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Layers of the OSI (Open System Interface) Model
Defining the Seven Layers of the OSI Model
Application Layer - Layer 7
Presentation Layer - Layer 6
Session Layer - Layer 5
Transport Layer - Layer 4
Network Layer - Layer 3
Data Link Layer - Layer 2
Physical Layer - Layer 1
 
Diagram of the OSI Model - Application Layer
The Application Layer
The application layer contains a variety of protocols that are commonly needed. For example, there are hundreds of incompatible terminal types in the world. Consider the plight of a full screen editor that is supposed to work over a network with many different terminal types, each with different screen layouts, escape sequences for inserting and deleting text, moving the cursor, etc.

One way to solve this problem is to define an abstract network virtual terminal for which editors and other programs can be written to deal with. To handle each terminal type, a piece of software must be written to map the functions of the network virtual terminal onto the real terminal. For example, when the editor moves the virtual terminal's cursor to the upper left-hand corner of the screen, this software must issue the proper command sequence to the real terminal to get its cursor there too. All the virtual terminal software is in the application layer.

Another application layer function is file transfer. Different file systems have different file naming conventions, different ways of representing text lines, and so on. Transferring a file between two different systems requires handling these and other incompatibilities. This work, too, belongs to the application layer, as do electronic mail, remote job entry, directory lookup, and various other general-purpose and special-purpose facilities.

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