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Rules for Designing Protocols Using the RFC 5444 Generalized Packet/ Message Format

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 8245.
Authors Thomas H. Clausen , Christopher Dearlove , Ulrich Herberg , Henning Rogge
Last updated 2017-07-06 (Latest revision 2017-05-17)
Replaces draft-clausen-manet-rfc5444-usage
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state Submitted to IESG for Publication
Document shepherd Justin Dean
Shepherd write-up Show Last changed 2016-05-30
IESG IESG state Became RFC 8245 (Proposed Standard)
Consensus boilerplate Yes
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Alvaro Retana
Send notices to "Justin Dean" <>,
IANA IANA review state IANA OK - Actions Needed
Network Working Group                                         T. Clausen
Internet-Draft                                       Ecole Polytechnique
Updates: 5444 (if approved)                                  C. Dearlove
Intended status: Standards Track                             BAE Systems
Expires: November 18, 2017                                    U. Herberg

                                                                H. Rogge
                                                         Fraunhofer FKIE
                                                            May 17, 2017

  Rules for Designing Protocols Using the RFC 5444 Generalized Packet/
                             Message Format


   RFC 5444 specifies a generalized MANET packet/message format and
   describes an intended use for multiplexed MANET routing protocol
   messages that is mandated to use on the port/protocol specified by
   RFC 5498.  This document updates RFC 5444 by providing rules and
   recommendations for how the multiplexer operates and how protocols
   can use the packet/message format.  In particular, the mandatory
   rules prohibit a number of uses that have been suggested in various
   proposals, and which would have led to interoperability problems, to
   the impediment of protocol extension development, and to an inability
   to use optional generic parsers.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on November 18, 2017.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2017 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the

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   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     1.1.  History and Purpose  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     1.2.  RFC 5444 Features  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
       1.2.1.  Packet/Message Format  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
       1.2.2.  Multiplexing and Demultiplexing  . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     1.3.  Status of This Document  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   2.  Terminology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   3.  Applicability Statement  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   4.  Information Transmission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     4.1.  Where to Record Information  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     4.2.  Message and TLV Type Allocation  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.3.  Message Recognition  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.4.  Message Multiplexing and Packets . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
       4.4.1.  Packet Transmission  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
       4.4.2.  Packet Reception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     4.5.  Messages, Addresses and Attributes . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
     4.6.  Addresses Require Attributes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
     4.7.  TLVs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
     4.8.  Message Integrity  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   5.  Structure  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   6.  Message Efficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
     6.1.  Address Block Compression  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
     6.2.  TLVs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
     6.3.  TLV Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   7.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   8.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
   9.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
   10. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
     10.1. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
     10.2. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   Appendix A.  Information Representation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   Appendix B.  Automation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

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1.  Introduction

   [RFC5444] specifies a generalized packet/message format, designed for
   use by MANET routing protocols.

   [RFC5444] was designed following experiences with [RFC3626], which
   attempted, but did not quite succeed in, providing a packet/message
   format accommodating for diverse protocol extensions.  [RFC5444] was
   designed as a common building block for use by both proactive and
   reactive MANET routing protocols.

   [RFC5498] mandates the use of this packet/message format, and of the
   packet multiplexing process described in an Appendix to [RFC5444], by
   protocols operating over the manet IP protocol and port numbers that
   were allocated following [RFC5498].

1.1.  History and Purpose

   Since the publication of [RFC5444] in 2009, several RFCs have been
   published, including [RFC5497], [RFC6130], [RFC6621], [RFC7181],
   [RFC7182], [RFC7183], [RFC7188], [RFC7631], and [RFC7722], that use
   the format of [RFC5444].  The ITU-T recommendation [G9903] also uses
   the format of [RFC5444] for encoding some of its control signals.  In
   developing these specifications, experience with the use of [RFC5444]
   has been acquired, specifically with respect to how to write
   specifications using [RFC5444] so as to ensure "forward
   compatibility" of a protocol with future extensions, to enable the
   creation of efficient messages, and to enable the use of an efficient
   and generic parser for all protocols using [RFC5444].

   During the same time period, other suggestions have been made to use
   [RFC5444] in a manner that would inhibit the development of
   interoperable protocol extensions, that would potentially lead to
   inefficiencies, or that would lead to incompatibilities with generic
   parsers for [RFC5444].  While these uses were not all explicitly
   prohibited by [RFC5444], they should be strongly discouraged.  This
   document is intended to prohibit such uses, to present experiences
   from designing protocols using [RFC5444], and to provide these as
   guidelines (with their rationale) for future protocol designs using

1.2.  RFC 5444 Features

   [RFC5444] performs two main functions:

   o  It defines a packet/message format for use by MANET routing
      protocols.  As far as [RFC5444] is concerned, it is up to each
      protocol that uses it to implement the required message parsing

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      and formation.  It is natural, especially when implementing more
      than one such protocol, to implement these processes using
      protocol-independent packet/message creation and parsing
      procedures, however this is not required by [RFC5444].  Some
      comments in this document may be particularly applicable to such a
      case, but all that is required is that the messages passed to and
      from protocols are correctly formatted, and that packets
      containing those messages are correctly formatted as described in
      the following point.

   o  It specifies, in its Appendix A combined with the intended usage
      in its Appendix B, a multiplexing and demultiplexing process
      whereby an entity which may be referred to as the "RFC 5444
      multiplexer" (in this document simply as the multiplexer, or the
      demultiplexer when performing that function) manages packets that
      travel a single (logical) hop, and which contain messages that are
      owned by individual protocols.  A packet may contain messages from
      more than one protocol.  This process, and its usage, is mandated
      for use on the manet UDP port and IP protocol (alternative means
      for the transport of packets) by [RFC5498].  The multiplexer is
      responsible for creating packets and for parsing packet headers,
      extracting messages, and passing them to the appropriate protocol
      according to their type (the first octet in the message).

1.2.1.  Packet/Message Format

   Among the characteristics and design objectives of the packet/message
   format of [RFC5444] are:

   o  It is designed for carrying MANET routing protocol control

   o  It defines a packet as a Packet Header with a set of Packet TLVs
      (Type-Length-Value structures), followed by a set of messages.
      Each message has a well-defined structure consisting of a Message
      Header (designed for making processing and forwarding decisions)
      followed by a set of Message TLVs, and a set of (address, type,
      value) associations using Address Blocks and their Address Block
      TLVs.  The [RFC5444] packet/message format then enables the use of
      simple and generic parsing logic for Packet Headers, Message
      Headers, and message content.

      A packet may include messages from different protocols, such as
      [RFC6130] and [RFC7181], in a single transmission.  This was
      observed in [RFC3626] to be beneficial, especially in wireless
      networks where media contention may be significant.

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   o  Its packets are designed to travel between two neighboring
      interfaces, which will result in a single decrement of the IPv4
      TTL or IPv6 hop limit.  The Packet Header and any Packet TLVs may
      thus convey information relevant to that link (for example, the
      Packet Sequence Number can be used to count transmission successes
      across that link).  Packets are designed to be constructed for a
      single hop transmission; a packet transmission following a
      successful packet reception is by design of a new packet that may
      include all, some, or none of the received messages, plus possibly
      additional messages either received in separate packets, or
      generated locally at that router.  Messages may thus travel more
      than one hop, and are designed to carry end-to-end protocol

   o  It supports "internal extensibility" using TLVs; an extension can
      add information to an existing message without that information
      rendering the message unparseable or unusable by a router that
      does not support the extension.  An extension is typically of the
      protocol that created the message to be extended, for example
      [RFC7181] adds information to the HELLO messages created by
      [RFC6130].  However an extension may also be independent of the
      protocol, for example [RFC7182] can add ICV (Integrity Check
      Value) and timestamp information to any message (or to a packet,
      thus extending the [RFC5444] multiplexer).

      Information, in the form of TLVs, can be added to the message as a
      whole, such as the [RFC7182] integrity information, or may be
      associated with specific addresses in the message, such as the MPR
      selection and link metric information added to HELLO messages by
      [RFC7181].  An extension can also add addresses to a message.

   o  It uses address aggregation into compact Address Blocks by
      exploiting commonalities between addresses.  In many deployments,
      addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) used on interfaces share a common prefix
      that need not be repeated.  Using IPv6, several addresses (of the
      same interface) may have common interface identifiers that need
      not be repeated.

   o  It sets up common namespaces, formats, and data structures for use
      by different protocols, where common parsing logic can be used.
      For example, [RFC5497] defines a generic TLV format for
      representing time information (such as interval time or validity

   o  It contains a minimal Message Header (a maximum of five elements:
      type, originator, sequence number, hop count and hop limit) that
      permit decisions whether to locally process a message, or forward
      a message (thus enabling MANET-wide flooding of a message) without

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      processing the body of the message.

1.2.2.  Multiplexing and Demultiplexing

   The multiplexer (and demultiplexer) is defined in Appendix A of
   [RFC5444].  Its purpose is to allow multiple protocols to share the
   same IP protocol or UDP port.  That sharing was made necessary by the
   separation of [RFC6130] from [RFC7181] as separate protocols, and by
   the allocation of a single IP protocol and UDP port to all MANET
   protocols, including those protocols, following [RFC5498], which
   states that "All interoperable protocols running on these well-known
   IANA allocations MUST conform to [RFC5444].  [RFC5444] provides a
   common format that enables one or more protocols to share the IANA
   allocations defined in this document unambiguously.".  The
   multiplexer is the mechanism in [RFC5444] that enables that sharing.

   The primary purposes of the multiplexer are to:

   o  Accept messages from MANET protocols, which also indicate over
      which interface(s) the messages are to be sent, and to which
      destination address.  The latter may be a unicast address or the
      "LL-MANET-Routers" link local multicast address defined in

   o  Collect messages, possibly from multiple protocols, for the same
      interface and destination, into packets to be sent one logical
      hop, and to send packets using the manet UDP port or IP protocol
      defined in [RFC5498].

   o  Extract messages from received packets, and pass them to their
      owning protocols.

   The multiplexer's relationship is with the protocols that own the
   corresponding Message Types.  Where those protocols have their own
   relationships, for example as extensions, this is the responsibility
   of the protocols.  For example OLSRv2 [RFC7181] extends the HELLO
   messages created by NHDP [RFC6130].  However the multiplexer will
   deliver HELLO messages to NHDP and will expect to receive HELLO
   messages from NHDP, the relationship between NHDP and OLSRv2 is
   between those two protocols.

   The multiplexer is also responsible for the Packet Header, including
   any Packet Sequence Number and Packet TLVs.  It may accept some
   additional instructions from protocols, pass additional information
   to protocols, and must follow some additional rules, see Section 4.4.

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1.3.  Status of This Document

   This document updates [RFC5444], and is intended for publication as a
   Proposed Standard (rather than as Informational) because it specifies
   and mandates constraints on the use of [RFC5444] which, if not
   followed, makes forms of extensions of those protocols impossible,
   impedes the ability to generate efficient messages, or makes
   desirable forms of generic parsers impossible.

2.  Terminology

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in

   This document uses the terminology and notation defined in [RFC5444],
   in particular the terms "packet", "Packet Header", "message",
   "Message Header", "address", "Address Block", "TLV" and "TLV Block"
   are to be interpreted as described therein.

   Additionally, this document uses the following terminology:

   Full Type (of TLV)  - As per [RFC5444], the 16-bit combination of the
      TLV Type and Type Extension is given the symbolic name <tlv-
      fulltype>, but is not assigned the term "Full Type", which is
      however assigned by this document as standard terminology.

   Owning Protocol  - As per [RFC5444], for each Message Type, a
      protocol -- unless specified otherwise, the one making the IANA
      reservation for that Message Type -- is designated as the "owning
      protocol" of that Message Type.  The (de)multiplexer inspects the
      Message Type of each received message, and delivers each message
      to its corresponding "owning protocol".

3.  Applicability Statement

   This document does not specify a protocol, but documents constraints
   on how to design protocols that are using the generic packet/message
   format defined in [RFC5444] which, if not followed, makes forms of
   extensions of those protocols impossible, impedes the ability to
   generate efficient (small) messages, or makes desirable forms of
   generic parsers impossible.  The use of the [RFC5444] format is
   mandated by [RFC5498] for all protocols running over the manet
   protocol and port, defined therein.  Thus, the constraints in this
   document apply to all protocols running over the manet protocol and

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   port.  The constraints are strongly recommended for other uses of

4.  Information Transmission

   Protocols need to transmit information from one instance implementing
   the protocol to another.

4.1.  Where to Record Information

   A protocol has the following choices as to where to put information
   for transmission:

   o  In a TLV to be added to the Packet Header.

   o  In a message of a type owned by another protocol.

   o  In a message of a type owned by the protocol.

   The first case (a Packet TLV) can only be used when the information
   is to be carried one hop.  It SHOULD only be used either where the
   information relates to the packet as a whole (for example packet
   integrity check values and timestamps, as specified in [RFC7182]) or
   if the information is of expected wider application than a single
   protocol.  A protocol can also request that the Packet Header include
   Packet Sequence Numbers, but does not control those numbers.

   The second case (in a message of a type owned by another protocol) is
   only possible if the adding protocol is an extension to the owning
   protocol; for example OLSRv2 [RFC7181] is an extension of NHDP

   The third case is the normal case for a new protocol.

   A protocol extension may be either simply an update of the protocol
   (the third case) or be a new protocol that also updates another
   protocol (the second case).  An example of the latter is that OLSRv2
   [RFC7181] is a protocol that also extends the HELLO message owned by
   NHDP [RFC6130]; it thus is an example of both the second and third
   cases (the latter using the OLSRv2 owned TC message).  An extension
   to [RFC5444], such as [RFC7182], is considered to be an extension to
   all protocols.  Protocols SHOULD be designed to enable extension by
   any of these means to be possible, and some of the rules in this
   document (in particular on Section 4.6 and Section 4.8) are to help
   facilitate that.

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4.2.  Message and TLV Type Allocation

   Protocols SHOULD be conservative in the number of new Message Types
   that they require, as the total available number of allocatable
   Message Types is only 224.  Protocol design SHOULD consider whether
   different functions can be implemented by differences in TLVs carried
   in the same Message Type, rather than using multiple Message Types.

   The TLV type space, although greater than the Message Type space,
   SHOULD also be used efficiently.  The Full Type of a TLV occupies two
   octets, thus there are many more available TLV Full Types than there
   are Message Types.  However, in some cases (currently LINK_METRIC
   from [RFC7181] and ICV and TIMESTAMP from [RFC7182], all in the
   global TLV type space) a TLV Type with a complete set of 256 TLV Full
   Types is defined (but not necessarily allocated).

   Each Message Type has an associated block of Message-Type-specific
   TLV Types (128 to 233, each of with 256 type extensions), both for
   Address Block TLV Types and Message TLV Types.  TLV Types from within
   these blocks SHOULD be used in preference to the Message-Type-
   independent Message TLV Types (0 to 127, each with 256 type
   extensions) when a TLV is specific to a message.

   The Expert Review guidelines in [RFC5444] are accordingly updated as
   described in Section 8.

4.3.  Message Recognition

   A message contains a Message Header and a Message Body; note that the
   Message TLV Block is considered as part of the latter.  The Message
   Header contains information whose primary purpose is to decide
   whether to process the message, and whether to forward the message.

   A message can be recognized as one that has been previously seen
   (which may determine whether it is processed and/or forwarded) if it
   contains sufficient information in its Message Header.  A message
   MUST be so recognized by the combination of all three of its Message
   Type, Originator Address and Message Sequence Number.  The inclusion
   of Message Type allows each protocol to manage its own Message
   Sequence Numbers, and also allows for the possibility that different
   Message Types may have greatly differing transmission rates.  As an
   example of such use, [RFC7181] contains a general purpose process for
   managing processing and forwarding decisions, albeit one presented as
   for use with MPR flooding.  (Blind flooding can be handled similarly
   by assuming that all other routers are MPR selectors; it is not
   necessary in this case to differentiate between interfaces on which a
   message is received.)

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   Most protocol information is thus contained in the Message Body.  A
   model of how such information may be viewed is described in
   Section 4.5 and Section 4.6.  To use that model, addresses (for
   example of neighboring or otherwise known routers) SHOULD be recorded
   in Address Blocks, not as data in TLVs.  Recording addresses in TLV
   Value fields both breaks the model of addresses as identities and
   associated information (attributes) and also inhibits address
   compression.  However in some cases alternative addresses (e.g.,
   hardware addresses when the Address Block is recording IP addresses)
   MAY be carried as TLV Values.  Note that a message contains a Message
   Address Length field that can be used to allow carrying alternative
   message sizes, but only one length of addresses can be used in a
   single message, in all Address Blocks and the Originator Address, and
   is established by the router and protocol generating the message.

4.4.  Message Multiplexing and Packets

   The multiplexer has to handle message multiplexing into packets and
   their transmission, and packet reception and demultiplexing into
   messages.  The multiplexer and the protocols that use it are subject
   to the following rules.

4.4.1.  Packet Transmission

   Packets are formed for transmission by:

   o  Outgoing messages are created by their owning protocol, and MAY be
      modified by any extending protocols if the owning protocol permits
      this.  Messages MAY also be forwarded by their owning protocol.
      It is strongly RECOMMENDED that messages are not modified in the
      latter case, other than updates to their hop count and hop limit
      fields, as described in Section 7.1.1 of [RFC5444].  Note that
      this includes having an identical octet representation, including
      not allowing a different TLV representation of the same
      information.  This is because it enables end to end authentication
      that ignores (zeros) those two fields (only), as is done by for
      the Message TLV ICV (Integrity Check Value) calculations in
      [RFC7182].  Protocols are strongly RECOMMENDED to document their
      behavior with regard to modifiability of messages.

   o  Outgoing messages are then sent to the multiplexer.  The owning
      protocol MUST indicate which interface(s) the messages are to be
      sent on and their destination address.  Note that packets travel
      one hop; the destination is therefore either a link local
      multicast address, if the packet is being multicast, or the
      address of the neighbor interface to which the packet is sent.

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   o  The owning protocol MAY request that messages are kept together in
      a packet; the multiplexer SHOULD respect this request if at all
      possible.  The multiplexer SHOULD combine messages that are sent
      on the same interface in a packet, whether from the same of
      different protocols, provided that in so doing the multiplexer
      does not cause an IP packet to exceed the current MTU (Maximum
      Transmission Unit).  Note that the multiplexer cannot fragment
      messages; creating suitable sized messages that will not cause the
      MTU to be exceeded if sent in a single message packet is the
      responsibility of the protocol generating the message.  If a
      larger message is created then only IP fragmentation is available
      to allow the packet to be sent, and this is generally considered
      undesirable, especially when transmission may be unreliable.

   o  The multiplexer MAY delay messages in order to assemble more
      efficient packets.  It MUST respect any constraints on such delays
      requested by the protocol if it is practical to do so.

   o  If requested by a protocol, the multiplexer MUST, and otherwise
      MAY, include a Packet Sequence Number in the packet.  Such a
      request MUST be respected as long as the protocol is active.  Note
      that the errata to [RFC5444], indicates that the Packet Sequence
      Number SHOULD be specific to the interface on which the packet is
      sent.  This specification updates [RFC5444] by requiring that this
      sequence number MUST be specific to that interface and also that
      separate sequence numbers MUST be maintained for each destination
      to which packets are sent with included Packet Sequence Numbers.
      Addition of Packet Sequence Numbers MUST be consistent, i.e., for
      each interface and destination the Packet Sequence Number MUST be
      added to all packets or to none.

   o  An extension to the multiplexer MAY add TLVs to the packet.  It
      may also add TLVs to the messages, in which case it is considered
      as also extended the corresponding protocols.  For example
      [RFC7182] can be used by the multiplexer to add Packet TLVs or
      Message TLVs, or by the protocol to add Message TLVs.

4.4.2.  Packet Reception

   When a packet is received, the following steps are performed by the
   demultiplexer and by protocols:

   o  The Packet Header and the organization into the messages that it
      contains MUST be verified by the demultiplexer.

   o  The packet and/or the messages it contains MAY also be verified by
      an extension to the demultiplexer, such as [RFC7182].

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   o  Each message MUST be sent to its owning protocol, or discarded if
      the Message Type is not recognized.  The demultiplexer MUST also
      make the Packet Header, and the source and destination addresses
      in the IP datagram that included the packet, available to the

   o  The demultiplexer MUST remove any Message TLVs that were added by
      an extension to the multiplexer.  The message MUST be passed on to
      the protocol exactly as received from (another instance of) the
      protocol.  This is in part an implementation detail.  For example
      an implementation of [RFC7182] could add Message TLV either in the
      multiplexer or in the protocol; an implementation MUST ensure that
      the message passed to a protocol is as it would be passed from
      that protocol by this implementation.

   o  The owning protocol MUST verify each message for correctness, it
      MUST allow any extending protocol(s) to also contribute to this

   o  The owning protocol MUST process each message.  In some cases,
      which will be defined in the protocol specification, this
      processing will determine that the message MUST be ignored.
      Except in the latter case, the owning protocol MUST also allow any
      extending protocols to process the message.

   o  The owning protocol MUST manage the hop count and/or hop limit in
      the message.  It is RECOMMENDED that these are handled as
      described in Appendix B of [RFC5444]; they MUST be so handled if
      using hop count dependent TLVs such as those defined in [RFC5497].  Other Information

   In addition to the messages between the multiplexer and the protocols
   in each direction, the following additional information, summarized
   from other sections in this specification, can be exchanged.

   o  The packet source and destination addresses MUST be sent from
      (de)multiplexer to protocol.

   o  The Packet Header, including packet sequence number, MUST be sent
      from (de)multiplexer to protocol if present.  (An implementation
      may choose to only do so, or only report the packet sequence
      number, on request.)

   o  A protocol MAY require that all outgoing packets contain a packet
      sequence number.

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   o  The interface over which a message is to be sent and its
      destination address MUST be sent from protocol to multiplexer.
      The destination address may be a multicast address, in particular
      the LL-MANET-Routers link-local multicast address defined in

   o  A request to keep messages together in one packet MAY be sent from
      protocol to multiplexer.

   o  A requested maximum message delay MAY be sent from protocol to

   The protocol SHOULD also be aware of the MTU that will apply to its
   messages, if this is available.

4.5.  Messages, Addresses and Attributes

   The information in a Message Body, including Message TLVs and Address
   Block TLVs, can be considered to consist of:

   o  Attributes of the message, each attribute consisting of a Full
      Type, a length, and a Value (of that length).

   o  A set of addresses, carried in one or more Address Blocks.

   o  Attributes of each address, each attribute consisting of an Full
      Type, a length, and a Value (of that length).

   Attributes are carried in TLVs.  For Message TLVs the mapping from
   TLV to attribute is one to one.  For Address Block TLVs the mapping
   from TLV to attribute is one to many: one TLV can carry attributes
   for multiple addresses, but only one attribute per address.
   Attributes for different addresses may be the same or different.

   It is RECOMMENDED that a TLV Full Type MAY be defined so that there
   MUST only be one TLV of that Full Type associated with the packet
   (Packet TLV), message (Message TLV), or any value of any address
   (Address Block TLV).  Note that an address may appear more than once
   in a message, but the restriction on associating TLVs with addresses
   covers all copies of that address.  It is RECOMMENDED that addresses
   are not repeated in a message.

   A conceptual way to view this information is described in Appendix A.

4.6.  Addresses Require Attributes

   It is not mandatory in [RFC5444] to associate an address with
   attributes using Address Block TLVs.  Information about an address

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   could thus, in principle, be carried using:

   o  The simple presence of an address.

   o  The ordering of addresses in an Address Block.

   o  The use of different meanings for different Address Blocks.

   This specification, however, requires that those methods of carrying
   information MUST NOT be used for any protocol using [RFC5444].
   Information about the meaning of an address MUST only be carried
   using Address Block TLVs.

   In addition, rules for the extensibility of OLSRv2 and NHDP are
   described in [RFC7188].  This specification extends their
   applicability to other uses of [RFC5444].

   These rules are:

   o  A protocol MUST NOT assign any meaning to the presence or absence
      of an address (either in a Message, or in a given Address Block in
      a Message), to the ordering of addresses in an Address Block, or
      to the division of addresses among Address Blocks.

   o  A protocol MUST NOT reject a message based on the inclusion of a
      TLV of an unrecognized type.  The protocol MUST ignore any such
      TLVs when processing the message.  The protocol MUST NOT remove or
      change any such TLVs if the message is to be forwarded unchanged.

   o  A protocol MUST NOT reject a message based on the inclusion of an
      unrecognized Value in a TLV of a recognized type.  The protocol
      MUST ignore any such Values when processing the message, but MUST
      NOT ignore recognized Values in such a TLV.  The protocol MUST NOT
      remove or change any such TLVs if the message is to be forwarded

   o  Similar restrictions to the two preceding points apply to the
      demultiplexer, which also MUST NOT reject a packet based on an
      unrecognized message; although it will reject any such messages,
      it MUST deliver any other messages in the packet to their owning

   The following points indicate the reasons for these rules, based on
   considerations of extensibility and efficiency.

   Assigning a meaning to the presence, absence or location, of an
   address would reduce the extensibility of the protocol, prevent the
   approach to information representation described in Appendix A, and

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   reduce the options available for message optimization described in
   Section 6.

   To consider how the simple presence of an address conveying
   information would have restricted the development of an extension,
   two examples, one actual (included in the base specification, but
   could have been added later) and one hypothetical, are considered.

   The basic function of NHDP's HELLO messages [RFC6130] is to indicate
   that addresses are of neighbors, using the LINK_STATUS and
   OTHER_NEIGHB TLVs.  (The message may also indicate the routers own
   addresses, which could also serve as a further example.)

   An extension to NHDP might decide to use the HELLO message to report
   that an address is one that could be used for a specialized purpose
   rather than for normal NHDP-based purposes.  Such an example already
   exists in the use of LOST Values in the LINK_STATUS and OTHER_NEIGHB
   TLVs to report that an address is of a router known not to be a

   A future example could be to indicate that an address is to be added
   to a "blacklist" of addresses not to be used.  This would use a new
   TLV (or a new Value of an existing TLV, see below).  Assuming that no
   other TLVs are attached to such blacklisted addresses, then an
   unmodified extension to NHDP would ignore those addresses, as
   required.  (If however, for example, a LINK_STATUS or OTHER_NEIGHB
   TLV with Value LOST were also attached to that address, then the
   receiving router would process that address for that TLV.)  If NHDP
   had been designed so that just the presence of an address indicated a
   neighbor, this blacklist extension would not be possible.

   Rejecting a message because it contains an unrecognized TLV Type, or
   an unrecognized TLV Value, reduces the extensibility of the protocol.

   For example, OLSRv2 [RFC7181] is, among other things, an extension to
   NHDP.  It adds information to addresses in an NHDP HELLO message
   using a LINK_METRIC TLV.  A non-OLSRv2 implementation of NHDP, for
   example to support Simplified Multicast Flooding (SMF) [RFC6621],
   must still process the HELLO message, ignoring the LINK_METRIC TLVs.

   Also, the blacklisting described in the example above could be
   signaled not with a new TLV, but with a new Value of a LINK_STATUS or
   OTHER_NEIGHB TLV (requiring an IANA allocation as described in
   [RFC7188]), as is already done in the LOST case.

   The creation of Multi-Topology OLSRv2 (MT-OLSRv2) [RFC7722], as an
   extension to OLSRv2 that can interoperate with unextended instances
   of OLSRv2, would not have been possible without these restrictions,

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   which were applied to NHDP and OLSRv2 by [RFC7181].

   These restrictions do not, however, mean that added information is
   completely ignored for purposes of the base protocol.  Suppose that a
   faulty implementation of OLSRv2 (including NHDP) creates a HELLO
   message that assigns two different values of the same link metric to
   an address, something that is not permitted by [RFC7181].  A
   receiving OLSRv2-aware implementation of NHDP will reject such a
   message, even though a receiving OLSRv2-unaware implementation of
   NHDP will process it.  This is because the OLSRv2-aware
   implementation has access to additional information, that the HELLO
   message is definitely invalid, and the message is best ignored, as it
   is unknown what other errors it may contain.

4.7.  TLVs

   Within a message, the attributes are represented by TLVs.
   Particularly for Address Block TLVs, different TLVs may represent the
   same information.  For example, using the LINK_STATUS TLV defined in
   [RFC6130], if some addresses have Value SYMMETRIC and some have Value
   HEARD, arranged in that order, then this information can be
   represented using two single value TLVs or one multivalue TLV.  The
   latter can be used even if the addresses are not so ordered.

   A protocol MAY use any representation of information using TLVs that
   convey the required information.  A protocol SHOULD use an efficient
   representation, but this is a quality of implementation issue.  A
   protocol MUST recognize any permitted representation of the
   information; even if it chooses to (for example) only use multivalue
   TLVs, it must recognize single value TLVs (and vice versa).

   A protocol defining new TLVs MUST respect the naming and
   organizational rules in [RFC7631].  It SHOULD follow the guidance in
   [RFC7188], in particular see Section 6.3.  (This specification does
   not however relax the application of [RFC7188] where it is mandated.)

4.8.  Message Integrity

   In addition to not rejecting a message due to unknown TLVs or TLV
   Values, a protocol MUST NOT reject a message based on the inclusion
   of a TLV of an unrecognized type.  The protocol MUST ignore any such
   TLVs when processing the message.  The protocol MUST NOT remove or
   change any such TLVs if the message is to be forwarded unchanged.
   Such behavior would have the consequences that:

   o  It might disrupt the operation of an extension of which it is
      unaware.  Note that it is the responsibility of a protocol
      extension to handle interoperation with unextended instances of

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      the protocol.  For example OLSRv2 [RFC7181] adds an MPR_WILLNG TLV
      to HELLO messages (created by NHDP, [RFC6130], of which it is in
      part an extension) to recognize this case (and for other reasons).

   o  It would prevent the operation of end to end message
      authentication using [RFC7182], or any similar mechanism.  The use
      of immutable (apart from hop count and/or hop limit) messages by a
      protocol is strongly RECOMMENDED for that reason.

5.  Structure

   This section concerns the properties of the format defined in
   [RFC5444] itself, rather than the properties of protocols using it.

   The elements defined in [RFC5444] have structures that are managed by
   a number of flags fields:

   o  Packet flags field (4 bits, 2 used) that manages the contents of
      the Packet Header.

   o  Message flags field (4 bits, 4 used) that manages the contents of
      the Message Header.

   o  Address Block flags field (8 bits, 4 used) that manages the
      contents of an Address Block.

   o  TLV flags field (8 bits, 5 used) that manages the contents of a

   Note that all of these flags are structural, they specify which
   elements are present or absent, or field lengths, or whether a field
   has one or multiple values in it.

   In the current version of [RFC5444], indicated by version number 0 in
   the <version> field of the Packet Header, unused bits in these flags
   fields are stated as "are RESERVED and SHOULD each be cleared ('0')
   on transmission and SHOULD be ignored on reception".  For the
   avoidance of any compatibility issues, for version number 0 this is
   updated to "MUST each be cleared ('0') on transmission and MUST be
   ignored on reception".

   If a specification updating [RFC5444] introduces new flags in one of
   the flags fields of a packet, Address Block or TLV (there being no
   unused flags in the message flags field), the following rules MUST be

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   o  The version number contained in the <version> field of the Packet
      Header MUST NOT be 0.

   o  The new flag(s) MUST indicate the structure of the corresponding
      packet, Address Block or TLV, and MUST NOT be used to indicate any
      other semantics, such as message forwarding behavior.

   An update that would be incompatible with the current specification
   of [RFC5444] should not be created unless there is a pressing reason
   for it that cannot be satisfied using the current specification
   (e.g., by use of a suitable Message TLV).

   During the development of [RFC5444], and since publication thereof,
   some proposals have been made to use these RESERVED flags to specify
   behavior rather than structure, in particular message forwarding.
   These proposals were, after due consideration, not accepted, for a
   number of reasons.  These reasons include that message forwarding, in
   particular, is protocol-specific; for example [RFC7181] forwards
   messages using its MPR (Multi-Point Relay) mechanism, rather than a
   "blind" flooding mechanism.  (These proposals were made during the
   development of [RFC5444] when there were still unused message flags.
   Later addition of a 4 bit Message Address Length field later left no
   unused message flags, but other flags fields still have unused

6.  Message Efficiency

   The ability to organize addresses into different, or the same,
   Address Blocks, as well as to change the order of addresses within an
   Address Block, and the flexibility of the TLV specification, enables
   avoiding unnecessary repetition of information, and consequently can
   generate smaller messages.  No algorithms for address organization or
   compression or for TLV usage are given in [RFC5444], any algorithms
   that leave the information content unchanged MAY be used when
   generating a message.  See also Appendix B.

6.1.  Address Block Compression

   [RFC5444] allows the addresses in an Address Block to be compressed.
   A protocol generating a message SHOULD compress addresses as much as
   it can.

   Addresses in an Address Block consist of a Head, a Mid, and a Tail,
   where all addresses in an Address Block have the same Head and Tail,
   but different Mids.  Each has a length that is greater than or equal
   to zero, the sum of the lengths being the address length.  (The Mid
   length is deduced from this relationship.)  Compression is possible

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   when the Head and/or the Tail have non-zero length.  An additional
   compression is possible when the Tail consists of all zero-valued
   octets.  Expected use cases are IPv4 and IPv6 addresses from within
   the same prefix and which therefore have a common Head, IPv4 subnets
   with a common zero-valued Tail, and IPv6 addresses with a common Tail
   representing an interface identifier, as well as having a possible
   common Head.  Note that when, for example, IPv4 addresses have a
   common Head, their Tail will usually have length zero.

   For example:

   o  The IPv4 addresses and would, for greatest
      efficiency, have a 3 octet Head, a 1 octet Mid, and a 0 octet

   o  The IPv6 addresses 2001:DB8:prefix1:interface and 2001:DB8:
      prefix2:interface that use the same interface identifier but
      completely different prefixes (except as noted) would, for
      greatest efficiency, have a 4 octet head, a 4 octet Mid, and an 8
      octet Tail.  (They could have a larger Head and/or Tail and a
      smaller Mid if the prefixes have any octets in common.)

   Putting addresses into a message efficiently also has to consider:

   o  The split of the addresses into Address Blocks.

   o  The order of the addresses within the Address Blocks.

   This split and/or ordering is for efficiency only, it does not
   provide any information.  The split of the addresses affects both the
   address compression and the TLV efficiency (see Section 6.2), the
   order of the addresses within an Address Block affects only the TLV
   efficiency.  However using more Address Blocks than is needed can
   increase the message size due to the overhead of each Address Block
   and the following TLV Block, and/or if additional TLVs are now

   The order of addresses can be as simple as sorting the addresses, but
   if many addresses have the same TLV Types attached, it might be more
   useful to put these addresses together, either within the same
   Address Block as other addresses, or in a separate Address Block.  A
   separate Address Block might also improve address compression, for
   example if more than one address form is used (such as from
   independent subnets).  An example of the possible use of address
   ordering is a HELLO message from [RFC6130] which could be generated
   with local interface addresses first and neighbor addresses later.
   These could be in separate Address Blocks.

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6.2.  TLVs

   The main opportunities for creating more efficient messages when
   considering TLVs are in Address Block TLVs, rather than Message TLVs.

   An Address Block TLV provides attributes for one address or a
   contiguous (as stored in the Address Block) set of addresses (with a
   special case for when this is all addresses in an Address Block).
   When associated with more than one address, a TLV may be single value
   (associating the same attribute with each address) or multivalue
   (associating a separate attribute with each address).

   The simplest to implement approach is to use multivalue TLVs that
   cover all affected addresses.  However unless care is taken to order
   addresses appropriately, these affected addresses may not all be
   contiguous.  Approaches to this are to:

   o  Reorder the addresses.  It is, for example, possible (though not
      straightforward, and beyond the scope of this document to describe
      exactly how) to order all addresses in HELLO message as specified
      in [RFC6130] so that all TLVs used only cover contiguous
      addresses.  This is even possible if the MPR TLV specified in
      OLSRv2 [RFC7181] is added; but it is not possible, in general, if
      the LINK_METRIC TLV specified in OLSRv2 [RFC7181] is also added.

   o  Allow the TLV to span over addresses that do not need the
      corresponding attribute, using a Value that indicates no
      information, see Section 6.3.

   o  Use more than one TLV.  Note that this can be efficient when the
      TLVs thus become single value TLVs.  In a typical case where a
      LINK_STATUS TLV uses only the Values HEARD and SYMMETRIC, with
      enough addresses, sorted appropriately, two single value TLVs can
      be more efficient than one multivalue TLV.  If only one Value is
      involved, such as NHDP in a steady state with LINK_STATUS equal to
      SYMMETRIC in all cases, then one single value TLV SHOULD always be

6.3.  TLV Values

   If, for example, an Address Block contains five addresses, the first
   two and the last two requiring Values assigned using a LINK_STATUS
   TLV, but the third does not, then this can be indicated using two
   TLVs.  It is however more efficient to do this with one multivalue
   LINK_STATUS TLV, assigning the third address the Value UNSPECIFIED.
   In general, use of UNSPECIFIED Values allows use of fewer TLVs and
   thus often an efficiency gain; however a long run of consecutive
   UNSPECIFIED Values (more than the overhead of a TLV) may make more

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   TLVs more efficient.

   Some other TLVs may need a different approach.  As noted in
   [RFC7188], but implicitly permissible before then, the LINK_METRIC
   TLV, defined in [RFC7181], has two octet Values whose first four bits
   are flags indicating whether the metric applies in four cases; if
   these are all zero then the metric does not apply in this case, which
   is thus the equivalent of an UNSPECIFIED Value.

   [RFC7188] required that protocols that extend [RFC6130] and [RFC7181]
   allow unspecified values in TLVs where applicable.  It is here
   RECOMMENDED that all protocols follow that advice, and use the same
   value (255).  In particular, when defining any Address Block TLV with
   discrete Values that an UNSPECIFIED Value is defined, and that a
   modified approach is used where possible for other Address Block
   TLVs, for example as is done for a LINK_METRIC TLV (though not
   necessarily using that exact approach).

   It might be argued that provision of an unspecified value (of any
   form) to allow an Address Block TLV to cover unaffected addresses is
   not always necessary because addresses can be reordered to avoid
   this.  However ordering addresses to avoid this for all TLVs that may
   be used is not, in general, possible.

   In addition, [RFC7188] RECOMMENDS that if a TLV Value (per address
   for an Address Block TLV) has a single-length that does not match the
   defined length for that TLV Type, then the following rules are

   o  If the received single-length is greater than the expected single-
      length, then the excess octets MUST be ignored.

   o  If the received single-length is less than the expected single-
      length, then the absent octets MUST be considered to have all bits
      cleared (0).

7.  Security Considerations

   This document does not specify a protocol, but provides rules and
   recommendations for how to design protocols using [RFC5444], whose
   security considerations apply.

   If the recommendation in Section 4.4.1 that messages are not modified
   (except for hop count and hop limit) when forwarded is followed, then
   the security framework for [RFC5444] specified in [RFC7182] can be
   used in full.  If that recommendation is not followed, then the
   Packet TLVs from [RFC7182] can be used, but the Message TLVs from

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   [RFC7182] cannot be used as intended.

   In either case, a protocol using [RFC5444] MUST document whether it
   is using [RFC7182] and if so, how.

8.  IANA Considerations

   The Expert Review guidelines in [RFC5444] are updated to include the
   general requirement that:

   o  The Designated Expert will consider the limited TLV and,
      especially, Message Type space in considering whether a requested
      allocation is allowed, and whether a more efficient allocation
      than that requested is possible.

9.  Acknowledgments

   The authors thank Cedric Adjih (INRIA) and Justin Dean (NRL) for
   their contributions as authors of RFC 5444.

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10.  References

10.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", RFC 2119, BCP 14, March 1997.

   [RFC5444]  Clausen, T., Dearlove, C., Dean, J., and C. Adjih,
              "Generalized MANET Packet/Message Format", RFC 5444,
              February 2009.

   [RFC5498]  Chakeres, I., "IANA Allocations for Mobile Ad Hoc Network
              (MANET) Protocols", RFC 5498, March 2009.

   [RFC7182]  Herberg, U., Clausen, T., and C. Dearlove, "Integrity
              Check Value and Timestamp TLV Definitions for Mobile Ad
              Hoc Networks (MANETs)", RFC 7182, April 2014.

   [RFC7631]  Dearlove, C. and T. Clausen, "TLV Naming in the MANET
              Generalized Packet/Message Format", RFC 7631,
              January 2015.

10.2.  Informative References

   [G9903]    "ITU-T G.9903: Narrow-band orthogonal frequency division
              multiplexing power line communication transceivers for G3-
              PLC networks", May 2013.

   [RFC3626]  Clausen, T. and P. Jacquet, "The Optimized Link State
              Routing Protocol", RFC 3626, October 2003.

   [RFC5497]  Clausen, T. and C. Dearlove, "Representing Multi-Value
              Time in Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETs)", RFC 5497,
              March 2009.

   [RFC6130]  Clausen, T., Dean, J., and C. Dearlove, "Mobile Ad Hoc
              Network (MANET) Neighborhood Discovery Protocol (NHDP)",
              RFC 6130, April 2011.

   [RFC6621]  Macker, J., "Simplified Multicast Forwarding", RFC 6621,
              May 2012.

   [RFC7181]  Clausen, T., Dearlove, C., Jacquet, P., and U. Herberg,
              "The Optimized Link State Routing Protocol version 2",
              RFC 7181, April 2014.

   [RFC7183]  Herberg, U., Dearlove, C., and T. Clausen, "Integrity
              Protection for the Neighborhood Discovery Protocol (NHDP)

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              and Optimized Link State Routing Protocol Version 2
              (OLSRv2)", RFC 7183, April 2014.

   [RFC7188]  Dearlove, C. and T. Clausen, "Optimized Link State Routing
              Protocol version 2 (OLSRv2) and MANET Neighborhood
              Discovery Protocol (NHDP) Extension TLVs", RFC 7188,
              April 2014.

   [RFC7722]  Dearlove, C. and T. Clausen, "Multi-Topology Extension for
              the Optimized Link State Routing Protocol Version 2
              (OLSRv2)", RFC 7722, December 2015.

Appendix A.  Information Representation

   This section describes a conceptual way to consider the information
   in a message.  It may be used as the basis of an approach to parsing,
   or creating, a message to, or from, the information that it contains,
   or is to contain.  However there is no requirement that a protocol
   does so.  This approach may be used either to inform a protocol
   design, or by a protocol (or generic parser) implementer.

   A message (excluding the Message Header) can be represented by two,
   possibly multivalued, maps:

   o  Message: (Full Type) -> (length, Value)

   o  Address: (address, Full Type) -> (length, Value)

   These maps (plus a representation of the Message Header) can be the
   basis for a generic representation of information in a message.  Such
   maps can be created by parsing the message, or can be constructed
   using the protocol rules for creating a message, and later converted
   into the octet form of the message specified in [RFC5444].

   While of course any implementation of software that represents
   software in the above form can specify an application programming
   interface (API) for that software, such an interface is not proposed
   here.  First, a full API would be programming language specific.
   Second, even within the above framework, there are alternative
   approaches to such an interface.  For example, and for illustrative
   purposes only, for the address mapping:

   o  Input: address and Full Type.  Output: list of (length, Value)
      pairs.  Note that for most Full Types it will be known in advance
      that this list will have length zero or one.  The list of
      addresses that can be used as inputs with non-empty output would
      need to be provided as a separate output.

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   o  Input: Full Type.  Output: list of (address, length, Value)
      triples.  As this list length may be significant, a possible
      output will be of one or two iterators that will allow iterating
      through that list.  (One iterator that can detect the end of list,
      or a pair of iterators specifying a range.)

   Additional differences in the interface may relate to, for example,
   the ordering of output lists.

Appendix B.  Automation

   There is scope for creating a protocol-independent optimizer for
   [RFC5444] messages that performs appropriate address re-organization
   (ordering and Address Block separation) and TLV changes (of number,
   single- or multi- valuedness and use of unspecified values) to create
   more compact messages.  The possible gain depends on the efficiency
   of the original message creation, and the specific details of the
   message.  Note that this process cannot be TLV Type independent, for
   example a LINK_METRIC TLV has a more complicated Value structure than
   a LINK_STATUS TLV does if using UNSPECIFIED Values.

   Such a protocol-independent optimizer MAY be used by the router
   generating a message, but MUST NOT be used on a message that is
   forwarded unchanged by a router.

Authors' Addresses

   Thomas Clausen
   Ecole Polytechnique
   91128 Palaiseau Cedex,

   Phone: +33-6-6058-9349

   Christopher Dearlove
   BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Laboratories
   West Hanningfield Road
   Great Baddow, Chelmsford
   United Kingdom


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   Ulrich Herberg


   Henning Rogge
   Fraunhofer FKIE
   Fraunhofer Strasse 20
   53343 Wachtberg


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