A Universal Data Transport Method
Original Publication Date: 1999-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-18
Disclosed is a universal method for transport of data between two or more connected end systems. Computer networks are used to transport data between two or more connected end systems. On each end system it can broadly be distinguished between those components of the system that are used to transport the data, and those components that are used to process the data. In general the transport components handle data as an uninterpreted byte stream, while the processing components, such as an application like a browser, interpret the data as structured information that specifies attributes of the data such as whether the data represent a database entry, or machine code, or a HTML page for example. Exchanging data between communicating end systems using self-descriptive message formats is another common and widely used technique to handle data structures which are not necessarily known when establishing the communication channel. The main disadvantage of these techniques is that they require an implicit understanding between the sender and the receiver as to how to interpret the information being communicated. This is often done in a proprietary and application-specific manner so that general interoperability between any sender and any receiver cannot be achieved. The common solution to converting data between a format for processing and a format for transport is to use an abstract syntax. The abstract syntax describes, in a machine-independent manner, the data structures (the relation of one piece of data to another) and the values assumed by the data. Another specification, called the encoding rules, indicates how data described by some abstract syntax are converted into a byte stream suitable for transmission. A commonly used abstract syntax is ASN.1 [X208], and a commonly used set of encoding rules are the Basic Encoding Rules (BER) [X209]. For the remainder of the disclosure the attention is restricted to ASN.1/BER without loss of generality.