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Extensible Name Service (XNS) Protocol

OneName Releases the XNS Technical Specifications

First Open Protocol for Digital Identity Infrastructure

Seattle, WA, USA. July 11, 2002.

OneName Corporation, a leading vendor of digital identity software, announced today that it has released the technical specifications for the eXtensible Name Service (XNS) protocol to the non-profit XNS Public Trust Organization (XNSORG). These XML-based specifications for 11 Web services and an identity addressing syntax create the first open, federated, peer-to-peer infrastructure for identifying and linking any resource participating in digital transactions. The specifications are available to the public at

Under terms of its license to XNSORG, OneName has provided the intellectual property rights that make the specifications publicly available under a royalty-free license. XNSORG is chartered to govern the future evolution of the specifications in the public interest. OneName will also make available open-source Java Reference Implementations (JRIs) based on the protocol. An open-source client JRI is available immediately and an open-source server JRI will be available in the autumn.

"By releasing the XNS specifications, OneName has fulfilled its commitment to make its patented intellectual property widely available as a basis for an interoperable digital identity infrastructure," noted Drummond Reed, the founder and chief technical officer of OneName. "XNS builds upon Web protocols such as DNS and HTTP to support the creation and management of the persistent, protected identities necessary for automated transactions. In effect, XNS enables the 'identity web' that extends the power of today's 'document web'."

The XNS specifications fall into four groups:

  • URN Services. The protocol specifies two Uniform Resource Name (URN) services (ID and Name) that support persistent identity and attribute addressing, the necessary functionality for trusted Web services transactions. These services support identity independence from real-world names, e-mail addresses, or other attributes which may change over time. URNs create the basis for sustained trust relationships among identity owners.

  • Attribute Management Services. XNS specifies five services (Folder, Data, Hosting, Discovery, and Core) that provide standard XML interfaces for defining, reading, writing, and discovering extensible identity attributes.

  • Credential Management Services. XNS includes three services (Certification, Session, and Authentication) that support the establishment and management of trust relationships and the security of digital identity transactions.

  • Exchange and Linking Services. XNS Negotiation service enables participants in digital transactions to negotiate terms governing the exchange and linking of identity data. These terms can include applicable security and privacy policies, opt-in or opt-out usage permissions, and synchronization parameters. Each of these agreed-upon terms forms an identity link, similar to the way in which Web pages are linked today.

OneName makes its deep expertise in XNS available to enterprises through the OneName Identity Server, an XNS-based software product that supports digital identity management. The company also markets the OneName Software Development Kit, a software tool that accelerates the development of XNS-based Web identity services. In addition, OneName offers training courses that explore the potential of XNS to solve various challenges in digital identity. Anyone interested in this training should contact OneName at 206-812-6000 or

Complete information about the XNS protocol, its sponsors, the mission of XNS Public Trust Organization, and the OneName license agreement with XNSORG is available on the XNSORG Web site,

About OneName

OneName Corporation was founded in 1999 to provide software solutions for establishing and managing digital identity information. The company's flagship product, OneName Identity Server, builds upon the eXtensible Name Service identity protocol to give enterprises a way to increase the value of every business relationship. OneName sells solutions to a variety of industries, including financial services and healthcare. The company serves as a sponsoring member of XNSORG and the Liberty Alliance Project. It also works with several standards bodies and has partnerships with leading smart card and payment network providers. OneName is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

For more information, please visit the OneName Web site at:


Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See: "Extensible Name Service (XNS)" and the 2002-07-11 news item.

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