Nominet, the .uk domain registry, has been running RDAP (Registration Data Access Protocol) for over a year in public beta. They’re now moving to it out of beta and adding it to the IANA bootstrap which will mean that it’ll be readily accessible by anyone using an RDAP client.
RDAP is the new, technical protocol that replaces whois. As it’s
XML JSON based it’s 100% machine readable and has a much more consistent structure than whois. It also means that it’s easier to query.
RDAP isn’t controversial and all gTLD registries and registrars have had to run RDAP servers for the last couple of years. In the ccTLD space most of the larger registries have been testing RDAP, though I’m not aware of any who have switched from WHOIS to RDAP, though it is likely that many will. Whether the change will be purely “under the hood” or not remains to be seen. Due to the way RDAP works it’s technically possible to switch to using it behind the scenes, but to provide a client interface that acts similar to WHOIS. However technically WHOIS is inferior to RDAP in many respects.
However with the Nominet RDAP there is a fairly significant change in which data is being output to the public.
With the current Nominet WHOIS you can see who the registrar is and get a link to their site, but you don’t get their full postal address, phone number and abuse contact. You will with RDAP.
You can see what gets output by navigating to:
Replace $domain with a registered domain in the *.uk namespace. Compare with the port 43 WHOIS output and you’ll see what I mean.
Getting Nominet’s RDAP server added to the IANA bootstrap won’t happen overnight, so Nominet registrars have time to check that their abuse contacts are up to date.
Update: I said RDAP was XML based. It isn’t. It uses JSON. I’ve always conflated those two. There’s a good explanation of the differences here.