• Paul Fingleton

HTTP/2 ready to bring faster web browsing. Soon.

Hypertext transfer protocol, better known as HTTP, is the means whereby all browsers communicate with servers to request web pages and send responses. It is the staple part of every website address you have ever entered in a browser and is so common that all browsers fill that part in for you, saving you valuable seconds in your browsing experience.

Because of today's media rich and bandwidth hungry websites, loading a Web page is more resource intensive than ever, and loading all of those assets efficiently is difficult, because HTTP in effect only allows one request be handled at a time.

Most browsers have tried to work around this by opening multiple connections at a time, each handling one HTTP request.

For the first time in over 15 years, the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) has accepted the a major redesign proposal for the protocol.

The focus of the new protocol, known as HTTP/2, is on performance; specifically targeting end-user perceived latency, network and server resource usage. Another major goal is to allow the use of a single connection from browsers to a Web site - as modern web sites currently request data from multiple sources, a single page could open up thirty or more connections with the existing HTTP protocol.

Now, those familiar with these types of improvements may recognise some of these goals from Googles SPDY protocol that is available in Chrome and Firefox browsers among others. You would be right in recognising these similarities, the working group that designed the HTTP/2 standard started with the SPDY protocol as standard.

So, what is next for users, when can they see faster web sites? Well, although the HTTP/2 Protocol has been formally approved by the IESG there are still a few stages in the process to complete before the protocol can be widely adopted, but it's not as far away as you may think. HTTP/2 is currently available in Firefox and Chrome for testing and Google and Twitter's main sites already support it.

Source: Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

Image Credit: Wikipedia


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