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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04                                                
INTERNET-DRAFT                                         J. Ott/C. Perkins
Expires: August 2002                                             TZI/ISI
                                                           February 2002

                            SDPng Transition

Status of this memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions
   of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-

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

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   To view the list Internet-Draft Shadow Directories, see

   Distribution of this document is unlimited.


   The Session Description Protocol (SDP) is today widely used in the
   Internet to announce as well as negotiate multimedia sessions and
   exchange capabilities.  Having originally been designed for session
   announcements only, as opposed to announcements and capabilities
   negotiation announcements, native SDP lacks numerous features to be
   applicable in many session scenarios.  Numerous extensions have been
   developed to circumvent SDP's shortcomings -- but they have also
   repeatedly shown its inherent limitations.  A successor protocol --
   termed "SDPng" for the time being -- is developed to address the
   aforementioned needs of Internet applications in a more structured
   manner.  With the huge installed base of SDP-based applications, a
   migration path needs to be developed to move from SDP to SDPng over
   time.  This document outlines how this migration can be achieved: in
   general as well as for the various IETF control protocols that
   potentially make use of SDP and SDPng.

   This document is a product of the Multiparty Multimedia Session
   Control (MMUSIC) working group of the Internet Engineering Task
   Force.  Comments are solicited and should be addressed to the working

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   group's mailing list at mmusic@ietf.org and/or the authors.

1.  Introduction

   SDP is now widely used within the Internet community to describe
   media sessions and, in a limited fashion, system capabilities
   relating to (multi)media sessions, for a variety of application
   scenarios: session announcements, interactive session setup,
   capability assessment and remote control of media streams.  All but
   the first of these are rather different from what SDP was originally
   designed for -- but all of them share the idea of setting up and
   configuring media streams.  Over time, its wide range of uses has
   revealed numerous shortcomings -- most of which stem from the fact
   that SDP has been used for lack of a better alternative and its
   semantics have been re-interpreted to make it fit the respective
   scenarios' needs.  In many cases, workrounds (typically called
   "extensions") for those shortcomings could be found which are often
   rather cumbersome.  While this practice has extended SDP's lifetime
   and provided at least a suitable basis for numerous applications, in
   parallel, a successor protocol -- currently referred to as "SDPng"
   -- has been developed.

        It is worthwhile noting that the aforementioned applications'
        needs are sufficiently similar for a single description protocol
        to take care of them if it was designed for this purpose from
        the beginning.  As a lesson learned from SDP, any further
        expansion in scope should be avoided where no clear fit can be
        seen -- and specific (different) solutions should be developed

   The design of SDPng takes into account the requirements arising from
   the above application scenarios and puts particular emphasis on
   protocol extensibility and modularization of extensions, at the same
   time keeping the core description format simple.  SDPng uses a
   different (more expressive) syntax than SDP does and hence is not
   backward compatible at the syntax level.  Nevertheless, the concepts
   of SDPng take into account the migration issues from SDP to SDPng by
   providing straightforward mappings between the two formats where
   possible and try to maximize compatibility from a semantics

   The current revisions of SDP and SDPng are documented in

   [1]  draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-new-05.txt and

   [2]  draft-ietf-mmusic-sdpng-04.txt.

   For SDP, numerous additional documents need to be taken into account:

   [3]  RFC 3108

   [4]  draft-ietf-mmusic-fid-05.txt

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   [5]  draft-andreasen-mmusic-sdp-simcap-04.txt

   [6]  draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-offer-answer-02.txt

   [7]  draft-fairlie-mmusic-sdp-sctp-00.txt

   [8]  draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-comedia-01.txt

   [9]  draft-taylor-mmusic-sdp-tdm-00.txt

   [10] draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp4nat-01.txt

   [11] draft-ietf-mmusic-kmgmt-ext-02.txt

   [12] draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-ipv6-02.txt

   This document outlines a migration path from SDP to SDPng, starting
   from a short overview of the current application scenarios.  In the
   next step, we highlight which design decisions taken for SDPng should
   simplify a smooth migration and describe how mappings between the two
   description formats can be performed at an abstract level.  We then
   address procedural issues for integrating SDP and SDPng into the
   various protocols relying on those media description formats.
   Finally, we summarize work items on the agenda for SDPng.

2.  Application Scenarios

   The following session control protocols that make use of SDP have
   been standardized in the IETF so far:

   1.   SDP was originally developed to announce (Mbone-based)
        multimedia sessions via session directories using the Session
        Announcement Protocol (SAP) -- but other mechanisms for
        disseminating the session descriptions (such as HTTP, SMTP,
        NNTP, etc.) are conceivable as well.

        The major property of this application scenario is that the
        creator of the session description defines a (set of) fixed
        choice(s) for all media types in a conference and the conference
        partipants have no way to influence these.  If they support at
        least one of the codecs for a particular media type they can
        participate in this media session, otherwise they cannot.  There
        is no interaction between sender(s) and receiver(s) to negotiate
        the media stream codecs and parameters.

        This scenario is referred to as "announcement".

   2.   Another use of SDP is in conjunction with the Real-Time
        Streaming Protocol (RTSP).  In RTSP, SDP is used to convey
        descriptions of a media stream interactively requested to be
        played from a server (or recorded by a server).  SDP itself is
        not used for capability negotiation, not even for the addresses
        to be used; those are negotiated within RTSP and may override

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        the addresses specified as part of SDP.

        This scenario is referred to as "retrieval".

   3.   With SIP, SDP is used to propose media stream configurations and
        choose out of these (i.e. enable a subset of these).  By
        proposing and accepting media stream configurations, endpoints
        use SDP to implicitly describe their capabilities and carry out
        a negotiation procedure on the media streams to use.

        In the context of SIP, specific meanings (including required
        extensions) have been defined for use of SDP with unicast
        addresses, for connection-oriented transports, and for certain
        media level attributes (such as the direction attribute send-
        only, receive-only, and inactive).

        Numerous extensions have been proposed to extend SDP to better
        suit SIP's needs.  Besides a description of the offer/answer
        model, these extensions particularly include the ability to
        describe simultaneous capabilites and to group media stream

        This scenario is referred to as "offer/answer".

   4.   SDP is used to convey the capability descriptions of a MEGACO
        media gateway (MG) to its media gateway controller (MGC) as well
        as for the MGC to instruct the MG where to send media streams to
        and from where to receive media streams, including codec and
        parameter choice.

        For this purpose, SDP has been modified/extended to some degree
        to fit the MEGACO needs.

        This scenario is referred to as "gateway control".

   It should noted that the original SDP concept already provided an
   extension mechanism to cover other network types than IPv4 and IPv6;
   however, specific extensions have only been defined recently for ATM
   and are now under discussion for TDM.  Extensions to other transport
   (including radio interfaces or next generation wireless networks) as
   well as to new types of session descriptions (e.g. electronic program
   guides) are conceivable.

3.  Mapping SDP to SDPng

   On a transition path from SDP to SDPng, allowing for a somewhat
   straightforward mapping of (parts of) one description format onto the
   other is of crucial importance.  SDPng has been designed in way that
   allows many of the session description features of SDP to be easily
   mapped onto the SDPng format and vice versa -- except that SDPng is
   more expressive than SDP and hence information loss is not unlikely
   to occur when doing the reverse mapping.  The final mapping rules
   between SDP and SDPng to be drawn up shall ensure that when mapping

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   SDP to SDPng and then back to SDP will produce an SDP that is
   functionally identical to the one originally fed into the mapping
   process.  Note that the use of a number of SDP extensions (FID,
   SIMCAP) may be implied in this mapping process, depending on the use
   of SDP.  The mapping rules will ensure that no information loss will
   occur when translating from SDP to SDPng.

   The SDPng design uses a structure of four sections: definitions,
   potential or actual configurations, constraints and session
   attributes.  Of these, the "Configurations" and "Session
   Attributes" sections map well onto the current SDP. The
   "Definitions" and "Constraints" sections provide additional
   structure which is not directly expressible in SDP.

   o    At the media description level, the Potential and Actual
        Configurations specified in the "Configurations" section maps
        well to media descriptions ("m=", possibly "c=", and
        associated attributes ("a=") lines).

   o    At the session description level, the SDP session parameters are
        largely reflected in the "Session Attributes" section of
        SDPng.  The attributes proven suitable for session announcements
        have been used as the basis when defining SDPng.

   In SDPng, media descriptions are explicitly tagged with identifiers
   and thus are easily referenced for semantically grouping media
   streams (e.g. to describe alternative audio in different languages,
   media streams to be synchronized, or media streams to carry the same
   information simultaneously but with different encodings) -- as has
   been defined for SDP in a limited fashion by the "fid" attribute
   set.  SDPng allows even to more formally describe the syntax of
   individual or compound media streams in the "Session Attributes"
   section.  Furthermore, SDPng supports a superset of additional
   constraints that may be realized by the "simcap" extensions for SDP
   in the "Constraints" section.

   Additional address families such as ATM or TDM bearers, next
   generation wireless network bearers, DVB channels, etc. can be
   incorporated into SDPng by defining the appropriate extensions for
   the SDPng transports.

   Similarly, new codecs can be added by just defining new codec
   specifications or defining entire new classes of applications to be
   described as new content types ("codec") to be carried in a media
   session (including e.g. text, fax, slide presentations, shared
   editors, etc).  If necessary, sophisticated parameter structures can
   be supported (even though the authors believe that simplicity is key
   to interoperability here).  This is similar to, but more structured
   than, the definition of new codecs attributes/MIME registrations in

   By means of its conceptual differentiation into Potential and Actual
   Configurations, SDPng supports both indicating a system's

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   capabilities (without specifying transport addresses) separately from
   the instantiation of a particular media stream as well as conveying
   capability descriptions and instantiation proposals at the same time
   -- thereby providing a good fit for all the above session control
   scenarios: the "announcement" and "retrieval" scenarios will just
   use rather fixed Actual Configurations.  The "offer/answer" model
   will use use Actual Configuration but use them to negotiate media
   strams in a two-way handshake but may in addition use Potential
   Configurations to indicate capabilities that shall not be used
   immediately.  The "gateway control" scenario will use both:
   Potential Configurations to describe an MG's capabilities and Actual
   Configurations for setting up media sessions at MGs as well as
   retrieving information about currently active media sessions.  This
   differentiation is not directly expressible in SDP, although various
   extensions can be used to overload SDP semantics to achieve at least
   part of this effect.

   Finally, SDPng is also intended to allow for content-independent
   negotiation of session parameters by defining collapsing/intersection
   rules.  In particular, SDPng tries to take the need for multicast-
   based distributed calculation of joint capabilities into account for
   those rules (but note that it is *not* intended as a generic format
   for describing conference state information).  Such functionality is
   not covered by current SDP.

4.  Integration with Session Control Protocols

   This section outlines for each of the session control protocols
   described above how SDP and SDPng can be used in parallel and
   indicates how a suitable transition could be achieved.

4.1.  Session Announcement Protocol (SAP)

   There are two revision of SAP specified, version 0 which is
   implemented in a number of experimental tools, and version 1 which is
   defined in RFC 2972.

   SAPv0:SAPv0 does not support a mechanism to identify the content type
        of a session announcement but implicitly assumes SDP.  Proper
        parsers will note that the contents of the SAPv0 message does
        not begin with a "v=" line and hence will ignore the entire
        announcement.  SDPng contents MAY be identified by the character
        sequence "<sdpng" in the beginning of the announcement body --
        but such content is not strictly legal in SAPv0.

   SAPv1:In SAPv1, an explicit payload type field (containing a MIME
        type) is available and SHOULD used to differentiate between SDP
        anf SDPng contents.  two approaches are conceivable: Either
        multipart MIME message is used with two parts containing the
        same session descriptions -- one expressing it in SDP and the
        other in SDPng.  Alternatively, two alternate session
        announcements may be used (being properly distinguished by the
        SDP "o=" field and the SDPng equivalent).

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        It is RECOMMENDED that implementations recognize the MIME
        multipart/alternative type in SAPv1 announcements, allowing for
        a simple transition to SDPng.

   It should be noted that current session directory implementations
   only support SDP.  Nevertheless, using the SAP Message Identifier
   Hash and the source address, they should be able to perform session
   deletions and modifications properly -- even without understanding
   the format contained in the SAP message body.

   For the introduction of SDPng, session announcements SHOULD be made
   "bi-lingual", i.e. in SDP and SDPng.  If a SAP announcer for some
   reason knows that all its potential audience will support SDPng, the
   SDP announcement SHOULD be omitted.

   It should be noted that, for IPv4-based multicast sessions, session
   directories still may rely on parsing the session specifications to
   avoid clashes in the multicast address space.  Introducing a new
   session description language will prevent older implementations from
   continuing this practice successfully -- assuming that only SDPng
   announcements are used and/or that old implementations do not support
   MIME multipart/alternative message bodies.  This use of SAP is
   deprecated, of course.

4.2.  Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP)

   RTSP uses SDP to provide presentation descriptions (with a
   presentation comprising one or more media sessions), typically
   communicated from the server to the client (for playing) and in the
   opposite direction for recording.  The presentation description may
   also include initialization data for the various media streams and
   URLs to be used for controlling the entire presentation as well as
   the individual media sessions.  Transport parameters -- such as IP
   addresses, port numbers, etc. -- are conveyed as part of RTSP header

   RTSP uses the Content-Type: header field to indicate the format of
   the enclosed entity.  This provides a straightforward means for
   distinguishing SDP and SDPng-based presentation descriptions.  In
   addition, the Accept: header SHOULD be used by the client, to
   indicate which content types it supports.  If the client specifies
   both SDP and SDPng as acceptable, the server SHOULD provide only the
   SDPng-based presentation description.

   If the client does not indicate a particular Content-Type: the server
   can, theoretically, use MIME multipart bodies to convey both
   description types simultaneously.

        [Editors note: can implementors comment on their ability to
        parse such content?]

   In general, it would be preferrable to have the servers migrate to
   always supporting both description formats, thus enabling the clients

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   to choose.

   Finally, RTSP makes special provision to interworking with firewalls
   by including the crucial transport parameters in a separate RTSP
   header field _in_addition_ to the presentation description.  This
   practice in principle allows to change the presentation description
   format without having to worry about the operation of firewalls and
   similar devices.

4.3.  Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)

   The use of SDP with SIP follows the offer/anser model and is
   described in [6].  It is key to the (efficiency of the) offer/answer
   model that a complete capability exchange and media stream
   instantiation be carried out in one round-trip -- which is supported
   by SDP.  While SDPng allows to separate capability exchange from
   media sesssion instantiation, those two pieces are also easily
   integrated in a single step.

   SIP also uses a Content-Type: header to indicate the nature of data
   carried in its message body; and SIP explicitly calls for supporting
   MIME multipart message bodies.  Hence, again, the MIME
   multipart/alternative should be used to simultaneously convey both an
   SDP and an SDPng session description.  Whenever a peer has sent an
   SDPng description (or it is known from other means that the peer
   supports SDPng), the SDP need no longer be sent.

   The SIP Accept: header can be exploited to determine the capability
   of a peer to understand SDPng in addition (or instead) of plain SDP.
   Methods such as OPTIONS MAY be used to determine a peer's support for
   SDPng; similarly, a 415 answer to an INVITE MAY be used to indicate
   that the media description format provided is not supported.
   However, a peer's capabilities may not be known when the first
   message is sent which may introduce an extra round-trip if including
   SDP and SDPng in the initial INVITE message is not an option.
   Further approaches to make a UA's support for SDPng known ahead of
   time should be explored.

   A number of SDP extensions have been motivated by SIP-based
   applications and these need to be accommodated in SDPng as well.
   Features such as "simcap" and "FID" are inherently supported by
   SDPng; proper definitions for connection-oriented media need to be
   fully understood and then incorporated.  Key management attributes as
   defined in [11] need to be included (not just for SIP) and so may
   need to be general mechanisms to signal security capabilities [11]
   [13] and indicate their optional or mandatory use.  The same applies
   to quality of service parameters [13] (which are largely also
   motivated by SIP but are also useful with control protocols).

   In the context of SIP, a number of special rules to deal with certain
   SDP fields are set up (e.g. to work with NATs).  The SDPng
   development needs to make sure that similar definitions are provided
   (as need be the handling of those in SIP).

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   [Editor's note: This section needs more work on details.]

4.4.  Media Gateway Control Protocol (MEGACOP)

   The MEGACO specification already supports two different encodings for
   capability and media stream descriptions: a text-based variant based
   upon (a modified) SDP and a binary representation of the same
   information set.  MGCs are required to implement both encodings while
   MGs have the choice to pick either or both.  Differentiation between
   the protocol encoding variants is done using different port numbers:
   2944 for the text-based and 2945 for the binary encoding.

   Unfortunately, within the text-based encoding, there is no means to
   differentiate several description formats.  SDP messages are carried
   as an "octet string" without any type identifier.  Defining a third
   port number for this further differentiation does not seem to be
   approapriate, particularly since the message encoding is still a text

   The remaining means for distinction is that an SDP specification
   would start with a "v=0" line while an SDPng document would begin
   with an "<sdpng" part.

        [Editor's Note: MEGACOP also supports a binary encoding for SDP
        messages; we can assume that not all of the SDPng messages will
        be expressible this binary encoding.  How shall we handle

5.  SDPng and Middleboxes


6.  Directing the Evolution of SDP

   With the transition from SDP to SDPng, there is the question of the
   evolution of SDP, and legacy systems which use it.

   The SDP specification (draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-new-06.txt) is stable,
   and mostly corrects errors in the original specification, with the
   addition of very few new features.  This is expected to be published
   as a draft standard RFC shortly.

   A number of extensions to SDP for use in offer/answer scenarios are
   also close to completion. These include grouping (draft-ietf-mmusic-
   fid-05.txt) and capability negotiation (draft-andreasen-mmusic-sdp-
   simcap-04.txt).  We expect these to be completed, and published as
   proposed standard RFCs, to bring minimal capability/alternative
   descriptions to SDP.

   Related is the SDP offer/answer model for SDP, currently under
   development as draft-rosenberg-mmusic-sdp-offer-answer-01.txt). This
   defines the model used to complete the steps of a negotiation using

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   All these are subsumed into SDPng, so there should be no further need
   for development in these areas; applications with requirements that
   are not met by these specifications should use SDPng.

   There have recently been proposals to add quality of service
   negotiation for SDP and, similarly, we expect other extensions to be
   proposed over time.  Due to the well-known limitations of SDP, we do
   not believe it appropriate to continue development of more elaborate
   extensions: for negotiation, for QoS, for security, and for other
   general-purpose or application-specific needs.

   Instead, such new work should be done in the framework of SDPng where
   applications and their requirements for (new) expressiveness in end-
   to-end exchanges to negotiate and configure media sessions will
   hopefully act as a driver for that process.

7.  Author's Addresses

   Joerg Ott <jo@tzi.org>
   Universitaet Bremen
   MZH 5180
   Bibliothekstr. 1
   D-28359 Bremen

   Colin Perkins <csp@isi.edu>
   USC Information Sciences Institute
   3811 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 200
   Arlington, VA 22203

8.  References

   [1]  Mark Handley, Van Jacobson, Colin Perkins, "SDP: Session
        Description Protocol," Internet Draft draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-
        new-06.txt, Work in Progress, February 2002.

   [2]  Dirk Kutscher, Joerg Ott, Carsten Bormann, "Session Description
        and Capability Negotiation", Internet Draft draft-ietf-mmusic-
        sdpng-04.txt, Work in Progress, February 2002.

   For SDP, numerous additional documents need to be taken into account:

   [3]  3108 R. Kumar, M. Mostafa, "Conventions for the use of the
        Session Description Protocol (SDP) for ATM Bearer Connections,"
        RFC 3108, May 2001.

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   [4]  Gonzalo Camarillo, Jan Holler, Goran AP Eriksson, Henning
        Schulzrinne, "Grouping of media lines in SDP," Internet Draft
        draft-ietf-mmusic-fid-05.txt, Work in Progress, September 2001.

   [5]  F. Andreasen, "SDP Simple Capability Negotiation," Internet
        Draft draft-andreasen-mmusic-sdp-simcap-04.txt, Work in
        Progress, August 2001.

   [6]  Jonathan Rosenberg, Henning Schulzrinne, "An Offer/Answer Model
        with SDP," Internet Draft draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-offer-
        answer-01.txt, Work in Progress, February 2002.

   [7]  Robert Fairlie-Cuninghame, "Guidelines for specifying SCTP-
        based media transport using SDP," Internet Draft draft-fairlie-
        mmusic-sdp-sctp-00.txt, Work in Progress, May 2001.

   [8]  David Yon, "Connection-Oriented Media Transport in SDP,"
        Internet Draft draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-comedia-01.txt, Work in
        Progress, October 2001.

   [9]  Tom Taylor, "Conventions for the use of the Session Description
        Protocol (SDP) for Digital Circuit Connections," Internet Draft
        draft-taylor-mmusic-sdp-tdm-00.txt, Work in Progress, April

   [10] Christian Huitema, "RTCP attribute in SDP," Internet Draft
        draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp4nat-01.txt, Work in Progress, February

   [11] Jari Arkko, Elisabette Carrarra, Fredrik Lindholm, Mats Naslund,
        Karl Norrman, "Key Management Extensions for SDP and RTSP,"
        Internet Draft draft-ietf-mmusic-kmgmt-ext-02.txt, Work in
        Progress, February 2002.

   [12] Sean Olson, Gonzalo Camarillo, Adam Roach, "Support for IPv6 in
        SDP," Internet Draft draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-ipv6-02.txt, Work in
        Progress, February 2002.

   [13] W. Marshall et al, "Integration of Resource Management and
        SIP", Internet Draft draft-ietf-sip-manyfolks-resource-03.txt,
        Work in Progress, November 2001.

9.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1997).  All Rights Reserved.

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   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing

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   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
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   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

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