External Data Representation

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External Data Representation (XDR) is a standard data serialization format, for uses such as computer network protocols. It allows data to be transferred between different kinds of computer systems. Converting from the local representation to XDR is called encoding. Converting from XDR to the local representation is called decoding. XDR is implemented as a software library of functions which is portable between different operating systems and is also independent of the transport layer.

XDR uses a base unit of 4 bytes, serialized in big-endian order; smaller data types still occupy four bytes each after encoding. Variable-length types such as string and opaque are padded to a total divisible by four bytes. Floating-point numbers are represented in IEEE 754 format.


XDR was developed in the mid 1980s at Sun Microsystems, and first widely published in 1987.[2] XDR became an IETF standard in 1995.

The XDR data format is in use by many systems, including:

XDR data types[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "X.225 : Information technology – Open Systems Interconnection – Connection-oriented Session protocol: Protocol specification". Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  2. ^ Sun Microsystems (1987). "XDR: External Data Representation Standard". RFC 1014. Network Working Group. doi:10.17487/RFC1014. Retrieved July 11, 2011.

External links[edit]

The XDR standard exists in three different versions in the following RFCs: