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This article was published on February 18, 2015


    HTTP/2, the first major change to HTTP in 16 years, has been finalized

    HTTP/2, the first major change to HTTP in 16 years, has been finalized


    Owen Williams
    Story by

    Owen Williams

    Former TNW employee

    Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.

    Today, the next major version of HTTP took a big step toward becoming a reality; it’s been officially finalized and now moves towards being fully standardized.

    According to a blog by Mark Nottingham, the chair of the IETF HTTP Working Group, the standard was completed today and is on its way to the RFC Editor to go through editorial processes before being published as a standard.

    HTTP/2 is a huge deal; it’s the next big version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, marking the largest change since 1999 when HTTP 1.1 was adopted.

    The new standard brings a number of benefits to one of the Web’s core technologies, such as faster page loads, longer-lived connections, more items arriving sooner and server push. HTTP/2 uses the same HTTP APIs that developers are familiar with, but offers a number of new features they can adopt.

    One notable change is that HTTP requests will be ‘cheaper’ to make. The Web community has often told developers to avoid adding too many HTTP requests to their pages, which lead to optimization techniques like code inlining or concatenation to reduce the requests. With HTTP/2, a new multiplexing feature allows lots of requests to be delivered at the same time, so the page load isn’t blocked.

    HTTP/2 also uses significantly fewer connections, hopefully resulting in lower load for servers and networks. Nottingham previously published a number of other improvements coming to the standard on his blog.

    The new HTTP standard was based on Google’s SPDY protocol, which is used today by some technologies to manipulate traffic which helps improve latency and security, delivering faster page load times. Google announced just a few days ago that it plans to switch fully to HTTP/2 in Chrome.

    Developers wishing to test HTTP/2 before it becomes official can already do so now in Firefox and Chrome, along with downloadable test servers to try improvements for themselves. More information is available in the HTTP/2 FAQ.

    It should be a relatively short time before the standard is passed through the Request-For-Comments Editor and published for use in its final form.

    ➤ HTTP/2 is Done [mnot’s blog]