What is Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1)?

Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1): Here, we are going to learn about the Abstract Syntax Notation One, history, applications and encodings, etc.
Submitted by Anushree Goswami, on January 12, 2021

ASN.1: Abstract Syntax Notation One

ASN.1 is an abbreviation of "Abstract Syntax Notation One". It is a customary interface description language used for describing data structures, those which in a cross-platform manner can be serialized and de-serialized. It is mostly used in telecommunications and computer networking, and particularly in cryptography.

  • Developers of protocol describe data structures in ASN.1 modules, which are usually a division of an extensive standards document written in the ASN.1 language.
  • At the beginning described in 1984 as the division of CCITT X.409:1984, ASN.1 is a cooperative standard of the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) and ISO/IEC.
  • In 1988, ASN.1 shifted to its individual standard, X.208, due to extensive applicability.
  • The significantly revised 1995 version is enclosed by the X.680 series.
    In 2015, the 5.0 Edition, the most up-to-date revision of the X.680 series of recommendations published.


  • ASN.1 is used in especially varied applications such as:
    1. Parcel tracking,
    2. Power distribution,
    3. Biomedicine.
  • The majority of its widespread use carries on to be in standard telecommunication protocols such as:
    1. Intelligent networks,
    2. UMTS,
    3. Voice over IP,
    4. Interactive television,
    5. Hiper Access.
  • ASN.1 is used in X.509, which describes the layout, design, and arrangement of certificates used in the HTTPS protocol for safely browsing the web, and in a variety of further cryptographic systems.
  • It's also used in:
    1. The PKCS group of cryptography standards,
    2. X.400 electronic mail,
    3. X.500 and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP),
    4. H.323 (VoIP),
    5. Kerberos,
    6. BACnet,
    7. Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP),
    8. Third- and fourth-generation wireless communications technologies (UMTS, LTE, and WiMAX 2).


ASN.1 is directly allied with a set of encoding policies that indicate how to correspond to a data structure as a series of bytes. ASN.1 recommendations make available a number of predefined encoding policies.

The standard ASN.1 encoding policies comprise:

  • Basic Encoding Rules (BER)
  • Distinguished Encoding Rules (DER)
  • Canonical Encoding Rules (CER)
  • Packed Encoding Rules (PER, unaligned: UPER, canonical: CPER, canonical unaligned: CUPER)
  • Encoding Control Notation (ECN)
  • XML Encoding Rules (XER)
  • Canonical XML Encoding Rules (CXER)
  • Extended XML Encoding Rules (E-XER)
  • Octet Encoding Rules (OER, canonical: COER)
  • JSON Encoding Rules (JER)
  • Generic String Encoding Rules (GSER)

The encoding policies are all platform-independent, and can be used all over a range of hardware and software.

Reference: ASN.1

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