The client interface to the resolver is influenced by the local host's conventions, but the typical resolver-client interface has three functions:
This function is often defined to mimic a previous HOSTS.TXT based function. Given a character string, the caller wants one or more 32 bit IP addresses. Under the DNS, it translates into a request for type A RRs. Since the DNS does not preserve the order of RRs, this function may choose to sort the returned addresses or select the "best" address if the service returns only one choice to the client. Note that a multiple address return is recommended, but a single address may be the only way to emulate prior HOSTS.TXT services.
This function will often follow the form of previous functions. Given a 32 bit IP address, the caller wants a character string. The octets of the IP address are reversed, used as name components, and suffixed with "IN-ADDR.ARPA". A type PTR query is used to get the RR with the primary name of the host. For example, a request for the host name corresponding to IP address 126.96.36.199 looks for PTR RRs for domain name "188.8.131.52.IN-ADDR.ARPA".
This function retrieves arbitrary information from the DNS, and has no counterpart in previous systems. The caller supplies a QNAME, QTYPE, and QCLASS, and wants all of the matching RRs. This function will often use the DNS format for all RR data instead of the local host's, and returns all RR content (e.g., TTL) instead of a processed form with local quoting conventions.
When the resolver performs the indicated function, it usually has one of the following results to pass back to the client:
In this case the resolver returns the answer in the appropriate format.
This happens when the referenced name does not exist. For example, a user may have mistyped a host name.
This happens when the referenced name exists, but data of the appropriate type does not. For example, a host address function applied to a mailbox name would return this error since the name exists, but no address RR is present.
It is important to note that the functions for translating between host names and addresses may combine the "name error" and "data not found" error conditions into a single type of error return, but the general function should not. One reason for this is that applications may ask first for one type of information about a name followed by a second request to the same name for some other type of information; if the two errors are combined, then useless queries may slow the application.