HTTP/2 – The Internet will get faster
News is quickly breaking about the first major change to http in 16 years. If you are asking yourself what HTTP is, it stands for hyper text transport protocol and is the basic protocol that handles connections between a web server and your browser. With the new standard being finalized its only a matter of time before it goes into effect. Based on Google’s SPDY the new http/2 will bring faster page loads, longer-lived connections, more items arriving sooner and server push. HTTP/2 was developed by the IETF’s HTTP Working Group, which maintains the HTTP protocol. It’s made up of a number of HTTP implementers, users, network operators and HTTP experts.
What are the key differences between HTTP/1 and HTTP/2?
At a high level, 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
HTTP/2 should also fix one problem that developers have long complained about. Currently, multiple HTTP requests bog servers down, actually preventing pages loads in the process; the new standard will allow multiplexing, so that multiple requests can be delivered on simultaneously. It will also play nicely with APIs, offer more scope for better encryption, and plenty more to boot.
If you are asking yourself if the new protocol will break the internet, the short answer is no. In fact, the new protocol is already being used by Firefox and Chrome. As it’s implemented across the web, you shouldn’t notice a difference except for faster page load times, especially on mobile.
How about security?
Lastly the new protocol HTTP/2 won’t work with certain types of encryption. Nonetheless, it will open the door for better types of encryption, and browsers are using the upgrade as an opportunity to boost security. Rumor has it that Firefox and Chrome will soon only support HTTPS connections. (By the way, the “S” on HTTPS simply means that the protocol is run through a secure protocol, usually Transport Layer Security.)
When will I see it?
The HTTP/2 standard has now formally been approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force and will be published soon. At that point it is up to websites, hosting services and companies such as Google to implement the standard.