HTTP is getting its first upgrade since 1999. Here’s what you can expect


While the web has gone through a lot of changes since it first came into existence in the early 1990s, the fundamental tech behind it hasn’t changed since 1999. That’s until now with the introduction of a fresh new upgrade to HTTP 2.0 (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), spelling faster page loads, more mobile-friendly and more encryption.

HTTP is a big deal. It’s the application that makes the web what it is — enabling the transferring of packets of data between the user (your browser) and the server host (the website).

Before recently confirming that the second version of HTTP, Mark Notingham — the chair of the IETF HTTP Working Group — jotted down a bunch of things we should expect from the updated version. While it’s all very technical, we’ve tried to break it down in layman’s terms.

1. Better site performance

Notingham warns that “HTTP 2.0 isn’t magic Web performance pixie dust; you can’t drop it in and expect your page load times to decrease by 50%.” However, he does note that HTTP 2.0 removes “key impediments to performance” which browsers and servers can take advantage of to better the overall speed.

Moreover, the Server Push upgrade will help browsers load web pages faster. Today, loading sites means waiting for HTML to load before CSS and JavaScript for instance. Server Push allows the server to avoid this round trip of delay by “pushing” the responses it thinks the client will need into its cache.

2. More mobile friendly

“Header compression”, which essentially refers compressing data packets going from point A to point B, is also being improved. “Compressing headers (separately from message bodies) both reduces the overhead of additional requests and of introducing new headers,” he writes. This is good news for mobile as it decreases latency and bandwidth impact between the site and the device’s browser.

3. More encryption

Everybody likes more encryption. “The Web is an increasingly dangerous place, and using more encryption is one way to mitigate a number of threats. By using HTTP 2.0 as a carrot for sites to use TLS (Transport Layer Security), they’re (the developers behind HTTOP 2.0) hoping that the overall security of the web will improve,” he writes.

This is very significant as we saw what effects Open SSL had on the web last year with the dangers of the Heartbleed bug.

Read more: Your very quick guide to Heartbleed, the encryption bug swarming the web

While it’s still going to take a while for browsers and servers to implement HTTP 2.0, it’s definitely not going to be another 16 odd years. Google’s Chrome has already confirmed that it’s moving over to the implement HTTP 2.0 support early 2016.



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