HTTP2 explained


What is HTTP?

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) refers to the protocol of how messages are formatted and transmitted across the web. When you enter a URL into your browser, a HTTP command is sent to the webserver to translate and show the webpage that was intended.

The previous version of HTTP, 1.1, has been in use for more than 15 years. HTTP 1.1 was never built with mobile users and performance in mind so you could say it’s definitely time for an upgrade!

HTTP is often referred to as a stateless protocol because each command is implemented individually, without using any of previous data from commands that may have come before. This makes it difficult for a website to react intelligently to what is actually being entered.

How will HTTP2 benefit me?

The most important feature of HTTP2 is the reduction in the number of connections to the webserver. To give you an example the Nimbus Hosting home page consists of 67 different files. These include images, CSS and JavaScript files. With HTTP 1.1 each file has to be requested individually, which can be time consuming. With HTTP2 the webserver automatically knows which files are required by which page and sends them down along with the first request. This saves time and reduces the impact on the network. In essence is means the web site loads faster.

With HTTP 1.1 compressing traffic was an afterthought rather than built in from day one. Compression is where a file is reduced in sized by using an algorithm to reduce the amount of text. This is similar to compressing air into a canister so you have more air while you’re scuba diving. With HTTP2 all traffic that can be compressed is automatically compressed. This includes all text files like HTML, CSS and JavaScript files as well as all the header communication. The web server uses the header communication to confirm which pages exist, which don’t and if there’s a problem like the web site being unavailable.

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