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PublicSuffix is an Elixir library to operate on domain names using the public suffix rules provided by

A "public suffix" is one under which Internet users can (or historically could) directly register names. Some examples of public suffixes are .com, and The Public Suffix List is a list of all known public suffixes.

This Elixir library provides a means to get the public suffix and the registrable domain from any domain:

iex(1)> PublicSuffix.registrable_domain("")
iex(2)> PublicSuffix.registrable_domain("")
iex(3)> PublicSuffix.public_suffix("")
iex(4)> PublicSuffix.public_suffix("")

The data file contains both official ICANN records and private records:

ICANN domains are those delegated by ICANN or part of the IANA root zone database. The authorized registry may express further policies on how they operate the TLD, such as subdivisions within it. Updates to this section can be submitted by anyone, but if they are not an authorized representative of the registry then they will need to back up their claims of error with documentation from the registry's website.

PRIVATE domains are amendments submitted by the domain holder, as an expression of how they operate their domain security policy. Updates to this section are only accepted from authorized representatives of the domain registrant. This is so we can be certain they know what they are getting into.

By default, PublicSuffix considers private domain records, but you can tell it to ignore them:

iex(1)> PublicSuffix.registrable_domain("")
iex(2)> PublicSuffix.public_suffix("")
iex(3)> PublicSuffix.registrable_domain("", ignore_private: true)
iex(4)> PublicSuffix.public_suffix("", ignore_private: true)

Working with Rules

You can also gain access to the prevailing rule for a particular domain:

iex(1)> PublicSuffix.prevailing_rule("")
iex(2)> PublicSuffix.prevailing_rule("mysite.example")

The value returned in the last example ("*") is the fallback rule when there is no explicit matching rule defined in the rules file. If you just want to know if a domain matches an explicit matching rule, we provide a predicate for that:

iex(1)> PublicSuffix.matches_explicit_rule?("")
iex(2)> PublicSuffix.matches_explicit_rule?("mysite.example")


The package can be installed as:

  1. Add public_suffix to your list of dependencies in mix.exs:

    def deps do [{:public_suffix, "~> 0.5.0"}] end

  2. If using Elixir < 1.4, then ensure public_suffix is started before your application:

    def application do [applications: [:public_suffix]] end


PublicSuffix is bundled with a cached copy of the public suffix rules from, but can be configured to download the rules files on compilation by adding the following line to your project's config.exs:

config :public_suffix, download_data_on_compile: true

There are pros and cons to both approaches; which you choose will depend on the needs of your project:

  • Setting download_data_on_compile to true will ensure that the rules are always up-to-date (as of the time you last compiled) but could introduce an instability. While we have tried to implement the logic in this library according to the spec, one can imagine future rule changes not being handled properly by the existing logic and manifesting itself in a new bug.
  • Setting download_data_on_compile to false (or not setting it at all) ensures stable, consistent behavior. In the context of your project, you may want compilation to be deterministic. Compilation is also a bit faster when a new copy of the rules is not downloaded.

Updating the suffix list

Run mix public_suffix.sync_files at a command prompt.

Known Issues

The Public Suffix specification specifically allows wildcards to appear multiple times in a rule and at any position:

Wildcards are not restricted to appear only in the leftmost position, but they must wildcard an entire label. (I.e. *.*.foo is a valid rule: * is not.)

However, while supporting a single leading wildcard is easy, supporting multiple wildcards and wildcards at any position is far more difficult. Furthermore, all wildcard rules in the data file use a wildcard only at the leftmost position. There is also an open conversation going about this issue:

From the issue, most public suffix implementations, including Mozilla and Chromium, only support wildcards at the leftmost position. We do not support them yet, either, but may in the future depending on the direction of the github issue.


Elixir library providing public suffix logic based on data




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