[Cryptography] Is ASN.1 still the thing?

James A. Donald jamesd at echeque.com
Sun Nov 12 22:11:39 EST 2017

Do JSON, Yaml, or protobuff allow representing data format in ways that 
give a unique and well defined checksum, that will not be affected by 
endianess or compiler options?

Cryptographers specify data formats are in ASN.1 because that way you 
can get a unique hash or checksum of the data, regardless of which 
compiler you are using, and whether your machine is big endian or little 

But these days everyone seems to be using JSON to represent data in 
transit, because that is the language of the web and of node.js, or 
YAML, which is JSON polished up to support more kinds of data and to 
actually be genuinely human readable, or protobuff, because people who 
write in C++ despise the horrible inefficiency of translating data to 
and from ascii representation.

ASN.1 provides canonical format so that you can hash it or checksum it, 
ultra efficient binary format for C and C++ purists, and supposedly 
human readable format, though its human readable format is not 
particularly human readable.  You are a lot better off with YAML if, as 
in ini files, you want human readability.

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