Diego Garcia, home of .io
Published on 20 February 2019

.dev is a better .io

Why we moved to tilt.dev

Published on 20 February 2019

We’re proud for Tilt to be an early adopter of the .dev domain. Google’s announcement blog post and landing page (the precociously named get.dev) describe why .dev is a good TLD; I’d like to share why I think .dev is a better TLD.

[Quick note on terminology: TLD stands for Top-Level Domain. Once upon a time (1984), there were a few generics TLDs like .com (companies) and .edu (education), then each country got one, like .uk (UK) or .in (India). In the early-2000s, ICANN was created to handle internet naming, and they started adding more like .biz (business) and .coop (co-operatives, not chicken coops). In 2012, they opened the floodgates: anyone could apply to create a new TLD for any purpose: Like .bank (banks), .bar (bars) and .barefoot (I don’t want to guess and I damn sure don’t want to investigate).]

Before .dev, developer tools had a lot of mediocre options: .com with a made-up word; .com but with “get” or “use” before the word; .build (primarily meant for construction)… And then there’s .io. For some reason .io became the de facto standard for developer tools. It’s short, names are available, and it looks like “I/O”, which… developer tools involve? Not really sure why it took off.

But .io isn’t a subject domain (officially a “Generic” TLD, or gTLD); it’s for a country! (“Country Code” TLD, or ccTLD). What country? The British Indian Ocean Territory. This archipelago of 1,000 islands and no permanent inhabitants is the web presence of most developer tools. (It’s not so uncommon: .tv is actually the ccTLD for Tuvalu). This is somewhat dangerous because the rules and support for ccTLDs are less protective for users than gTLDs: if the country changes it mind, they can revoke the domain (war in Libya brought down a .ly domain). But my real problem with .io, and why I’m glad .dev is here, is that the “country” involved with .io is problematic.

The British Indian Ocean Territory has 0 permanent inhabitants because the UK forcibly deported the Chagossians (the people living there) 50 years ago. Why? Maybe to protect an endangered species? Or protect them from extreme weather? No, to make room for a US military base within striking distance of Asia (also used for torture during the Global War on Terror).

The money you pay for a .io domain goes not to the Chagossians but to the perpetrators. (See the GigaoOm article “The dark side of .io: How the U.K. is making web domain profits from a shady Cold War land deal”.) I don’t want to provide material support to that, so we haven’t gotten a .io domain.

And now we don’t have to! .dev is a better domain for developer tools, that gives users better security and domain owners fewer moral qualms.


Originally posted on the Windmill Engineering blog on Medium

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