HTTP/2 For A Faster Web

AOL Disk #73

We’ve all seen the HTTP in a URL and most of us know that it stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. Essentially, this HTTP is what the Internet is built on, it is the protocol that powers the web. What many might not know is that it hasn’t changed since 1999. To put that into context, the protocol that makes the Internet work was developed and not improved upon since Internet Explorer 5 was the browser of choice and MySpace (that’s right … MySpace) was launched. For those not paying attention, we’re no longer using 56k modems and we no longer receive about 100 disks a day from AOL.  And now we have a new protocol.

Approved last week for deployment by the Internet Engineering Task Force it will be rolling our in the coming weeks is HTTP/2 (an upgrade from 1.1).  “So what,” you may ask, “does this mean for me?”  If you ever use websites the answer is “it’ll be faster” and if you have a website others’ visit the answer is … well … “it’ll be faster.”

The main issue with the HTTP protocol that’s been addressed in this upgrade is it’s inability to properly handle multiple requests simultaneously.  While the inefficiency of requesting only one resource at a time is clear, we can imagine what happens what that resource is slow.  Let’s say you have a slow-loading script, now the images below it are delayed waiting for the script.  HTTP/2 address this by supporting multiplexing allowing for multiple requests to be sent simultaneously down a single TCP/IP connection.

HTTP/2 also supports Server Pushing allows the server to push an entire webpage at once rather than just the HTML first and then the scripts, images, etc.  Again this will prevent slower loading of the page overall by pushing the entire thing out at once.

Google had developed a protocol SPDY which they used for a lot of the same functionality.  Credit where it’s due, SPDY is being viewed as the fore-father of HTTP/2 and Google will be stopping support for SPDY with it’s rollout

In short … buckle up … it’s about to get faster though as upgrading of many systems will need to occur to take advantage of all this it’s expected that it’ll be many months before we really start to see the benefits.

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