TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Oct 01 Network Management

Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Network Management

Networks 201 pt. 7

by John C. Welch

Layer 5: The Session Layer, and Layer 6: The Presentation Layer

Refresh

Well, we've made it into the last three layers, and things should go a bit faster now. We are also going to group Layers 5 and 6 in this one article, as they are quite thin, and often rolled into other layers. The first OSI layer we will talk about is Layer 5, the Session Layer. This Layer is quite similar in function to Layer 4, and in many situations, it is rolled into the Transport Layer, and is not even a separate part of the networking model. In fact, there is only one protocol that really makes specific use of the Session Layer, and that is AppleTalk. (Other protocols, notably IPX/SPX have aspects that use the Session Layer, but AppleTalk makes more specific use of it than most any other protocol.). In fact, TCP/IP almost completely ignores the Session Layer. So if I seem to talk about AppleTalk more than other protocols here, there's a reason for it.

The Session Layer

The basic function of the Session Layer is to manage communications flow during a session. Now, this is much of what Layer 4, the Transport Layer does, so why have a separate layer? Scope is the reason. The Session Layer is not concerned with things like error checking, reliability, etc. It is assuming that those things are being taken care of by the Transport Layer.

Instead, the Session Layer is concerned with managing the connections or sessions from a higher level point of view. It is concerned with the way traffic is flowing in the session, and making the session run smoother. It is dealing more with the application using the session, then the low - level mechanics of the session. So the Session Layer is said to control the dialog between two applications on a connection.

One of the aspects of this dialog control is the duplex level of the connection's data flow. That is, can the applications at both ends send and receive data simultaneously, (full duplex), or do they have to send and receive in separate actions, (half duplex). Deciding which to use, and handling it is a Session Layer function. An example of a protocol that deals with this type of functionality is the Apple Data Stream Protocol, or ADSP. ADSP's job is to handle connections between devices, and manage the bi-directional flow of data between them. It also allows the data to flow as a continuous stream from sender to receiver, and can handle things like out of order data problems. In that sense, ADSP is also performing some Transport Layer functions too.

Another function of the Session Layer is grouping. An example of this could be the AppleTalk Zone Information Protocol, or ZIP. This is the protocol that takes the information from the Name Binding Protocol, (NBP) and uses it to present the names of devices on an AppleTalk network in the correct logical groups, or zones. The Chooser is a classic use of ZIP and NBP.

Finally, the Session Layer deals with recovery, or what to do when the session fails for some reason. Now, there are two ways to handle this. The first is to just discard all the data on the receiving end, and retransmit all of it. For small pieces of data, this is not a big deal, but for say a five hundred page print job, that gets to be intolerable. So what the Session Layer does is allow for the insertion of checkpoints into the data. So now, if the connection dies for some reason, all that has to happen is for both ends to synchronize which checkpoint was last successfully transmitted, and proceed from there. An example of this functionality, although it occurs at a different layer is the ability to resume an interrupted FTP transfer. Another example of a protocol using this is the Printer Access Protocol, or PAP. When you have to stop and restart an AppleTalk print job, and it asks you "resume printing on page X", that's what we are talking about.

As you can see, there is not a lot to the Session Layer. The protocols that use the layer can be quite complex, but Layer 5 is, in and of itself, rather thin.

Layer 6: The Presentation Layer

This layer is different from all the previous layers, as it is the first layer that is not at all concerned with moving data from point A to point B. Instead, the Presentation Layer cares about how the data is sent up to the Application Layer, and how it is sent down to the Session Layer. Remember, so far, regardless of how we have moved the data, it has all been nothing but a series of bits. However, applications, and the users of those applications don't want ones and zeros. We want letters, numbers, colors, etc.

That's what the Presentation Layer is for. It handles things like ASCII encoding, EBCDIC encoding, converting between the two formats, etc. It also handles other things like dealing with different floating point formats and the representation of those formats. If you are doing things like data compression, or encryption via a protocol, then this is where you would handle that sort of thing.

In other words, the way data is handed off, and how it is encoded, or how it looks to the other layers is a Presentation Layer function. One example of a use for the Presentation Layer is Postscript printing. Although the actual data transfer would be handled by the Session Layer and below, when you send Postscript data to a printer, it has to be encoded correctly, it has to ‘look' right. Otherwise, the print job could fail.

Conclusion

Well, this was certainly a short article. Again, these two Layers really are light weight. They don't' really interact with the user or the user applications, as does the Application Layer. They also don't directly deal with the mechanics of data transfer. As we pointed out, the Presentation Layer doesn't deal with this aspect at all. Still, since AppleTalk makes use of the Session Layer, and almost all protocols deal with the Presentation Layer in one fashion or another, it's good to know why they are even there. Next time, it's the series conclusion, the end of the journey...Layer 7, the Application layer.

Bibliography and References

As already mentioned, you may wish to include a bibliography at the end of your article, especially if you wish to cite work in the body of the article. Here is some typical bibliography format, to serve as a model:

  • Tannenbaum, Andrew S. Computer Networks. Third Edition Prentice Hall, 1996.
  • Sportack, Mark. Networking Essentials Unleashed. SAMS Publishing, 1998.
  • Anders, James K. Live Wired A Guide to Networking Macs. Hayden Books, 1993.
  • Apple Computer, Inside Macintosh: Networking With Open Transport. Apple Computer, Inc. 1997.
  • Stallings, William, Local and Metropolitan Area Networks. Fifth Edition Prentice Hall, 1997.

John Welch jwelch@aer.com is a Mac/PC/Unix administrator and Mac writer living in the wilds of that part of Massachusetts that is not Boston. He has over fifteen years of experience at making computers work. His specialties are figuring out ways to make the Mac do what nobody thinks it can, and showing that the Mac is the superior administrative platform.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

FileMaker Pro 19.4.2 - Quickly build cus...
FileMaker Pro is the tool you use to create a custom app. You also use FileMaker Pro to access your app on a computer. Start by importing data from a spreadsheet or using a built-in Starter app to... Read more
Adobe Illustrator 26.0.3 - Professional...
You can download Adobe Illustrator for Mac as a part of Creative Cloud for only $20.99/month. Adobe Illustrator for Mac is the vector graphics classics in the design industry. It is a digital... Read more
WhatRoute 2.4.9 - Geographically trace o...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Notion 2.0.20 - A unified workspace for...
Notion is the unified workspace for modern teams. Notion Features: Integration with Slack Documents Wikis Tasks Release notes were unavailable when this listing was updated. Download Now]]> Read more
Monterey Cache Cleaner 17.0.2 - Clear ca...
Monterey Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general-purpose tool for macOS X. MCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many macOS X functions. Novice and expert... Read more
Firetask Pro 4.6.8 - Innovative task man...
Firetask Pro represents the next generation of easy-to-use, project-oriented task management apps. By combining David Allen's powerful Getting Things Done (GTD®) approach with classical task... Read more
Smultron 13.0.4 - Easy-to-use, powerful...
Smultron 13 is the text editor for all of us. Smultron is powerful and confident without being complicated. Its elegance and simplicity helps everyone being creative and to write and edit all sorts... Read more
Box Sync 4.0.8057 - Online synchronizati...
Box Sync gives you a hard-drive in the Cloud for online storage. Note: You must first sign up to use Box. What if the files you need are on your laptop -- but you're on the road with your iPhone? No... Read more
Audio Hijack 3.8.10 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
Direct Mail 6.0.1 - Create and send grea...
Direct Mail is an easy-to-use, fully-featured email marketing app purpose-built for macOS. Create, send, and track great looking email campaigns that get results. Start your newsletter by selecting... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Pokemon Legends:...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 28th, 2022. We’ve got a bunch of new releases to look at today, with a few big hitters, a few mid-level diversions, and a healthy supply of compost. Since it’s Friday, we... | Read more »
Phantom Blade: Executioners, S-Game...
S-Game has kicked off its first Closed Beta Test for Phantom Blade: Executioners, inviting a selected few to get first dibs on the upcoming KungFuPunk action RPG on mobile. The CBT officially begins this January 28th, and beta testers will receive... | Read more »
‘Infinite Galaxy’ First Anniversary: Cel...
Cultivating a new generation of valiant commanders across 240 countries worldwide, Infinite Galaxy has quenched players’ thirst to explore the vastness of space – and there are only more intergalactic adventures to embark on from here on out. Camel... | Read more »
War and Order: How to brave the cold in...
War and Order's 6th-anniversary celebrations are underway, and all in good time too - this season not only brings about fabulous festivities, but it also lets players experience the harsh winter in an entirely new way. [Read more] | Read more »
‘Hidden Folks+’ Is This Week’s New Apple...
The original Hidden Folks from Adriaan de Jongh is an excellent hidden objects game featuring hand drawn visuals. It is an absolute joy to play, and it has now released on Apple Arcade in the form of Hidden Folks+ () as an App Store great. If you’... | Read more »
Mini Metro’s First Big Update of 2022 Ad...
Last year saw great updates for Dinosaur Polo Club’s Mini Metro ($3.99) which is also available on Apple Arcade as an App Store Great. | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Gunvolt Chronicl...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 27th, 2022. In today’s article, we’ve got a whole bunch of new releases to check out. It’s a dangerous one for the wallet today, as there are several interesting games to... | Read more »
SIEGE: Apocalypse lets you engage in mil...
Launching today to the delight of military enthusiasts across the globe, SIEGE: Apocalypse is a new 1v1 military battler from KIXEYE that's set in the early days of the War Commander universe. Players need to collect and upgrade unit cards to build... | Read more »
‘SIEGE: Apocalypse’, KIXEYE’s Military-T...
Military fans across the globe now have more reasons to dive into the War Commander universe as KIXEYE launches SIEGE: Apocalypse on both iOS and Android devices today. The 1v1 military battler pits two players against each other in intense real-... | Read more »
‘Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel’ Is Rolling Out N...
Following its launch on PC and all consoles last week, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has finally released on mobile platforms. Since launch, the game has exploded on multiple platforms with it having over 260k concurrent players on Steam. It has full... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple has clearance 2020 13″ MacBook Airs ava...
Apple has clearance, Certified Refurbished, 2020 13″ Intel-based MacBook Airs in stock today starting at only $719 and up to $370 off original MSRP. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with... Read more
The cheapest iPhones for sale today at Apple...
Apple has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished iPhone 8 models starting at only $359. Each refurbished iPhone comes with a fresh external case, standard Apple 1-year warranty, and free shipping.... Read more
14″ MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Max CPU now in...
Looking for a new 14″ MacBook Pro with an Apple M1 Max CPU? Stock is finally trickling into Apple resellers. B&H has Silver 14″ M1 Max MacBook Pros in stock today for $2899 including free 1-2 day... Read more
14″ MacBook Pros with Apple M1 Pro CPUs are i...
Amazon is reporting stock of 14″ MacBook Pros with M1 Pro CPUs today with a $50 discount. Shipping is free, and delivery is available by February 1st for most configurations. Be sure to make your... Read more
Apple has restocked 13″ M1 MacBook Pros for $...
Apple has restocked a full line of 13″ M1 MacBook Pros available Certified Refurbished, starting at only $1099 and up to $230 off original MSRP. These are the cheapest M1 MacBook Pros for sale today... Read more
Apple’s AirPods Max headphones are on sale fo...
Amazon has Silver, Blue, and Space Gray Apple AirPods Max headphones on sale today for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and all models are in stock today. Their price is the lowest currently... Read more
Open a new line of service at Verizon and get...
Verizon is giving away 64GB Apple iPhone 12 minis or your choice of an iPhone 11 to customers who choose one of these phones and open a new line of service. Offer is available online only, and no... Read more
Open-box 13″ M1 MacBook Airs now available st...
QuickShip Electronics has open-box return 13″ M1 MacBook Airs in stock and on sale for $200-$400 off MSRP on their eBay store right now with free express delivery. According to QuickShip, “The item... Read more
Verizon’s 2022 iPad promo: $100-$310 off any...
Verizon has cellular-capable iPads on sale for $100-$310 off MSRP when purchased with an Unlimited service plan. Sale price is applied to your account monthly over a 24 or 30 month period, depending... Read more
Sunday Sale: Apple AirPods are on sale for up...
Amazon has Apple AirPods on sale for $10-$100 off MSRP today, depending on the model. All are in stock today with free delivery: – AirPods Max headphones (Blue): $449 $100 off MSRP – AirPods Max... Read more

Jobs Board

Registered Nurse (RN) Employee Health PSJH -...
…is calling for a Registered Nurse (RN) Employee Health PSJH to our location in Apple Valley, CA.** We are seeking a Registered Nurse (RN) Employee Health PSJH to be Read more
Systems Administrator - Pearson (United State...
…and troubleshoot Windows operating systems (workstation and server), laptop computers, Apple iPads, Chromebooks and printers** + **Administer and troubleshoot all Read more
IT Assistant Level 1- IT Desktop Support Anal...
…providing tier-1 or better IT help desk support in a large Windows and Apple environment * Experience using IT Service Desk Management Software * Knowledge of IT Read more
Human Resources Business Partner PSJH - Provi...
…**is calling a** **Human Resources Business Partner, PSJH** **to our location in Apple Valley, CA.** **Applicants that meet qualifications will receive a text with Read more
Manager Community Health Investment Programs...
…is calling a Manager Community Health Investment Programs PSJH to our location in Apple Valley, CA.** **Qualified candidates will be invited to do a self-paced video Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.