Rohit Vijay

HTTP/2 - The next step for WWW

Blog Post created by Rohit Vijay Employee on Nov 29, 2014

The world wide web has changed a lot in last decade.Be it work or something personal, today we find ourselves engaged to the web a lot more than it was before.

We like remaining connected for almost all the time. Mobiles, smartphones, tablets ,laptops - the means to remain connected has grown manyfold.

With these the amount of data exchanged over the internet has exponentially increased and so there is increased focus on optimizing these transactions for better

performance to ensure rich end user experience.

 

Though the WWW changed, the HTTP protocol, the foundation of data communication for the world wide web has remained same since 1999 when HTTP/1.1 came,

the version most commonly version used today. HTTP/2 - The next version planned version of HTTP is being developed by HTTP Bis (httpbis) working group of IETF.

HTTP/2 uses SPDY as the starting point but has further improvements over it. SPDY is an open networking protocol primarily developed by Google with goal of

reducing the page load time by addressing some of the well-known performance limitations of HTTP 1.1. Though HTTP/2 is based on SPDY, SPDY is not HTTP/2.

Many improvements over SPDY were included in HTTP/2 to overcome the limitations of SPDY.

 

The primary goals for HTTP/2 are:

  • To reduce latency by enabling full request and response multiplexing
  • Minimize protocol overhead via efficient compression of HTTP header fields,
  • Add support for request prioritization,flow control and server push.

 

While  HTTP/2 addresses the limitations of earlier standards, it is only extending and not replacing the earlier standard. The semantics of HTTP is not changing

the core concepts such as HTTP methods, headers, status codes and URI's remain same.The change is in how the data is exchanged between the client and server.

To achieve the outlined performance goals, HTTP/2 adds a new binary framing layer, which is not backward compatible with previous HTTP/1.x servers and clients.

HTTP/2 is a binary protocol unlike HTTP/1.1 which is text based protocol.

 

By addressing the limitations of http/1.1 in transport layer itself, HTTP/2 promises to make web applications faster and simpler. It also opens up

a host of new opportunities to optimize the applications and improve performance.However the switch from HTTP/1.1 to HTTP/2 is not going to be overnight.

Millions of servers must be updated to use the new binary framing, and clients must similarly update their browsers and networking libraries.

To make the transition period smooth the servers will have to support both HTTP/1.1 & HTTP/2.

 

HTTP/2 Draft : http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-ietf-httpbis-http2-15

Take a look at video by @Mark Nottingham, IETF HTTPbis Working Group Chair, walks through what the new protocol will mean for Web developers and operations folks, what still needs to be done, and what might happen next. https://community.akamai.com/videos/1062


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