TXT records in mDNS

Havoc: for a lot of services advertised via mDNS, the client doesn’t have the option of ignoring TXT records if it wants to behave correctly.

For example, the Bonjour Printing Specification puts the underlying print queue name in a TXT record (as multiple printers might be advertised by a single print server). While it says that the server can omit the queue name (in which case the default queue name “auto” is used), a client is not going to be able to do what the user asked without checking for the presence of the record.

Rather than thinking of TXT records as optional data, it is better to think of them as “stuff that is can not be used to perform searches”. In the printer example above, the fact that you can’t search by print queue name is not a problem because users instead pick a printer based on the human readable service name which is exposed as a DNS name.

In your example of including session and machine identifiers in TXT data, it would be enough to tell a client that two services belonged to the same machine or session, but it wouldn’t let you do searches like “find all the card game servers belonging to the same session as the guy I’m chatting with”.  For that you’d also need to advertise DNS names that include the machine identifier or session identifier.