By: Jessica

image: search laboratory 2016

Digging into HTTP/2

2016 is the year when ScreenIT has the purpose to start sharing some new ideas, notes or important data about many different topics so; here we are writing our very first article. Today we have something technical to share: brand new HTTP/2.

HTTP/1.X has served the web for more than fifteen years, but we all know old versions are simply not accepted anymore, specially talking about IT, so it´s time to welcome new HTTP version: HTTP/2. Now that a tendency is to use the Cloud service, CloudFlare did a formal announcement about using HTTP/2 last December 2015. The company believes that this movement will power 75 percent of HTTP/2 deployments across the top 1 million sites. Showing by example, CloudFlare started to turn on HTTP/2 onto 4 million customers and 70 data center locations without issues and Google started to offer HTTP/2 services in a few servers as a trial on April 2014.

HTTP/2 is basically the same version than HTTP/1.X but reloaded, with some new characteristics to improve our experience with browsers.

What does HTTP/2 offer?

  • For companies in the server side: new set ups, the IETF HTTP Working Group promises it won’t be difficult.

  • For companies with systems that run on the web: speed during page’s loading time. Also more security, due to 2 principal characteristics, a) HTTP/2 is planned to only run over HTTPS connections and b) it defines its own profile of the STL (Security Transfer Layer).

  • For devs, it means the possibility to code with more complex functionality with low impact. A simple static page is barely used nowadays, loading a page is more resource intensive than ever, and loading it efficiently is difficult, something that HTTP/2 pretends to improve.

  • For those that code “mobile” applications and apps with high numbers of requests, the header compression will reduce the waste of bytes helping to prevent wasted megabytes when being downloaded.                                                                                                                                              

 In case you are wondering who the mastermind is behind this, we are glad to mention that HTTP/2 was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force HTTP Working Group which maintains the HTTP protocol. It’s made up of a number of HTTP implementers, users, network operators and HTTP experts.

HTTP/2 sounds very interesting, but are there real differences between HTTP/1.X and HTTP/2? The answer is YES!

According to Github HTTP/2:

  • is binary, instead of textual

  • is fully multiplexed, instead of ordered and blocking

  • can therefore use one connection for parallelism

  • uses header compression to reduce overhead

  • allows servers to “push” responses proactively into client caches

 If you’re excited about using new HTTP/2, you’ll be glad to hear that HTTP/2 is supported by the most current releases of Firefox and Chrome. Other browsers based upon Blink will also support HTTP/2 (e.g., Opera and Yandex Browser). Microsoft and Apple have both announced plans to support HTTP/2 in future releases.

There are also several servers available (including beta support from Akamai, Google and Twitter’s main sites), and a number of Open Source implementations that you can deploy and test. (Github)

People in ScreenIT are interested in the cutting edge technologies and even if HTTP2 does not affect the way our devs code, they are always happy to receive any tech news, hope you are too!

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By: Liz & Jess

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