Protocol Specification Languages

Introduction

Protocol specification languages provide precise notations to facilitate implementation of standards and enhance technical quality. As their syntax and semantics are precisely specified, every word and symbol has a well-defined meaning and its use must follow exact rules. This makes standardized specifications unambiguous while improving intuitiveness, increasing consistency and making it possible to detect errors during standardization rather than implementation.

Manufacturers who use precise and graphical languages report good results and considerable productivity gains. Their use within standardization is increasing along with the generally increased acceptance of such techniques.

Our Role & Activities

SDL, MSC, ASN.1, TTCN and UML are all languages, which ETSI recommends for use within telecom standards, particularly those specifying protocols. Each specification language offers different facilities which are valuable to standards writers. Thus, an optimum combination of languages needs to be found.

Further details are given on the page dedicated to each language, however, the principal uses of each language are as follows:

  • SDL (Specification and Description Language): for the description of architecture, behaviour, data and static interface
  • MSC (Message Sequence Chart): for the description of typical or exceptional message exchanges between entities
  • UML (Unified Modelling Language): for the collection, analysis and processing of requirements as well as for the specification message exchanges and overviews of architecture and behaviour specifications
  • ASN.1 (Abstract Syntax Notation One): for the description of the data structures carried by messages exchanged between communicating parts
  • TTCN (Testing and Test Control Notation): for the specification of test cases, test suites and test configurations.

However, applying a language does not guarantee success if it is being used in a bad way or if the working method is ineffective. In order to combat these potential hazards, ETSI has produced guidelines for how the languages should be used for standard specifications. These are summarized in the table below. For more detailed advice, consult the 'Making Better Standards' website, which provides guidance and assistance to anybody involved in writing communications standards.

List of ETSI Guides giving guidelines on how specification languages should be used for standard specifications:

TitleUMLSDLMSCASN.1TTCNDocument
General use of SDL, MSC and ASN.1   v v v   EG 201 383
Descriptive SDL   v v v   EG 202 106
SDL Handbook   v v v   ETR 298
Validation of SDL in standards   v       EG 201 015
Object-orientation in standards making v v       EG 201 872
Guide to the use of TTCN-2       v v EG 202 103

Standards

Here below some pre-defined lists from the ETSI standards search (standards produced by Technical Committee MTS - with specific keywords in the title of the standard):

Title keyword: protocol

Title keyword: testing specifications

Title keyword: methodolog (Methodologies / Methodology / methodological..)

The following is a list of the 20 latest published ETSI standards produced by MTS.

A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ETSI standards search. Via this interface you can also subscribe for alerts on updates of ETSI standards.

For MTS work in progress see the ETSI Work Programme on the Portal.

Standard No. Standard title.
ES 201 873-1 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 1: TTCN-3 Core Language
ES 201 873-4 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 4: TTCN-3 Operational Semantics
ES 201 873-6 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 6: TTCN-3 Control Interface (TCI)
ES 201 873-9 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 9: Using XML schema with TTCN-3
TR 103 386 Methods for Testing and Specifications (MTS) Deployment of Model-Based Automated Testing Infrastructure in a Cloud
TS 103 253 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); TTCN-3 Conformance Test Suite for use of XML schema; Implementation Conformance Statement
TS 103 254 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); TTCN-3 Conformance Test Suite for use of XML schema; Test Suite Structure and Test Purposes (TSS&TP)
TS 103 255 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); TTCN-3 Conformance Test Suite for use of XML schema; Abstract Test Suite & IXIT
TS 102 950-1 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); TTCN-3 Conformance Test Suite; Part 1: Implementation Conformance Statement (ICS)
TS 102 950-2 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); TTCN-3 Conformance Test Suite; Part 2: Test Suite Structure and Test Purposes (TSS&TP)
TS 102 950-3 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); TTCN-3 Conformance Test Suite; Part 3: Abstract Test Suite (ATS) and Implementation eXtra Information for Testing (IXIT)
EG 203 251 Methods for Testing & Specification; Risk-based Security Assessment and Testing Methodologies
ES 203 119-1 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Test Description Language (TDL); Part 1: Abstract Syntax and Associated Semantics
ES 203 119-2 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Test Description Language (TDL); Part 2: Graphical Syntax
ES 203 119-3 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Test Description Language (TDL); Part 3: Exchange Format
ES 203 119-4 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Test Description Language (TDL); Part 4: Structured Test Objective Specification (Extension)
ES 201 873-1 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 1: TTCN-3 Core Language
ES 201 873-5 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 5: TTCN-3 Runtime Interface (TRI)
ES 201 873-6 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 6: TTCN-3 Control Interface (TCI)
ES 201 873-8 Methods for Testing and Specification (MTS); The Testing and Test Control Notation version 3; Part 8: The IDL to TTCN-3 Mapping