HTTP/2 Will Make The Web ‘Faster And Safer’

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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A working group finalises the HTTP/2 standard which aims to make web connections quicker and more secure

The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) has approved the final standard for the HTTP/2 protocol, which could make browsing the Internet quicker and safer.

HTTP/2 is a major update to the Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), which is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web. The most widely used version of the standard, HTTP/1.1 was defined in 1999.

A working group has been developing HTTP/2 since 2012 and adopted Google’s SPDY protocol as an initial blueprint, with community feedback resulting in “substantial changes” to the standard, such as the compression scheme and the format of protocol.

HTTP/2 protocol

Fibre Broadband © Datskevich Aleh Shutterstock 2012“After more than two years of discussion, over 200 design issues, 17 drafts, and 30 implementations, the HTTP/2 and HPACK specifications have now been approved by the IETF’s steering group,” wrote Mark Nottingham, a member of the working group. “The result is that HTTP/2 will help provide faster user experience for browsing, reduce the amount of bandwidth required, and make the use of secure connections easier.”

Nottingham explained that backwards compatibility with HTTP/1 was a priority for the working group and that once servers and browsers are able to take advantage of the technical improvements to the protocol, web browsing should become quicker.

HTTP/2 Is designed to use fewer connections, so servers and networks have to deal with less load, and also deals with numerous requests simultaneously.

It is also hoped that by making it easier to use encryption technologies, more websites will actually use them to protect web users. For example, Firefox and Chrome will only support HTTP/2 if TLS (the standard form of SSL) is enabled.

“The resulting protocol is designed to allow a seamless switch between HTTP/1 and HTTP/2, with minimal changes to applications and APIs, while at the same time offering improved performance and better use of network resources,” added Nottingham “Web users largely will be able to benefit from the improvements offered by HTTP/2 without having to do anything different.”

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