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In computer networking, a wire protocol refers to a way of getting data from point to point: A wire protocol is needed if more than one application has to interoperate. It generally refers to protocols higher than the physical layer. In contrast to transport protocols at the transport level (like TCP or UDP), the term "wire protocol" is used to describe a common way to represent information at the application level. It refers only to a common application layer protocol and not to a common object semantic[clarification needed] of the applications. Such a representation at application level needs a common infoset (e.g. XML) and a data binding (using e.g. a common encoding scheme like XSD).
The wire protocol may be either text-based or a binary protocol. Although an important architectural decision, this is a separate matter from the distinction between wire protocols and programmatic APIs.
A wire protocol provides the means for interoperation of one or more applications in a network. They often refer to distributed object protocols, or they use applications that were designed to work together. As the name suggests, these distributed object protocols run in different processes in one or several computers that are connected over a network.
Wire protocols provide the means for a program running under one operating system to communicate with a program running under some other operating system using the Internet - they interconnect multiple platforms. Some are language-independent, allowing the communication of programs written in different languages.
Examples of wire protocols include:
- "Definition of: wire protocol". http://www.pcmag.com/: PCMAG.COM. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
(1) In a network, it is the mechanism for transmitting data from point a to point b. It often refers to a distributed object protocol such as SOAP, CORBA or RMI, which is software only and which invokes the running of programs on remote servers.
The term is a bit confusing, because it sounds like the physical layer (layer 1) of the network that places the bits "onto the wire." In some cases, it may refer to this layer; however, it generally refers to protocols higher than the physical layer or even the next higher data link layer (layer 2) such as Ethernet and ATM. See OSI model, communications protocol, data link protocol and distributed objects.
(2) In an electronic system, it refers to the control signals (start and stop transfer) and architecture (serial, parallel, etc.) of the bus or channel that transfers data.
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