machine readable dns zone file

DNS zone API – explained

Within WhoAPI there is a particular API called Domain DNS zone (discontinued in 2022), that I would like to cover today.

Let’s dissect the phrase DNS zone API and cover the basics. A lot of acronyms, so let’s start there.

DNS stands for Domain Name System, and API stands for Application Programming Interface. We are missing “zone”, which is essentially what it is, a zone of some sorts that in our case is available in a file.

At WhoAPI we are dealing with APIs first, and DNS second. Let’s first define what is an API.

What is an API?

Kin Lane described APIs beautifully when he wrote

API stands for application programming interface. APIs are the little pieces of code that make it possible for digital devices, software applications, and data servers to talk with each other.

Another example I like is when an operating system like Windows or MAC OSX receives a command from a text editor to print a document (using a printer), it communicates over an API to the printer. Similar to that, web APIs like WhoAPI work. Just a form of communication between two software or 2 servers.

Moving on to the other part of the definition of DNS Zone API – DNS or Domain name System. Basically, it’s a name that points to an IP address, a thin layer that covers a complex location like 192.168.1.1./folder/file and turns it into something memorable a www.domainaname.com. Technically, any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.

This brings us to the next one (and my personal favorite).

What is a DNS?

DNS – The Domain Name System is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. Most prominently, it translates easily memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide.

Now that we’ve covered DNS, we can move to the DNS zone.

DNS zone is a portion of a domain name space using the Domain Name System (DNS) for which administrative responsibility has been delegated.

Every domain name, which is a part of the DNS, has several DNS settings, also known as DNS records. In order for these DNS records to be kept in order, the DNS zone was created.

The DNS Zone file

The DNS Zone file is the representation of the DNS Zone – it is the actual file, which contains all the records for a specific domain. In a DNS Zone file, each line can hold only one record, and each DNS Zone file must start with the TTL (Time to Live), which specifies for how long the records should be kept in the DNS Server’s cache. The other mandatory record for a DNS Zone file is the SOA (Start of Authority) record – it specifies the primary authoritative name server for the DNS Zone. Source NTC Hosting.

In basic layman English, all this makes the entire Internet (web and email) work!

So, what is an API domain DNS zone and how do you use it? It lets you (or more accurately your software) access easily the information critical for web and email functionality. You have below what one of them looks like, one out of hundreds of millions.

API domain DNS zone - example return

API domain DNS zone – example return

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