Presentation Layer

In this tutorial, we will be covering the Presentation layer of the OSI reference model in Computer Networks.

The presentation layer is layer-6 of the OSI reference model. This layer mainly responds to the service requests from the application layer(that is layer-7) and issues the service requests to layer-6 that is (the session layer).

This layer mainly acts as the translator of the network. Another name of the presentation layer is the Syntax layer.

The primary goal of this layer is to take care of the syntax and semantics of the information exchanged between two communicating systems. The presentation layer takes care that the data is sent in such a way that the receiver will understand the information(data) and will be able to use the data. Languages(syntax) can be different between the two communicating systems. Under this condition, the presentation layer plays a role as translator.

In order to make it possible for computers with different data representations to communicate, the data structures to be exchanged can be defined in an abstract way. The presentation layer manages these abstract data structures and allows higher-level data structures(eg: banking records), to be defined and exchanged.

We can say that the presentation layer may represent or encode the data in various ways (like data compression, data encryption). But the receiving device mainly decodes or converts the encoded message into its original form.

For the same data, the sender and receiver must need to agree upon a messaging format that is commonly known as the Presentation format.

Also, the presentation layer is a part of the operating system that mainly converts the data from one presentation format to another presentation format.

Protocols used at the Presentation layer

Given below are some of the protocols used at the presentation layer:

  • AFP(Apple filling protocol)

  • Secure Socket Layer(SSL)

  • FTP(file transfer protocol)

  • Telnet

  • Lightweight Presentation Protocol(LPP)

  • SSH(Secure shell)

Functions of Presentation Layer

  1. Translation: Before being transmitted, the information in the form of characters and numbers should be changed to bitstreams. The presentation layer is responsible for interoperability between encoding methods as different computers use different encoding methods. It translates data between the formats the network requires and the format of the computer.

  2. Encryption: It carries out encryption at the transmitter and decryption at the receiver.

  3. Compression: It carries out data compression to reduce the bandwidth of the data to be transmitted. The primary role of Data compression is to reduce the number of bits to be 0transmitted. It is important in transmitting multimedia such as audio, video, text, etc.

Design Issues with Presentation Layer

  • To manage and maintain the Syntax and Semantics of the information transmitted.

  • Encoding data in a standard agreed-upon way. Eg: String, double, date, etc.

  • Perform Standard Encoding on the wire.