately make them available to site visitors.
About the ARIN Community Grant Program
ARIN provides financial grants in support of initiatives that improve the overall Internet industry and Internet user environment. Are you working on a project that advances ARIN’s mission and broadly benefits the Internet community within the ARIN region through informational outreach, research, Internet technical improvements, or Registry processes and technology improvements? Visit the ARIN Community Grant Program page for more information and to find out how your organization can apply in 2024. For application tips and support, read this post on our blog.
Any views, positions, statements, or opinions of a guest blog post are those of the author alone and do not represent those of ARIN. ARIN does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or validity of any claims or statements, nor shall ARIN be liable for any representations, omissions, or errors contained in a guest blog post.
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