Presentation Layer

What do we use the Internet for? Posting pictures and videos? How about watching YouTube videos, Netflix, or other media sites? Have you ever wondered how you are able to see these pictures and videos? What about those hilarious cat GIFs that you have hoarded and saved onto your hard drive?

(Don’t worry! We have them, too). While we don’t often think about it, we all realize that underneath the surface is actually an incredibly complex networking process that goes into allowing us see these visuals on the computer.

Understanding this amazing process starts with the discussion of the presentation layer. This layer is the sixth layer of the OSI model. It comes after the seventh layer–the application layer. Unlike the application layer that deals with network communication, the presentation deals with … Well, you can probably guess it.

The presentation layer involves the processes that allow us to see images and videos. This is because the presentation layer manipulates data so that it is presentable. In order to do this, the presentation layer includes a series of protocols. Many of these protocols you have probably heard of before, as they are household names in our generation. In fact, we’ve mentioned one of the extensions already.

Can you guess what they are?

Great! The extensions that are under the umbrella of the presentation layer include: JPEG (joint photo graphics experts group), GIF (graphic image file), TIFF (tagged image file format), MPEG (moving pictures experts group), ASCII (American standard code for information interchange). These common extensions accompany many–if not most–of the media we encounter on the Internet today.

However, the presentation layer has another function that goes beyond the presentation of data.

Along with this important feature, the presentation layer also has the ability to encrypt data. Though many people don’t use the presentation to encrypt data because of how tricky it can be, this function exists as an important part of the presentation layer’s functionality.

Because of all of this, the presentation layer is one of the more easily-identifiable and recognizable layers of the OSI model. By taking data information and putting it in formats and media that we can understand, the presentation layer greatly improves the functionality of networks by making computers and other nodes able to be understood and used. Because of this, it’s important to understand how the presentation layer works and affects how we view and use computers.