ARMWARE RFC Archive <- RFC Index (1..100)

RFC 42

Network Working Group                                        E.I. Ancona
Request for Comments: 42                       M.I.T. Lincoln Laboratory
                                                           31 March 1970

                            Message Data Types


   We propose that the first eight bits of a normal message be reserved
   for a message data type.  Adoption of this convention does not in any
   way signify agreement as to the actual data types to be used.  It
   merely establishes the convention that the first eight bits of every
   normal message are not available for user data.


                     Socket    Port
                     |    |      |    ____________
                     |    V      V   /            \
                     V              /              \
                         |=|    /==|                |
             -------(+)->|Y|--><   |                |
                         |=|    \==|                |
                                   |    PROCESS     |
                                   |                |
                         |=|    /==|                |
             -------(-)->|X|<--<   |                |
                         |=|    \==|                |
                                    \              /

   It is important that conventions regarding the contents of messages
   be set up early so that there will not be a large proliferation of
   such conventions between every pair of programs running on the

   As network usage grows, network languages may develop for specifying
   both the syntax and semantics of messages.  However, even before such
   conventions are developed, a simple way of describing such a
   specification is by means of a message type which both sender and
   receiver know how to interpret.

   It is important that currently running programs still run with this
   convention; thus, we propose that two system programs be written
   which initially put in and test and remove the type information from
   the message.  Let us call these two programs X and Y, for lack of

Ancona                                                          [Page 1]

RFC 42                     Message Data Types                 March 1970

   better names.  In general, X and Y will perform transformations on
   the data, e.g., change character sets or number formats.  As network
   usage grows, X and Y might become table driven with the table
   specified by the user.

   Standard Types and Local Types:

   We propose to distinguish between two kinds of message data types:
   standard and local.

   Since our two transformation programs cannot be expected to perform a
   transformation between every possible data representation and the
   data representation of the machine they are running on, and also
   since the addition of a data representation should not necessarily
   involve a change to X or Y, we propose that only a fixed number of
   message types have meaning throughout the network.  These are
   standard types.

   There are two classes of local types: MYLOCAL and YOURLOCAL. A
   message type MYLOCAL n implies: this is type n of the set of types of
   the sending host.  YOURLOCAL n implies: this is type n of the set of
   types of the receiving host.


   A possible implementation of standard and local types is to define
   standard type 0 to be YOURLOCAL and standard type 1 to be MYLOCAL. In
   these cases, the second byte would be the local type number.

   Local type 0 would mean user-specified, i.e., the message contents
   are unchanged and unchecked.  Installations would define their own
   local type numbers and these would normally be available from the
   Network Information Center.

   Thus initially, all messages sent to currently running programs will
   be type 0, n and all messages received from currently running
   programs will be type 1, n where n is the local type number of the
   character set of the installation.

   Examples of Possible Standard Types:

        0.     YOURLOCAL
        1.     MYLOCAL
        2.     U.S. Ascii
        3.     EBCDIC
        4.     Mod 33 TTY Ascii

Ancona                                                          [Page 2]

RFC 42                     Message Data Types                 March 1970

        5.     Load table driven translator table #n.  If, in the
               future, the X and Y transformation boxes are table
               driven, this gives the table.  The table number n is
               stored in the second byte of the message.
        6.     Use table driven translator table #n.
        7.     Network standard graphics message.

   Examples of Local Types:

        1.     Local Character sets, e.g., Lincoln writer, DEC Ascii,
        2.     Graphics local messages, e.g., TX-2 Apex display
               executive calls, GSAM.

         [ This RFC was put into machine readable form for entry ]
         [ into the online RFC archives by Robbie Bennet 11/98   ]

Ancona                                                          [Page 3]