How Can We Build the Next Level Domain Availability Checker? by@duskic

How Can We Build the Next Level Domain Availability Checker?

The first domain name was registered back in the ‘80s, the oldest one being symbolics.com. Hand-registered domains are still popular since there are many new gTLDs (Donuts and Uniregistry) You can once again, just like during the ’80s and ‘90s still find available domain names and register them manually. Tools that help us automate checking if a domain name is available, such as bulk domain checker tools. Cloud hosting with SSD for $5 to the rescue.
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Goran Duskic HackerNoon profile picture

Goran Duskic

Founder at WhoAPI Inc. Webmaster.ninja

Have in mind this is my first article on Hackernoon, so this is more of a test piece than anything else. You could call it; learning the ropes. For that reason, I’ve decided to write a short article on the topic on which I spent a large part of the last 10 years of my professional career that spans almost 2 decades.


Having said that, I don’t consider myself old. Well, maybe in Internet years, but as with many computer nerds, I started really young.


Since nobody wants to read about my childhood, other than my parents, let’s skip to the topic that managed to stick around all the way to 2022, and beyond.

Domain availability checks, the old way

The first domain name was registered back in the ’80s, the oldest one being

symbolics.com. As we enter the fourth decade of checking domain availability, let’s see if we made any improvements?


Hand-registered domains are still popular since there are many new gTLDs (Donuts and Uniregistry behind the bulk of them), you can once again, just like during the ‘80s and ‘90s still find available domain names and register them manually.

Tools that help us automate checking if a domain name is available

Somewhere around 2010, with the emergence of several Whois API providers, we’ve had somewhat of an explosion of bulk domain checker tools. Apart from a simple 500 bulk domain name check on GoDaddy, these advanced tools allowed us to check thousands of domain names in seconds, with any TLD (domain name extension).


Name spinners, expired domain names, domain name suggestions, and other ideas were launched on Product Hunt, to various degrees of success.


So what did we do over the past decade? We registered millions of domain names, and built dozens upon dozens of tools that help us manage our domain names, track expiration dates, find domain names we wouldn’t think of ourselves, and keep the ones we almost lost.


And yes, even though it’s 2022, unintentional domain name expiration, still happens.


https://youtu.be/kmzZiel-Xyo


Cloud hosting with SSD for $5 to the rescue

Another innovation that helped this industry was cloud hosting that was on SSD, and you can spin them for $5. For the simple domain availability app I just mentioned, that meant that you can keep the lights on for as little as $5 per month. Digital Ocean and a few others lead the way and helped us create amazing tools. I mentioned Digital Ocean in particular because I had the privilege of interviewing one of its co-founders well before they become a public company.


The main theme was that the entry point was reduced significantly. Let’s sum it up.


  1. You could be a junior developer in a simple programming language such as Javascript or PHP.
  2. Making a simple API request on a RESTful API through HTTPS meant you just needed to hit a URL.
  3. And you would get a response in JSON or XML.
  4. Store all that for $5 per month
  5. Promote on social media, or cheap CPC


Javascript code example for domain availability checks

<script type="text/javascript">
var domain     = "whoapi.com";      // domain name you want to check
var r          = "taken";           // check availability
var apikey     = "demokey";         // your API key

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open("GET", 'https://api.whoapi.com/?domain='+domain+'&r='+r+'&apikey='+apikey, true);
xhr.onreadystatechange = function () {
    if (xhr.readyState === 4 && xhr.status === 200) {
        var json = JSON.parse(xhr.responseText);
        if (json.status == 0) {
            document.getElementById("result").innerHTML = "Success. Domain is: " + (json.taken == 1 ? "Taken" : "Not taken");
        } else {
            document.getElementById("result").innerHTML = "API reports error: " + json.status_desc;
        }
    } else {
        document.getElementById("result").innerHTML = "Unknown error";
    }
};
xhr.send();
</script>
<div id="result">please wait..</div>


Code provided by WhoAPI.

And you are done.


With the SSD hosting for $5, this meant that you could host your application on a fast server for peanuts. And then you can get the eyeballs with Product Hunt, social media, SEO, and other paid acquisition channels. Remember CPC on Google and Facebook back in 2010?


The only thing preventing you were the limits of imagination. But not these guys and gals. Here are a few examples of “product of the day“ on Product Hunt, for domain names.


  1. DomainWatch
  2. Worthy.Domains
  3. OneWord.Domains


What’s next?

There’s really no way of forecasting where we are going. Is it the crypto domains? Is it more of evolution (similar tools we talked about, only better)? Are we missing a critical innovation (like Domain APIs, and cheap SSD hosting) for the next stage and the next decade of the domain availability checks?


Well, you know what they say…


The best way to predict the future is to invent it yourself.

-- Abraham Lincoln


Personally, I can’t wait to see what you build!


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