HTTP/2 And Why It's Important

You may have started hearing some talk about HTTP/2 lately. Well, I hope you've been taking notice. If not, here's your final warning.

So, pay attention.

As you probably already know, Hypertext Transfer Protocol (or HTTP) is the protocol used to request information from a server so you can see the webpage you request on your computing device. Today, however, broadband speed, rich media, social media, hackers and a myriad of other issues are forcing the implementation of an upgraded version of HTTP.

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What is HTTP/2?

The version that is currently in place, HTTP/1.1, has been in use since 1999. Needless to say, it's a bit behind the times. An upgrade is very much overdue at this point.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) sets these standards, and the organization recently published a draft for HTTP/2. The HTTP/2 draft was in great part inspired Google’s SPDY, a protocol developed by Google to increase the speed in which content travels.

As code and design elements have increased in size, the structure of web pages have suffered. Things became bloated and overweight. It takes the server sending the content and the browser receiving it longer and longer as more features are added. This requires browsers to create more connections to transfer the information people are requesting. More information and transfers translates to longer wait times for browsers that view any type of delay as a bad user experience.

How Will HTTP/2 Improve Online Experience?

Since speed has become the name of the web game lately, that is what HTTP/2 is expected to deliver. Improvements of 20 to 30 percent have been documented so far, and when all web servers are optimized and the technology matures, it could become even higher.

All of the major browsers support HTTP/2 in different capacities. Google just announced it will gradually roll out support in Chrome 40 in the coming weeks. Internet Explorer 11 supports it in Windows 10, and Firefox and Opera also support HTTP/2 over HTTPS.

Some of the benefits of the HTTP/2 protocol include:

  • A single connection that is kept open until the website is closed.
  • Multiplexing, which allows the sending and receiving of multiple messages at the same time.
  • Prioritization for transferring the most important data first.
  • Compression to squeeze information into smaller bits.
  • Server push, which sends additional information to the user ahead of time, by analyzing what your next request will be.

If you want to see a demo of how HTTP/2 works, go here.